Preventing cross-contamination at a gluten-free cookout with a bunch of meats on a barbecue.

Cross-contamination and Gluten-free Cookouts

Now that spring is in full swing, you’ll probably be finding yourself in some backyard BBQ situations over the course of the next few months. If you want to actually enjoy some food grilled on site for once (and not have to bring your own), there are a few easy steps you can take to prevent cross-contamination at your next BBQ!

To clear this up right away: heat does not “kill” the gluten protein and you can still be “glutened” from the residue left on the grill. The only way to completely eliminate gluten is to remove the gluten particles from the surface by cleaning it thoroughly. Otherwise, cross-contamination is a real possibility. If you’re interested in more of the science behind that, the Gluten Intolerance Group has a great article that goes a little more in-depth.

Below are some areas to look out for and some suggestions on how to combat them;

Marinades and Seasonings

  • This one isn’t as much cross-contamination as it is just We learned early on that marinades, dressings, seasonings, rubs and are notorious for adding wheat to anything and everything. Our advice: ask the host to see the seasonings being used so you can check for yourself. Bringing your own seasoning is an easy back-up option as well.

Utensils and Dishes

  • This may be the easiest one to address. Ask the grill master to use different utensils and dishes throughout the whole process. From the spatula flipping the burgers to plates the food is served on. Separate everything.


  • Keeping the gluten-full and gluten-free separate applies here too. You can ask the grill master if you can designate the upper rack to be the gluten-free rack. Gluten-FULL items on the top rack can contaminate gluten-free foods below them during the cooking process.
  • TINFOIL! Bringing your own or ask the griller to cook your food on the sheet of tinfoil. This is a safe and easy way to ensure your food won’t be contaminated on the grill!


  • You’re in the clear here. Alcoholic drinks are pretty safe for the most part. Just stay away from the specialty cocktails. We would recommend bringing a 6-pack of your favorite award-winning gluten-free beer, Guten. Click here to see where you can find us!


  • This is where it may get a little tricky. Just be wary and remember that not everyone understands how serious celiac can be or how prevalent gluten-containing products are. So if your friend tells you the bean dip doesn’t have any gluten…trust your gut. If you’re skeptical it’s better to politely decline.
  • Bringing your own sides is a great way to contribute and ensure you have a tasty accompaniment to your burger. Pro tip: include a designated gluten-free utensil in the dish you’re serving the side in to eliminate cross-contamination from your friends.

Personal Grill

  • You can get travel sized grills for relatively cheap and may be a good investment if you plan on doing a lot of grilling or attending a few cookouts this summer. You may just feel more comfortable doing the grilling yourself if the BBQ is a little hectic or you just don’t want to risk it. Grill your own food to GUARANTEE a safe and enjoyable meal.

No matter the situation, it’s never a bad idea to call the grill master before-hand to explain your situation and get a feel for what you’re going to be walking into so you can prepare accordingly!