Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Holiday Baking – Which ingredients to choose?

Ahh, the holidays. A favorite time of year for me to spend time with my family. I enjoy celebrating with a family treat as much as anyone else, but I have to be careful about what I eat because of my food sensitivities. This means finding gluten-free, dairy-free holiday baking recipes that actually taste good. 

I know too much gluten or dairy will upset my digestive system and negatively affect my mood, so over the years I’ve collected several recipes to ensure I have tasty treats to enjoy and share.

Is the gluten in your holiday baking making you sad? 

There is research showing the connections between gluten sensitivity and anxiety and depression (as well as ADHD, ASD, and schizophrenia). 

In a summary of the research about gluten and mental health, Jackson et al. (2012) stated that up to 22% of people with Celiac Disease have or will develop some type of mental health issue, and up to 57% of people with mental health issues have anti-bodies associated with gluten sensitivity.

Be sure to keep the sugar down.

Sugar is known to cause inflammation in the brain as well as disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut micro-biome. Over time this inflammatory effect can speed up aging of brain tissue in people, and excess sugar was associated with poor memory in animals (Edwards, 2016).

To find out more about sugar and mental health, you can read this blog post. 

While there isn’t research supporting increases in inflammation or mental health problems with dairy consumption, there is some anecdotal evidence of a relationship and many clients feel better when the reduce their dairy intake.

Gluten-free, dairy-free holiday baking list.

So, here is my collection of gluten-free, dairy-free holiday baking recipes. 

Just a note: I tend to reduce the sugar in most recipes by at least a third. I also substitute coconut sugar for regular sugar, or use honey, maple syrup or dates as a sweetener when I can.

Savoury Snacks

CrockPot Roasted & Spiced Nuts Recipe

Your house will smell great as these nuts roast in the crockpot! You can easily substitute your favourite nuts or seeds when you make this recipe.

Christmas Morning Breakfast  

Buckwheat Cinnamon Rolls (Gluten-free, Vegan, Yeast-Free)

At our house, Christmas morning means cinnamon buns! I like this recipe which uses sweet potato. I add raisins or dried cranberries to the filling, because I like raisins in my cinnamon buns – but I know that some people feel differently. 

I’ve substituted pumpkin for the sweet potato and used pumpkin pie spice mix for flavouring which worked well, too. 

To be totally honest, I’ve never made the frosting. I find them sweet enough without it and it helps to curb the amount of sugar if I leave it out. 

I’ve also made cinnamon buns using this Gluten Free Bread in 5 Minutes master dough.

Holiday Beverages

 Crockpot Gingerbread Latte  

Another crockpot recipe that will make your house smell lovely! How good does this sound??

This is a great recipe to start before an afternoon outside and then come in to enjoy a warm drink together. I’ve made this recipe with rice milk and it worked fine. I usually start with less sugar, which leaves the option of adding more if it is needed.

Apple Cider 

Nothing says the holidays like traditional apple cider. I like to add some cranberries or cranberry juice to my cider, but this also delicious with just the apples.

Cookies and Holiday Treats 

Big Batch Gluten-Free Christmas/Sugar Cookie Recipe 

This is a very versatile recipe. It makes a base cookie dough that can be adapted to several types of cookies. I like the recipe because I can prepare one big batch of cookies and then divide it to make different flavours. 

The kids like to decorate the basic sugar cookies and I like to add cranberries, walnuts and orange zest for drop cookies. This dough also makes great thumbprint cookies with a little jam in the centre.  

The dough freezes well so you can save it for a quick batch of cookies later. The recipe calls for a lot of sugar, so I cut it back by at least a third. I’ve tried using coconut sugar in this recipe which makes the dough a little darker than cane sugar would, but still works fine.

Elana’s Pantry – Tart and Tangy Cranberry bars  

I like the tangy cranberry flavour in these bars.  Again, you can adjust the sugar to taste, but I find the date-sweetened base helps to balance the tart cranberry topping.

Gluten-free Butter Tart Bars  

Butter tarts are a Canadian favourite, but I find gluten-free pie crust is too much work. Instead, I make these butter tart squares with the same flavours in an easier-to-make bar form. 

Butter tart squares are sweet since the top layer is mostly sugar, so I cut back the sugar and they still taste great.

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies  

I enjoying making these cookies with my kids.  They like making the thumbprints and adding the jam.

Gluten-Free Gingersnap Stars  

I love anything ginger, especially ginger snaps. These are a tasty spice cookie, whether you shape them like stars or not.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bread

A tart quick bread with cranberries and walnuts. I enjoy a slice with a cup of tea. There are lots of substitution options to make this recipe accessible for everyone.

Here’s another tasty cranberry recipe Gluten-Free Apple Cake with Cranberries.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie Bread  

This recipe has a great pumpkin pie flavour. It makes a nice breakfast bread for the holidays. 

You can also try this recipe if you enjoy holiday pumpkin flavour – Gluten-Free Chai Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries.

Coconut Chocolate Date Bliss Balls 

Here’s another tasty dessert with dates. You could easily adapt the recipe for more holiday flavour with cranberries and walnuts. Yum!

No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Pies 

When thinking about the busy time around Christmas, it’s always great to find ideas that don’t require the oven. While slow-cooker recipies are helpful, another quick option is no-bake desserts.

Dairy-free Almond Butter Cup  

Everyone likes some chocolate around the holidays and these little chocolate almond butter cups are a delicious treat. I add some chopped roasted almonds for a little more crunch on top.

Gluten-free Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies 

Here’s a recipe I’m adding to my baking list this year. I have some hazelnut flour I’ve been wanting to use and I’m sure the chocolate hazelnut filling will be a hit with the kids.


Need more ideas?  Here’s a recipe round-up from Silvana Nardone with 20 more gluten-free cookie recipes to try.

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