Happy (allergen-free) Birthday!: Party Food: Dips!

For whatever reason, dips make great party food, and not just at birthdays. You’ll find them popping up at Super Bowl parties, tailgating parties, neighborhood block parties, and more. The great thing is that they are easy to make or buy allergen-free without any extra expense.

Here are a few dip and sauce ideas:


This is a no-brainer, at least at a kids’ party. My Certain Little Someone is not all that fond of ketchup, but he is the exception to the rule.

*Barbecue Sauce

This is basically souped-up ketchup. Many store-bought varieties are allergen-free, but it’s very easy to make your own as well. Google “barbecue sauce recipes” and you’ll get thousands of ideas, almost all of them allergen-friendly. Here’s one I’ve adapted from an old vintage cookbook. You can adjust seasonings to taste:

Old-Fashioned Basic Barbecue Sauce

1 cup water

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup raw sugar or honey

1 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp salt

Stir together water, broth, ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a 2 qt saucepan. Stir in seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool; store in refrigerator.


Again, this is typically allergen-friendly, even when store-bought. It’s so easy and inexpensive to make your own, though. Here’s a simple recipe:

2 avocados

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 or 2 minced jalapeno or chile peppers

1 TBSP lemon juice

1/2 tsp sea salt

dash freshly ground black pepper

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the pit, and then spoon the flesh into a bowl. Mash gently with a fork, add remaining ingredients and stir.

You can store this in the refrigerator for a very short time (1 or 2 days max) by pressing plastic wrap down tightly on the surface of the guacamole before sealing the container. Alternatively, you can place the guacamole in a zippered plastic bag, squeeze out all the air, seal it and store it in the freezer for a much longer period of time. Or just eat it fresh!


This one is so easy! Since it’s usually made entirely of vegetables, it’s almost always allergen-free. For the best flavor and texture, buy fresh (purchase pre-packaged varieties to avoid cross-contamination) or make it yourself with a mixture of tomatoes, onions, your favorite hot peppers and cilantro. Here’s a great easy recipe if you’ve never made your own.


Hummus is generally free of the top 8 allergens, but almost always has allergen #9: sesame, in the form of tahini. If that’s a problem for you like it is for me, try this sesame-free recipe. Hummus is most frequently served with pita chips, but tastes just as great with vegetables, especially sliced peppers, celery or carrot sticks.

*Honey Mustard

A lot of honey mustard dips contain mayonnaise, a no-no for egg-allergy sufferers. Try this recipe instead, or simply mix together equal parts honey and mustard. You can even switch it up by using different varieties of mustard, such as Dijon or spicy brown.

*Dairy-Free Fruit Dip

The vast majority of fruit dips are dairy-based, but I’ve had some good success using dairy-free replacements. Here’s one to try:

Chocolate Cinnamon Fruit Dip

1 6oz package vanilla flavored dairy-free yogurt (coconut milk-based is my favorite)

1 TBSP cocoa

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until smoothly blended, being sure not to leave any lumps of undissolved cocoa powder. Refrigerate.

*Caramel Sauce

Caramel is traditionally based on a mixture of butter, sugar, and milk, not exactly allergy-friendly. I found this great recipe that uses very non-traditional ingredients but results in something very much like caramel sauce. One big plus is that although the ingredients aren’t generally found in caramel, they are easy to find in your local grocery store. I like that it uses honey, which is healthier than sugar, but  one day, I’m going to try it with sugar to see if that creates an even stronger caramel taste. Use the caramel sauce as a dip for fruits, especially apples.


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