A vegetarian’s guide to the Nugget Rib Cook-Off


Lynne Lupinetti from Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ has been at the Nugget Rib Cook-Off for ten years, and has been there to witness many changes in the event. Photo by Erin Meyering

Lynne Lupinetti of Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ brushes ribs with a gluten-free BBQ sauce. / Photo by Erin Meyering

The 25th Annual Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off launched today and runs through Sept. 2. Many cookers who have traditionally served meat, meat and more meat are expanding their culinary offerings by offering vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

Lynne Lupinetti of Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ has now competed in the Nugget Rib Cook-Off for a decade and has been there to witness many of the event’s changes.

“It’s changed a lot in the ten years I’ve been here,” Lupinetti said. “We are always looking for new ideas and ways to improve on old ones.”

For the first time ever, Butch’s is offering a grilled cheese panini, as well as gluten-free rubs and sauces. Coming from a family with certain dietary concerns and limitations, Lupinetti said she has become more sympathetic to those with the same issues.

Although many cookers at the cook-off have been at it for awhile, many bring on younger members to their team. Lupinetti works alongside her 21-year-old daughter Alyson, who is one of Butch’s pitmasters. Lupinetti said newcomers bring fresh ideas, which may contribute to the menu’s makeover.

Whatever the reason, the cookers are certainly paying attention. Most of the Cook-Off’s sauces and dry rubs are gluten-free. Some cookers offer vegan or vegetarian dishes that are geared toward each meal. Uncle Bub’s has a slightly spicy macaroni & cheese, Kinder’s offers a large baked potato, and Aussom Aussie serves its classic cornbread. As expected, there will be loads of fresh coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans — however, ingredients vary based on each vendor.

Although it is the nation’s biggest rib cook-off, there is an increasing number of options for those with dietary preferences or concerns.

“It’s great that the cookers are adding new menu items that cater to those with special dietary needs,” said Lauren Garber, the Nugget’s Public Relations Manager. “The Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off is truly is an event for everyone.”

For a full list of the vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options at the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off, click here.