With the rise of celiac disease and people aiming to eat healthier and more intuitively, many new diets have arisen, including the gluten-free diet. But preparing quality, delicious gluten-free desserts can be challenging.
Several things can go wrong with preparing a gluten-free dessert. Gluten-free items tend not to be as moist and may not rise as well or bake as thoroughly as their counterparts.
Many store bought items a person would otherwise use must also be carefully considered before being used in these types of recipes. But not to fear.
Below are tips and tricks to better understand what a gluten-free diet consists of and how to purchase or bake your own gluten-free desserts.
What is Gluten-Free?
Gluten-free simply refers to items that do not contain gluten. But what is gluten, exactly? It is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
People who have celiac disease are unable to effectively process this protein. But many people also suffer from gluten sensitivity, which leads to similar symptoms, including bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation.
Gluten-free diets have also become trendy lately and are promoted as healthier. But changing the amount of gluten you consume will also affect your fiber and vitamin intake.
This should be considered before deciding to try it. And baking with gluten poses some particular challenges that we will talk more about below.
What Desserts are Gluten-Free?
- Crème Brulee
- Chocolate Mousse
- Panna Cotta
- Ice Cream
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
Where to Buy Gluten-Free Desserts
Courtesy of the trend toward gluten-free eating and the rise in cases of Celiac disease, gluten-free desserts can be found in many places. Most bakeries now offer gluten-free options. Grocery stores do as well, both inside and outside their bakery sections.
There are gluten-free frozen desserts available at Target and Walmart, cookies, cakes, and even baking mixes at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Safeway. Nearly all grocery stores carry these items, and many big box stores do as well.
What Desserts are Naturally Gluten-Free?
There are lots of naturally gluten-free desserts. One simple rule of thumb is that desserts made without flour are typically naturally gluten-free. This means most puddings and mousse, flans and crème brulee, sorbets and ice creams, depending on the add-ins.
How Can I Bake Without Gluten?
You need to keep in mind a few things when attempting to bake without gluten. While the biggest gluten offender in baking is flour, it isn’t the only one.
King Arthur Baking recommends reading your labels carefully to ensure you aren’t inadvertently picking up an ingredient that contains gluten.
Some to watch out for:
- Vanilla Extract
- Baking Powder
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- Some Starch-based Thickeners
Once you’re confident you’ve avoided gluten in your ingredients, there are a few tips and tricks. These include following the recipe exactly, not treating all gluten-free all-purpose flours the same, measuring appropriately, and always using a cooling rack.
Patience is also essential. Don’t give up if your first attempt isn’t a success.
How to Make Easy Gluten-Free Desserts?
The easiest way to make gluten-free desserts is using a mix. Several brands are available as many manufacturers have begun catering to those who either choose to forego gluten or are required to.
Who are the biggest names in boxed gluten-free dessert recipes?
- Betty Crocker
- King Arthur Baking Company
- Bob’s Red Mill
Using recipes for naturally gluten-free desserts also makes things easier. These include fudges, ice creams, macaroons, flourless chocolate or peanut butter cookies, puddings, mousse, or flan-type desserts.
Just remember to check any vanilla extract or confectioner’s sugar you use beforehand to make sure it is gluten-free.
45 Healthy and Delicious Gluten-Free Desserts
The desserts below may not be as simple as baking with a mix, but they sure do provide some tasty results. Some are almost as easy as package cooking.
Others are elaborate and sure to impress. From the novice to the professional, there is something for everyone on this list.
1. Coconut Almond Banana Bread
The secret to making this banana bread from The Toasted Pine Nut gluten-free is almond flour. And it would be just as at home on your breakfast table as your dessert table.
Made with agave nectar, it’s gluten-free, but you can make it paleo by switching to maple syrup or honey. And you can use chocolate chunks or chips of any size.
2. Ricotta and Roasted Grape Cheesecake
This option from Delicious.com is not only an excellent gluten-free dessert but also a unique one. If you make this for your next potluck or picnic, it’s sure to impress your friends and family.
The crust is made from almond meal and cinnamon, and the filling is Greek yogurt and ricotta cheese. The roasted grapes make this practically a fruit and cheese board.
3. Gluten-Free Neopolitan Parfait Desserts
My Gluten-Free Kitchen offers this simple option that your kids will love as much as you do. And you could even use it as a slightly indulgent breakfast.
It starts with packaged Udi’s gluten-free muffins. Packed into mason jars with some yogurt and strawberries, these little gems become a portable treat.
