8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

*I received free samples of some of the gluten free desserts listed below (Nui Foods, Absolutely Gluten Free, TruWomen, and Color Kitchen). However, all views and opinions are my own - and I only feature products I really love!*

When I hear the word “summer,” I always picture family hikes, cut-off jean shorts and, of course, cold desserts like ice cream. This summer, though, I thought I’d share some of the healthier dessert options I’ve been trying - and loving - this summer.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

Whether you’re looking for healthy dessert ideas for your kids, need gluten free snacks that taste as decadent as dessert or are just trying to eat a little less sugar, these gluten free, paleo and vegan desserts are exactly what your summer menu needs.

1. Banana ice cream or healthy dessert smoothies.

As long-time readers of Casey the College Celiac already know, I’m all about making healthy dessert smoothies. Some personal favorites of mine are my Superfood Chocolate Smoothie Bowl and Veggie-Packed Blueberry Pie Smoothie Bowl. My secret weapon for making healthy smoothies that taste like dessert is, ironically, adding zucchini or squash into the blender! You can’t taste those veggies at all, and they boost the nutrition, thickness and creaminess of your smoothie. Talk about a win win!

Meanwhile, I also love whipping up banana ice cream, which can be as simple as blended frozen bananas with your choice of milk. You can add whatever flavors and toppings you want - ranging from cacao powder to cookies to spinach to popcorn, like I did here - and create a more “ice cream” consistency by using coconut milk (for that killer creaminess) and reducing the amount of liquid.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

2. Keto cookies that are low in sugar and carbs, but high in crumbly, rich flavor.

If you’re following a paleo diet or need to eat low sugar, finding delicious store-bought cookies can be challenging. So when Nui Foods reached out to me about their low carb and low sugar cookies, I couldn’t say no.

Nui Foods’ cookies come in four varieties: Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter and Double Chocolate Cookie. The best part? They all have less than two grams of sugar and four grams of carbs...and they still manage to taste finger-lickin’ good.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

I’ll admit that when I first opened up the Double Chocolate Cookie package, I was surprised at how crumbly the cookies were. I’m usually a crunchy or chewy cookie kind of gal, so I wasn’t an immediate fan. However, the rich chocolate flavor won me over, and I have a feeling that all of these cookies will disappear just as quickly. I love it when I can find a “healthy dessert” (in this case, one with lower sugar and carbs, though these paleo cookies do have plenty of healthy fats) that tastes just as decadent as old favorites.

3. Homemade bliss balls made with whatever fruits, flours and mix-ins you have on hand.

Homemade energy balls are some of my favorite healthy vegan desserts to make because they’re so easy and versatile. You can follow energy ball recipes like I have on my recipe page, ranging from Chunky Banana Bread Energy Balls to Dye-Free Taste the Rainbow Bliss Balls. However, once you’ve gotten the hang of the ratio of wet/sticky to dry/crunchy ingredients, you can really whip up energy balls with whatever you have on hand.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

Craving brownies? Try making a healthier version of brownie energy ball with dates, cacao powder, chocolate and maybe even sweet potato or avocado for an extra fudgy factor. Want some pumpkin pie? Mix together pumpkin purée, pumpkin spice, gluten free flour, vanilla extract and some rice cereal for that crust-like crunch. Your imagination - and kitchen ingredients - are really the limit when it comes to energy balls. If you need inspiration, there are also thousands of decadent energy ball dessert recipes on Pinterest for you to experiment with.

4. Loaded up yogurt parfaits with goodies like blondie brittle and fruit.  

Craving ice cream and a chocolate brownie for dessert? If you want a lighter version, you might try swapping that dessert out for a gluten free parfait loaded with vegan coconut yogurt, bananas, berries and Absolutely Gluten Free's Blondie Crunch. These chocolate-studded blondie pieces offer all the sugary, chocolatey goodness of a typical blondie in thin, crunchy bites, and just a couple of pieces can transform yogurt into a creamy, healthier dessert. 

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

You can also experiment with additional toppings like cacao powder, nut butters, chocolate chips or a homemade healthy chocolate shell (just cacao powder + coconut oil) to turn this gluten free yogurt parfait into your new favorite dessert!

5. Rice cakes or tortillas upgraded into dessert with fruit, nut butter and spices.

I know rice cakes and tortillas have a reputation for being tasteless and boring, but they can actually be your secret weapon for making a healthy dessert alternative that still satisfies your sweet tooth. Rice cakes can taste downright moan-worthy when you top them with Nutella or nut butter, warmed berries and crunchy toppings like chia seeds, granola or cacao nibs.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

Meanwhile, like I show with my Strawberry Chunky Monkey Quesadilla, you can also give tortillas a dessert twist with jams, nut butter, fruit and chocolate. If you want a healthy dessert that really tastes anything but, you might even top the warm dessert quesadilla with some homemade banana ice cream. Crispy and creamy, warm and cold, tart and sweet...that combo is the best of both worlds, I’d say!

