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

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.

Pine Nut Brittle

Crunchy, salty, and rosemary-scented, pine nut brittle makes a great gift.

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.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

You won’t miss the flour in this rich chocolate cake, developed for us by gluten free chef Judy Haubert.

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. Get the recipe for Chocolate Mousse »

Corsican Lemon Mousse

This rich, silky mousse brightened with tangy lemons makes an elegant end to a meal.

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.

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.” Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Ginger Molasses 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.

Chewy Almond Macaroons

Chewy Almond Macaroons

Coconut Milk Caramels

Chewy, pleasantly salty caramels are flavored simply with coconut milk and sugar.
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.


These pillowy, delicate cookies, typically filled with jam, buttercream or ganache, are small yet decadent enough to provide the perfect bite of dessert. Get the recipe for Macarons »

Alice Medrich’s House Truffles

These decadent chocolate truffles are enriched with egg yolks—Medrich’s special touch.

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. Get the recipe for Walnut Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

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.

Salted Caramels

Michael Laiskonis, executive pastry chef at New York City’s Le Bernardin, gave us the recipe for these caramel candies. Be sure to wrap them individually in wax paper to store them. Get the recipe for Salted Caramels »