4. Gluten-Free Apple Tart Desserts
This tart would be an excellent addition to your next holiday table. The crust can be whipped upright in your food processor, and it’s paleo-friendly. You can use maple sugar or coconut sugar, but the tart will be darker in color if you choose the latter.
5. Cloud Cake
The Kitchn provides this Cloud Cake recipe, an airier version of flourless chocolate cake. Meringues stirred into dark chocolate give the cake more rise. Served with whipped cream and berries, this would be great any season of the year.
6. No-Bake Gluten-Free Raspberry Rhubarb Crumble Bar Desserts
This perfect recipe from Heartbeet Kitchens is a must for your next Spring or Summer picnic. Best of all, it’s a naturally gluten-free dessert that’s ready to go in just under an hour.
7. Fudgy Sweet Potato Brownies
Minimalist Baker uses sweet potatoes to make these brownies gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, and naturally sweetened. They use oat flour, which you can make yourself. Serve them with or without ice cream.
8. Lemon Bread and Tangy Glaze
Love lemon? This bread is sure to satisfy. The cake is fluffy and moist, and the glaze on this makes it a perfect dessert. But it could easily double as a decadent treat for brunch.
9. Chocolate Date Caramel Cups
These treats seem almost too good to be true. Dates are naturally sweet, but the salt helps balance them out. The end result is a chocolate-covered salted caramel assembled in a cupcake liner. No muffin tins are needed here, just the liners.
10. Gluten-Free Choc and Raspberry Muffin Desserts
Muffins are more of a breakfast treat than a dessert, but this decadent recipe might just change your mind. Coconut flour and almond meal take the place of traditional flour.
11. Sucre a la Crème (Maple Fudge)
This delightful fudge is sure to make people smile at your next Fall event. It also makes a superb gift for Christmas. It can be served in either the traditional format or a caramel-like spread you can use like peanut butter or Nutella.
This dessert from Simply Recipes is beautiful and naturally gluten-free. It would be a great way to wrap up your next date night. The trick to working with egg whites? Make sure they are at room temperature and start out by whipping them at a low speed.
13. Fresh Fruit Granita
Granita is one of those recipes that’s even easier than baking from a boxed mix. What fruit you use is up to you, but some excellent choices are seedless watermelon, strawberries, and peaches.
The fruit is blended with lime juice, sugar, and salt and then frozen. It’s great on its own, or you can top whipped cream or yogurt with it.
14. Instant Pot Cardamom Pumpkin Cheesecake
Make this cheesecake for your next Thanksgiving, and everyone there will be delighted. Better yet, even the gluten-free ones will be able to enjoy it. The secret to the crust is Cheerios.
15. Almond Ricotta Cake
Italians make a lot of gluten-free desserts, favoring almond flour over wheat-based all-purpose flours. This delightful cake from AllRecipes is optimal for Easter. It would also do just as well on your breakfast or brunch table as your dessert one.
16. 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
This carrot cake ticks all of the boxes. It’s gluten-free, vegan, and can be whipped up in just one bowl.
In addition, The Minimalist Baker provides six different types of frosting to finish it off with, ranging from Coconut Whipped Cream to Vegan Cream Cheese to Vegan Cashew Buttercream.
17. Peach Sorbet with Crushed Blackberries
The secret to keeping this no-churn sorbet scoopable is vodka. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, or your sorbet will melt too fast. This gluten-free dessert is light, delicious, and sure to brighten your summer.
18. No-Bake Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Butter Bar Desserts
This recipe from Bakerita isn’t just a gluten-free dessert. It’s also paleo and vegan. You can use maple syrup or honey as a sweetener, and there’s almond butter in both the bar’s base and its chocolate topping.
19. Passionfruit and Lime Tart
Delicious.com does it again with this perfect summer recipe. The ingredients may be a bit tougher to come by, but it will be worth your while. And the flavors will leave your tastebuds singing.
20. Gluten-Free Strawberry Cream Cheese Trifle
Attending a gluten-free potluck? Or one where you don’t know all the guests’ preferences and sensitivities? Not to worry. This show-stopper from Meaningful Eats is as delicious as it is beautiful.
21. Slow Cooker Orange Almond Rice Pudding
This delightful rice pudding can be adjusted to accommodate sensitivities besides gluten. If you have nut allergies, you can replace the candied almonds with toasted coconut. To make it dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan, you can switch to coconut milk.
22. Sour Cream and Berries Brulee
Crème Brulee and flans are naturally gluten-free desserts. This recipe from The Kitchn provides a twist on the traditional that’s also effortless. Just spread the sour cream over the berries, top with brown sugar, and broil in the oven.
