What can I eat that’s gluten-free and dairy free?

Eating a gluten-free and dairy-free diet can seem challenging, but there are plenty of delicious foods you can still enjoy. With some adaptations to your eating habits and cooking techniques, you can craft tasty meals that leave out gluten and dairy.

Why Follow a Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Diet

There are a few key reasons someone may need to or choose to follow a gluten-free, dairy-free diet:

  • Celiac disease – People with celiac disease must avoid gluten, as it damages their small intestine.
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity – Some experience negative symptoms when eating gluten but do not have celiac disease.
  • Dairy allergy/intolerance – Those with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance must avoid dairy.
  • Preference – Some people simply feel better avoiding gluten and/or dairy.

No matter the reason for following this diet, with some adjustments, you can find plenty of meals and foods to enjoy.

Naturally Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Foods

Many whole, unprocessed foods are naturally free of gluten and dairy:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh meats, poultry, fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes like beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • Oils and vinegars
  • Herbs and spices

These foods provide a great foundation for gluten-free, dairy-free cooking. Fill your diet with these whole foods and complement them with some easy substitutions for common items that typically contain gluten or dairy.

Gluten-Free Grains and Starches

While wheat-based products are out, you still have options for grains and starches on a gluten-free diet:

  • Gluten-free oats – Be sure to use oats labeled gluten-free, as some oat supplies are contaminated with wheat
  • Corn – Such as corn flour, cornmeal or popcorn
  • Rice – Including brown, white, wild, basmati and jasmine
  • Quinoa – Cook and use quinoa as you would any grain
  • Millet, amaranth, teff and sorghum – Use these less common gluten-free grains in place of wheat
  • Tapioca – Tapioca flour or starch can be used in gluten-free baking
  • Arrowroot – Another baking staple, similar to tapioca flour
  • Cassava flour – Made from the cassava root, used in gluten-free breads and tortillas
  • Nut flours – Such as almond flour, coconut flour and hazelnut flour lend richness in baking

Gluten-Free Substitutions for Common Foods

With these simple substitutions, you can enjoy gluten-free versions of bread, baked goods, pasta, cereal and more:

Common Food Gluten-Free Substitution
Bread Gluten-free bread, corn tortillas, lettuce wraps, sliced meats and veggies wrapped in rice paper
Pasta Gluten-free pasta, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash
Crackers Gluten-free crackers, rice cakes
Pizza Crust Cauliflower crust, gluten-free pizza crust
Cereal Gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa porridge, buckwheat porridge
Beer Gluten-free beer, hard cider, wine, gluten-free spirits
Soy Sauce Tamari or coconut aminos
Breadcrumbs Gluten-free breadcrumbs, crushed gluten-free crackers or cereal, nutritional yeast
Thickener (Roux) Gluten-free flour, cornstarch, arrowroot

Dairy Substitutions

If avoiding dairy, look to these alternatives to milk, cheese, butter and more:

Dairy Product Dairy-Free Substitution
Milk Non-dairy milks like almond, coconut, soy, oat, rice, hemp
Yogurt Non-dairy yogurts like soy, coconut or almond-based
Ice Cream Non-dairy ice creams, sorbet, frozen banana “ice cream”
Butter Non-dairy butters like vegan butter spreads, olive oil, coconut oil
Cheese Non-dairy cheese substitutes, nutritional yeast
Sour Cream Vegan sour cream, full-fat coconut milk blended with lemon juice and cornstarch
Cream Full-fat coconut milk or canned coconut cream
Whipped Cream Chilled canned coconut cream or coconut milk
Cream Cheese Vegan cream cheese, mashed avocado

Tips for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cooking and Baking

Follow these tips to get the best results when cooking without gluten or dairy:

