Deciding what to prepare when guests are coming over for dinner can be a stressful task. You want to be the best host possible, provide delicious food, and make the evening enjoyable for everyone. This can be even more difficult when one of your guests has a dietary restriction, such as being gluten free. But with some of my tips & tricks below, hosting a gluten free dinner can be an easy and fun event!
1. Ask Questions
It’s important to communicate openly with your Gluten Free guest! Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification of their dietary needs. It’s better to ask than to assume and accidentally put something in the dinner that could make your guest sick. Ask them for dinner suggestions, or if you have a dish in mind, send them the ingredients list to confirm that everything is safe for them to consume. You can even ask what their go-to store is for gluten free products.
Whenever I go over to a friends to eat, I appreciate it so much when they reach out to me before hand to confirm or inquire about the menu. It really reassures me that they care about my dietary restrictions and are taking it seriously. Open communication with your guest is the best way to host a successful gluten free dinner!
Being gluten free, I always get a bit nervous going over to someone else’s house for dinner. I know not everyone understands my intolerance or knows what to look when shopping for gluten free ingredients. I feel bad grilling them about what ingredients they used because I know they put so much effort into the wonderful meal. This is why it’s important to research beforehand, so you know what is safe for your gluten free guests. The fact that you are reading this is a great 1st step!
Look at Ingredients
When buying ingredients look for a “gluten free” symbol on the packaging. Many gluten free products can be found in the “natural aisle” of the grocery store.
Make sure to look at the ingredients list of EVERY item you are planning to use in your cooking. Don’t use anything with the words wheats, rye, barley, or malt in the ingredients list. Also avoid anything that says “May Contain Wheat”. There are many sneaky items that contain gluten that may surprise you, so be diligent! For example, most soy sauces, salad dressings and other common condiments are not gluten free.
Remember: If you aren’t 100% sure about an ingredient, it’s best to leave it out! You can always add it in later once your gluten free guest comes over and checks the ingredient label for themselves.
Avoid Cross Contamination
It is important to differentiate if your guest avoids gluten due to an intolerance vs Celiac Disease. If they have Celiac Disease it is crucial you take the steps to avoid cross contamination while cooking for them. Cross contamination is when small gluten particles come into contact with the gluten free food via shared cooking utensils, counter tops, or cooking appliances. Make sure to use a clean cooking space and clean utensils when cooking for your gluten free guests. Be sure not to use spreads/condiments that you may have previously dipped a gluten contaminated spoon or knife into. A common example is butter/margarine. This has usually previously been contaminated with gluten from bread. So if you have to use it in your cooking, its best to buy it new.
Also, be wary of the type of appliance you are using to cook. Gluten free food shouldn’t be put on a surface where gluten food was previously cooked and not cleaned. This includes directly on oven racks, BBQ racks, and in toasters.
Click here for more information on the basics of safe gluten free eating!
3. Ask Them To Help
One way to ensure there will be something safe for your gluten free guest to eat at your dinner party is by asking them to bring something over themselves! By having your guest bring over a gluten free appetizer, dinner dish, or dessert it makes things a lot easier on you. Plus I’m sure your friend would be more than happy to bring over one of their favourite gluten free dishes for you to try.
You can also ask them to bring over their own sauces, salad dressings, and other condiments. That way you don’t have to go spend money on new products just for one night. I went over to my friends house for dinner a few weeks ago and they were making ribs. Knowing I am gluten free, they checked the ingredients label on their BBQ sauce and found out I wasn’t able to have it. So instead of going out and buying a new sauce they just texted me and asked if I could bring over my own gluten free BBQ sauce for the ribs. I gladly did and was so happy with how transparent they were. I would way rather bring over my own gluten free products to make it easier on the host and to know that what I’m consuming is definitely gluten free!
4. Buy Pre-Made
This is one of the BEST tips for hosting a gluten free dinner. Buying gluten free appetizers, side dishes, and desserts pre-made makes things so much easier on you. All you have to do is shop around for a gluten free label and that’s that!
Lots of grocery stores have a large selection of gluten free products. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to browse the shelves to look for the “gluten free” labels. In Canada my favourite stores for gluten free products are Costco (Queso dip is gluten free!), The Real Canadian Superstore (Presidents choice has a line of gluten free products), Save on Foods (gluten free products are labelled right next to the price tag throughout the store), and M&M’s Meat Shop (best gluten free burgers ad ice cream sandwiches!).
For my American friends, Trader Joe’s has many amazing gluten free products! Check out some of the best listed here.
5. Choose the Right Beverages
It’s important to keep in mind the type of beverages you have to offer your gluten free guest. Beer of any type is a no-go (unless it specifically says it’s gluten free)! Many hard ice teas, coolers, and Sake may have gluten in them in the form of malt. It’s best to stick to Coolers that say gluten free on the label.
Hard liquor is also a safe choice. Gluten is removed during the distillation process so any type of hard liquor should be safe for your gluten free guest. Vodka, gin, brandy, rum and tequila and all considered gluten free, just be sure whatever you are mixing it with is also gluten free!
Tea, juice, and soda’s are safe choices (even most root-beer is gluten free)!
6. Keep Items Separate
You may be hosting multiple people at your dinner and have some options that contain gluten and some that are gluten free. If this is the case, you should keep the gluten free food in its own area. This way your gluten free guest will know exactly what is safe to eat. You also lessen the chance of cross contamination by having the food in its own separate area.
7. Keep Things Simple
When hosting a gluten free dinner, the best way to keep things easy and stress free is to keep things simple! The more elaborate the dish, the more likely there may be gluten in one of the ingredients. Most natural food is gluten free. So if you stick to healthy veggies, meat, fruit, cheese, and beans you should be alright!
Here are some easy Gluten Free Dinner Ideas
- Gluten free dip like tzatziki or hummus with veggies
- Gluten free crackers & meat with cheese
- Gluten free salsa or guacamole with corn tortilla chips
- Salad with gluten free dressing (no croutons)
- Steak, Salmon, Chicken or Pork chops with veggies and gluten free rice
- Gluten free pasta
- Gluten Free Ice Cream
- Fruit Plate
- Gluten Free Brownie or Cookie mix
For a list of great easy gluten free snack ideas click here.
Do you have any more tips for hosting a gluten free dinner? Let me know in the comments!