Gluten-free Tailgate: friends partying

The first crisp weather after summer marks the season for sweaters, all things pumpkin spice, and….tailgating! Whether it’s a tent set up in a stadium parking lot or impromptu grilling in the backyard with friends before a big game, the hallmark of tailgating is the food. Unfortunately, much of the traditional tailgate food and beverages like breaded chicken wings, dips, and beer, include gluten or pose the threat for potential cross-contamination. Does this mean people with gluten intolerances and allergies should miss out on this football tradition? No way! We’ve put together a list of popular gluten-free tailgate foods and best practices to adopt while tailgating so that you can get pumped for your favorite team’s big win while staying allergen-free.

Popular Gluten-Free Tailgate Foods

Grilled Meats

Whether you prefer burgers, hot dogs, or brats, grilled meats of all varieties are a tailgate staple. The grill is a common place for cross-contamination to occur, so bring your own tongs and aluminum foil to make sure your meat remains gluten-free. Don’t forget to look for gluten-free buns in your local grocery store for hand-held ease.

Chili and Cornbread

What better way to stay warm on a cool fall afternoon than a hearty bowl of chili? There are many gluten-free chili recipes that are as easy as chopping meat and vegetables and letting the ingredients cook in a slow-cooker for several hours before the game. Serve it with a square of warm gluten-free cornbread and you’ll tackle your hunger for the whole afternoon!

Gluten-free Jalapeno Poppers

Heat things up with these tasty gluten-free jalapeno poppers without worrying about an allergic reaction. Crisped with a gluten-free bread crumb and then filled with a creamy cheese mixture, these spicy bites are not only easy to assemble–they’re also easy to eat!

Gluten-free Chicken Wings

Being gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to forgo tailgate classics like chicken wings! Look for recipes such as these gluten-free barbecue wings that don’t have a wheat flour coating and can be easily made ahead of time. Remember that some creamy dipping sauces and salad dressings can sneakily contain gluten as thickening agents so be sure to read labels carefully!


Though perhaps not the most traditional tailgate snack, quesadillas are the perfect gluten-free option for a pre-game party. They are versatile in filling options and can easily be made ahead of time in the safety of your own kitchen. Simply warm them up in a foil pouch on the grill once you set up camp outside and you’re good to go. Make sure you make you use corn tortillas and double check the ingredient list just in case.

Seven Layer Bean Dip

This naturally gluten-free seven layer bean dip is easy, delicious, and ideal for preparing for a large crowd. Dunk gluten-free corn tortilla chips through the layers as you pre-game with all your friends without having to worry about compromising your food safety. If there are gluten-containing dipping chips and crackers, ask your host to set aside a portion of the dip for you to avoid cross-contamination.

Best Practices to Avoid Tailgating Cross-Contamination

• Bring your own tongs and aluminum foil. If your party is sharing a communal grill, you might not always know what has been on the grill before your hot dog or burger. Use foil and your own tongs to ensure your food stays gluten-free.

• Hold onto original packaging for store-bought foods during the party and encourage friends to do the same if they’re bringing potluck items or hosting so that you know exactly what ingredients you’re consuming.

• Communicate ahead of time with the host to let them know your dietary needs or consider hosting the party. This will allow you to control what is served as well as how most of the food is prepared and stored.

• Label plastic cups to avoid accidentally consuming someone else’s glutinous beverage. Even a few drops of gluten-containing beer might cause a reaction in someone who has a severe gluten intolerance, so make sure you

• Avoid salsas, guacamole, and other communal dips where gluten-containing chips or crackers may have been dunked.

• BYOB. Consider bringing cider as a gluten-free alternative to beer or look for certified gluten-free beer.

• Lastly, keep your Nima nearby. It’s a great resource for double-checking which foods are truly gluten-free. Testing snacks before you eat them is discreet, quick, and takes away any possible guesswork so that you can root for your favorite team without worrying about a possible reaction.


Do you have any tailgating traditions that involve gluten-free eats? Let us know in the comments below!