Paleo Appetizers and Sides

Last Update: September 29, 2023

The idea behind the Paleo diet is to eat like you would have in the Paleolithic era. That means eating nuts, seeds, meat, fruit, and vegetables, while avoiding grains, refined sugar, and chemicals. It’s easy to find Paleo main dishes because the diet consists primarily of meat and vegetables—but what can you make for Paleo appetizers and side dishes?

We’ve compiled our favorite Paleo appetizers and side dishes for you to enjoy!

Paleo Appetizers

Paleo Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

This Paleo focaccia is a deliciously savory appetizer for your next dinner party. It only takes 35 minutes to make and tastes amazing!

Yield: 6 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

6 large eggs
⅔ cup coconut flour
½ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons roughly chopped rosemary leaves
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Maldon salt

Line a 10- x 6-inch baking pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, coconut milk, and vinegar together. Add coconut flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Stir well. Scrape batter into pan and smooth. Gently press chopped rosemary and garlic slices onto the top of the dough. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

Everything Bagel Kale Chips

Impress your guests by serving them these kale chips that are an even more savory and delicious version of classic kale chips!

Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Active Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


For the everything-bagel spice mix:
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon large-flake sea salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder

For the kale chips:
2 bunches curly kale, stems removed and torn into 2- to 3-inch pieces
2 ½ tablespoons everything-bagel spice mix
2 tablespoons olive oil

Stir together all the ingredients to make the spice mix. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, toss together kale, 2 ½ tbsp of spice mix, and olive oil until kale is evenly coated. Arrange kale in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes, turning the leaves over halfway through. Cool completely and serve.

Vegan Eggplant Jerky

This unconventional appetizer will be visually and flavorfully appealing to your guests. It tastes remarkably like beef jerky!

Yield: about 4 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours and 10 minutes

3 small eggplant
½ cup olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt, to taste

Heat the oven to the lowest temperature setting or 115 degrees F. Place metal racks on two baking sheets.

In a baking dish, stir olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and garlic powder together. Cut off the ends of the eggplants and use a knife or mandolin to slice eggplants into thin vertical slices. Toss slices in the marinade to coat. Marinate for 2 hours, flipping halfway through.

Place eggplant on the racks, being careful not to overlap and sprinkle with salt. Put in the oven to dehydrate until jerky is chewy and dry to the touch, about 4 to 6 hours. Store in a cool, dry place.

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Soldiers

These asparagus soldiers are a great way to start any meal. They can be served instead of toast alongside boiled eggs.

Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

12 asparagus spears
12 slices bacon
4 large eggs


For the asparagus:
Trim woody ends from asparagus. Wrap the asparagus spears with bacon, tightly. Cook over medium-high heat in a saucepan for several minutes on each side to crisp bacon.

For the eggs:
Fill a medium saucepan with water about three-quarters full and place over medium-high heat. Once water is boiling, add eggs and cook for 6 minutes. When done, run under cold water to stop them from cooking. Serve with sliced open tops to dip asparagus into the runny egg yolk.

Almond Hummus

If you love hummus, you’ll love this new take on the traditional favorite. This savory almond hummus makes a perfect appetizer with vegetables or pita!

Yield: 3 cups
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours and 10 minutes

2 ¼ cups raw almonds, soaked
2 cloves garlic
1 ½ tablespoons sage leaves, chopped
Juice of 3 lemons
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¾ teaspoon sea salt

Place almonds in a medium-sized bowl with water. Cover and soak overnight or for at least 12 hours.

Drain and wash the soaked almonds. Use a food processor with a blade attachment to finely chop the almonds. Add in the rest of the ingredients and ¼ cup of water. Puree while adding more water until creamy and smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Vegan Ranch Dressing

Made from soaked cashews, this vegan ranch dressing is also Paleo-friendly, meaning you can serve up alongside chopped veggies or make cauliflower buffalo “wings” to dip!

Yield: About 1 cup
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

1 cup raw cashews, soaked
1 small bunch chives, chopped
⅓ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, cover cashews with twice the amount of water. Soak for 15 minutes.

Drain water, and place cashews, water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and onion powder in a food processor. Process until smooth, adding additional water as needed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in chives, parsley, and black pepper. Ranch will keep in fridge for 3 days.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

These cumin-spiced sweet potato chips are a great appetizer to indulge in while dinner is cooking, but you might be unable to stop!

Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

1 large sweet potato, peeled
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Pinch paprika

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice sweet potatoes into very thin rounds, using a sharp knife or mandolin. Toss with coconut oil, cumin, salt, and paprika in a large bowl. Bake until crisp and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Paleo Side Dishes

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This satisfying Paleo side dish serves up sauteed greens, avocado slices, and tahini-turmeric dressing—all inside a sweet potato.

