Navigating a gluten free diet in social situations is hard enough. A gluten free diet over the holidays that are steeped in traditions and traditional foods can seem almost impossible. I found all the best traditional Christmas fare that is naturally gluten free to help make this holiday season a little easier.
Christmas dishes free of gluten as they are written include cranberry sauce, turkey, and mashed potatoes. When looking for gluten free foods, stick to whole food ingredients like meat, potatoes, fruit, and vegetables and avoid adding wheat flour as a thickener.
Eating what everyone else is having can make the holidays so much more enjoyable. I’ve included a list of naturally gluten free dishes typically found at Christmas and some tips on preparing each. Some require precautions to ensure they are gluten free, but no special recipes with specific ingredients.
Quick Tips On Cooking For Someone With Celiac Disease Or Gluten Intolerance
Whether something is naturally gluten free depends on the ingredient itself. But for someone with Celiac Disease or sensitive gluten intolerance, the ingredients around the food they eat is vitally important.
If you want to ensure you are cooking in the safest possible way for someone with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, I highly recommend reading the post I wrote on how to prepare gluten free food in a kitchen that also uses wheat.
I go further into the above-linked article, but you need to make sure you are cooking away from gluten ingredients and using dishes that have not been used for gluten.
It is also important to not use flour or other things that will get in the air and stick to everything else, making nothing in that space gluten free.
It is also important that if you are cooking gluten free for someone who knows your intentions, they can guide you on how sensitive they are and how careful you need to be. If they have Celiac Disease, please follow the instructions linked above to make the safest possible dish for them.
1. Christmas Turkey Is Naturally Gluten Free – But Read This
Turkey is a popular dish, the main dish on many families’ tables for Christmas and Thanksgiving in the US and Canada. And it is so easy to ensure your turkey is gluten free and safe for gluten-sensitive families!
When picking a turkey, some will note if they are gluten free. The gluten you may find is in the seasonings added and the brine they are packed with to maintain their freshness.
While it may seem silly to have meat marked gluten free to some, it can be crucial when cooking for someone who cannot eat gluten.
Most recipes call for naturally gluten free ingredients such as fresh herbs and butter for preparing the turkey. It is important not to coat the turkey in flour or something similar.
And the most important thing to do for preparing a gluten free turkey is not to stuff it with bread.
If you put stuffing or dressing inside the turkey, no part can be considered safe for someone on a medically necessary gluten free diet. I’d recommend cooking it in a separate dish (and preferably a separate oven) from any items you want to remain gluten free.
2. Cranberry Sauce Is Gluten Free
Cranberry sauce is an easy one to make sure that it is gluten free!
Cranberry sauce such as Ocean Spray Cranberry sauce (find it at this link) contain very few ingredients. Usually just cranberries, sugar or corn syrup, and water.
What is even better to do, though, is to make your own! It is so simple and can be made in just a half-hour. And when served warm is so delicious! Homemade versions will be chunkier, and you will be able to see the real cranberries in them. However, since they don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, the jelling isn’t quite as distinctive.
Whichever way you go, cranberry sauce is an easy way to have something gluten free on your table.
3. Mashed Potatoes Are Usually Made Gluten Free
Why say usually, why have a qualifier? Potatoes are gluten free after all.
Mashed potatoes are gluten free according to most recipes. However, make sure you aren’t using something that contains flour. A few recipes I’ve seen contain flour to thicken it up or contain a roux with all the flavorings added in. Those items will make your mashed potatoes not gluten free.
If your recipe calls for potatoes, butter, milk, salt, and pepper, you are set. Just check to make sure the ingredients you are using are gluten free.
If you want to make sure it is gluten free enough for someone with Celiac Disease or equally sensitive, follow the instructions linked above when cooking for gluten free family or friends.
The main part of this is reducing the exposure to gluten products you are using for other things in your kitchen.
4. It’s Easy To Make Gravy Gluten Free If Your Recipe Doesn’t Already Use This Trick
I included gravy on this list because some recipes call for flour, and others use corn starch. If you use corn starch for your gravy, it is likely already gluten free.
The important thing to note: you cannot use turkey drippings for gravy from a stuffed bird and have it be gluten free. Neither the turkey nor the gravy will be gluten free if you do this.
