Electric food smokers

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN

Q: Are electric meat smokers safe for celiac patients? We have learned charcoal and propane may not be safe. Electric smoker uses and electric element similar to an electric oven with woods skips for the smoke taste.


The issue with charcoal is if you use briquettes, as they may contain wheat starch. If you use briquettes there is a chance (although small) that the charcoal may have cross-contact with the food during the cooking process. However, you can use lump charcoal, which does not contain wheat starch, instead of briquettes.

Propane and electric smokers should also be fine as long as the cooking surface/grid is clean and free of gluten. I recommend cooking on foil unless the grill is scrubbed clean. The wood chips used for smoking do not contain any wheat starch.

Here is a great article by Jane Anderson where she talks about gluten and the different grilling methods: https://www.verywellhealth.com/does-charcoal-contain-gluten-562672

Some additional tips to stay gluten-free while grilling:

  • Make sure the grill surface is completely clean or use foil
  • Cook gluten-free items separately from gluten-containing foods (make the gluten-free ones first)
  • Use separate tools like tongs and spatulas
  • Make sure to check the labels for gluten-free status of all sauces, marinades and condiments used
  • Serve gluten-free foods on a separate clean plate
  • Keep gluten-containing breads such as hotdog and burger buns away from gluten-free foods
  • Always wash hands in between handling gluten-containing foods and handling gluten-free foods

Reviewed October 14, 2022.

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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