Lactose-Free Appetizers

Appetizer favorites often include creamy goodies such as onion dip with potato chips, ranch dressing with veggies, queso and tortilla chips and other items containing dairy. If you or someone coming to your event needs to eat lactose-free, you can find plenty of options for creating familiar appetizers that don’t require exotic ingredients or break your budget.

Think ethnic when you make lactose-free appetizers

Avoiding Lactose

To avoid including lactose in your appetizers, don’t use ingredients made from milk. Write a list of dairy items to guide and remind you, including cheese, butter, yogurt, creamy dressings, chocolate and dips.


Eliminate the cheese from antipasti and you’ll still be able to serve an enticing platter of meats, olives, marinated artichokes and mushrooms and roasted red peppers. Be creative, depending on your culture or locale to create a tasty meat and veggie platter. Use lean turkey or ham instead of sausage or pepperoni to reduce the fat and cholesterol.


Samosas and pakora are two Indian favorites that contain no dairy. Samosas are flaky pockets stuffed with meat or vegetables and baked or fried. Pakora is a deep-fried, chickpea batter-coated vegetable that provides a savory exterior and sweet inside. When using a batter coating, use lactose-free milk or a nut milk.


Chips and salsa are common appetizers people recognize and enjoy. Use baked chips for a low-fat appetizer combo. You can easily make your own salsa in a food processor with tomatoes, onions, green and red peppers, lime juice, cilantro, chili powder or other favorite ingredients. Instead of serving cheese or sour cream, offer refried beans, a black bean dip or guacamole made with fresh avocados.

Veggies and Hummus 

A crudité, or veggie platter, lets you serve a variety of healthy items with or without a dip. Julienne strips of red and green peppers. Slice summer squash and zucchini. Carrots, celery, radishes and broccoli florets can round out your platter. Serve with a hummus dip made from chickpeas. Grocery stores offer a variety of flavored hummus options to pair with your veggies.


Shrimp are a low-fat favorite you can pair with a cocktail or remoulade sauce. Serve them hot, peel-and-eat style, or cold, de-veined and with the tail on.

Deviled Eggs

Add curry powder to hard boiled egg yokes you mash and return to the outer egg. This gives the eggs a rich, dark color and mellow flavor that doesn’t have to be hot, if you don’t want it that way. Use just enough curry powder to flavor, not spice, the yolks. If you don’t have curry, sprinkle a bit of paprika on the eggs after you’ve filled them.

Lettuce Wraps

Grill chicken, then coat it with your favorite marinade. Hoisin sauce, black bean and garlic, honey mustard or an orange glaze make tasty, low-fat sauces. Serve chunks of chicken in lettuce cups, and sprinkle with diced nuts for crunch and more nutrition. Use chicken breast meat to reduce the fat content of this appetizer.


Use low-fat, ground turkey breast meat and bind with panko or breadcrumbs and egg whites for healthy meatballs you can coat in a number of sauces or marinades. Serve on toothpicks to make this an easy-to-eat finger food.