Unpopular opinion: The menu for your big day or family party can be just as delicious and delightful with an entirely gluten-free selection as with a traditional one. We would even argue... more! We're health nuts. And let us tell you, gluten-free party appetizers and desserts don’t have to be anything short of fabulous, and your guests probably won’t even notice the difference.
The appetizers can be colorful, flavorful and exciting and desserts will never fall short of delicious even without those traditionally-overused, unhealthy ingredients.
Whether you are cooking up your own gluten-free party menu, or hiring a caterer to complete your vision, don't let your decision to go healthier stop you from creating an epic spread for your guests. Here are 10 fantastic gluten-free offerings to help you create that perfect feast.
1. Brownies w/ Cream Cheese Frosting (GF)
A simple swap of gluten-free flour (King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour is one of the best) for regular in this brownie recipe produces an almost identical result. The frosting elevates the brownies to an even more decadent level, the wedding cake will surely not be missed
Makes 2 dozen, can be scaled up or down
3 cups sugar
16 Tbsp (2 sticks) butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
· 1 cup cocoa powder (preferably dutch processed)
1 ½ cup Gluten Free flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups chopped nuts
Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a large square pan with butter or pan spray. In a microwave safe bowl, put the sugar, butter and salt and microwave on high. Stir in the rest of the ingredients till smooth and well combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool, then cut and frost with cream cheese frosting
~Cream Cheese Frosting~
1 stick softened butter
8oz cream cheese at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar
Beat the 5 ingredients together into a smooth and fluffy frosting. Transfer to a piping bag and decorate the brownies to your preferred style.
2. Cheesecake (GF)
Though traditionally made with a buttery graham cracker crust, cheesecake can easily be adapted to be gluten-free and serve your guests a decadent and delicious dessert offering. Simply swap out the crust for a simple combination of rolled oats, any nut you prefer, light brown sugar and some coconut oil and melted butter. This combination delivers a flavorful and sturdy crust without any gluten. For one cheesecake follow this ratio for the crust!
3 cups gluten-free oats
½ cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp coconut oil
6 Tbsp melted butter
The cheesecake custard remains the same, eggs with cream cheese and sugar. Flavor the cheesecake with tropical notions like passion fruit, mango, or kiwi. Keep it traditional with just mixed berries or a chocolate glaze. Anyway you swing it, a cheesecake is a lovely addition to your gluten-free party menu. For a different take on a gluten-free crust, or to get a recipe for the custard, check out this recipe for New York Style Cheesecake
3. Banana Split Bar (GF)
Think outside the box with this gluten-free party dessert Idea. A banana split might feel like something of the past but you can create a stunning display for your dessert course and let your guests build their own banana split sundae to enjoy while the party continues. The possibilities are endless, but to get your started try these staples to start building your spread.
Ripe bananas, cut in ½
Vanilla ice cream
Chocolate ice cream
Strawberry ice cream
4. Popsicle Bar (GF)
Keep things cool and chilled with a popsicle bar, offering lots of different flavors of fresh fruit like watermelon, lime, coconut and mango. This dessert spread can easily just be purchased and rolled out at the right moment to keep your guests cooled. You can also make your own popsicles days ahead of time and then bring them out for a homemade ice cold treat, sure to make your guests happy and keep things light.
5. Classic Chocolate Cake w/ Vanilla Frosting (GF)
The thing that people don’t necessarily realize about gluten-free desserts, is sometimes the gluten-free counterpart to a classic is just as good, if not better! Most bakeries and catering services can adjust a dessert (like classic chocolate cake with white fluffy frosting) to be completely gluten-free. If you want to go the DIY route, try out this amazing gluten-free chocolate cake recipe.
6. Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps (GF)
Now for some savory offerings! An excellent appetizer for a hot summer day is the cool and crisp tray of grilled chicken (or vegetarian!) lettuce wraps. These bites are asian inspired, with chicken grilled and then painted with a tamari and pineapple glaze, pickled carrots and onions and a healthy pile of fresh herbs to top it off. Butter lettuce or romaine work great as the vessel and you can easily make them vegetarian by swapping the chicken for tofu. Try out this easy and quick recipe.
