How to Host a Vegan & Gluten-Free Dinner Party

September 16, 2011

Hi friends!

In the past month, I’ve thrown so many dinner parties that my arms are starting to hurt. But that’s not to say I don’t still love it: cooking for others is one of the most rewarding and pleasurable things in my life, and always much better than cooking just for myself. I also like it because it gives me extra motivation to challenge myself, and as you probably already know, I’m always in the mood for a new kitchen challenge.

Take this past weekend for example: I had offered to host and prepare a dinner for six, which needed to be vegan for me and gluten-free for my other friend. Sounds like that’d be severely restricting, right? Sure, I had dabbled in a bit of gluten-free vegan cooking in the past, but I had never attempted a full, three-course dinner. Thankfully, it all turned out very well and delicious, and largely due to three simple maxims I followed while coming up with the night’s menu, which I’m now here to share with you. I think these guidelines work well for any dinner party, really, but they are particularly useful when dealing with any dietary restrictions. So here you go! I hope y’all find these helpful.

1. Let nature be your guide

For any dinner party, I find the easiest way to narrow down your menu possibilities is by looking at what nature’s bounty has to offer and letting that shape the dishes you make. At this dinner, I made use of as much local farmers’ market produce as I could, which at this time of year had everything I needed for my signature colossal confetti salad, as well as some delicious fresh basil for quinoa pesto. Not only is this a practical guideline (since there are of course sooo many recipes to choose from), but the seasonal produce really elevates everything it goes into, making your dinner party that much more delicious.

2. Choose dishes than are vegan and gluten-free by default

Instead of attempting to veganize and gluten-liberate some non-vegan or glutenous dish you know, try to think of dishes that are vegan and gluten-free by design. As excellent as I know vegan and gluten-free cuisine can be, attempting an ersatz dish is always a risk, especially when some of your guests will be accustomed to the real thing. Imitation often tastes like imitation, unless it is done really well. The easier way to go, then, is just to forget about imitating. There are plenty of amazing dishes that do not use any animal products or glutenous ingredients at all, and these are the dishes you want to gravitate towards.

3. Wow them with banana soft serve.

I think this should be a rule for every vegan dinner party from now on, especially if you’re having non-vegans as guests: make them banana soft serve. Think of it as a form of baketivism. If there’s any single dish that can convince everyone out there that a vegan lifestyle is absolutely delicious (while still being super healthy), it’s this one. And you don’t even need to get fancy, either. Whipped up frozen bananas have enough sweetness and flavor all on their own to knock the socks off any diner—and to convince them that they can easily become vegan, too!

So those are my three simple pieces of advice. Perhaps they’re obvious, but they’re always good to remember. This was a really excellent dinner party for me, and as far as I could tell, my guests had fun, too. Thanks to them all for being such wonderful company. And look out next week for a post about the dinner party I’m throwing this weekend, which should be epic!

Until we eat again,



  1. NOW i see why you haven’t invited me over again; you’re cooking for other people. i see how it is. don’t worry, we’re still friends.

  2. You’re obviously a great cook, Willie, the spread looks delicious! You’re friends are lucky humans.

  3. […] As I remarked last week, I’ve been throwing a lot of dinner parties lately. This past weekend proved to be no exception. […]

  4. […] As I remarked last week, I’ve been throwing a lot of dinner parties lately. This past weekend proved to be no exception. […]

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