If you’ve made the decision to eliminate gluten from your diet (or been required to for health reasons), then you may have discovered that dessert options for the non-gluten-inclined seem few and far between. Grocery stores and bakeries are rife with baked goods, but often light on gluten-free varieties. Dear readers, take heart! Going gluten-free does not mean going dessert-free for the rest of your life.
In fact, there are loads of gluten-free desserts options out there. And the best news? Gluten-free folk can have our dessert and eat it too — all without compromising on our health. Check out our list of 62 healthy recipes for gluten-free desserts, and tell your taste buds “you’re welcome”.
Cakes and Pies
Photo: Caroline Edwards / Chocolate & Carrots
1. Chocolate Cupcakes
Who says sugar is the only way to satisfy a sweet tooth? This recipe is free of added sugars. Instead, stevia and coconut oil bring the sweet, while cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peanut butter, and espresso powder contribute a range of flavors to these bites of gluten-free goodness.
2. Lemon Polenta Cake
Almond flour and polenta form the base for this melt-in-your-mouth confection. The recipe calls for a substantial amount of butter and sugar, so it may not be the healthiest recipe out there — but the whole ingredients help establish this cake as a healthier option. If you’re interested in cutting back on the butter and sugar, it’s easy to try some simple, healthier substitutions.
3. Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Cake
We know garbanzo beans (the common source of the culinary delight known as hummus) might not be the first thing you reach for when dreaming of chocolate cake. But hear this recipe out: It’s high in protein, relatively low in sugar, and (perhaps unexpectedly) delicious.
4. Angel Food Cake
If it’s good enough for the angels, it’s good enough for us. The list of (almost exclusively) dry ingredients, which includes cream of tartar, rice flour, and potato starch, seems to magically transform into moist, fat-free, melt-in-your mouth cake that’s fit for the heavens (or at least a summer potluck). Top it with fresh fruit for extra vitamins and nutrients.
5. Bananas Foster Loaf Cake
Now a person can be dairy-free and gluten free and have a cake and eat it too (whoa). Several large bananas contribute vitamins C and B6 as well as carotenoids. Mix ‘em up with some gluten-free flour (the recipe calls for a specific brand, but feel free to use any mix) and a few other pantry staples to make a moist, banana-bread-esque cake in under an hour.
6. Blueberry Pudding Cake
It’s a pudding! It’s a cake! It’s both at the same time — and it’s probably best to have a napkin handy when it comes time to eat. Almond meal, soy milk, egg whites, and blueberries (a superfood rich in vitamin C and antioxidants) combine with some gluten-free pantry staples to make a deliciously weird concoction.
7. Chocolate Panna Cotta
Even if you never make this recipe, follow this link to drool over the photo. Do it; do it now! This gorgeous panna cotta is made with nothing but almond milk, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, coconut oil, agave nectar, and just a bit of agar agar (a vegan thickening agent). It’s low in fat and sugar and high in deliciousness.
8. Upside Down Lemon Meringue Pie
This beautiful pie looks like a burst of sunshine cradled in a gluten-free crust. Work up an appetite whisking together eggs, cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Add in a lemon mixture and some cream and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous, light, gluten-free pie.
9. Key Lime Avocado Pie
Bravo to the avocado! Shredded coconut, dates, and macadamia nuts lend sweetness and crunch to balance out the smooth superfood, which is a great source of carotenoids, vitamins E and B6, and healthy fats. The result is one of the greenest — and cheeriest — pies we’ve ever seen.
10. Raw Berry Blueberry Pie & Pudding
Here’s another interesting take on pudding. Strawberries, blueberries, and chia seeds pack this dessert with super nutrients, including antioxidants and vitamin C (from the berries) and more antioxidants and healthy fats (from the chia seeds). Bonus: This six-ingredient confection is free of not only gluten, but also soy, dairy, grains, eggs, granulated sugar, and yeast. It’s a dessert virtually anyone can eat!
11. Chocolate Hazelnut Blender Pie
This one’s for all the lazy chefs out there. Simply toss all the ingredients (yes, all of ‘em) in a blender, pour the mixture into a greased pie plate, and bake for 40-60 minutes before enjoying this coconutty, chocolately vegan delight. It’s low in fat and sugar (thanks to the use of vegan margarine and agave nectar), relatively high in protein (thanks to several organic eggs), and packs some healthy fats thanks to a heaping cup of hazelnuts.
