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?1
From cakes and pies to cookies and chocolate, 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 favourite 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.
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 an apple or a mince pie, no holiday table is complete without some kind of crust-filled delight. And, with the right flour, you can make your pie just as delicious without gluten.
The main reason delicious recipes like apple pie include gluten is that people traditionally use wheat flour to make the crust and thicken the filling. However, wheat flour can easily be substituted for gluten-free flour and you are ready to roll! .
There are a number of delicious recipes available online for gluten-free 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 holiday cookies
Like most baked goods, cookies traditionally contain flour or other grains that include gluten. But this doesn’t mean that gluten-free guests 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 includes:
- 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 generally 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 practise making gluten-free cookies ahead of time as it can take a few tries to perfect the process.
4. 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 biscuits to make that delicious biscuity base!
Holiday favourites 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 actually gluten-free.2
Some holiday foods that don’t usually include gluten are:
- Cranberry sauce (and dried cranberries)
- Brussel 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 flavours such as strawberry and vanilla. More complicated flavours 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 hopefully should be manageable once you understand your limits, and get to know the small adjustments you need to make your favourite treats gluten-free!
Gluten is commonly found in foods that contain wheat, barley and rye.3 This includes foods such as:
- Baked goods
- Food colouring
- Rye bread
Some foods that you may not realise 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 having someone over 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!
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