Yield: 1 serving
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


For the sweet potato:
1 sweet potato
1 cup kale, de-ribbed
1 cup baby spinach
Small handful cilantro, chopped
½ avocado, sliced
1 green onion, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons coconut oil
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
Pinch cayenne

For the turmeric dressing:
½ clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ teaspoons tahini
1 teaspoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon turmeric
Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash sweet potato, and use a fork to poke holes throughout. Wrap with aluminum foil and roast on baking sheet for about 40 minutes, or until potato is tender.

While the sweet potato is cooking, place coconut oil and salt in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring in kale and baby spinach. When greens are just wilted, but still brightly colored, remove from heat.

Mix together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, thinning with water if necessary. Cut potato in half vertically and place sauteed greens and avocado on top, sprinkling cayenne over them. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. Drizzle dressing over the top.

Parsnip Fries

These Paleo parsnip fries will satisfy all of your french fry cravings! Paired with sorrel mayo, they make a great accompaniment to any meal.

Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours


For the fries:
2 ½ pounds parsnips
1 quart lard
Smoked paprika, to garnish
Sea salt, to garnish

For the sorrel mayo:
2 cups packed sorrel, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 shallot, chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch sea salt


For the fries:
Peel parsnips and cut into long sticks. Place the cut fries in a large bowl with cold water and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat lard to 325 degrees F in pot until oil bubbles around the handle of a wooden spoon. Drain fries and dry with a paper towel. Fry parsnips 3 to 4 minutes, until they turn a light gold color. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Cool.

Increase heat to 375 degrees F. Fry parsnips once more for 3 minutes to reach golden brown. Remove, drain, and season with paprika and salt.

For the sorrel mayo:
Add sorrel, garlic, shallot, mayonnaise, and mustard to a small food processor until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Purple Potato Salad

This recipe can be made with regular sweet potatoes, but purple potatoes give an exotic vibe to this Paleo side dish!

Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

4 large Okinawan purple potatoes or regular sweet potatoes
¼ cup Primal Kitchen Mayonnaise

One or more of the following:
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 pickles, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

Peel potatoes and cut into small even chunks. Fill a pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Boil until potatoes are easily pierced by a fork, about 10 to 25 minutes.

Drain water and cool potatoes completely. Mix mayo with potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in other flavors as desired.

Spicy Pickled Carrots

This side dish brightens up your meal and spices up your taste buds! The sweetness of the carrots pairs fantastically with this spicy brine.

Yield: 6 servings
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 day

2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 shallots, quartered
Peel of 1 organic lemon
1 ¼ cups filtered water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 ½ tablespoons pink salt
12 carrots, peeled

In a medium saucepan, place garlic, shallots, lemon peel, water, vinegar, red pepper flakes, peppercorn, and salt over medium heat to boil. Add in carrots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn heat off and remove carrots, letting both the carrots and the liquid cool to room temperature.

Put both the carrots and the brine in an airtight jar together and seal. Refrigerate overnight.

Roasted Broccolini With Nori Salt

Made with coconut aminos, nori, and sesame, this green side dish will be your favorite thing on the plate! Broccolini has a milder flavor than broccoli, which is complemented with nori salt in this crave-worthy recipe.

Yield: 4 servings
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes


For the broccolini:
2 bunches broccolini
¼ cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon coconut aminos

For the nori salt:
1 sheet toasted nori, shredded
1 tablespoon large-flake sea salt
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the broccolini with sesame oil and coconut aminos. Place on two baking sheets in a single layer and roast in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until crispy.

Stir nori, salt, sesame seeds, pepper, and cayenne together in a small bowl. Top broccolini with nori salt to serve.

Sweet Potato Fries With Chipotle Mayonnaise

This recipe brings spice to sweetness with cumin and cayenne on sweet potatoes and a chipotle-lime mayonnaise dipping sauce. This is the perfect side dish to add complex flavors to your meal!

Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Large pinch sea salt
Chipotle mayonnaise, for serving

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut potatoes evenly into sticks. In a large bowl, toss fries with coconut oil, sugar (optional), chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt.

Place on two baking sheets in a single layer and bake for 25 minutes. Flip the fries after 12 minutes. Serve with mayonnaise.

Moroccan Spiced Carrots

These spiced carrots are a delightfully unique side dish. With complex flavors and a shiny glaze, they’’ll sweeten up any meal.

Yield: 2 servings
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into batons
1 heaping tablespoon ghee
2 teaspoons raw honey
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Large pinch salt

In a medium saucepan, cover carrots with water. Add the other ingredients and boil, uncovered. Lower heat and let simmer until carrots are covered in glaze and all water has evaporated.

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