The Ultimate Gluten-Free Holiday Survival Guide {Tips and Recipes!}

A photo of food and baking ingredients in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Navigating the holidays when you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance can be very difficult. With a little preparation and this ultimate gluten-free holiday survival guide, we’re here to help make recipes, hosting, being a guest, and traveling for winter’s festive meals just a little bit easier.

The decorations, the activities, the gifts, the family, the friends, the good cheer, the food, the last-minute errands, the stress—why spend any more stress on food, when it’s what you eat to survive?

The Ultimate Gluten-Free Holiday Survival Guide

Maybe this is your first gluten-free holiday—in which case, welcome to feeling happy and pain-free after your big meal! This guide will help you navigate cooking gluten-free recipes, being a gluten-free guest, and traveling (not to grandma’s) with an allergy. If you’re a gluten-free pro looking for some new recipes to try, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you are hosting dinner, attending dinner as a guest, trying to partake in activities with others, or just in the mood for delicious gluten-free comfort food, we have the answers to your gluten-free holiday questions right here!

Gluten-Free Holiday Recipes

For a quick, comprehensive holiday food guide, you can check out these 20 Real Food Holiday Recipes (just note that some of these recipes will require gluten-free substitutes). If you’d like to explore more of Wildly Organic’s recipes, see the various options below:

Appetizers and Snacks

Guests are knocking on the door, cocktails are being poured, or it’s time to turn on a classic family film. What do you have at the ready to calm appetites before the big meal?

If you aren’t ready to let go of succulent/cozy/savory fall gourds quite yet, try these pumpkin fat bombs or mini keto pumpkin bread. Nobody ever complained about extending autumn, right? Or perhaps you’d like to greet your guests with your home wafting in aromas of freshly baked mini cranberry walnut bread. That will give your scented candles a run for their money.

Can you whip up a good curried deviled egg for any celebration, any time of the year? Good, please keep doing that, because I can’t get enough of these snacks! Or maybe you need something heartier for your crowd, especially if dinner will be served late or you’re gathering for a game watch. Hawaiian meatballs will tide your guests over, easily.

Maybe you’re like my grandma, who always needs a salty snack on hand (guests not required). In that case, try these popcorn snack bars or sweet-n-spicy nuts, both a creative spin on popular snacks. And for the kiddos? Let them join in the fun with cute sugar-free strawberry Santas. Kids like feeling that they’re part of the party, too!

Wildly Organic carries a great selection of gluten-free foods there are perfect for snacking! Wildly Organic Nuts and Seeds make a great appetizer on their own, Wildly Organic Dried Mango Slices are delicious to snack on before dinner, or grab a box of Wildly Organic Popcorn for a salty treat to feed a crowd!

Side Dishes

Can a side dish make or break a meal? I err on the side of caution, so I don’t want to try my luck. Thankfully, sticking to these side dishes will ensure you make the meal memorable and delicious.

Give your greens some variety with candied brussels sprouts, roasted green beans with pecans, sesame roasted vegetables with MCT oil, and spicy roasted green beans. Spice up a salad by making a wild rice and pecan salad or a sweet potato salad with garlic vinaigrette.

Soup’s on with cream of cabbage soup and kabocha squash soup. Change up your usual sides with zesty creamy baked carrots, curry roasted potatoes, cheesy herbed cauliflower rice, and baked quinoa pecan stuffed acorn squash. Don’t forget some of the most savory sides from Thanksgiving; bring back herb drop biscuits and stuffing with sausage apples—they’re too good to be limited to one holiday!

The Main Event

Did everything get hot enough? Did everything get too hot and burn? Relax. Your main dishes will be delicious, memorable, and of course, gluten-free. Here are some recipes to get some variety apart from the traditional turkey and ham dishes.

For the vegetarians and vegans, this wild rice stir-fry is for you. Still craving that Christmas poultry? Maybe an easy sheet pan chicken with vegetables, creamy Italian chicken and wild rice, one-pan Italian chicken and veggies, or a turkey potpie will work for you.

Perhaps you like pairing your red wine with red meat. In that case, try cacao beef chili, slow cooker roast beef, dairy-free beef stroganoff, or (for your fun and casual holiday meals) sloppy joes. Still not satisfied? Well, you haven’t tried lemon pepper salmon or roasted sausage and vegetables yet, have you?

Treats and Sweets

Nothing says “the holidays” and “mid-winter food-coma” quite like sweets. Whether you hold friendly competitions for best treats or just enjoy the process of baking them, make sure you share with friends and family.

Are cookies the first holiday treat on your mind? Because there are plenty of cutout cookie, thumbprint cookie, and ginger molasses cookie recipes to go around. Not into the typical cookie colossal? Try something new with spiced orange bread, cranberry bars, and salted chocolate coconut bark. If it’s not a holiday without pie, you now have the last gluten-free piecrust recipe you’ll ever need. Try it with this no-bake keto pumpkin pie (and then do some caroling).


Put your feet up, you’ve successfully hosted a holiday party. Or maybe you need to caffeinate to prepare for the guests coming! These wonderfully wintry drinks will give you the sugar, spice, and everything nice you need surrounding all of your holiday events.