12. Yogurt Tartlets
Even though the recipe calls for maple syrup, eggs, yogurt, and oats, this ain’t no breakfast buffet. Instead, it’s the makings for incredibly adorable, smooth and creamy tartlets jam-packed with health foods and with a cherry on top (or strawberry — your choice).
13. Crepes: No longer will gluten-free folk be excluded from enjoying a classic brunch. These dairy-free, gluten-free crepes are made from surprisingly few ingredients, including eggs, soy milk, corn starch, and a few other pantry staples — all of which add up to a low-sugar, low-fat meal. Have the friends over on Sunday and see if they can tell the difference.
14. Flourless Honey-Almond Cake
Honey and almonds lend wholesome sweetness and flavor to this simple cake. Although honey is undeniably sugary, it boasts numerous health benefits, such as antibacterial properties. Almonds are considered a good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and other minerals and nutrients. Take this cake for a spin with afternoon tea or serve it as a lighter, warm-weather dessert.
15. Spicy Cherry-Chocolate Soufflés
Speaking of cherries: The superfood (which is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects) takes on a starring role in these flavorful little soufflés. Coconut sugar (and coconut rum!) add sweetness to balance out the cherry’s tartness and enhance the soufflés’ chocolately flavor.
Crisps and Cobblers
16. Blueberry Cobbler
Chock full of blueberries and almonds (or almond meal) and relatively low in sugar, this richly-colored dessert packs a nutritional punch. Make sure to snap some photos before digging in — the berry-blue color is beautiful.
17. Peach Crisp
This one probably works best in the summer (when fresh peaches are plentiful), but we’re guessing it’s worth the wait. It’s also incredibly simple: Peaches (or any summer fruits), gluten-free flour, some butter and sugar (though not tons!), and a cup of oats equal a tasty, wholesome dessert. (Can’t wait till summer? We bet frozen peaches would work great, too.)
18. Apple Crisp
Thank goodness GF folks don’t have to give up the comforting delicacy that is homemade apple crisp. Coconut flower, gluten free, high-fiber oats, and (of course) some crunchy, good-for-you apples (which are high in fiber and antioxidants) combine in a fresh update to this classic dish.
19. Blueberry Clafoutis
This recipe is adapted from the illustrious Julia Child’s own work, so you know it’s gotta be good. It’s a less messy (and more bready) version of the cobbler above. Almond and vanilla extracts, honey, and Saigon cinnamon (fancy!) bring sweetness and flavor to this recipe without overdoing it on sugar.
20. Blackberry Cobbler
Here’s one sugar-free, gluten-free recipe that’s certainly not taste-free. This cobbler relies on agave nectar and some sweet, vitamin-rich blackberries to flavor a base of gluten-free baking flour, a bit of milk, and only half a stick of butter for the entire dish.
Puddings and Mousses
21. The Healthiest Chocolate Mousse
Dates, avocado (and the healthy fats that come with it), almond butter (which equals more healthy fats), vitamin-rich bananas, a sprinkling of energy-boosting chia seeds, and raw cacao powder come together in a beautiful, dairy-free concoction bound to have us licking the bowls and spoons.
22. Berry Mousse
Featuring two heaping cups of berries and more than half a cup of chia seeds, this mousse is packed with the powers of superfoods. Bonus: the only “cooking” required is pressing the blender’s “on” button.
23. Berries ‘n Cream Chia Pudding
A creamier take on the berry mousse above, this coconutty pudding is free of dairy, gluten, added sugar, yeast, corn, and grains — and yet the picture still makes us drool.
24. Hot Chocolate Pudding
We’re not sure how eggs, bittersweet chocolate, and just a bit of butter, sugar, and salt can turn into what looks like gooey chocolate brownies in a mug — but we’re certainly willing to give it a try.
25. Blueberry-Peach Bread Pudding
A bread pudding recipe doesn’t really seem to fit in on a list of gluten-free delectables — and that’s exactly what makes this recipe so excellent. Gluten-free bread, eggs, nutmeg and cinnamon, and plenty of fresh fruit combine to make a chewy, filling, and relatively nutritious dessert.
26. Vanilla Cardamom Tapioca Pudding
This pudding looks as pretty as its name makes it sound. Tapioca pearls, hemp milk, cardamom (of course), and a few other pantry staples combine to make a uniquely-flavored, low-fat, low-sugar, pearly-white cup o’delight.