~Grilled Chicken with Tamari and Pineapple Glaze~
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
½ cup GF tamari
½ cup pineapple juice
Season the chicken thighs with the salt, pepper and garlic powder and evenly coat. In a saucepan combine the pineapple juice with the tamari and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until reduced by half and thickened slightly. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to a medium high heat and toss the chicken thighs in a little vegetable oil. Spread some oil on the grates of the grill before adding the chicken on. Grill on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes depending on the heat of your grill or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F.
Remove from the grill and brush with the tamari glaze.
Serve the chicken sliced (room temperature or hot) in a lettuce cup with pickled carrots, cilantro, basil and mint and a dollop of your favorite peanut sauce.
7. Watermelon and Feta Skewers (GF)
This classic summer salad, turned into a skewer bite is the perfect appetizer for a hot day to cool down your guests and tickle their appetites. The classic summer salad of ripe watermelon, salty and tangy feta with a sprig of fresh basil or mint delivers a juicy mouthful that will guarantee to be a hit. These are so simple to make you can do it ahead of time and keep cold before serving or give this recipe to your caterer to make for a crowd!
8. Tomato Caprese Skewer Bites (GF)
Keeping on the skewer train. These caprese skewers are a classic that never gets old, a perfect flavor combination that won’t turn anyone away. This is also such a simple recipe that you can make it ahead of the event day or rehearsal dinner and have appetizers for a crowd ready to go with minimal effort. Swap the mozzarella balls for any cheese you like to mix it up, and don’t forget to get a bottle of balsamic glaze to make your life even easier and dress the caprese bites with that sweet and silky goodness.
~Caprese Appetizer Bites~
Make 30-40 appetizer portions depending on size of tomatoes)
2 pints cherry tomatoes
2 pints containers of mini mozzarella pearls
1 cup basil leaves
1 bottle Balsamic Glaze
Olive oil for drizzling
Toothpicks or decorative small skewers
Assemble the caprese skewers by putting one tomato, one ball of mozzarella and basil leaf on each toothpick, arrange all the skewers on a platter and drizzle with olive oil, flakey salt and balsamic glaze.
9. Whipped Goat Cheese Stuffed Apricots w/ Hot Honey (GF)
This one is for all the sweet/savory lovers on your guest list, apricots are a perfect spring/summer fruit to utilize for a wedding or party. This appetizer (or even dessert!) is a lovely addition to a spread of gluten-free offerings. The goat cheese and hot honey combo is delightful with a sweet and juicy apricot halve. The filling sits comfortably in the dimple of the halved fruit, where the pit has been removed, and the apricot becomes your vessel to be served on platters and passed around to guests.
~Stuffed Apricots with Hot Honey and Thyme~
(makes 40 appetizer portions)
20 apricots, halved and pits removed
1 log goat cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup heavy whipped cream
Several sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves separated
In a food processor or with a hand held mixer whip the goat cheese and heavy cream till smooth. Spoon a dollop of the goat cheese mixture into the center of each apricot then drizzle with hot honey and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
10. Classic Salmon Bake (GF)
If you're in search of a lovely, filling, gluten free celebratory dinner idea for your wedding or family party, a classic salmon bake might be just the thing. Salmon feels luxurious but isn’t too expensive and it cooks quickly and easily. Paired with a menu of fresh vegetables, light salads and roasted potatoes you’ll serve a delicious meal to your guests and totally gluten-free!
~Classic Salmon Bake Menu ~
Lemon Roasted Salmon Filets
Mustard and apricot glazed green beans
Buttery roasted potatoes
Green Salad with radishes and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Interested in preparing some of these gluten-free plates at your wedding or party at Olde House? We’d love to be a part of it! Book now
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