Gluten-Free Holiday Desserts

Gluten intolerance shouldn't keep you from indulgent desserts

The holidays are a time for celebration, and for us that means indulging in rich, sweet treats like cakes, pies, and cookies. However, these desserts can all be problematic for people with gluten intolerance. Fortunately, plenty of desserts don’t contain gluten, and others can be made gluten-free with a few easy substitutions. To make sure no one is left out of the festivities this year, we've rounded up our favorite gluten-free holiday dessert recipes.

Sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies are two Christmas staples that both use wheat flour. Our gluten-free sugar cookies substitute the wheat flour for rice flour and cornstarch, while our gluten-free gingerbread cookies use a mix of rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch. In both recipes the flavor is spot on, but the dough can be a little more delicate than standard cookie dough. Freezing it makes it easier to work with.

Caramels are a naturally gluten-free sweet than make for a lovely gift. Around the holidays we like to make large batches to give to friends and relatives. Sea salt and vanilla make for elegant, refined candies, while our peppermint caramels are especially festive. Hailing from Nigeria, our coconut milk caramels have a mild coconut flavor and are vegan as well as gluten-free.

A big, moist cake is an impressive centerpiece for a holiday table. Our walnut carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is naturally gluten-free. Grated carrot and crushed pineapple keeps it from drying out. If you want chocolate, our gluten-free chocolate cake recipe uses sorghum flour along with potato and tapioca starch.

Find all of these treats and more in our collection of gluten-free holiday dessert recipes.

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
A blend of white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch makes a perfect gluten-free base for these sweet and spicy cookies that have long been a holiday favorite.Anna Stockwell
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies
Our gluten-free twist on classic sugar cookies uses rice flour as the base. Gluten-free doughs tend to be more delicate than standard cookie doughs; if the dough becomes too soft to work with, cut out shapes and place unbaked cookies on trays in the freezer for 3-5 minutes before baking.
Pine Nut Brittle
Pine Nut Brittle
Crunchy, salty, and rosemary-scented, pine nut brittle makes a great gift.Noah Fecks
Peppermint Caramels
Peppermint Caramels
Chewy caramel topped with crushed peppermint candies is one of many versions of kola, a kind of semisoft toffee adored all over Sweden.Todd Coleman
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
You won't miss the flour in this rich chocolate cake, developed for us by gluten free chef Judy Haubert.Maxime Iattoni
Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate Mousse
This simple yet sophisticated, airy yet intense concoction has been a hit with home cooks in America at least since the New York Times published its first recipe for the dessert in 1955.Todd Coleman
Corsican Lemon Mousse
Corsican Lemon Mousse
This rich, silky mousse brightened with tangy lemons makes an elegant end to a meal.Todd Coleman
White Chocolate-Cardamom Panna Cotta
White Chocolate-Cardamom Panna Cotta
Sweetened with white chocolate only, this rich, Middle Eastern-inspired panna cotta gets its distinctive floral aroma from an infusion of blistered cardamom.Todd Coleman
Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies
Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses Cookies
This recipe, from Gluten Free Girl & The Chef blogger Shauna Ahern, appeared in our 2012 Cookie Advent Calendar. Shauna says: "Every year when my mother made her pillow-soft molasses cookies, I just sighed with happiness at the holidays. But by the time she was ready to hand over the baking, I could no longer eat gluten, and she couldn't find that recipe. So I fiddled and baked until I came up with these."Noah Fecks
Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
Pistachio Shortbread Cookies
An adaptation of Basque Christmas cookies, these crumbly harinados are made with ground up pistachios and a blend of gluten-free flours.Noah Fecks
Chewy Almond Macaroons
Chewy Almond Macaroons
These intensely-flavored cookies have a crunchy caramelized exterior and a chewy, amaretto-flavored interior.Helen Rosner
Coconut Milk Caramels
Coconut Milk Caramels
Chewy, pleasantly salty caramels are flavored simply with coconut milk and sugar.Anna Stockwell
Orange Meringue Kisses
Orange Meringue Kisses
Modeled after the classic Creamsicle, these orange meringue kisses sandwiched with buttery white chocolate are a lively and bright addition to the holiday cookie spread.Maxime Iattoni
Macarons
Macarons
These pillowy, delicate cookies, typically filled with jam, buttercream or ganache, are small yet decadent enough to provide the perfect bite of dessert.Helen Rosner
Alice Medrich's House Truffles
Alice Medrich's House Truffles
These decadent chocolate truffles are enriched with egg yolks—Medrich's special touch.Todd Coleman
Walnut Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Walnut Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Surprisingly airy and light, this cake could have been a souffle in a previous life. Naturally gluten-free, the batter gets its lift from egg whites, its rich stability from walnut flour, and its moistness from grated carrot and pineapple. Swathed in velvety cream cheese frosting and a cloud of sweet white coconut, this version of the classic was developed for us by Judy Haubert.Todd Coleman
Gluten-Free Vanilla Crescent Cookies
Gluten-Free Vanilla Crescent Cookies
Akin to the famed Mexican wedding cookies, Greek kourambiethes, and Southern pecan puffs, these crumbly shortbread crescents, made gluten-free with a variety of specialty flours, are showered with confectioners' sugar while still hot from the oven.Anna Stockwell
Salted Caramels
Salted Caramels
Michael Laiskonis, executive pastry chef at New York City's Le Bernardin, gave us the recipe for these caramel candies.Todd Coleman