Some people say their sweet tooth gets the strongest around the holidays. Me? I often find myself craving a little sugary goodness all throughout the year. To balance things out and shift my focus to what I’m including in my diet versus what I’m eliminating, this looks like fruit, tea, or a few squares of dark chocolate after a meal. But if I’m being honest, sometimes these lightened-up subs for my real-deal faves (I count carrot cake, brownies, and ice cream among them), just don’t cut it. But here’s the good news: It’s 2022, and there’s no shortage of delicious dessert recipes out there that mix good-for-you ingredients with indulgent flavors. So after years of experimenting with every gluten-free flour and egg substitute on the market, I can attest that these are the best gluten-free dairy-free dessert recipes out there.
While baking can be intimidating, there’s something meditative about slowing down in the kitchen. Many of us wouldn’t spend more than an hour mixing, fondant-shaping, and frosting on a regular night, but when you shift your mindset and think about baking as a time to get creative and have a little fun, the experience transforms. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than a delicious, homemade dessert that you can share with friends and loved ones.
Feature image by Michelle Nash.
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From pies to cookies to homemade ice creams, we’ve rounded up the best gluten-free, dairy-free dessert recipes that are easy, elegant, and truly crave-worthy. We’ve got options that are also refined-sugar-free, saving your blood sugar from the dreaded spike. So scroll on for our favorite gluten-free dessert recipes (that are also dairy-free) to satisfy everyone on your list.
Note: All recipes can be made gluten and dairy-free. We’ve included some vegan, soy-free, refined sugar-free, and nut-free options, but as always, be sure to carefully read all of the ingredient information to ensure it’s free of any allergens or restrictions you might have.
10 Best Gluten-Free Dairy-free Dessert Recipes To Try This Weekend
Why We Love It: These gluten-free dairy-free brownies are as close to the real deal as you can get. They’re fudgy, gooey, rich, and undetectably gluten- and dairy-free. Cane sugar and maple syrup keep things refined sugar-free, almond butter and flax eggs give the brownies the perfect texture, and dairy-free milk, butter, and chocolate chips bring the moisture. Once your batter is mixed, sprinkle with chocolate chips and flakey salt for maximum flavor and visual appeal. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for the pan to cool before diving in.
Hero Ingredient: Sea salt goes a long way here. A small sprinkle sends that chocolate flavor over the top.
Why We Love It: Golden-brown, made-from-scratch shortcakes are the perfect vessel for sweet, fresh strawberries and fluffy whipped (coconut) cream. They’re light on the inside, crispy on the outside, and taste amazing all on their own. That said, they’re made even better by the sweetened strawberries that top them. All you have to do is combine sliced strawberries with powdered sugar and chill while you prep the shortcakes.
Hero Ingredient: Seriously, the coconut whipped cream will be your new favorite dairy-free alternative. Whip up a little extra to eat with fresh berries, top a pie, or to spoon into your morning coffee for an indulgent treat.
Why We Love It: Vegan and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies that taste great and are better for you? Sign me up. These tasty treats boast oats, walnuts, cinnamon, sea salt, almond butter, chia seeds, and so much more goodness. They’re moist (sorry), chewy, and totally delicious. These cookies are also great for wrapping up and gifting to a friend in need, delivering for the holidays, or packing in your kiddos’ lunch boxes.
Hero Ingredient: Pro tip: Though the recipe doesn’t call for it, toasting your walnuts beforehand brings an extra nuttiness to the cookie that’s just divine.
Why We Love It: Good old-fashioned carrot cake gets a revamp in the form of gluten-free, vegan cupcakes. They’re one of those “cleaned up classics” that you can’t go wrong with. They retain all the classic flavor and texture of carrot cake—perfectly moist, sweet, and bursting with spiced goodness. These cupcakes are another dessert to make and pack away for your friends, family, or anyone in your circle who could use a pick-me-up.
Hero Ingredient: To give your cupcakes extra pizazz, grate some walnuts over top of the icing and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon. It’s the little things.
Why We Love It: Decadent, nourishing, and all-grown-up, this gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free cookie recipe is a gem. By looking at the ingredient list, you’d never know how delicious these cookies are, but believe me—they’re exceptional. They have bits of salty roasted peanuts, chunky peanut butter, and crunchy coconut sugar threaded throughout the dough that makes them oh-so-tasty. Gifting a few of these bad boys to a friend will certainly make their day!
Hero Ingredient: The crunchy peanuts on top seal the deal on texture.
Why We Love It: It’s never too early for pumpkin pie, and this recipe is proof. The creamy, sweet squash combined with warming spices and a crisp crust signals the start of fall like no other. This is a great recipe to serve at fall gatherings to give everyone in your circle a delicious dessert to enjoy. Plus, what’s more welcoming than the smell of pumpkin pie baking away? I can’t think of much.
Hero Ingredient: Coconut milk in the filling keeps everything light, creamy, and wonderfully smooth.
Why We Love It: If you haven’t jumped on the grilled peach bandwagon yet, this is your sign. Grilled peaches maintain all of their juicy sweetness and are made even better by the bitter grill marks that grace the edges. The best part? They only require four ingredients: peaches, olive oil, salt, and honey. If it suits your fancy, a scoop of dairy-free vanilla ice cream brings a creamy coolness to the mix that’s simply mouthwatering. Grill those peaches, people!
Hero Ingredient: Fresh basil or mint is a great addition. The herbs’ floral freshness elevates those peaches to new heights.
Why We Love It: When September comes around the temps start to dip, like clockwork, our pumpkin spice cravings take over. With a PSL in hand, you can bet we’re headed straight into the kitchen to bake up these fluffy, moist muffins that make the perfect fall breakfast. Without any dairy or gluten in sight, they pack tons of flavor with all your fall favorites: pumpkin purée (of course), maple syrup, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. It’s halfway through September, and I’ve already gotten into the habit of baking these once a week.
Hero Ingredient: If pumpkin’s in the name, you can bet pumpkin pie spice is a clutch flavor booster.
Why We Love It: No dessert roundup is complete without homemade ice cream, and this mango-basil version nails it. It’s refreshing enough to enjoy on the hottest late-summer and early-fall days and even carries over well into the season. It’s a healthier dessert that satisfies every sweet craving perfectly. With a velvety texture, fresh fruit flavor, and a little dose of basil’s freshness, you’ll want this one on repeat.
Hero Ingredient: Coconut milk is the key to super creamy vegan ice cream. Its dairy-free richness lends itself so well to whatever flavors you choose to pair it with.
Why We Love It: Naturally-sweetened and downright delicious, this pumpkin cheesecake might be one of the healthiest desserts around. It’s perfect for fall celebrations and potlucks alike with its seasonal appeal and ease. If you know someone who’s on the fence about pumpkin pie, serve them a slice of this and be ready to blow their mind!
Hero Ingredient: Want a super creamy filling minus the dairy? Soaked raw cashews are always the answer.
This post was originally published on November 19, 2020, and has since been updated.
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