Gluten-Free Football Food

Looking for gluten-free football food that will have everyone cheering regardless of the score on Super Sunday? Your search is over! Danielle Walker, author of the New York Times-bestselling Against All Grain and Meals Made Simple, offers up these three crowd-pleasing recipes from her third cookbook, Against All Grains: Celebrations. Trust us, nobody will miss the gluten or grains in these mouthwatering munchies!

Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs

Serves 10

The meatballs you are probably used to having on game days contain breadcrumbs and include white sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in the sauce. This grain-free version uses almond meal or coconut flour to bind the meatballs and natural sweeteners to flavor the sauce. Keep the meatballs warm in a slow cooker throughout the day so your guests can enjoy them until the game ends.













Sauce Ingredients

3 cups tomato puree

¾ cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1/3 cup light-colored raw honey

1/3 cup coconut aminos


¼ cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1½ teaspoons fine sea salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon onion powder

Meatball Ingredients

2 small sweet onions, quartered

2 eggs

¼ cup almond meal, or 2 tablespoons coconut flour

2 pounds ground beef, chicken, turkey or pork

1 tablespoon cold-pressed sesame oil


1½ teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons fine sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Make the sauce first by combining the tomato puree, pineapple juice, honey, coconut aminos, tomato paste, vinegar, mustard, salt, ginger and onion powder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until thickened.

Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Pulse the onion in a food processor until finely minced. Add the eggs, almond meal, beef, sesame oil, ginger, and sea salt and pulse until fully combined. Roll the meat mixture into 3 dozen bite-size meatballs. Space the meatballs evenly on two rimmed baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes, turning the meatballs once halfway through, until browned and cooked through.

Once the sauce has thickened, transfer it and the meatballs to a slow cooker set to low. Cover until ready to serve.


Make it ahead: The sauce and meatballs can be cooked up to 3 days in advance. Store them separately so the pineapple enzymes don’t break down the meat. The morning of the Big Game, combine them in a slow cooker and set it to low to reheat. To freeze ahead, cool the cooked meatballs and sauce separately in the refrigerator, then place each in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove over medium-low heat, or place them in a slow cooker on low heat until heated through, about 2 hours.

Tidbit: If using poultry, select dark meat to keep these meatballs moist and flavorful.

Buffalo Wings with Herb Ranch Dressing

Serves 10


These crispy and spicy Buffalo wings are free from heavy batters and breading and are delicious when dipped in a cool ranch dressing. Most traditional wings are served with blue cheese dressing, but for a dairy-free option, this dressing really satisfies the need for a cool, tangy dip.














3 pounds whole chicken wings

1/3 cup melted ghee, grass-fed unsalted butter or coconut oil

1½ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided

½ cup gluten-free pepper sauce


2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

Herb ranch dressing, for serving

5 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks, for serving

5 ribs celery, cut into sticks, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Allow the wings to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Separate the wings at the joint. In a bowl, toss the wing parts with 3 tablespoons of the melted ghee, 1 teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the cayenne. Arrange the chicken on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp, turning the wings over halfway through.

Meanwhile, prepare the wing sauce by combining the pepper sauce, remaining melted ghee, vinegar, remaining ½ teaspoon salt and remaining ½ teaspoon cayenne. Toss the wings in the sauce and serve immediately with the dressing and carrot and celery sticks on the side.

Make it ahead: To save on prep time, make the dressing and the wing sauce the day before the game and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Reheat the sauce in a saucepan over low heat before tossing in the wings.


Whoopie Pies

Makes 10 pies

Every game-day party needs a sweet, fudgy treat at the end to celebrate the big win, or console a loss! These football-shaped dark chocolate cookies with vanilla buttercream filling are sure to serve either cause.

Celebrations whoopie pies FRAMEDIngredients

1/3 cup palm shortening

½ cup coconut sugar

2 tablespoons light-colored raw honey

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

½ cup coconut flour

½ teaspoon grain-free baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

¾ cup full-fat coconut milk

2 cups Vanilla Buttercream (see recipe below)


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cut two sheets of parchment paper to fit two rimmed baking sheets. Using a pencil, trace 10 football shapes—each 1½ inches in diameter—on each sheet, spacing them evenly. Turn the sheets over and place on the pans.

To make the cookies, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or using an electric handheld beater, cream together the palm shortening, coconut sugar and honey for 1 minute on medium-high speed. Add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat again until combined. Combine the arrowroot, cocoa powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Slowly beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the coconut milk, until blended.

Using a cookie scoop, drop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Using a toothpick or offset spatula, gently draw the batter out to fill in the traced shapes. Alternatively, pipe the batter to fill the traced shapes.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the cookies are slightly crisp on the outside. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To assemble, fill a piping bag fitted with a plain tip with the buttercream. Turn one cookie over so the bottom is facing up. Starting from the perimeter, pipe the buttercream onto the bottom, covering it completely. Gently press the bottom side of another cookie on top. Repeat to make 10 filled cookies. Use the remaining buttercream to pipe football laces onto the top of each whoopie pie.

Make it ahead: The pies can be baked and assembled up to 3 days in advance. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. The cookies can also be baked and frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then wrapped individually and stored for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight prior to filling with frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream

Makes 2 cups

A lot of Paleo versions of buttercream are bland and must be refrigerated to hold a firm texture. I created this one to be egg free, and it’s beautifully creamy and firm from the gelatin that is used, even at room temperature.


1 cup water, divided

4½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder

1 cup light-colored raw honey*

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups palm shortening, softened

6 tablespoons arrowroot powder

Pinch of fine sea salt

*The color of the honey used will dictate the color of this frosting. I suggest using a light-colored, mild-flavored raw honey, such as clover.


Place ½ cup of the water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Allow to bloom, or absorb the water, for 10 minutes.

Combine the remaining ½ cup water and the honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, swirling occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 240° F.

Turn the mixer on low, and with it running, slowly pour the hot honey syrup down the side of the bowl. Once it is all poured in, increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the mixture and the outside of the bowl are at room temperature. The mixture will turn from brown to white and triple in volume.

Add the vanilla, palm shortening, arrowroot, and salt and beat on low until combined. Then beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until cooled and smooth.

The frosting can be used immediately or, for easier piping, place the frosting in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until set.

Tidbits: Tropical Traditions brand palm shortening or grass-fed unsalted butter works best with this recipe. Certain store-bought brands contain oils other than pure palm shortening and may make this frosting too runny. If the frosting turns out too runny, beat in additional palm shortening, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it comes together. For Spectrum brand shortening, use 2½ cups shortening and beat in 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup before refrigerating.

The frosting will hold up at room temperature (around 70° F) for a few hours but is easier to pipe when chilled. When mixing, if the frosting starts to look curdled, it is likely the gelatin mixture was not sufficiently cooled when the palm shortening was added, or the palm shortening was too warm when added. Put the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, then resume beating until smooth. If the frosting is still curdled, beat in additional palm shortening, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth.

WALK_CelebrationsReprinted with permission from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion by Danielle Walker, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. 

Photography credit: Erin Kunkel © 2016

Available for purchase on Amazon.


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