23. Gluten-Free Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookie
Tahini in a chocolate chip cookie? Yes, please! The sesame paste adds a flavor you wouldn’t typically associate with baked goods but that you’ll be looking to try in others after just one taste.
You don’t have to serve this skillet cookie with vanilla ice cream, but why wouldn’t you?
24. Healthified Apple Crisp
This twist on apple crisp is more than just gluten-free. It’s also healthier and mixes up in just one bowl. And you can top it with coconut whipped cream, almond, or peanut butter. Or eat it with no additional toppings at all.
25. Chocolate Nutella Pudding
You can use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate in this pudding recipe. And while Nutella is recommended, you can use any chocolate hazelnut spread you choose. Topped with roasted hazelnuts, this is one of the top-rated recipes on Bon Appetit.
26. Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies
Almond flour is what makes these shortbread cookies gluten-free. Shortbread is an indulgent treat all on its own, but the chocolate chunks make this even more delicious. Topping them with finishing salt makes them appear especially elegant.
27. Pistachio and Lemon Layer Cake
Take your taste buds on a tour of Italy with this gluten-free dessert delight. Lemon curd and mascarpone fill the layers of this almond meal-based cake.
28. Tiger Butter Fudge
What is Tiger Butter? It’s a blend of white chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and peanut butter.
This fudge recipe from Butter with a Side of Bread will be a hit with kids and grown-ups alike. The white chocolate and peanut butter get melted together in the microwave, then swirled with melted semisweet chocolate.
29. Ricotta-Mascarpone Mousse with Balsamic Strawberries
You won’t miss the gluten in this decadent dessert. It makes a great addition to date night served in margarita glasses, martini glasses, or red wine glasses. You could also set it up sundae-style, using the ricotta mascarpone mousse as a dip.
30. 4-Ingredient Chocolate Banana Coconut Cookies
This simple recipe can be made with your kids. Or even by them if they’re a bit older. And they will love the flavor as much as you do. None of you will miss the gluten in this dessert for even a minute.
31. BA’s Best Chocolate Macaroon Cake
Macaroons are a great gluten-free dessert, especially when dipped in chocolate. But this recipe combines the same flavors in a new and exciting way.
There are coconut flakes and coconut oil in the cake and semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. It’s topped with ganache, almonds, and toasted coconut.
32. Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
Almond flour takes the place of all-purpose in these brownies, and it complements the peanut butter deliciously. In twelve to fifteen minutes, you’ll have a delicious gluten-free dessert.
33. Ginger and Sesame Bars with Passionfruit Tahini Drizzle
These bars will have you dreaming of the Orient. Or perhaps the holidays. The gingerbread-like flavor gets a wonderful kick from the tahini and passion fruit in the glaze.
34. 3-Ingredient Chocolate Almond Clusters
This is the simplest gluten-free dessert recipe you’ll ever meet. All it takes is almond bark, almonds, and salt. A couple of minutes in the microwave and an hour in the fridge or freezer, and you’ll have a new favorite treat.
35. Cranberry-Glazed Chewy Almond Gluten-Free Cookie Desserts
This recipe would be a great gluten-free dessert addition for your next Thanksgiving. Cardamom gives them a nice, spicy kick, while the hot pink cranberry glaze makes them both sweet and pretty.
36. Gluten-Free Cinnamon Toast Bar Desserts
37. Coffee Chocolate Chunk Gluten-Free Blondies
These easy-to-make blondies are made with Teff Flour, which could be trickier to find depending on where you live. But Heartbeet Kitchen swears by it in this gluten-free dessert. These are a great pick-me-up for those afternoon blahs.
38. Pignoli Gluten-Free Cookie Desserts
Like tahini, pine nuts are not typically associated with desserts. But these cookies will have you rethinking all your perceptions. They’re sweet, nutty, and delicious. Just make sure you use gluten-free flour when you’re shaping the cookies.
39. Spiced Honey Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This delicious cake is both vegetarian and gluten-free. With its cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, it would be a perfect addition to your next holiday party.
But with honey and lemon, it would be just as at home in the Spring and Summer. And who doesn’t love cream cheese frosting?
40. Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
This cake recipe from The Toasted Pine Nut is an excellent choice for anyone who likes cake, but not frosting. The olive oil makes it moist, and the dusting of powdered sugar on top keeps it from being too sweet.
41. Gluten-Free Pistachio Amaretti Morbidi
Morbidi are gluten-free Italian pistachio cookies. This recipe calls for dipping half of each cookie in dark chocolate and sprinkling them with even more chopped pistachios.
42. Apple Cider Bundt Cake
This bundt cake recipe will make you the star of your next Fall party. Both cider and applesauce contribute to the flavor, and it’s topped with cinnamon and monk fruit sweetener. This is another wonderful option for those who don’t care for frosting.
