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34 Of The Best Gluten-Free Desserts & How To Make Them

gluten free desserts

Gluten Free Desserts You Will Love

Most people don’t choose to go gluten free just for fun, because a lot of foods with gluten in them are really delicious! But on the bright side, there are a lot of really great gluten free recipes that can make it so you don’t feel deprived by your gluten free diet. Over the years I’ve collected a number of recipes for gluten free desserts that can help make you feel like you aren’t missing out on the good stuff.

When my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, he had to have several daily injections of insulin. When he turned 7, we were blessed to get an insulin pump that he could wear 24/7, sort of like an “artificial pancreas”. I remember feeling so grateful to live in a day and age when such advanced medical technology was available to people like us.

That is how I feel now about Celiac’s….I am so grateful this happened when there are so many great products and people out there sharing their gluten-free lifestyles (and recipes!)

gluten free desserts

Why did we go Gluten Free?

My son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 2 years old. When he was 15, he was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Unfortunately, these two auto-immune diseases often go hand-in-hand, so we weren’t completely surprised by the news, but learning to cook and eat gluten-free was a MAJOR challenge! But we all  must play with the cards we are dealt, and we have adjusted a lot since then.

In this post, I thought I would answer your questions and share some of our favorite gluten free desserts, because having yummy treats makes living with Celiac just a little easier.

gluten free desserts

What can you cook for someone with celiac disease?

This question is always a little funny to me, because so many traditional foods are naturally gluten free! And even those that aren’t can usually be modified to make a gluten free alternative (though, admittedly, they aren’t always as tasty as the original).

And as the number of people with gluten sensitivity in the United States increases, gluten free options will continue to become more and more available.

gluten free desserts

What is gluten?

Gluten is a substance found in several grains, and is what gives bread its elasticity and texture. The combination of yeast, sugar, and gluten is what beautiful, sweet, light, moist, and chewy homemade bread is made of.

Most bread and grain based products that you buy in the supermarket contain gluten.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that treats the presence of gluten as a disease and attacks it like it would any virus, food poisoning, or bacterial infection. After a while of being in chronic fight or flight mode, those with Celiac can start to experience several painful digestive problems, fatigue, and anemia.

But since we’re talking mostly about desserts today, I’ll get back on track.

gluten free desserts

What are the best gluten free ingredients?

Well, like I said before, the only foods that have naturally occurring gluten are certain grains (wheat, rye, barley, and some oats).

So corn, white rice, natural peanut butter, nuts, eggs, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, diary products, sugar (yes, sugar), maple syrup, baking powder, and most baking spices (like cinnamon) are all naturally gluten free!

gluten free desserts

What desserts are Naturally Gluten Free?

Several foods that are already part of a healthy diet are naturally gluten free. Fruits, vegetables, beans, eggs, lean meats, and most natural dairy products are all gluten free. But be careful, because processed foods often have gluten based additives.

Some of my yummiest recipes are gluten free desserts. So let’s dig in!

Creme brulee, bananas foster, good old chocolate, and fruit topped with whipped cream are some of my favorite go-to gluten free desserts that are naturally gluten free.

gluten free desserts

Naturally Gluten Free Desserts – Recipes

gluten free desserts

How do I adapt a recipe to be gluten free?

Many store bought mixes will have gluten free versions available too.  Or, as is the case with many pies and cheesecakes, you can just go crustless, since the crust is usually the culprit.

You don’t have to do anything to any of the other ingredients.  If it calls for a graham cracker crust, you can either get gluten-free crackers, or do without the crust all together.  And Pillsbury has gluten free frozen cookie dough readily available!

gluten free desserts

Slightly Adapted Gluten Free Desserts

gluten free desserts

Which gluten free flour is best for cakes, cookies, and brownies?

Sometimes you can’t go without the crust, or use the gluten free version.  When you’re making something from scratch, it’s easy to feel paralyzed at the many different flour options.  So let’s talk about the flour substitutes, because sometimes a lady just needs some chocolate cake, right??

Now, first off, a flourless cake is always a good option.  The absence of flour makes the texture more dense, so it may feel more like a brownie than a traditional cake, and whipped egg whites give it a little lift.  But without the airiness that gluten adds, you also find a lot more flavor in each bite.  And let me tell you, a good flourless chocolate cake is worth its weight in, well, chocolate!

That being said, here are the different gluten free flour options that are readily available in most stores.

gluten free desserts

The Best Gluten Free Flours

Almond Flour

Almond flour is made of ground up almonds.  It has a very fine texture and is a good gluten free flour alternative for quick breads, cookies, cakes, and pancakes.  But if you’re looking to make a dessert made with yeast, almond flour won’t give you the results you want.

Almond flour naturally has a lot of moisture and it’s heavier than all-purpose flour, so you may find yourself needing to add more baking powder and/or baking soda, and use less liquid.

Almond flour also burns easily, so keep an eye on the temperature and duration of your cookies ;)

Rice Flour

Rice flour is a completely different animal.  It doesn’t bind as well with the other ingredients and your cookies and cakes won’t be able to hold their shape as well as you may be expecting.  Its best used in conjunction with other flour substitutes rather than on its own.

