How to Spot Hidden Gluten at a Barbecue - Healthy recipes and cooking tips for a healthier lifestyle

How to Spot Hidden Gluten at a Barbecue

June 8, 2022
How to Spot Hidden Gluten at a Barbecue

Aside from obvious gluten-filled foods, here’s how to find gluten hiding in barbecue fare.

If you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, you already know the importance of reducing or eliminating gluten from your diet. In some cases, spotting foods that contain gluten may be easy to do. You know that foods containing wheat, rye and barley are off limits. But there are other foods that may contain hidden gluten, in the form of additives such as malt, dextrin and modified food starch, as well as other ingredients. And those aren’t as easy to spot.

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During a summer barbecue, there are some obvious foods you’ll avoid if you can’t eat gluten. For example, you’ll skip the roll that holds your hot dog or hamburger, unless there are gluten-free rolls available. You may also pass on foods like pasta salad or the strawberry shortcake served for dessert, unless you know it’s been made from a gluten-free recipe.

But there are other foods commonly served at barbecues that may contain hidden gluten and these are the ones that can trip you up if you’re not careful. Thankfully, many foods are now labeled as gluten-free, which makes it easier to know what you can eat and what foods to avoid—if you can check the label. But if you're not eating at home, spotting gluten hiding in foods is harder to do.

Barbecue Fare Containing Hidden Gluten

Here are some common foods you’ll find at a barbecue that may be hiding gluten:

Processed meats:

Hot dogs, sausage and other processed meats may contain hidden gluten under names like modified food starch or natural flavors. If you can’t imagine a barbecue without these crowd-pleasing favorites, check labels carefully.

Gluten-free barbecue recipe: Wow guests at your next barbecue with this tasty gluten-free jambalaya recipe made with turkey or chicken sausage.


You may not think of mustard as a gluten-filled condiment, but if you’re very sensitive to gluten, you may want to give your mustard another look. The vinegar used to make the mustard may be distilled from gluten-containing grains such as wheat. Manufacturers are not required to put the source of the vinegar on the label so if you need to completely avoid gluten, stick with brands labeled as gluten-free.

Gluten-free barbecue recipe: Here’s a tasty gluten-free appetizer that’s perfect for your next barbecue. It contains mustard, but is easily made without gluten.


Some pickles are made using malt vinegar, which comes from barley. If the ingredient list is not specific, choose a brand labeled gluten-free if you’re buying the pickles. If you’re at someone else’s barbecue, ask to see the label of the pickle jar or skip the pickles if you can’t have gluten because they may make you sick.

Gluten-free barbecue recipe: Love the taste of pickles? Try this delicious Dilled Cucumber Salad recipe. It’s gluten-free and refreshing.

French fries:

Potatoes and oil are gluten-free, but if you’re eating packaged fries, check the label for ingredients that may contain hidden gluten. If you are eating fries out, be aware that fries may be cooked alongside breaded onion rings or chicken fingers.

Gluten-free barbecue recipe: You won’t find gluten in this scratch-made fries recipe that is sure to be a hit at your next barbecue!

If you’re hosting a barbecue, it’s up to you to read labels carefully so you can find hidden sources of gluten in the foods you buy. When in doubt, look for a gluten-free brand or find a gluten-free alternative. If you’re heading to someone else’s home to enjoy a summer meal, bring along a dish you know has been made with gluten-free ingredients (like one of our gluten-free barbecue recipes!) so you can indulge without worry.

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