Barbecue Food for Allergy Sufferers

The sun is out, the garden is full of friends and family; it’s all looking good for a great afternoon of good food and good conversation. You give the yell that the grub is ready and everyone surges forward to feast on the delicious selection of meats and salads you’ve spent the afternoon preparing. All except one person, that is. What’s going on? It turns out that that unfortunate person has a food allergy and dares not risk the consequences of tucking into your lovingly prepared and perfectly barbecued food. It’s ok, they reassure you, they brought a Tupperware with some plain rice and they’ll be just fine with that. Oh dear, not the ideal situation!

Cooking for people with food allergies can be very tricky and because people can be allergic to such a variety of different things, it can be very hard to cover all the bases. But if you try and cater for one or two of the more common allergies then you can rest assured you’ve done your best. One particular food  that a growing number of people are discovering they’re allergic to is gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. This allergy is known as coeliac disease and it causes bloating, painful stomach cramps and damages the lining of the intestine. In severe cases even a small amount of gluten will make the sufferer feel very unwell indeed, so this means things like burger buns, beers and pasta salads are all off the menu for them – not much fun at a barbecue

If you know you’re going to have a guest who suffers with this condition at your barbecue then try and arrange some gluten alternatives for them. Burgers just don’t taste the same without a bun, so have a look in your local supermarket for some wheat-free buns or baps. Most bigger branches of Sainsbury’s and Tesco should have a gluten-free section in the bread aisle or speciality foods aisle so they won’t be hard to come across. And if you have the time you could go all out and make homemade burger buns with white rice flour instead of wheat flour. They are quite time consuming, but your guests will be so appreciative of the effort you’ve made as shop bought gluten-free bread products can be a little dry and flavourless. 
Another thing that coeliac sufferers have to avoid is beer as barley and rye also contain gluten.  A great alternative is, of course, cider which is the perfect beverage to enjoy over ice on a hot sunny afternoon. Nowadays you can get all manner of fancy flavoured ciders, from pear to mixed berries, as well as the traditional apple ciders. Bulmers, Magners and Aspalls offer the widest variety.

If your guests would prefer something a little less sweet then you could offer them a gluten-free beer. Until recently beers like this have been pretty hard to come by, particularly in the UK, but with more and more people being diagnosed with coeliac disease every year, brewers have realised there is a real market for it. You may not be able to pick them up too readily in your local supermarket, but if you check out Green’s gluten-free beers you’ll find a selection of fine pale and dark ales that have all been brewed with de-glutenised barley malt. They’ll deliver to England and Wales for the very reasonable price of £8.50 for up to two cases.

Nut allergies, though not as common as gluten allergies can also rule out barbecues for the people who suffer from them.  In fact, having a nut allergy rules out an awful lot of foods for sufferers, as there are hidden traces of nuts in so many foods. One of the biggest culprits is the humble peanut as ground peanuts are used to thicken lots of sauces and marinades. And even if nuts are not in the actual list of ingredients most manufacturers will tell you that they can’t guarantee the sauce is 100% nut free. If you know you’re going to be feeding someone with a nut allergy it’s a good idea to try and make some sauce yourself. You may find that your guest quizzes you quite intensely on the ingredients, but don’t be offended by this, the reason they have to be so careful is because they can become very ill if they ingest even the tiniest bit of nut. Some people can even go into anaphalactic shock and die. To be on the safe side make a list of the things you’ve put into your sauce and leave it typed out beside the serving table so your guest can double check for themselves. It might seem like a lot of effort, but anyone with an allergy will be so appreciative of the effort you’ve made, particularly as they have to spend their lives asking restaurants and other eateries what the sauce is made from! Here’s a great recipe for homemade barbecue sauce that all your guests will be able to enjoy, even the allergy sufferers.


  • 245g (9 oz) apple sauce or purée
  • 120g (4 oz) ketchup
  • 340g (12 oz) dark brown soft sugar
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave the mixture in the fridge for an hour before marinating your barbecue meats with a generous amount of the sauce.

As with other occasions where you’re preparing food for guests, if you try and find out beforehand if anyone has any special dietary needs, this will make your barbecue a real success and ensure that everyone enjoys the fruits (and meats) of your labour.

If you want easy cooking for your friends try a gas barbecue.