Don’t Burn Bridges or the Burger: Gluten Free BBQ Season

I think that being invited to a party – especially a barbecue – is one of the most stressful events for a celiac, especially a newbie. It’s right up there with Christmas and Thanksgiving in my book. Just much sweatier.

For once, I was invited to a gluten-free BBQ party that I wasn’t nervous about – the gluten-free barbecue put on by Franny Cakes! I love Mary Fran and think she’s such a great blogger in the community and a great person. My blog is only one of many blogs about barbecuing safely while being GF!

greatbigglutenfreebarbecue (1)

Things probably running through your mind as soon as you get the invitation:

1) Everything will be cross contaminated on the grill!

2) Their BBQ sauce probably has gluten in it!

3) Why is pasta salad the go-to summer side dish!?!?!

4) I guess I’ll just have watermelon.

5) Or possibly die of starvation?

Well, with as much anxiety as the five items listed above, no wonder why you’re fearing the barbecue invitation. For one, you probably won’t die of starvation – the party will only be a few hours so stop hyperventilating.

You can solve all of these things by being prepared and open communication with the party planners and party goers. This way, you won’t burn anything – bridges or burgers.

The easiest solution? Bring your own food. Barbecues are typically pot luck – so just bring a main dish for everyone, and a few pieces of chicken for yourself on the side that you can eat with everyone else while they indulge in their gluten.

Make sure you mark your food and your utensils with your gluten-free labels! Great companies that provide professional gluten-free labels for food include: Gluten Free Labels and Kemnitz Family Kitchen.

Here’s what Gluten Free Labels look like (from their website).

Here’s a visual of the Kemnitz Family Kitchen, including some patriotic BBQ ones as well!

Kemnitz Family Kitchen


Not only can other guests know what food is gluten-free, but you’ve also got some kick-ass stars and stripes happening for the 4th of July.

Also, you’ll need to communicate with the party hosts. They probably know you well enough to know that you have food issues if they already invited you to the party. Assure them that they don’t need to go out of THEIR way to get safe food for you. This will alleviate any guilt that they have for not having any safe food, and avoid the baby mama drama that will happen when you refuse any supposedly “safe” food that they do prepare themselves that is possibly contaminated. Assure your hosts that you will bring a dish for everyone and food for yourself. Make sure you plate your items first, so you know the spoon isn’t cross contaminated.

If they are stubborn and 100% want to make you something, and they know all about cross-contamination and kitchen safety – then go for it. If you trust these guys with your stomach, then indulge! If they really want to go all out for you, you can offer to come over early before the party starts and help them make safe food for all of the guests (maybe you’ll even meet a GFF there!).

If you choose to prepare food at the party (clearly you have less anxiety than I have), then make sure you use all new utensils, cutting boards, and sauces that are 1) safe and 2) squeezeable (no double dipping allowed). It’s probably safe to bring your own kitchen gear! Put foil on the part of the grill that you will use (after proper cleaning) and make sure that no sauce from other items can drip down onto your food while cooking.

If you are invited via Facebook event invitation or via Evite, you can also communicate with the other party guests. Post that you are attending, and that due to celiac disease you’ll be preparing the following dishes gluten-free (list the items), and then inquire if anyone else needs to eat gluten-free. Hopefully you’ll find someone else with dietary needs and you can work together to provide the best dishes possible that are safe and tasty. Gluten-free teamwork! This also can take alleviate tension at the party – everyone knows that you’re coming and you’re bringing something GF and tasty (hopefully).

Keep the drama and anxiety at home at a barbecue, and make your hosts feel happy that they invited you and thankful they have an awesome friend that can educate them about eating gluten-free the safe way.

On a final note, remember to never eat something unsafe just because you feel peer pressure! It’s not worth it just to try to fit in at a social engagement, when clearly you were born to stand out! Happy BBQ season!



Enter to win 1 (one) mixed package of Kemnitz Family Kitchen stickers and labels.


1 winner, picked randomly (via Rafflecopter) based on valid entries.


Each person can be entered into this contest FOUR TIMES via Rafflecopter.


JULY 7th 2013 at midnight EST

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Comments: 16

  1. mary fran | frannycakes June 28, 2013 at 9:46 am Reply

    Thanks for writing this! This is excellent advice that I wish I had when I first went gluten-free!

  2. Sarah McGee June 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm Reply

    I would label my toaster, and my lunchbox and containers for work.

  3. Jen June 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm Reply

    All of the containers I bring when traveling to other people’s houses!

  4. Celia June 30, 2013 at 11:35 am Reply

    Awww these stickers are so cute and functional !!

  5. Jennifer stamp June 30, 2013 at 11:46 am Reply

    i feel like these stickers will help others take it more seriously.

  6. Jennifer Mathews June 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm Reply

    I always bring my own food but I laughed at #4 because one of my friend’s mom always has watermelon at her house, and I always eat it haha. Someone I was talking to a while ago said they try to eat the food at a party and she always gets sick but she doesn’t want to offend anyone. I told her screw offending and bring your own food. My friends (out of love) always make fun of me when I take out 5 Tupperware things of food but I rather be 100% safe then risk getting sick. Some people are nice to accommodate us but others give us that stink face look.BTW cannot wait until your book comes out =)

  7. Diana June 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm Reply

    These rock, it’d be a great way to label food so others at the party know what is gf!

  8. Kourtnee Tennyson June 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm Reply

    This blog is so helpful!

  9. Melissa July 1, 2013 at 6:30 am Reply

    I love labels for taking a dish to gatherings!

  10. Molly (Sprue Story) July 3, 2013 at 5:20 am Reply

    I think I would need to squander at least one of them by sticking it to my forehead. But the rest, I think I’d use on, you know, potato salad.

  11. Annie July 5, 2013 at 9:44 am Reply

    These stickers are seriously bomb. I definitely need them since my family tries their best to help me out but can be forgetful sometimes.

  12. Robynne July 5, 2013 at 10:58 am Reply

    These stickers are amazing! I would definitely label my peanut butter jar, and my toaster, and probably myself too.

  13. GFKimAZ July 5, 2013 at 11:49 pm Reply

    Great post! Had a smoothie for dinner on July 4th…Love these stickers and need to start a new collection before school starts. My baby is starting kindergarten.

  14. Michelle @ My Gluten-free July 6, 2013 at 10:21 am Reply

    These are great! Right now I’m recovering from getting glutened at my in-laws house over the 4th. These stickers would have been useful for marking which glass or water bottle I was drinking from as well as the dedicated food that was just mine.

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