With warmer weather finally here, everyone’s more than ready to celebrate the season: Bring on the sun, the fun, and of course, the outdoor barbecues.
But a summertime cookout can be a bit of a landmine for anyone going gluten-free. Between the hamburger buns and the pasta salads, your standard picnic fare is pretty heavy on the wheat. Does that mean you’re going hungry while everyone else gets to gorge? Hell no. Whether you’re hosting the party or attending it, there are plenty of dishes you can make that’ll not just satisfy your food restrictions, but impress a crowd too.
From dips and salsas (pro tip: Bring a few bags of gluten-free chips for scooping!) to stuffed veggies, these party-ready gluten-free appetizers won’t let an intolerance stand in the way of good eating or a great time.
Dips and Salsas
This cheesy concoction doesn’t skimp on the cheddar and Monterey Jack but does swap out mayo for Greek yogurt to lighten things up. With chopped jalapeños alongside the pimento peppers, it actually feels like more of a jazzed-up than a slimmed-down version of the traditional recipe.
Don’t worry, you’re not making all seven layers entirely from scratch. It’s more of a simple chopping and assembly job. Between the fresh chopped veggies and the help of canned refried black beans (just confirm they’re gluten-free) plus taco seasoning, this dip strikes the perfect semi-homemade balance.
This take on a typically dairy-heavy dip isn’t just gluten-free, but it goes the vegan route too, swapping out the Parmesan, sour cream, cream cheese, and mayo for a simpler and cleaner blend of chickpeas, cashews, and tahini. Incorporating the best of the hummus and spinach artichoke worlds, this is one time when double dipping is totally acceptable.
Even without added sugar, processed ingredients, dairy, or gluten, this dip manages to be packed with flavor thanks to naturally sweet bell peppers, smoky paprika, and tangy lemon juice. Bonus tip: If you’ve got leftovers (unlikely, but just in case), this stuff works pretty spectacularly as a sandwich spread too.
Milder than their black or refried peers, white beans are the perfect base for this recipe, since they let the fresh herbs take the spotlight in terms of taste. With a bright, tangy flavor, this dip is a prime example of how whole foods and spices are all it takes to create something seriously delicious.
This recipe allows lentils to take center stage—and for good reason. Left whole instead of blended, and mixed with a garlicky hummus and tahini sauce, they make for a downright addictive vehicle for your chips/crudites/spoon.
Get any summer fiesta started with this party-in-a-bowl. With raw sweet corn, fresh pineapple, and juicy cherry tomatoes, it’s not only colorful, but it’s a party that celebrates seasonal ingredients.
A popular pair for tacos, seafood, and grilled meats, mangos are no strangers to being used in savory recipes. But if the concept is new to you, this simple salsa is a great place to start. The fruit’s slight sourness fits right in with the acidic tomatoes and tastes just sweet enough to provide a contrast from the more savory ingredients.
Whether it’s tossed into a salad as an afterthought or rolled casually into sushi alongside the always-more-popular avocado, cucumber never really gets to have its own moment. That changes with this salsa; dressed up with additions like garlic, jalapeño, and cumin, the cool, refreshing veggie will finally be the center of attention at your table.
While you may not want to be serving these up to a big crowd (avocados are pricey, friends), these stuffed “boats” are a no-brainer for smaller gatherings. Not only are they ridiculously adorable to look at, but they take just six ingredients and no cooking at all to put together.
There are too many twists on deviled eggs to count, but sometimes, only the classic will do. While this one offers one healthier tweak of swapping Greek yogurt for the sour cream, it’s still got the horseradish, the Dijon mustard… basically, everything you love about this retro appetizer.
Bagels are about as far from gluten-free as you can get, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the whole lox/cream cheese combo. Layer the salmon and the schmear onto cucumber slices instead of bread to turn the popular breakfast into an appetizer-worthy course. Thanks to a few dried seasonings, you can even get that everything bagel flavor.
Departing from the usual bread crumb-stuffed mushrooms, these savory bites swap out the gluten for a chorizo and veggie filling, getting a protein and fiber boost to boot. Extra credit if you can find a no-sugar-added sausage.
Good news: The gluten-free life may banish bagels, but at least you’ll always have bacon! Use it in this ridiculously easy three-ingredient appetizer, where the strips get wrapped around Brussels sprouts (it’s all about balance, right?), and everything’s roasted to crispy perfection.
An underrated gluten-free starch, polenta works great as the base for this bread-free bruschetta. Grilled and topped with the classic tomato and basil mixture, it provides a similar crunchiness to crostini but has a mildly sweet flavor all on its own.
You hear buffalo, you probably think wings, but there’s no bird in these bites. Instead, the vegetarian and gluten-free morsels are made of quinoa, veggies, and cheese. They taste nothing like chicken, but to be honest, they may be even better.
When you know there are heavier main courses coming up, start out light with these salmon and veggie bunches. They make sure you get in some protein and produce, but are so much more fun to eat than a salad.
When your guests range from being Paleo to gluten-free to dairy-free, finding a recipe that works for everyone can be a bit of a head-scratcher. But instead of resorting to raw carrot sticks, try these guac-topped bites. They’re fun to look at and involve bacon, but they can easily be made vegan. Guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Go a step beyond the regular boiled-and-salted edamame and make these soy-powered pods fit for a party by tossing them in a finger-lickin’-good garlic butter. Just be sure to set out an extra bowl for the used shells.