If you decide to stuff the turkey and not have turkey as a gluten free option but want a gluten free gravy, try using this chicken stock base that you can get on Amazon. It is gluten free and has an amazing flavor.
But if you do not stuff the turkey and use corn starch to thicken the gravy, it will be naturally gluten free!
5. Christmas Ham Is Gluten Free
If the stuffing or dressing of the turkey is something that you can’t budge on, an option is to have a gluten free Christmas Ham instead for those who need to be gluten free.
When shopping, make sure the ham is labeled gluten free. Some seasonings that contain gluten are used to make the hams sold in the grocery store. If you are cooking yours from raw, there is less chance of contamination.
Most recipes for Christmas Ham won’t contain gluten. Just make sure there is no flour or other wheat, barley, or rye ingredients in it.
6. Egg Nog Is Gluten Free
Most brands of Egg Nog are gluten free and most recipes are gluten free as well.
Make sure that when adding alcohol to it that you follow my guide to ensure it is also gluten free.
Make sure things like malt, natural flavorings, and wheat are not present in the recipe or ingredient list. If they are on there, it is not gluten free.
Even better is to get a brand of egg nog that is marked gluten free. The best option is finding one that is certified gluten free.
There are so many things that are already gluten free that are still possible to enjoy at Christmas! As an eggnog fan, I definitely enjoy this treat every year.
7. Sweet Potato Casserole Is Gluten Free
The Sweet Potato Casserole that I am referring to is with Sweet Potatoes (sometimes called yams) and marshmallows on top.
Sweet Potatoes or Yams are naturally gluten free. Make sure you use a cutting board that has not been used for gluten ingredients and is not next to flour or bread.
Marshmallows are usually easy to find gluten free. If you aren’t eating food dye, it can be more difficult but still easily accessible. (Surprisingly, marshmallows contain blue dye to some people!)
Look for a gluten free label on marshmallows to ensure they are gluten free. You can also scan them with an app. If you are looking for the best one, look at this experiment I did with 6 of the top apps for Android for the best one.
If your recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole has extra dressing and flavoring to put on it, it is not thickened with flour or uses any other gluten ingredients to maintain gluten free.
8. Fruit Salad Is Gluten Free As Long As You Don’t Add This
Another popular gluten free offering on the Christmas Dinner table is fruit salad.
The recipes for fruit salad vary so widely it is hard to put a general disclaimer on it.
If your fruit salad is just a bowl of fruit, it is most likely gluten free (make sure to cut the fruit away from gluten ingredients).
However, if you are making a fruit salad with a recipe and many extra ingredients, you need to be cautious. Some recipes add white vinegar to them, which can contain gluten. Always opt for Apple Cider Vinegar instead (it will also enhance the flavor!)
Make sure that any ingredient that is added is gluten free. Nuts can be difficult to find gluten free as they are so often processed on the same equipment that processes gluten-containing products.
Maraschino cherries, marshmallows, and coconut flakes should be inspected for gluten free status before adding. They are all typically gluten free, but make sure to check!
9. Mousse Is A Great Gluten Free Dessert
A mousse is a fabulous option for a gluten free dessert.
Most desserts that are traditional for Christmas contain gluten. These are usually pies. And the crust of the pie is where you find the gluten.
If you make a mousse instead of a pie, it will be easy to have a gluten free option with no special ingredients and plenty of decadents!
10. Divinity and More Candy
Divinity is naturally gluten free!
This is a great option for a gluten free sweet treat.
In fact, you will find that there are so many candy options that are naturally gluten free.
Some favorites in my family are toffee, bonbons, and fudge. When making each of these, ensure that no flour, crackers, bread, or other gluten ingredients are added to the recipe. However, the basic recipes for each of these are typically gluten free.
Have A Happy Gluten Free Christmas!
With all the options above for a gluten free Christmas without extra ingredients or new techniques, it is easy to enjoy so many foods traditionally on the table.
If you are not cooking and are looking for options that you can eat at Christmas, you need to consider how they were made, how they were prepared, and how safe they are for you. The first step is to know how sensitive you are or need to be. If Celiac or have severe gluten intolerance, you may not want to eat what is offered due to cross-contamination.
But if you decide to bring your own, it is easy to make them all gluten free!
Enjoy the holidays, and good luck navigating gluten free!