27. Chocolate and Vanilla Pudding Parfaits
These black-and-white pudding cups manage to sneak in a heck of a lot of good-for-you foods: Dates, avocado, sunflower seed butter, almond milk, honey, and chopped fresh fruit sound like the contents of a shopping bag from the farmer’s market — but they combine to look like a prettier, more wholesome version of those pudding cups we all loved as kids.
28. Creamy Breakfast Rice Pudding
This rice pudding is healthy enough to eat for dessert or breakfast. Both vegan and gluten-free, the dish relies on cooked brown rice, some non-dairy milk, and a variety of seasonings (including cocoa powder!) to bring flavor and sweetness to a low-sugar, low-fat breakfast, snack, or post-dinner dessert.
29. Vanilla Pudding
This one’s so easy to make it’s almost funny. Combine cashews, honey or agave (two of our favorite sugar substitutes), water, and vanilla bean in a blender (really, that’s it!), refrigerate overnight, and voila: a gluten-free, dairy-free, delicious treat.
30. Almost-Instant Pumpkin Mousse
The color might be a little off-putting, but the nutrient profile is not: pumpkin (a superfood in our book) plus cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and marshmallow crème are the sole ingredients in this easy-to-make mousse.
31. Chai Chocolate Pots de Crème
Chai spices and ginger (which is loaded with health properties) add richness and flavor to these beautiful baked custards. The image shows the cup o’ custard sitting on top of a string of pearls, but we’re pretty sure it’ll taste good even if you don’t raid grandma’s jewelry drawer.
32. Congo Bars
These decadent-looking bars are made from surprisingly healthy(ish) ingredients, including dark chocolate and nuts, and they really kick things up a notch with the addition of a little dark rum. Who says you can’t kill too evening indulgences with one stone?
33. Chocolate Chip Cookies
These guys might not hold together as well as the original variety, but luckily the differences end there. Fiber-rich oats, healthy-fat-rich walnuts, and vitamin-rich apple sauce up the health factor of this gluten-free twist on a cookie classic.
34. Ginger Snaps
The vegan, gluten-free dough used in this recipe lends itself to being rolled out and cut into shapes, so make sure the cookie cutters are handy. Ground ginger, cinnamon, and other spices add a health kick to this winter favorite.
36. Chocolate Chip & Double Chocolate Meringues
Meringues are a perennial gluten-free favorite, and this recipe is no exception. Seven simple ingredients and some serious mixing and sifting add up to low-fat, low-sugar, melt-in-your mouth drops o’ sweetness.
37. Coconut Macaroons
Another gluten-free dessert classic: the macaroon. Unsweetened shredded coconut, vanilla extract, agave nectar, egg whites, and a little sea salt make for one of the lowest-sugar desserts on the market.
38. Peppermint Patties
Who knew four whole ingredients are all that’s needed to make a homemade version of the peppermint patty? Dazzle friends with your culinary prowess and get your peppermint-chocolate fix on with this easy recipe. Dark chocolate contributes antioxidants and stress-fighting powers while peppermint aids digestion.
39. Five-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Skip the flour and head straight for the peanut butter. These low-carb, soft, chewy cookies are testament to the fact that “gluten-free” and “delicious cookie” are not mutually exclusive terms.
40. The Raw Brownie
We tried, but we seriously cannot find one offensive ingredient in this recipe for raw brownies. Walnuts, dates, cacao, almonds, and sea salt all contribute health properties to these deceptively good-for-you delights.
41. Chocolate Fudge
Gluten-free, dairy-free fudge? Yes please! This stuff gets its sweet flavor and creamy texture from coconut butter, almond butter, a banana, cocoa powder, and some staples from the spice rack. Bonus: The recipe calls for zero added sugar!
42. Tropical Dessert Parfait
Chia seeds, flaxseeds, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit — this recipe’s nutrient profile is making us swoon. Mix in a little reduced-fat cream cheese for, well, creaminess, layer all the ingredients on top of each other, and you’ve got a dessert that’s healthy enough to qualify as “breakfast.”
43. Sliced Oranges and Pears with Mint Sugar: This one might not satisfy the most devoted of sweet teeth, but it certainly qualifies as healthy — and dessert-like. Oranges, pears, mint leaves, and just a bit of sugar per serving make for a light, simple dessert best served on a warm summer day.
