7 Dairy-Free Desserts to Bring to Your Next BBQ

BBQs bring to mind berry shortcakes, ice cream sandwiches, and other dairy-heavy treats. Fortunately, you can prepare these seven dairy-free versions of warm-weather dessert classics. Most are quick and easy to prepare, while only a few take more time. (Homemade blueberry pie, anyone?) Many star seasonal fresh fruit, such as berries. Offer to bring one of these treats to your next BBQ, and you’ll find that you’re invited again and again. Read on for the recipes, plus tips for easy transport.

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    Three-Ingredient Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

    Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
    Dina Cheney

    These candies are incredibly easy to make, and fun to eat! For 10-12 nut butter cups (enough for 5-6 servings), pour a 10- to 12-ounce bag of (dairy-free) chocolate chips (with a cocoa content of 46-70%) into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1-1/2 minutes. Stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted. Place 10 or 12 full-size paper cupcake liners on a flat surface. Evenly dollop half of the melted chocolate among the liners. Place a Tablespoon...MORE of peanut butter atop the chocolate in each liner. Then dollop the remaining chocolate evenly atop the nut butter in the liners. Sprinkle with sea salt (or skip, if serving kids). Freeze for at least 7 minutes. Transport to the BBQ in a large glass or plastic container, separating the layers with a piece of wax or parchment paper. Once you arrive at your host’s home, refrigerate. Remove from the fridge 10-15 minutes before serving.

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    For an Instagram-worthy dessert, double the recipe, and assemble one large version in a trifle dish. (If you’re hosting, serve in individual clear plastic cups.) Chill as soon as you arrive at your host’s home. Instead of the pound cake, use dairy-free ladyfinger cookies or prepare your own pound cake with a dairy-free butter substitute.

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    Crisps, ideal at room temperature, suit the relaxed nature of BBQs. In this one, balsamic vinegar lends sophistication to the fruit filling, while graham cracker crumbs please kids. This particular crisp is very easy to make: macerate the berries, bake the  topping, and layer. For a BBQ, double the recipe and assemble in a large serving dish in advance.

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    For anyone avoiding gluten, eggs, and dairy, try this summery pie. Bake it in advance, and serve it at room temperature. To jazz it up, try stirring some freshly grated lemon zest and ground cinnamon or nutmeg (no more than ¼ teaspoon) into the filling. Top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream or dairy-free ice cream.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Nothing is more elegant than a pavlova. Imagine billowy baked meringue, topped with coconut cream and fresh berries. Light and beautiful, pavlova is the ideal sweet ending to a meat-heavy meal. Just bake the meringue base in advance. Then, on the day of the BBQ, whip the cream and chop up some fruit. Bring the meringue shell, whipped cream, and fruit in separate containers. Chill on arrival, and assemble right before serving.

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    Prepare this dairy-free and vegan recipe as-is. Or, bake the cookies, and sandwich store-bought dairy-free ice cream or sorbet between them (I love the brands: Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, Steve’s, Van Leeuwen, and Sorbabes). Assemble the sandwiches at home, freeze, transport, and place in the freezer at the host’s house right when you arrive. Shortly before serving, remove from the freezer, and transfer to a serving platter. For a fun garnish, top with crushed peppermint candies or...MORE dairy-free chocolate cookies.

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    Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Almond Bars

    Bring these guilt- and gluten-free bars to BBQs with wellness-oriented friends and family. Loaded with almonds, coconut, and nuts, they’re a homemade, nutrient-packed version of granola bars. Even better: they take very little time to prepare, and are stress-free to transport. For fun, vary the recipe by stirring in dried cranberries or swapping in cashews or hazelnuts for the almonds. To convert the recipe to vegan, use agave nectar instead of honey.

Dina Cheney is the author of The New Milks; 100-Plus Dairy-Free Recipes for Making and Cooking with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain, and Coconut Milks (Atria/Simon & Schuster), plus the creator of the dairy-free resource site, www.thenewmilks.com. Follow her on Instagram (@thenewmilks), Twitter (@DinaCheney), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/dinacheney).