  • Blend flours – For gluten-free baking, use a blend of different gluten-free flours and starches based on the recipe.
  • Read labels – Check ingredients carefully, as gluten and dairy can hide in unexpected places.
  • Increase leavening – Add extra baking powder, baking soda or yeast to gluten-free recipes to increase lift.
  • Use binding agents – Help hold gluten-free recipes together with xanthan gum, guar gum or flax eggs.
  • Adjust moisture – Gluten-free doughs are often drier than wheat doughs, so add moisture with extra milk, eggs, oil, yogurt or fruit purees.
  • Press don’t knead – Handle gluten-free doughs gently; overworking can make baked goods dense and tough.
  • Rest and chill dough – Let doughs rest before baking to allow gluten-free flours to absorb liquid and the starches to gel for better structure.
  • Grease pans well – Gluten-free doughs are sticky; grease and line pans with parchment to prevent sticking.
  • Store properly – Gluten-free baked goods dry out faster, so allow to cool completely before sealing in an airtight container or freezing.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Breakfast Ideas

Wake up to delicious breakfasts free of gluten and dairy:

  • Gluten-free oats with nuts, seeds and fruit
  • Poached or fried eggs over roasted potatoes or rice
  • Smoothies with non-dairy milk, fruit, greens, nut butter, etc.
  • Avocado toast on gluten-free bread with eggs, hot sauce, etc.
  • Chia pudding made with non-dairy milk and topped with fruit and nuts
  • Quinoa porridge with coconut milk, fruit, cinnamon
  • Nut butter and preserves on gluten-free toast or rice cakes
  • Tofu veggie scramble with roasted potatoes
  • Gluten-free crepes or muffins
  • Fruit salad topped with coconut yogurt

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Lunch and Dinner Ideas

You have endless options for nutritious and satisfying main meals without gluten or dairy:

  • Salads with lean protein, veggies, gluten-free grains, nuts and oil-based dressing
  • Stir fries with meat, seafood or tofu and lots of veggies over rice
  • Vegetable curries or stews over rice
  • Tacos on corn tortillas with meat, fish or jackfruit and veggie fixings
  • Burgers on gluten-free buns with oven-baked fries and salad
  • Grilled chicken, beef, pork or kebabs served with roasted veggies
  • Zucchini noodles with marinara sauce and meatballs or plant-based meatballs
  • Baked or grilled fish served over sautéed greens or roasted potatoes
  • Roasted chickpeas or lentils with roasted vegetables
  • Quinoa bowls with sauteed veggies, greens, nuts and dressing
  • Gluten-free pizza with veggie toppings and non-dairy cheese
  • Baked potatoes topped with chili or baked beans and salsa

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Snack Ideas

Snacking can be tricky on special diets but there are still plenty of possibilities. Try these ideas:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Trail mix with nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, dried fruit
  • Apple or other fruit slices with almond butter
  • Dark chocolate
  • Popcorn
  • Kale chips
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Rice cakes or corn tortilla chips with salsa, guacamole
  • Nut and seed bars
  • Smoothies
  • Edamame
  • Olives
  • Hummus with veggie sticks

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Desserts

Just because you are avoiding gluten and dairy does not mean you have to miss out on sweet treats. Here are some delicious dessert options:

  • Fruit crisps with gluten-free oats, coconut oil, fruit
  • Chocolate avocado mousse
  • Puddings made with chia seeds, coconut milk, etc.
  • Sorbets and non-dairy ice cream
  • Coconut milk panna cotta with fruit
  • Baked apples or pears
  • Poached fruit
  • Dark chocolate bark made with nuts, seeds, coconut
  • Nut butter cookies and brownies
  • Pumpkin bread or banana muffins
  • Fruit crumbles

The Key is Creativity and Flexibility

At first, it may seem challenging to give up gluten and dairy, especially if you rely on a lot of packaged and processed foods. But with some creativity and flexibility in the kitchen, you’ll find it is absolutely possible to craft nourishing, delicious meals and snacks that just happen to be free of gluten and dairy.

Focus on all the wonderful whole foods you can eat unlimited amounts of, like all types of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, gluten-free whole grains and legumes. Pair those with dairy and gluten-free substitutions when needed for things like bread, milk and cheese. With some adjustments to your shopping habits, cooking techniques and pantry staples, eating gluten-free and dairy-free can become second nature.


Following a gluten-free and dairy-free diet opens up a world of nutritious whole foods. With some simple substitutions and tweaks to your cooking methods, you’ll find there are endless tasty meals to create within your dietary needs. Arm yourself with the right kitchen tools and pantry staples and you’ll soon be whipping up flavorful breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that just happen to be free of gluten and dairy.

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