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is made from the dried meat of a coconut after the milk has been processed out.  It’s high in protein, fat, fiber, and other nutrients.  It’s very absorbent, so if you don’t add more liquid to your dessert recipe, you may find that it turns out far more dry than you’d like.  If you are adapting a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour, try adding more eggs to the recipe than called for.  Egg whites add the structure that the gluten normally would, and the yolks add much needed moisture.

Oat Flour

Be cautious with oat flour.  While oats are gluten free, they also have a protein that is very similar to gluten, so if you are gluten intolerant, you may not be able to consume oats either.  If you do, make sure you use certified gluten free oats that were not made in the same factories as gluten flour.

With all naturally gluten free flours, you may need to go through a little bit of trial and error if you are adapting recipes on your own.  Don’t expect to get it right on the first try.  And you may find that a combination of different substitute options works best for you.  If all else fails, you can buy gluten free all-purpose flour.

gluten free desserts

More Gluten Free Desserts 

gluten free desserts

What common store bought snacks are gluten free?

When I first started out, getting gluten free snacks from the store was a big concern.  You have no idea how much money I have spent over the years on things my son just would not eat!

These are tried and true…..at least by our standards. :-)

Glutino Gluten Free Crackers are his absolute, hands down, favorite gluten-free cracker. Since he loves having cheese and crackers as a snack, finding a good gluten-free cracker was a necessity and a challenge!  These are by far…the best. We buy them through Amazon.  Pricey, but worth it.

We also like Nutella on toast, using either udi’s Sandwich Bread or my recipe for the best gluten-free bread you can make at home.  (I might be a little biased, but don’t knock it until you try it!)

Quaker CHOCOLATE Rice Cakes make a great snack. (He won’t eat any other flavor. Believe me, I’ve bought them all!)

Again Glutino comes through, he LOVES their gluten free pretzel sticks! And *I* love them because I can make pretzel crusts for cheesecake, etc with them!

And finally, we make a LOT of Citrus Berry Smoothies! Just add frozen strawberries, a banana, frozen orange juice concentrate, yogurt, and milk to your blender and blend until smooth.

YouTube video

gluten free desserts

What are good sugar substitutes?

Just because sugar is gluten free doesn’t mean it’s good for you!  And my son’s diabetes makes it so that I need to be just as careful with sugars as I am with flours.  Granulated sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, and honey are all gluten free, but they DO have an effect on your blood sugar levels.  And as with any processed, added sugar, it’s best to use them in moderation.

Often, you can make fruit based desserts without added sugar.  The riper the fruit, the sweeter it is.  But when even the ripe fruit isn’t enough, and if you are concerned about your sugar intake, try some of these “keto friendly” (aka blood sugar friendly) options:

But sugar substitutes is an article for another day :-)

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • This is great my sister in law has been g free for about 12 years because of her thyroid and I’ve always had issues with not being able to tolerate much whole wheat. I try to do glisten free when possible. I’ll have to show my mom this . It’s such a nightmare when we have family gatherings as far as food choices.

  • My 14 yr old son has a wheat allergy & carries the gene for Celiac so we too keep him on a gluten free diet. Not cheap by any means which stinks in this economy but I’m very grateful that more & more companies are making GF products. I switched from Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup for stroganoff, steak w/cr. of Mushrm soup & Lipton Onion Soup Mix (which he also can not have), ect to Progresso Cr. of Mushrm Soup & Kroger brand Onion Soup Mix. He loves the Canyon Bakehouse bread but it’s very expensive ($7.00/loaf now @ our local Celiac Specialty shop). When I make chili for our family (I have 4 kids) we use Busch’s chili beans (no wheat) and I make GF corn bread for all of us. :) And we’ve found things like Lay’s Stackers he can have but he can’t have Pringles and Betty Crocker now makes several boxed items. My all time fave thing to use tho is King Arthur GF Flour Mix…I use it to make rue’s with, bread steak with even tried our hand at making a cracker bread with it! :) Thanks for the recipes you’ve posted Jillee…it’s nice to have more options to add to our menu! :)

  • Celiac is fairly common in my family and is definitely a challenging adjustment, thank goodness for a mother that pioneered cooking and baking gluten free 30+ years ago for our family, and my ability to have fun with the challenge of making Gluten free taste like “real food” when I have the time to experiment. I usually try to do homemade whenever possible, but I recently found some AMAZING bread, from http://www.canyonbakehouse.com . Give it a try if you get the chance!! My daughters were so excited when “Mommy’s bread” came via FedEx that they called me at work to tell me how excited they were for me to try it, and when I got home they were doing some funny little “bread dance” and squealing about which one I was going to try first. LOL oh the laughs that living with Celiac has filled our home with. It was truly amazing, my eyes were rolled back in my head at the first bite, good luck to you all with your food adventures, and I hope you enjoy every bite. Keep sharing! :) And Jillee keep up this AWESOME website!! I’m addicted!

