The paleo diet means sticking to foods our earliest ancestors enjoyed before the advent of farming and processing. Some paleo plans avoid milk products and refined sugar altogether. So, other than grabbing an apple off of a tree, is there any way to treat yourself to a dessert that’s paleo-friendly? The answer is yes.
Sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave are considered OK in many paleo circles. Chocolate, which comes from the seed of the cacao plant, is accepted by some paleo dieters if it’s high in cacao (which reduces the sugar content). Read on for the best paleo desserts you can eat.
1. Crepes with Warm Apple Compote
Sophisticated, elegant French cuisine and earthy paleo cooking might seem worlds apart, but they meet in this delicious dessert crepe. This crepe batter is composed of flax meal and hemp seeds, which are both rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. This essential fatty acid assists in everything from blood clotting to brain chemistry.
2. Cinnamon Apple Crisp
Every recipe box, whether digital or made of wood, should have an apple crisp recipe. This autumnal treat makes for a delicious breakfast dish or a yummy dessert. One of any crisp’s attractions is its combination of textures. The pecans and walnuts provide crunch and are a good source of fiber and iron. Top this with a coconut-based whipping cream to keep this dessert strictly paleo.
3. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Not even the most committed paleo devotee can pass up warm chocolate chip cookies. This recipe is sure to satisfy a cookie lover’s heart after just a few bites. The extra (healthy) fats help the delicate almond flour hold together.
Top tip: If you’re still worried about your cookies falling apart, let the dough set for a half-hour in the refrigerator.
4. Banana Bread
Paleo breads and muffins don’t rise like grain-based recipes do, and it’s that dense quality that makes them rich and indulgent enough to call dessert. The mashed bananas in this recipe provide the moisture needed to hold the delicate almond flour together. Those bananas are also a good course of potassium, which is important for building and maintaining muscle, as well as managing blood pressure.
5. Pumpkin Bars
Pumpkin provides a whopping dose of nutritional value. Enjoy it for copper and iron, and for vitamin K (which helps prevent blood clotting and aids bone health). Pumpkin also serves up plenty of fiber.
This recipe uses pureed pumpkin, making the bars especially moist. The end result is warm and gooey, with fall flavors that might convince your taste buds that Halloween is on the way.
6. Chocolate Chip Blondies
One of the things the paleo diet does best is serve up brownies. The same is true for blondies, the brownie’s lighter, less chocolate-y cousin. Blondies’ dense texture is perfectly suited for paleo’s flourless, quick baking methods (these blondies bake up in 20 minutes).
7. Maple Pumpkin Custard
This custard gets its richness from coconut milk and an extra egg yolk, and its natural sweetness from maple syrup. Maple syrup is a surprising source of minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium, which is critical to muscle and nerve function. Enjoy this recipe as pumpkin pie without the crust, or add a paleo-friendly almond flour pie crust.
8. 7-Ingredient Cheesecake
Cheesecake: It’s fattening, full of empty calories, and unfortunately, it’s irresistible. It’s also decidedly not paleo — unless you make it with delicious, nutrition-packed ingredients like cashews, dates, and walnuts! You can reduce the calories by using light coconut milk.
Top tip: These yummy mini cakes don’t have to be baked. Just put them in the freezer to enjoy them frozen or let them soften up at room temperature.
9. Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Here’s a paleo recipe that looks as good as it tastes and with plenty of fiber to boot. Rhubarb’s bright red livens up any table, whether you’re serving this nutty crisp for breakfast or dessert. In this recipe, the strawberry’s sweet, jammy consistency contrasts nicely with the crunchiness of rhubarb and pecans.
Top tip: Serve this dish home style in the same skillet you cooked it in.
10. Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies certainly don’t sound paleo, but these grain-less treats look like they came from a bakery and taste every bit as good, if not better. Most frosted sugar cookies rely on their icing for flavor. Here, almond and vanilla supply sweet subtlety and the icing is just…well, the icing on the cake.
Top tip: Enjoy them dressed up with holiday designs and lovey-dovey messages, or without frosting as an after dinner treat.
11. Fruit Dip
Here’s a paleo and vegan snack everyone can enjoy. It’s especially perfect for kids, who will love using it for dipping single pieces of fruit or a skewered bunch. Young children will benefit too from the high fat content for their brain development. Just stack raspberries and blueberries, melons and bananas, alternating colors and textures.
Top tip: You can also use this versatile dip as a dressing for a bowl of fruit salad.
12. Lemon Macaroons
Macaroons have long been a dessert staple for gluten-free cookie lovers. This recipe continues that tradition. These chewy, gooey treats are densely delicious, with a twist of lemon juice and zest to keep them interesting.
Top tip: Dip them in chocolate for even more variety.
13. Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Ganache
Paleo dining probably doesn’t make you think of French delicacies, but this recipe is one luscious exception. Chocolate ganache is usually made with generous helpings of heavy cream. Here, the use of full fat coconut milk achieves that same creamy texture.
And did we mention dairy-free ice cream? You’ve got to have something to put the ganache on, even if it’s just to keep yourself from eating it straight from the spoon!
14. Birthday Cake
Paleo recipes usually work well for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Still, it can be difficult to find good grain-free cake recipes. Here’s a recipe that puts the celebration back in birthdays.
Top tip: Don’t shy away from the amount of eggs this recipe calls for. They keep this cake moist and light, letting it rise like flour-based cakes.
15. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls
Admit it. Ever since you were a kid in your mother’s kitchen, you loved to sneak bites of raw cookie dough. With this recipe, not only can you eat all the “dough” you want, but you’ll be getting some major nutrition disguised as a tasty treat.
One cup of garbanzo beans offers 38 percent of the fiber you need each day, and is a good source of folate. But don’t think this recipe is packed with garbanzo bean flavor. The taste of the beans easily adapts to the rich cocoa and peanut butter.
16. Strawberry Cupcakes
If you thought going paleo meant you couldn’t enjoy bakery style treats, here’s one recipe that will prove you wrong. Extra eggs ensure that the cupcakes don’t get too dense. Egg whites supply protein, one vital nutrient not associated with traditional cupcakes.
Top tip: If strawberries aren’t in season, you can use frozen strawberries. Just let them thaw first, then drain for about five minutes in a sieve.
17. Almond Bundt Cake
Four ingredients stand between you and a gluten-free, paleo-friendly cake. This recipe makes a world-class dessert incredibly simple. Separate the eggs and whisk up the whites to keep the almond flour from becoming too dense.
Top tip: Powdered sugar is not paleo (though it is gluten-free!), so use powdered coconut or date sugar instead.
18. Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts
Pop quiz: What are some foods you never thought you’d eat again once you went paleo? Chances are donuts are on that list. Yet here they are in fine paleo form! They’re as dense and sweet as traditional donuts, without the frying or trans fats.
19. Fudge Chocolate Brownies
What’s the secret to the very best paleo and gluten-free brownies? Don’t let any grains get in the way of chocolate deliciousness. This recipe focuses on rich and flavorful ingredients: coconut milk, butter, chocolate chips and cocoa powder, vanilla and coffee, and fragrant almond flour. High in fat and calories, but every bite is delicious.
Top tip: These brownies don’t take long to bake, so get ready to enjoy them warm with your favorite paleo frozen treat or a topping of berries.
20. Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
Olive oil has a long but almost secret history in baked goods. Its delicate flavor goes especially well with citrus-y cakes and dessert breads. Here’s a treat that builds on those fine flavors with yummy chocolate chunks. Who can resist?
Top tip: Feel good about these paleo, gluten-free muffins as a breakfast treat, or drizzle them with paleo chocolate ganache.