Gluten-free Summer Picnic Ideas - Celiac Disease
Jun 14 2010

Gluten-free Summer Picnic Ideas

In the South, it’s quite hot in the summer. It’s too hot for a picnic during daylight hours, in my opinion. Sometimes I wonder how I lived in Florida until I was almost 18 years old. The Atlanta area isn’t as hot as Florida and at least has distinctive seasons. However, it is still a bit warm for my taste during the summer months. We like picnics before June and after August. For those of you who enjoy picnics in the summer months, below are a few ideas of easy gluten-free dishes to share at a picnic. None of them require expensive ingredients as they are naturally gluten-free. Please note that ready-made versions of these types of dishes are not always gluten-free. For instance, there are Panko breadcrumbs in the egg salad from Trader Joe’s.

  • Egg Salad
  • Chicken Salad (this recipe from Whole Foods looks divine!)
  • Tuna Salad
  • Potato Salad
  • Carrot & Raisin Salad
  • Fresh Veggies & Dip
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Fruit Plate
  • Corn Chips & Salsa

As always, make sure to buy gluten-free ingredients for anything you’re making. Dishes with mayo or sour cream in them can’t sit out for hours in the heat so it’s a good idea to put those items into a cooler after everyone serves themselves. It’s a good idea to put a little of whatever you’re taking to the event into a small personal container for yourself. That way, a misplaced serving spoon on the picnic table won’t make you sick. Make sure to take more than you think you’ll be able to eat. There is nothing worse than being hungry at a party full of food you can’t eat. Also, consider taking some gluten-free bread, pretzels, chips or even a gluten-free bagel (Udi’s new bagels double as a hamburger bun!) just for yourself. Those things are too expensive to share with people that can eat the cheap stuff.

If there are potato chips at a picnic that you know are gluten-free, remember that once someone grabs a sandwich and then sticks their hand into the chip bowl, the chips are no longer gluten-free. That is why it’s best to have your own safe stash of food that no one can mess up. Consider taking something for your main meal, something to snack on and something for dessert. The gluten-free ginger snaps from Trader Joe’s are so reasonably priced that I don’t mind using them for lemon squares that I’m sharing with gluten eaters.

Other gluten-free dessert ideas that won’t break the bank include Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies and the new gluten-free chocolate cake mix from King Arthur Flour. The latter mix makes a two layer cake that tastes like gluten devil’s food cake. Since most gluten-free cake mixes only make a one layer cake, the new option from King Arthur is quite a value! I made the cake in a Bundt pan and slapped the canned Whipped Milk Chocolate frosting (not Whipped Chocolate) from Betty Crocker on it, as I didn’t have time to make home made frosting. Even canned frosting could not mess up the delicious cake!

These days, following the gluten-free diet does not require one to avoid social outings. We just have to approach things differently than other party guests. In my opinion, the extra effort we have to go to is well worth it. It’s all about making choices and I, for one, choose to live life to the fullest. That means I eat out as much as I can afford to, travel any time I get the chance and eat some pretty amazing food along the way. Have a great summer and enjoy a picnic – wherever you are!

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!


  1. Kim says:

    Great advice! It makes me so nervous to share chips with gluten eaters at functions. I portion mine out in advance and that not only serves as great portion control for me, but as a safety measure as well.


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