43. Hazelnut Butter and Coffee Meringues
This is a unique recipe for a gluten-free dessert. Hazelnuts are roasted and ground into butter, which is blended with meringue. Just barely mixing these ingredients gives the meringues a lovely marbled pattern. They’re topped with a coffee bean and baked for two hours.
44. Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing
Barefeet in the Kitchen offers up this frosted bundt cake for the holidays. The pumpkin flavors are sure to delight your guests, and the olive oil makes this one of the moistest cakes you’ll ever eat.
45. Gluten-Free Strawberry Blondie Bar Desserts
These bars are a whole different kind of blondie. Flavored with white chocolate, strawberries, and sliced almonds, they’re sure to bring joy to your tastebuds and friends and family to your table this summer.
Gluten-Free Desserts FAQs
Are Gluten-Free Desserts Healthier?
Gluten-free desserts are not necessarily healthier. Desserts, by their nature, are not the healthiest choice. And going gluten-free is something you should consider carefully before making any decisions.
If a doctor has diagnosed you with Celiac disease, you need to eliminate gluten from your diet. If you are gluten insensitive or gluten intolerant, you should check out gluten-free recipes.
And while going gluten-free doesn’t have to be unhealthy, it isn’t an automatic cure for all that ails you. It also isn’t a diet regimen.
Like anything else, when you reduce or remove something – fat, sugar, or gluten – other ingredients take their place. And those replacement ingredients aren’t always healthier.
Carefully consider and discuss with your doctor any diet you’re considering. But feel free to try out any of the recipes above the next time you’re in the mood for something different.
Does Chocolate Have Gluten?
Chocolate, in its most natural state – roasted and liquefied cacao beans – is gluten-free. So, in the traditional sense, chocolate is a gluten-free food. However, the problem begins with the additives in the chocolate most people currently eat.
Many chocolate options are gluten-free, such as:
- Milk Chocolate Bars
- Hershey’s Kisses
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Rolo Caramels in Milk Chocolate (but not the minis)
- Baby Ruth
However, anything made with malt or wheat barley could contain gluten. This includes items with cereal ingredients, like Nestle Crunch bars. Things like the Butterfinger Crunch, though not the traditional Butterfinger bar, also contain gluten.
Machines that process both chocolate and items containing gluten may also lead to cross-contamination. This can make chocolate selection tricky for those with Celiac Disease or Gluten-sensitivity.
Does Peanut Butter Have Gluten?
Peanut Butter is less ambiguous than chocolate when it comes to being gluten-free. In most cases, peanut butter is a gluten-free food. In fact, all of the major brands are gluten-free, and many are labeled as such.
However, like chocolate, peanut butter may be processed in a facility that also produces gluten or items containing it, resulting in cross-contamination.
Is Ice Cream Gluten-Free?
Single flavors like vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate typically do not contain gluten. The easiest way to spot a flavor that does is to look for add-ins like cookies or cookie or brownie dough.
Flavors containing malt or oats are also likely to contain gluten. And ice cream cones generally are made with gluten.
Why is Baking Gluten-Free Desserts So Hard?
Baking gluten-free is challenging because gluten is a naturally occurring element in traditional flours and occasionally in a few other items typically used in baking.
Issues that usually arise when baking gluten-free are a lack of fluffiness and moisture commonly associated with baked goods and even bread.
Gluten-free flours also require special measuring techniques to produce the desired result. Several other tricks can improve gluten-free baked goods: longer mixing times, resting the batter or dough, or baking longer.
How Do You Keep a Gluten-Free Cake Moist?
Gluten holds moisture well. Unfortunately, gluten-free substitutes typically do not. You can do a few things to help make and keep a gluten-free cake moist.
- Use caster sugar instead of brown sugar, or swap out for a liquid sweetener, like honey or maple syrup
- Add a heavy liquid to the cake, like buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt (pureed fruit will also work)
- Increase oils or melted butter if the recipe calls for them
Gluten-free Desserts Conclusion
A key takeaway is that gluten-free desserts don’t have to be boring or difficult to make. And while going gluten-free isn’t a decision you should take lightly, it is worth considering.
No one wants friends and family with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance to feel left out, especially during the holidays. Learning to make some gluten-free desserts will benefit everyone, even if going gluten-free isn’t something you decide to do.
Remember, you may need to make some adjustments to the way you bake when using gluten-free ingredients. And every attempt may not be successful. But keep at it, and you’re sure to succeed and find at least one gluten-free dessert you can add to your repertoire.