While eating gluten-free has become a widespread dietary approach, learning to cook gluten-free isn’t always a walk in the park. But cutting gluten out of your diet or cooking for a gluten-free family member doesn’t mean eliminating delicious foods—in fact, far from it. While countless recipes exist for delicious gluten-free entrées, we always find it a little more challenging to come up with unique and flavorful gluten-free side dishes. So as we’ve honed in on our favorites through the years, we’ve rounded up the best-of-the-best so you can return to them for every menu-planning occasion. With this cheat sheet in hand, you’ll never have to worry about accidentally “glutening” your gluten-free friends again.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
What is gluten?
I’ve been cooking gluten-free dishes for family members for quite a few years now. But the most commonly asked question I get when mentioning a gluten-free dish is, “what is gluten?” Put simply, gluten is a protein found in the majority of grain-based foods we eat. It acts as a binder that holds foods together and adds a quality of elasticity (think of your soft and pullable loaf of sourdough).
Fortunately, gluten-free alternatives for wheat-filled favorites like bread and pasta are fairly simple to find in your local grocery store. If you’re looking for gluten-free inspo for your next family meal or dinner party, look no further! These gluten-free side dishes are ready to be savored by everyone.
25 Gluten-Free Side Dishes for Every Occasion
Why We Love It: One of the peak moments of my early adulthood was realizing zucchini’s potential. Grilling this veggie adds a crunchy texture that complements its soft interior. The chile mint vinaigrette takes zucchini to the next level with a tiny kick of heat.
Hero Ingredient: The lemon zest adds the perfect tanginess to this vinaigrette.
Why We Love It: Cauliflower rice is one of those cooking pains I typically avoid making from scratch. Luckily, this recipe leaves the option for subbing in a bag of frozen rice as a faster alternative. A variety of delicious toppings pair perfectly with the lemon and mustard seed vinaigrette that together create one of the most well-flavored side dishes for spring!
Hero Ingredient: Dried cranberries bring a great burst of flavor.
Why We Love It: Simple, delicious, and bonus— they’re super healthy! Nutrition consultant Edie Horstman knows the best ways to keep blood sugar balanced with her tasty recipes. To keep this dish gluten-free, wild rice is the way to go. Additionally, you could make this dish vegan by omitting cheese or using a plant-based option.
Hero Ingredient: Tahini is the perfect pairing for any root vegetables, including these tasty roasted carrots.
Why We Love It: Crudité, (translation: “raw things”) is a plate full of amazing fresh ingredients and a delicious dipping sauce. This crudité is perfect for spring and beyond—consisting of chopped veggies and a savory green goddess dressing that’ll have your friends begging for the recipe.
Hero Ingredient: Greek yogurt is the perfect tangy and sweet base for this green goddess dressing.
Why We Love It: Everything about this strawberry and arugula salad screams warm weather. Gluten-free side dishes like these are the perfect party pleaser for all of your upcoming get-togethers. The dressing for this salad is filled with zesty and sweet flavors like Dijon mustard and honey.
Hero Ingredient: Goat cheese is an elite topping for any spring salad.
Why We Love It: Hot take— Brussels sprouts have never been my favorite. Call it immaturity or undeveloped taste buds, but unless they’re packed with flavor, I’ll probably pass. These Brussels sprouts—spicy and charred—are one of the exceptions. Their crispiness combats any fear you may have about soggy and flavorless veggies.
Hero Ingredient: One cup of apple cider may change the way you think about Brussels sprouts. (At least, I’m tempted to think so.)
Why We Love It: Chopped salads are a simple way to include tons of nutrient-filled toppings into just one bowl. This recipe uses marinated chickpeas (a great recipe to keep in your cookbook!), goat cheese, and a honey-shallot vinaigrette. Kale, spinach, or any fresh greens of your choice will make a great base for this salad.
Hero Ingredient: Chickpeas aren’t just delicious, they’re also a great source of fiber and protein!
Why We Love It: This mango and feta salad is perfectly refreshing and won’t keep you tied up in the kitchen over a side dish. Sometimes all you need is fresh fruit to reset your gut (and maybe your mood). Feta cheese adds a bit of creaminess that doesn’t overpower your fruit.
Hero Ingredient: Chopped pistachios add a lovely nuttiness to this simple salad.
Why We Love It: I don’t know if it’s reasonable to love an ingredient as much as I love potatoes. They’re one of my go-to sides simply because of their versatility. It couldn’t be easier to whip up a gluten-free side than these potatoes, which only require apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, baby potatoes, and olive oil.
Hero Ingredient: Top with chives for a bright green garnish.