6. Gluten free protein bars that happen to taste like dessert.

I’ll admit it: I’m a snack bar addict. I usually snack on at least a couple a day, and I love finding new healthy protein bars to try...which is where Truwomen’s vegan protein bars come in. Besides being certified gluten free, these energy bars are also vegan, non-GMO and made with nutrient-dense ingredients like cassava flour and brown rice protein.

Not to mention that they legit taste like dessert, coming in flavors like Oh Oh Cookie Dough, Daydreaming About Donuts, Zamn Good Zesty Lemon and Smother Fudger Peanut Butter. (Drooling yet? I know I am!) Compared to other gluten free protein bars I’ve tried, Truwomen’s has a sweet outer coating that really makes the snack bars taste like some glazed treat.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

The lemon flavor is my surprise favorite so far, too, as it tastes super refreshing and lemony without any of the artificial flavors often found in lemon bars. It may sound a little strange to call a healthy protein bar “dessert,” but when they taste as rich and fudgy as these do, your dessert cravings will definitely be fulfilled.

7. Fruit dressed up and frozen with my super easy chocolate shell and extra toppings.

If you need a healthy vegan dessert that screams “summer,” frozen fruit dipped in homemade superfood shells is a super easy and tasty option. You can use whatever fruits you have on hand (I bet fresh, thinly sliced cantaloupe would be just as delicious) and my chocolate shell “recipe” is really as simple as mixing your choice of superfood powder with a little coconut oil. Cover your fruit with the sauce, pop it in the freezer and the coconut oil will solidify into a crunchy shell!

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

For extra sweetness and crunch, you can add toppings like chia seeds, granola, crushed up gluten free cookies, etc. like I did with my Superfood Berry Banana Bites. Who says eating fruit as dessert has to be bland or boring?

8. Cakes and cupcakes that look like the rainbow...but are dye-free!

The last treat I’m talking about today is one of the least “healthy” in terms of sugar, but I think it’s a great example of how you can still shop for high-quality ingredients when you want a more “traditional” dessert. What makes these gluten free red velvet cupcakes so special? There isn’t a drop of food dye in them!

In fact, they’re made from a mix by Color Kitchen, which uses natural ingredients like beets, turmeric and spirulina to color their baked goods. All Color Kitchen mixes are gluten free (obviously), non-GMO and made with plant-based ingredients. I paired my red velvet cupcakes with a homemade vanilla frosting (just butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract!) but you could easily make a dairy free or vegan frosting.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

This was my first time making anything red velvet, but my whole family was thrilled with how these cupcakes came out! I topped them with homemade vanilla frosting, and they disappeared fast. Even the gluten-eaters in the family loved these cupcakes, describing them as moist, fluffy and subtly sweet without being sugary. My gluten-lovin' sister was especially addicted to these cupcakes, raving about how insanely awesome it was to be able to enjoy a red velvet (cup)cake without any artificial aftertaste. It seems like Color Kitchen baking mixes are only available in stores on the West coast for right now, but I already know my family will be keeping their eyes peeled for this gluten free red velvet cake mix.

The Bottom Line

I’ve gone through periods where I didn’t eat dessert or any sweets whatsoever. (Read more about how I learned to stop being afraid of food here). Nowadays, I eat some kind of dessert every night, and I don’t feel guilty for indulging in a sugary cookie or a cake made with oil and refined sugar. However, I also love finding ways to satisfy my sweet tooth while eating a little healthier of ingredients...which is why all eight of these healthy dessert recipes land on my plate (or bowl) very often.

8 Healthier Gluten Free Dessert Ideas for Summer

As a gluten free food blogger, my goal isn’t to promote a certain kind of eating. I’m not a medical or nutritional professional; I’m just a twenty-something with celiac disease who loves food. Instead, I hope that by sharing what products and recipes work for me, I’ll give you some new delicious, healthy (and not-so-healthy) ideas to incorporate into your own diet.

At least in my experience, life is a little sweeter when you have some sweetness in your diet...and all of these healthier dessert ideas are tasty places to start!

*I received free samples of Nui Foods, Absolutely Gluten Free, TruWomen, Color Kitchen in return for editorial consideration. However, all views, opinions and photographs are my own. Thank you for supporting what supports Casey the College Celiac!*

What's your favorite "healthier" dessert? Tell me in the comments!


  1. Love a good gluten free recipe as my husband is allergic and I'm always trying to find a way to satisfy his sweet tooth! I love a good 100% fruit juice popsicle in the summer. So easy, and easy to make GF.

    1. Glad to help! And that sounds like a delicious summer treat!

  2. Love this! Especially the Color kitchen and the Bliss Balls :)

    1. Glad to hear! (Sorry I've been so delayed in my response - there was a glitch and I didn't see any comments until now! Thanks for reading and commenting <3)

  3. These are great! My wife loves dessert but comes out eczema from gluten. Thank you!


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