  • I do my shake with pineapple juice and a scoop of protein. No milk product. Without the banana it is sweeter. To help i get frozen bags of strawberries, then i have to use less ice..to me that means more flavor. I even take bananas that are starting to rip and cut in half and put into the freeze. But be careful they will still turn more brown. I haven’t figured out how to stop that part.

  • I eat a gluten-free diet kind of by default since I have gone to a Paleo/Primal lifestyle/diet. I really believe it to be an amazing and wonderful way of eating (and living) and thought I should share. Some good places for recipes even if you don’t go full on Paleo are marksdailyapple.com , Elana’s Pantry, civilized caveman, and Healthbent.com. Elana’s pantry has THE BEST gluten-free recipes for bake goods! Hope you enjoy :)

  • I have a question…those glutino crackers??? are they like a ritz? We buy some pretty good gf crackers my 2 year old loves with tuna, but I personally have been dying for a ritz cracker. (3 out of 5 of us have either celiac or just a gluten intolerance…so everything is gf in our house). LOVE the glutino pretzels, but I only get to buy them when we’re in Anaheim at Disney (the walmart out there sells them for cheaper than anywhere else). Anyway, would love to know if those are like ritz cause I just might have to find some around here. yum!!! :)

  • Try a cookbook called Cooking for Isaiah. It’s GF and dairy-free (you can always use real milk, if you like :)), and the recipes have always come out exactly right for me.

  • Your site is absolutely incredible. Do you or any of your readers know of a site with recipes and menus for the gluten intolerant and diabetic, since they go hand in hand very often?
    On the “healthier” side, Alton Brown has a recipe for Oatiest Oatmeal cookies. If you use both gf oats and oat flour, it’s completely gluten free and tastes just like regular ones. (I refrigerate the dough for an hour or more before baking to prevent the cookies from spreading too much — which the recipe does not say to do.)
    Also, your all-purpose cleaner is amazing! I used on our bathtub that has had a soap scum ring on it since we bought the house and nothing removed it until I tried your cleaner. It also got rid of the rest of that black build up on the “floor” of the tub that is impossible to remove.
    And, I’d been singing the praises of KaBoom foaming spray for getting the grout between the tiles on my kitchen looking like new (well, almost). While it worked, the clean up was messy and the house smelled of KaBoom for days. However, I started with your cleaner (which worked), but cleaning up the residue was time consuming. So, I used straight peroxide and a scrub brush. After a couple of seconds of scrubbing, it looked better than either of the other two. Clean up was much easier, too; and there was no smell.
    Now, I’m going to try your carpet cleaning formula with the ammonia and iron. Thanks!!

  • I am gluten intolerant my favorite bread recipe is:

    Gluten Free Flatbread Recipe
    1 c. brown rice flour
    1/2 c. corn starch
    2 Tbsp. sugar
    2 tsp. xanthan gum
    1/8 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    3/4 c. water
    1 tsp cider vinegar
    2 Tbsp. canola
    2 eggs (or flax eggs)
    1. Mix all dry ingredients in medium size bowl.
    2. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
    3. Grease two 8 in. square baking pans and dust with brown rice flour.
    4. Spread half of batter evenly into each pan. Use the back of a wet spoon if the dough is sticky.
    5. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes, or until bread pulls away from the sides of the pans.
    Substitution Notes: Tapioca starch or potato starch can be substituted for the corn starch. Flax eggs are 1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp. water

  • Thanks for all your gluten free recipes. I’ve been eating gluten free the past couple of years and sometimes, it is challenging. I love finding websites that have simple recipes. I love some of the fancier websites, but I definitely have to have extra time :)

  • Just stumbled upon your blog through Pinterest for a completely different post but your celiac post caught my eye. I was diagnosed about 2 years ago. Don’t want to be a buzz kill but the regular Rice Krispies aren’t gf. They contain malt HOWEVER there is a gf version now. Yay! I totally agree with the cracker choice and a non-celiac friend of mine likes the gf pretzels more than the regular ones. Thanks for sharing :)

  • I would love to know the "mix" too Sarah. I just found this mix yesterday online that I thought I might try out.

    Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix:

    1 1/4 C (170 g) brown rice flour
    1 1/4 C (205 g) white rice flour
    1 C (120 g) tapioca flour
    1 C (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour or under the brand name, Mochiko)
    2 scant tsp. xanthan gum

  • @Sarah, what ratios do you use for that mix? I actually happen to have ALL of those flours on hand… first mix I've seen that I have all the ingredients for!

  • Hi Jill,
    My best friend has to eat GF and now CF (as of last week) as well. I've learned that subbing a mixture of white rice, brown rice, coconut, and potato flours along with a pinch of gum arabic is a wonderful replacement for almost every recipe that calls for flour. Sometimes you will have to add slightly more liquids to the recipe because of the density of the flours, but it does work well. I've had awesome results with cakes, cookies, and tea breads…still working on regular bread though. They don't like to rise well.

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