10 Anti-Inflammatory Dessert Recipes That Are Low in Sugar and High in Benefits

Photo: Kerri Axelrod
It's a fact: Granny's centuries-old chocolate chip cookie recipe never fails. But even though a warm, ooey, gooey cookie hits the spot in terms of flavor and has seemingly magical soul-soothing capabilities with every bite, it often can leave a little to be desired when it comes to nutritional value. So, why can't we have our cake and eat it, too... literally? To make things a little sweeter, we've gathered 10 anti-inflammatory desserts that are made without refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, dairy (for context, dairy can cause inflammation for some folks), or refined flour, yet are living proof that "healthy" desserts are, in fact, as delicious as any other ordinary dessert you know and love.

Why you should make anti-inflammatory desserts

If you're looking to get anti-inflammatory benefits in every meal, you may have previously assumed that desserts were simply off the table. Why? Well, there's no denying that most desserts are made with heaps of refined sugar, which is notoriously known as a major inflammation-causing culprit. Sigh. 

Of course, this doesn't mean that it's the root of all evil—far from. Rather, like most things in life, consuming sugar in moderation is key. “Sugars we add to our food—no matter the kind or type—should be consumed mindfully and in moderation,” registered dietitian Carlie Saint-Laurent Beaucejour, MS, RD, LDN, previously shared with Well+Good. That's because according to Beaucejour, "too much of any kind of added sugar can lead to tooth decay, inflammation, and other adverse effects."

So, if what dessert can you eat on anti-inflammatory diet, is the top priority, we've got a few options ahead. And, no, not all anti-inflammatory desserts begin and end with fruit, thank you very much.

10 anti-inflammatory desserts recipes to make at home

1. Chocolate peanut butter bonbons 

Chocolate and peanut butter are the Ina and Jeffrey Garten of dessert pairings: sweet and beloved by all. Who needs PB+J when you can have PB+C, fam? The best part? This recipe for chocolate peanut butter bonbons doesn't have any sugar or additives whatsoever. Instead, honey is used to add additional sweetness, while puffed rice adds that irresistible crunch factor. It's basically a cross between peanut butter cups and a rice krispie treat. Swoon.

Get the recipe: Chocolate peanut butter bonbons

anti-inflammatory desserts
Photo: Kerri Axelrod

2. No-bake turmeric bars

This dessert is made with ingredients that actively work to keep inflammation far, far away, which is one of the many reasons why this is one of our favorite gluten-free, anti-inflammatory desserts on the list. The star ingredient is turmeric, one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices sitting in your pantry at this very moment. To up the ante, anti-inflammatory turmeric is combined with coconut flour, cinnamon, almond butter, maple syrup, and chocolate chips to make a batch of these delicious no-bake bars.

Get the recipe: No-bake turmeric bars

turmeric lemon bars
Photo: Vegan Chickpea

3. No-bake apricot turmeric lemon bars

These apricot lemon bars are yet another anti-inflammatory dessert that makes the most out of turmeric (we love!). They're more on the tangy rather than sweet side, so they're the perfect dessert for those who don't like anything overly saccharine. Not to mention their packed with boatloads of fiber, thanks to ingredients like oats and chia seeds to help keep things flowing, if you know what we mean.

Get the recipe: No-bake apricot turmeric lemon bars

anti-inflammatory desserts
Photo: Sweet Potato Soul

4. Vegan apple tart with walnut crust

It just wouldn't be right to go through the entire fall season without enjoying at least one slice of warm apple pie. (We need all the simple pleasures life has to offer, this, and every year, right?) This recipe is the perfect way to make good use of your apple-picking haul without using sugar, butter, or white flour. The crust is made with walnuts and rolled oats, adding fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Easy, delicious, and absolutely stunning? Done, done, and done.

Get the recipe: Vegan apple tart with walnut crust 

5. Black bean brownies

Here us out! Black bean brownies may sound like a dinner dish gone wrong, but this recipe will make a believer out of you. The secret to sweetening them up (without refined sugar) is by using coconut milk, coconut sugar, and cacao powder, which totally masks any traces of their legume-ness in the final product. Not to mention, the fiber and protein in the beans are a match made in heaven when it comes to foods for longevity.

Get the recipe: Black bean brownies 

cheesecake bars
Photo: All The Healthy Things

6. No-bake lemon blueberry cheesecake bars

PSA: You can absolutely make a thick, decadent anti-inflammatory cheesecake without using any dairy whatsoever. Case in point: In this recipe, soaked cashew nuts and coconut milk are used to give the bars a rich, creamy texture. Blueberry jam, maple syrup, and vanilla extract provide just enough sweetness without making the dessert taste too tart for the perfect balance, plus a really stellar swirly effect that's almost too pretty to eat. But on that note, if you're reallllly in the lemon blueberry mode, we've got a delicious lemon blueberry cake recipe calling your name.

Get the recipe: No-bake lemon blueberry cheesecake bars

sweet potato chia
Photo: Running on Real Food

7. Sweet potato and coconut chia pudding

This dessert looks fancy, but it's a cinch to make. One layer is made of blended baked sweet potatoes while the other alternating layers are a blend of coconut milk, chia seeds, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Top with shredded coconut, grab a spoon, and dig in! Seriously, it's that easy.

Get the recipe: Sweet potato and coconut chia pudding

ginger cookies
Photo: All The Nourishing Things

8. Ginger spice cookies

Ginger, spice, and everything nice is the M.O. of this recipe. Why? Well, for starters ginger is one of the best common pantry spices that's a powerful inflammation-fighter and is the star ingredient in this cookie recipe. (There's turmeric in there too, which ups the anti-inflammatory factor even more.) So, don't you say it's time to pair these ginger spice cookies with a mug of hot herbal tea for the perfect pre-bedtime snack.

Get the recipe: Ginger spice cookies

chickpea brownies
Photo: Candice Kumai

9. Chickpea brownies

These brownies don't taste like hummus (we leave that for the anti-inflammatory dips and spreads)—we promise! The secret to masking the any traces of bean flavor in this anti-inflammatory brownie dessert is blending them with almond butter and a few key pantry staples (vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, and maple syrup). The end result is a high-protein blondie that's smooth, creamy, and just sweet enough. BTW, these would pair well with one of our all-time favorite anti-inflammatory sauces: cranberry orange sauce.

Get the recipe: Chickpea brownies

10. Birthday cake

So, is cake good for inflammation? Maybe not in most cases, but this recipe does take the cake (pun intended). Needless to say, the ultimate anti-inflammatory dessert challenge award goes to the tried-and-true birthday cake. After all, the stakes are high. But this recipe nails it. It's low-sugar, grain-free, but still delivers on that classic birthday cake taste. The "cake" is a mixture of oat flour, almond flour, and eggs, which are blended together for a moist-yet-fluffy texture. The frosting is a mixture of coconut milk and vanilla extract; it's truly all you need to sweeten it up. Even without the candles, this dessert is on fire (birthday candles, not included).

Get the recipe: Birthday cake

A registered dietitian shares an in-depth guide for foods that help reduce inflammation:

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