Ordering dairy-free lunches or coming up with dairy-free breakfast ideas for your next event can be challenging. Dietary restrictions can make ordering for a group difficult. It seems like everything has cheese on it, is made with yogurt, or is created with some dairy-based ingredient. There are even hidden dairy products in pastries or other easy-to-order foods, since they’re made with butter and milk. Even so, there are many dairy-free dishes you probably haven’t considered. Here are a 10 fun and unique dairy-free catering ideas to get you started.
1. Grain Bowls
Colorful, delicious, and extremely versatile, grain bowls are a genius option for a dairy-free breakfast or lunch. They are made with quinoa, rice, farro, or any other grain you can think of. And these bowls come in all shapes and sizes, so they’re easily customizable. So you can easily leave the cheese out and still have a ton of options. Toppings could include fruit for a light breakfast or an assortment of vegetables for a lean, yet hearty lunch. Put an egg on it and you have a complete meal.
2. Chia Seed Pudding
If you’re squarely stuck on breakfast ideas that don’t include yogurt or buttery pastries, a sweet and creamy chia seed pudding bar could be your saving grace. The tapioca-like superfood is a perfect breakfast option. It’s usually made with almond milk or coconut milk. And it’s served with a fun and colorful assortment of toppings. Try fruit, coconut flakes, and granola for a sweet and crunchy kick. And chia seed puddings are super healthy and extremely filling.
Dumplings are a common breakfast and lunch food throughout parts of Asia. They are one the easiest, most satisfying things to eat. Dumplings are made with soft, chewy flour or rice-based wrappers stuffed with tender meat or vegetables. They’re typically steamed. So that means there’s no need to worry about what they’re cooked in. You can order an assortment to meet everyone’s preferences. They serve as a filling and hearty stand-alone breakfast or lunch, or in smaller quantities as a great appetizer.
4. Spring Rolls
If you’re on the hunt for easy, crowd-pleasing appetizers, spring rolls are a safe bet. There are a plethora of options, and hardly any of those include dairy products. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with crunchy vegetables and tender meat wrapped in soft, chewy rice paper that you dip into a sweet peanut or spicy sauce. They’re great when stuffed with fresh herbs, like mint and cilantro. They can easily be made entirely vegetarian (or entirely meaty if that’s your preference). And they’re easy to eat.
Almost every major food culture has their version of a fried dough pocket stuffed with something delicious. Skip the cheese empanadas, and look to Indian cuisine instead. The most common samosas are filled with spiced potatoes, peas, lentils, and herbs. There are some made with paneer, so avoid those. But these are satisfying to eat as an appetizer or for a whole meal. And they can be found on nearly any Indian menu.
If an easy, hassle-free lunch is what you’re after in the hunt for dairy-free lunch alternatives, it doesn’t get much simpler than meat on a stick. Kebabs can take on many forms. They are usually found in some capacity at Greek, Israeli, Indian, or Turkish restaurants. Whether you’re ordering lamb, beef, or adding some veggies, there’s something for everyone. And they’re served up with a number of sides, from salad to falafel. They often come with yogurt-based sauces, but you can easily forgo that with the right combos of meat and veggies.
While there are an endless number of dairy-free sandwich options, gyros are a fun sandwich-like alternative that’s packed with flavor. Gyros are a Greek dish made of meat cooked on a rotisserie. They can include pork, chicken, beef, or lamb. And they are served up in some type of flatbread wrap, stuffed with fresh tomato and onion. Skip the tzatziki sauce, or order it on the side to satisfy different preferences and restrictions with this dairy-free catering dish.
Falafel is the vegetarian, pita-pocket version of the gyro sandwich. Made from spiced ground chickpeas or fava beans (or both), falafel is a fried vegetarian patty that’s commonly served in a pita or flatbread wrap. It’s at it’s best — and most filling — when topped with an assortment of salads, pickled vegetables, spicy salsas, and drizzled with a creamy tahini-based sauce. Falafel might just be the best way to give your team a dairy-free lunch with a fun, customizable assortment of delicious toppings.
Sushi is one of your best bets for catering an entirely dairy-free meal. There’s no butter or cheese here. Sushi is just rice and fresh ingredients. You can order sushi with fish or no fish, raw or cooked. The options are endless. And there’s enough variety to meet everyone’s needs. As Extra Crispy reports, sushi donuts are a new-ish trend that also make donuts a fun dairy-free lunch option too.
When you think of tacos, you may think of cheese. But actually, tacos are the perfect meal for nearly all dietary restrictions because you can pile on whatever you want. The sky’s the limit for what you add in between those flour or corn tortillas. Order a few vegetable and meats as the mains and add an assortment of salsas to bring the flavor. A make-your-own taco bar lets everyone decide what they want and what they don’t, making it perfect for dairy-free catering.
Ready to place your dairy-free catering order?