Part of creating the perfect holiday menu is making sure that there’s plenty of food to suit everyone around the table. What if that includes someone on a gluten-free diet?
From cakes and pies to cookies and candies, so many of the delicious treats we associate with the holiday season traditionally contain gluten. Fear not because with just a little bit of forward planning, you can find plenty of delicious recipes that are completely gluten-free.
Whether it’s gluten-free substitutions for your favorite holiday dessert or some brand new delicious recipes, there are plenty of easy gluten-free options out there to try. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of our top gluten-free holiday recipes and ideas.
Please note some of these recipes may not be suitable for people who may have other dietary restrictions, such as individuals with diabetes or hypertension who need to be mindful about their sugar, carbohydrate and/or salt intake.
Gluten-Free Holiday Recipes and Ideas
1) Gluten-free stuffing
Somehow part of the main dish and a side dish at the same time, stuffing is a crucial and yet often overlooked part of holiday dinner. Stuffing traditionally contains bread which contains wheat which contains gluten. Most of the ready-made stuffing mixes on the market therefore also contain wheat.
But, there’s a simple solution. By using gluten-free bread, you can make easy gluten free stuffing!
Top tip: To make this recipe vegan-friendly too, make sure that you use dairy-free and egg-free bread.
2) Gluten-free pies
Whether it’s apple, pecan or pumpkin pie, no holiday table is complete without some kind of crust-filled delight. And, with the right flour, you can make your apple pie or pecan pie just as delicious without gluten.
The main reason delicious recipes like apple pie include gluten is because people traditionally use wheat flour to make the crust and thicken the filling. However, wheat flour can easily be substituted for a number of different ingredients.
Some easy substitutions for wheat flour include:
- Almond flour
- Oat flour
- Coconut flour
There are a number of delicious recipes available online for gluten-free holiday pies and, if you have time, it’s worth trying out a few different versions with different flours to find out what you prefer. Some flours will offer a lighter texture while others will be heavier, so a trial run is always a good idea before the big day.
3) Gluten-free sweet potato pudding
This is a great substitution for the traditional sweet potato casserole. A little bit lighter and simpler to make, it’s the perfect addition to any holiday dinner. Simply create the filling of a sweet potato pie and serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or marshmallow fluff. For an even richer flavor and texture, sprinkle some toasted pecans and coconut flakes on top.
Top tip: If you’re hosting a party and want appetizers or small dishes for your guests, you can serve these puddings in individual pots.
4) Gluten-free holiday cookies
Like most baked goods, cookies traditionally contain flour or other grains that include gluten. But this doesn’t mean that the gluten-free have to go without! In fact, there are many different types of gluten free cookies available… It's just a matter of trying them out and finding the right cookie recipe for you. You can then cut them into different shapes and deck them out with holiday-themed trimmings.
Some inspiration for gluten free cookie recipes include:
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Peanut butter cookies
- Sugar cookies
- Gingerbread cookies
The main thing to understand when making gluten-free cookies is that gluten-free flour needs a little bit of extra liquid to perform similarly to wheat-based flour. So, if you want your cookies to be the perfect combination of chewy and crispy, you may need to add a little bit of milk to the mixture. Another top tip for making gluten-free cookies is to use brown sugar instead of white.
Just as with the other recipes and ideas mentioned above, you may want to practice making gluten-free cookies ahead of time as it can take a few tries to perfect the process.
5) Gluten-free cheesecake
When done properly, the cheesecake can be the cherry on top of the perfect celebration. Most ingredients in a cheesecake (like cream cheese, butter, sugar and eggs) are already gluten-free. But, annoyingly, the key part of the crust contains gluten.
The good news is that once you can nail the crust recipe without gluten, the filling and toppings of your cheesecake can remain exactly the same. The even better news is that this can be achieved by simply using gluten-free graham crackers instead of traditional graham crackers which contain wheat.
Holiday Favorites That are Already Gluten-Free
If you’ve been panicking about having to overhaul your entire menu for that one gluten-free guest, you can relax because many holiday dishes are naturally gluten-free.
Some holiday foods that don’t usually include gluten are:
- Cranberry sauce (and dried cranberries)
- Butternut squash
- Brussels sprouts
- Green beans
- Homemade mashed potatoes (boiled potatoes mashed with some butter and milk)
As you can see, all veggies are gluten-free as long as no ingredients containing gluten are added to them. Ice cream can also be gluten-free, particularly plain traditional flavors such as strawberry and vanilla. More complicated flavors may have added ingredients that contain gluten so it’s always worth checking the label.
Foods and Ingredients to Avoid if You’re Aiming for a Gluten-Free Holiday
Being gluten-free isn’t that hard once you understand your limits, and most of your favorite treats can be made gluten-free with a few small adjustments.
Gluten is commonly found in foods that contain wheat, barley and rye. This includes foods such as:
- Baked goods
- Food coloring
- Rye bread, such as pumpernickel
Some foods that you may not realize contain gluten can include:
- Salad dressings
- Meatballs, burgers and sausages
- Non-distilled vinegar such as malt vinegar (balsamic and apple cider vinegar are gluten-free)
If in doubt, always check the label. If you’re hosting someone who is gluten-free for the holidays, don’t be afraid to ask them about their dietary needs. They’ll appreciate the gesture and they may even give you some delicious recipe ideas of their own!