Your Summertime Guide to Gluten-Free Grill and Chill

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Fire up the grill – it’s grilling season! When you’re living gluten-free, there are some obvious substitutions you’ll need to make when planning and preparing meals – hamburger and hot dog buns come immediately to mind. We’ve thought through all the details of grilling and eating outdoors to help make sure you have a safely gluten-free experience

The Gluten-Free Grill

Keeping a barbecue grill free of gluten particles means a thorough cleaning is required each time you grill any gluten-containing foods. The typical way grills are cleaned is by heating it up, then scraping the burnt food that is stuck to the grill. If you or someone you know is gluten-free and will be eating food prepared on your grillyou may need to remove the grills and soak them in soapy water, scrub thoroughly, and grill the gluten-free foods first to be on the safe side. 

The ideal way to grill gluten-free is on a dedicated grill, but that may not be viable given the added cost of an extra grill in the yard. Another way to be confident of the grill’s gluten-free status is to only grill entirely gluten-free fare, although this may also not be a realistic approach. Still another option is to grill gluten-free items on tin foil. If you’re living in a mixed household of gluten consumers and gluten-free members, or going to a barbecue at a friend’s place, this can be a simple, yet effective, approach. 


Gluten-Free Meats, Breads, Side Dishes, and Condiments

While the meats you are grilling are naturally gluten-free, some bottled marinades could use gluten as a thickener or stabilizer. Read the labels on any bottled or packaged sauces or seasoning being used to ensure they are free of added gluten. 

Breads, like we said, are a no-brainer, and gluten-free bun substitutions abound. You can also try something different – like a burger wrapped in lettuce or a hotdog wrapped in a corn tortilla. Without a doubt, you’ll be avoiding the gluten-containing pasta salad but could indulge in packaged or pre-prepared potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, and more. 

Try to serve yourself first to make sure no utensils from gluten-containing side dishes have been used for the gluten-free ones, which could cause contamination with gluten. One caveat for pre-prepared side dishes from the deli is that there may not be a lot of precautions in place to avoid gluten-containing items from falling into gluten-free ones. Mistakes can happen, too, a server might use the same serving utensils for both or fail to wash the utensils thoroughly.  

For side dishes, DIY is your safest bet because you have total control over each ingredient and the environment they were prepared in.

What about condiments, you ask? Most popular condiments these days – mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup – are gluten-free. Very few brands add gluten into their plain versions, and even flavored ones such as honey mustard or sriracha or jalapeno ketchup or even bacon or garlic mayo tend to be free of added gluten, although not necessarily certified gluten-free.  

Use either squeeze bottles, or make sure there’s been no double-dipping in condiments that could have caused cross-contact with gluten. Take note: If a condiment contains regular soy sauce, it contains wheat gluten. If you’re using soy sauce when grilling or going for a specialty condiment that contains soy sauce as an ingredient, opt instead for gluten-free tamari sauce, and mix your own condiments. 

Before we forget, no barbeque meal is complete without desserts. Sticking entirely to gluten-free pastries, pies, cakes, cookies, and ice cream is the way to go – or keep the gluten ones far away from the gluten-free treats, and label everything clearly. 


Gluten-Free Mocktails and Adult Beverages

What goes well with a hot, sunny day and an outdoor barbecue? How about chilling with an ice-cold, refreshing drink with a colorful garnish? The mocktail trend is alive and well – and family-friendly (although you probably won’t want to call them “mocktails” when serving the youngsters – call them “punch” or “yummy drinks”). Most mocktails can be made with naturally gluten-free ingredients like seltzer water, tonic water, flavored colas and sodas, fruit juices, and most bitters. 

Here are some simple, but tasty, mocktail combinations that everyone can enjoy! 

Mock Sea/Ocean Breeze Punch

Equal parts (or to taste):

Orange juice

Pineapple juice

Splash or several splashes: Cranberry juice (Grapefruit juice optional)

Splash or squirt: Seltzer

Strawberry Mint Un-Julep

2 tbsp simple syrup

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 sliced strawberries

8-10 mint leaves

Crushed ice

Seltzer or lemon/lime soda

Muddle the simple syrup, lemon juice, and strawberries with ice (mash and stir)

Add soda, mix gently

Garnish with a strawberry slice and mint leaf

(Adult Option: 2 oz. Bourbon, hold the soda)

Cucumber Basil Un-Smash

8-10 basil leaves

8-10 cucumber slices

Crushed ice

2 tbsp simple syrup

1 tbsp lemon juice

Soda water/seltzer

Splash of tonic water

Muddle the cucumber slices and basil with ice (mash and stir)

Add simple syrup, lemon juice, stir

Pour seltzer

Add a splash of tonic water or to taste

(Adult Option: 2 oz. Gin)

Virgin Sangria

Seasonal or favorite fruit such as apples, oranges, lemons, limes, or strawberries

Grape juice

Apple juice

Orange juice

Lemon juice

Cranberry juice

Optional: Seltzer or lemon/lime soda

Cut fruit – add to a pitcher

Add equal parts grape, apple, and orange juice

Add a few splashes of lemon juice

Add a few splashes of cranberry juice

Put pitcher in the fridge to chill

Add a cup of seltzer or soda (optional for a fizzy drink)

Pour over ice

TIP: Instead of adding a splash of cranberry juice, freeze cranberry juice in an ice cube tray and use as ice in drinking glasses.

Shirley Temple-ish

Ginger ale

Splash of lemonade

Splash of grenadine

Top with a cherry and a lime slice

When it comes to adult beverages, only gluten-free beers (versus gluten-removed) are safe to consume. If you like hard ciders or spiked seltzers, you’re in luck – those are often gluten-free. If you prefer spirits, any distilled liquor, with no added ingredients after distillation, is considered gluten-free. Check out the GIG article on Distillation Versus Fermentation.

GFCO-certified Gluten-Free Adult Beverages

For your convenience, we’ve listed the brands that offer some GFCO-certified gluten-free alcoholic beverages. Double check the labels before purchasing or consuming. You can search for other GFCO-certified products on the GFCO website. 



ALT Brew 

Coors Peak 

Ground Breaker Brewing 

Holidaily Brewing 

New Grist Gluten Free Beer 

La Gosa Rita 


Hard Kombucha:

Allkind Hard Kombucha 

Local Roots Kombucha 


Sparkling/Selzer beverages:

Cape Line 

Coors Hard Selzer 

Mighty Swell 



Hard Ciders:


Smith & Forge 

As you can see, with some thoughtful modifications and accommodations, your grill and chill afternoon can be decidedly gluten-free. Happy summer!

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare team when considering this information.  

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