Why We Love It: Raddichio is one of the most Instagram-worthy ingredients you absolutely need to try this season. Cannellini beans are an excellent nutrition bump-up, providing everything from fiber to iron to magnesium.
Hero Ingredient: Parmigiano Reggiano? A top-tier topping.
Why We Love It: Whenever I see a kale salad on the dinner table, I know that it’s unlikely I’ll be disappointed. Kale pairs well with so many bold flavors, such as this recipe’s delicious hot honey dressing.
Hero Ingredient: I couldn’t imagine this salad without roasted pumpkin seeds.
Why We Love It: Hummus is one of those side dishes that everyone gets excited about when it appears on the table. With the health benefits of turmeric and the flavor of fresh lemons and carrots, this recipe is sure to be a hit wherever it’s served.
Hero Ingredient: Fresh vegetable crudités pair well with this mouth-watering hummus. The crunchy/creamy combo is unmatched.
Why We Love It: Roasted sweet potatoes are a versatile side that pairs well with almost any cuisine. Creamy toppings like sour cream and crunchy toppings like nuts and seeds complete this stunning starch.
Hero Ingredient: Add a pinch of salt or a dash of red pepper to enhance your sweet potato flavor.
Why We Love It: Fruit in salads is highly underrated, and these grilled peaches attest to that statement in full force. This salad is the perfect summer side that’s balanced with sweet and spicy flavor profiles.
Hero Ingredient: Spicy pepitas add a lovely texture to this already gorgeous salad.
Why We Love It: Squash as a base for savory hummus is a great way to divert from the traditional hummus flavors. Tahini paste and sauce add great flavor while still keeping this delicious dip gluten-free.
Hero Ingredient: Tahini sauce, served in the center of your spread, is more than just a pretty topping.
Why We Love It: Mac & cheese is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. This recipe is a healthy twist on the homey dish we all know and love. This dish is easily made gluten- (and dairy) free by subbing in gluten-free pasta.
Hero Ingredient: I love sprinkling my mac & cheese with a bit of paprika for a smoky flavor.
Why We Love It: Hot take: flatbreads don’t have to be reserved for an entrée. I love a good flatbread as an appetizer before a hearty meal. This gluten-free flatbread contains fresh flavors like pear and prosciutto that won’t leave you uncomfortably full.
Hero Ingredient: Peppery arugula is a gorgeous green addition.
Why We Love It: Crispy tofu is great on its own, but it’s a game-changing addition to bowls and salads. I’m a bit obsessed with this kale salad and its citrus-ginger dressing that brings all the tanginess and flavor.
Hero Ingredient: I love the addition of fresh herbs to this bright and zesty salad.
Why We Love It: Given their creamy texture and rich flavor, you’d never guess these “potatoes” are a virtuous swap to the heavier classic. These faux mashed potatoes use cauliflower as their base for a healthier and lighter alternative.
Hero Ingredient: Yes, they’re lighter than regular mashed potatoes, but don’t you dare skimp on the butter!
Why We Love It: The traditional Greek dip, known as tzatziki, serves as a great side, dip, or topping for a variety of different foods. From fresh veggies like romaine and sugar snaps to grilled chicken or lamb, tzatziki does it all and doesn’t disappoint.
Hero Ingredient: Mint delivers fresh flavor that’s oh-so-springy.
Why We Love It: Guacamole never goes uneaten in my house. This recipe makes pleasing a crowd beyond simple and avoids some of the unhealthier ingredients you may find in traditional guac.
Hero Ingredient: Bet you’ve never seen green peas in your guacamole!
Why We Love It: Everything about this caramelized onion dip has my heart. It’s creamy, salty, sweet, and irresistibly satisfying. It’s also made with silken tofu, so you can count on this dip to be packed with protein.
Hero Ingredient: I add caramelized onions to just about everything.
Why We Love It: I never fail to get excited when I see spinach artichoke dip on the table. While this is a healthier version of the classic dip, it still contains the creamy texture we know and love. Serve with any gluten-free chip of your choice!
Hero Ingredient: Sub your traditional cream cheese for Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. It’s lighter, with a little more tang.
Why We Love It: A good platter of nachos will make anyone happy, and keeping this dish gluten-free makes it a healthy and delicious side. Use tamari as a sub for soy sauce to keep this platter free from gluten.
Hero Ingredient: Vegan queso is easy on the digestive system and packed with flavor.
Why We Love It: Au gratin potatoes are pure comfort food. By making them gluten-free, they become a side dish that virtually anyone can enjoy. These potatoes are cheesy, creamy, and simply divine.
Hero Ingredient: Gruyère cheese will enhance just about any dish.
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