44. Caramelized Pineapple: It’s simple, it’s elegant, and it will impress the in-laws. And at only half a cup sugar and two tablespoons of butter for the entire pineapple, its nutritional profile ain’t too shabby either (for a dessert, anyway).
45. Slow-Cooker Bananas Foster: Good-for-you honey, cinnamon, bananas, coconut oil (plus just a splash of dear ‘ol Captain Morgan) make for gooey, sweet bananas foster that can be served as a topping for pies or ice cream or (if you’re watching your sugar intake) as a standalone dessert.
47. Ginger and Cardamom Poached Pears: Cardamom and ginger play starring roles next to vitamin-rich Bartlett or Anjou pears. Some lemon juice, sugar, and a few more seasonings take these curvaceous beauties to a whole other level of flavor.
48. Apple Pie Parfait: Superfoods apples, almonds, and cinnamon plus protein-rich Greek yogurt all contribute to this pretty little parfait’s nutritional punch, while honey, a dash of brown sugar, and a splash of maple syrup contribute to its bonafide “dessert” status.
49. Dried Fruit Compote with Ginger Tea and Lemon
These may sound fancy, but they’re actually made from one of the simplest recipes on this list (provided you have a crock pot). Green tea, lemon zest, and (dried) fruit make for a chewy, sweet, satisfying dessert that packs an antioxidant punch.
50. Banana-Blackberry Yogurt Popsicles
The term “frozen yogurt” has never been more literal. Combine milk, honey, bananas, and blackberries with regular old yogurt, blend it all together, and freeze the whole shebang for happy, vitamin- and protein-rich nomming whenever the desire strikes.
51. Chocolate Almond Butter Popsicles
Combine bananas, almond butter, cacao powder, and vanilla extract (and stevia, if desired). Blend and then freeze the mixture. The result? A delicious, high-nutrient, satisfying warm-weather dessert.
52. Mango-Banana Popsicles
These cheery little popsicles are made from only two things: mangos and bananas. If that doesn’t qualify as a “healthy dessert,” we don’t know what will.
53. Avocado Frosty Fudge Pops
Experience being a kid all over again with this healthier take on Fudgsicles. This dairy-free variety is made from avocados, almond milk, maple syrup, cashew butter, and a little bit of vanilla extract and cocoa powder — that’s it!
54. Banana Berry Sorbet
This vegan, health-nut-approved alternative to ice cream derives its sweetness from frozen fruit, orange juice, and a little bit of honey or agave. If you fancy a crunch in your sorbet, throw in some (gluten-free) granola or chopped almonds.
Need even more ideas? Check out these healthier gluten-free dessert recipes straight from Greatist’s own archives.
55. One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream
A healthy, non-diary, low-fat ice cream that counts towards our daily fruit quota? Yes please! Bonus: This “ice cream” is healthy enough to have with breakfast (or any other time of the day).
56. Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies
Try these Greatist-approved chocolate treats: Delicious, gluten-free, and vegan. A successful and easy baking recipe with no butter, eggs, gluten, or dairy!
57. Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie
Skim milk (or soy or almond, if that's your thing), cocoa powder, frozen blueberries, and a touch of maple syrup create the creamy, rich texture and flavors of a classic diner milkshake — only with far less sugar, and an added antioxidant boost from the cocoa powder and blueberries.
58. Chocolate Fruit Bark
This chocolate bark recipe starts with antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and adds some dazzle with dried apricots and figs, raisins, and cashews. The addition of the dried fruit and nuts counteracts the chocolate’s intensity and adds in a healthy dose of antioxidants and fiber.
59. Super Simple Fresh Plum Sorbet
This four-ingredient fresh fruit sorbet is packed with vitamins and antioxidants and is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth (we recommend trying this in the summer, when fresh plums are plentiful).
60. Baked Stuffed Apples with Maple Cream
Try satisfying your sweet tooth with these healthier, naturally gluten-free baked apples. Stuffed with dates and pecans, then doused in a delicious maple-mascarpone sauce, they’re elegant enough to serve at a fancy gathering, yet still wholesome and satisfying.
62. Harvest Fruit Compote
Looking for a way to use up all that fall fruit? Try this simple, healthy compote for an all-natural sugar fix.
What are your favorite gluten free desserts? Will you be trying any on this list? Share in the comments below or get in touch with the author on Twitter @lauranewc.