Need caffeine to keep your energy up? Have a salted caramel mocha or peppermint mocha to keep you going. For winding down or cutting back on caffeine, sip on a golden milk latte or the sweet dreams golden milk. If you are all about the hot chocolate (a classic winter staple), try these white hot chocolate, spiced hot chocolate, dairy-free/sugar-free hot chocolate, and thick drinking chocolate recipes. Want a cool twist on a hot drink? Blend up the peppermint mocha milkshake!

Wildly Organic Hot Chocolate Mix is a great option for a quick and easy holiday drink the whole family will enjoy!

Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Hidden Gluten and Cross Contamination

Your home may be gluten-free, but if you’re a novice gluten-free cook, you may learn the hard way that gluten hides in many ingredients that go into a lot of recipes:

  • Beef or chicken broth, which are used in a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Use the gluten-free broth alternatives.
  • Gravy typically has flour in it. Prepare it with gluten-free flour.
  • Soy sauce is a gluten culprit. Thankfully, gluten-free soy sauces exist.
  • Your average soup is definitely not gluten-free unless the brand (or the cook) uses certified gluten-free ingredients.

Let’s say guests are coming and bringing gluten-rich food. In the best-case scenario, they will share the dish with all of your gluten-eating friends and family members, take home the empty food container, and no cross-contamination occurs. To try to avoid cross-contamination, follow these easy tips:

  • Differentiate the gluten dish by using a different colored plate, a toothpick flag, anything to remind you and other gluten-sensitive partygoers that this dish is off-limits.
  • Make a rule: NOBODY sticks their personal utensils into the shared dish. Because when grandpa butters his whole-wheat bun and uses the same knife to take more butter off of the butter tray, then that whole butter tray is contaminated. Enforce the rule that ONLY serving utensils touch the shared dishes.
  • Even when cleaning up, be careful when touching the gluten plates (this means the dish containers AND personal plate). If your skin negatively reacts to gluten, then you will have to exercise caution. Buy yourself a pair of rubber kitchen cleaning gloves before your party, just to be safe when washing up.

Be Their Guest

Ideally, your relatives and close friends are already aware and sensitive to the fact that eating can be difficult for you. But there’s something about the holidays and your great aunt getting a little territorial about her very best casserole or specialty dish that has been passed down for generations—probably since before people know what gluten allergies and intolerances were.

Leading up to the big holiday meal, if people ask you if you will eat their dish (or maybe in kinder tones, what they can do to assure you can eat their dish), say, “I would love to eat [insert specialty dish], I hear it’s so tasty. However, since I cannot eat gluten, can you tell me what ingredients are in it? If you can replace any of them with [insert gluten-free ingredients here], then I can and will certainly indulge.”

(Remember those sneaky gluten foods mentioned above? Now is the best time to remember that “just some chicken broth” does not necessarily mean “gluten-free chicken broth”).

When You Can’t Cook It at Home

The best way to ensure that you’re eating a gluten-free dish at a party is by preparing one at home and brining it along. Sometimes, that doesn’t work. If you are in charge of bringing a dish to a party that MUST be prepared on the spot, follow these easy tips to reduce the chances of cross-contamination:

  • Kindly and politely stress the importance of a gluten-free preparation surface at the scene of the party. Your host should understand and oblige.
  • Make sure cooking areas are clean—squeaky, gluten-free clean. That means cutting boards, pots and pans, countertops, cutlery, all of it.
  • If you feel nervous about cross-contamination, bring your own pots, pans, cutlery, and cutting board.

Still Have Holiday Fun

Let’s say a relative would like to bake cookies with you. You can offer to bring gluten-free flour and establish early on that you will need a separate, safe preparation area to avoid cross-contamination (and there’s no way those cookies are going into the oven on the same cooking tray). However, an easier option is that ALL of the cookies are gluten-free—no separate recipe necessary, no cross-contamination fears! Try traditional ginger molasses cookies, nostalgic thumbprint cookies, or crafty cutout cookies.

“I don’t have to prove anything to you”

For the relative that needs you to “prove” your gluten-freeness: you should never have to prove that you can’t eat food that other people can, but I see two options here. Either tell the relative that your reaction isn’t polite dinner table conversation (eye the bathroom), and explain that you would like to be a part of the holiday without getting and feeing sick; or, you get graphic. Tell them every last detail about what happens when you eat gluten. Show them your bottle of Poo-Pourri and explain how many you go through in a month. Stake a claim on a bathroom. Make it so uncomfortable that they never ask again.

Traveling without Gluten

Your holiday may take you outside the realm of your family, friends, city, or even country. If you feel nervous about traveling with a food restriction, see our tips for traveling with food allergies. It may seem scary at first, but by making some adjustments and having the courage to ask questions and advocate for yourself, you can still have a happy holiday, a fun vacation, and some great food. Bon voyage and bon appétit!

Are you Gluten-Free? Will you use this Ultimate Gluten-Free Holiday Survival Guide this season?

The post The Ultimate Gluten-Free Holiday Survival Guide {Tips and Recipes!} appeared first on Wildly Organic.

Previous article How To Make Milk Kefir + A Yummy Kefir Smoothie Recipe!

Wildly Organic is an independent source for wholesome, organic foods and natural, raw foods and ingredients, the building blocks of a healthy life.