But the good news is, making Christmas gluten free is actually super easy to do.
Whether you're after gluten free Christmas Dinner recipes, ideas for festive desserts or help with which alcohol is gluten free, this guide is for you.
First ever gluten free Christmas?
If you’re nervous, unsure or worried about your first Christmas on a gluten free diet, don’t be!
Nowadays it’s SUPER easy to navigate – you’ll be amazed how many Christmas products in the supermarkets are actually gluten free as standard now.
Gluten free stuffing, gravy, pigs in blankets and even a lot of pre-prepared stuffed meat joints and beige party foods are often easy to find.
Many supermarkets have also improved their labelling, with bold ‘GLUTEN FREE’ statements on the front of their packaging.
I also have a full list of gluten free Christmas supermarket guides listed at the bottom of this post!
This makes life so much easier – no more rummaging through the shelves trying to read every single ingredients list.
My FULL gluten free Christmas guide
To help make life simpler, I’ve broken down as many different aspects of a gluten free Christmas I can think of!
In case you're looking for something specific, here's what's included:
- Gluten Free Christmas Dinner
- Tackling Cross Contamination at Christmas
- Christmas Dessert ideas
- Which Christmas Chocolates are gluten free?
- Gluten free Alcohol
- Finding gluten free party food
- My gluten free Christmas supermarket guides
- Festive gluten free recipe ideas
So whether you’re stuck on a gluten free Christmas dinner, looking for gluten free dessert ideas or are baffled by which booze you can drink, I’ve got you covered.
If after reading this you still have questions, or there’s anything that I have missed, please do leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.
I am pleased to share my experience as part of Coeliac UK’s ‘Tales from a Gluten Free Christmas’ campaign #gfchristmas. Visit www.coeliac.org.uk/gf-christmas to find out more.
Let’s start with my favourite part of Christmas – and that’s a Christmas Dinner!
Gluten free Christmas Dinner
There are lots of different parts to a Christmas Dinner, so hopefully this will help you see how easy it is to create something gluten free that everyone will love.
If possible, I prefer to make everything gluten free because A) most people won't know anyway and B) it removes any risk of cross contamination.
I'll go into this in a separate section further down but the more you can make gluten free the better - and it shouldn't be that hard.
Gluten free Christmas meats
Creating a gluten free Christmas Dinner is actually relatively simple, as a lot of the components are naturally gluten free.
And for the bits that aren’t, you can easily switch these out for gluten free alternatives and nobody will know the difference!
When it comes to the meat, all meat is naturally gluten free – but it’s anything that’s been marinaded, coated, basted or stuffed that you need to watch out for.
So, for example, a turkey crown will be gluten free. But a turkey rolled with stuffing in the middle might not be.
Or a joint of meat with a marinade or pre-made gravy might also contain gluten.
Some supermarkets do offer pre-prepared meats with a gluten free stuffing, but it will be a case of having to check each one individually.
The best bet to keep things simple is to buy a meat, such as turkey or ham, and then add any extra marinades, stuffing, etc yourself.
Gluten free stuffing
And speaking of stuffing, there are many different kinds and a lot of it contains gluten as it is made with breadcrumbs.
A lot of the pre-made ‘festive’ stuffing is actually gluten free nowadays and will display this on the front of the package if so.
The packet mixes such as Paxo tend to be bread-based so are not gluten free.
But there are a lot of gluten free stuffing mixes available in the free from aisle – Paxo, Mrs Crimbles and Tesco’s own to name a few – which are just as good.
Failing that, you can also make your own stuffing – check out my recipe for gluten free stuffing balls wrapped in bacon if you want something super tasty.
Gluten free pigs in blankets
Pigs in Blankets is one of those products where, five or 10 years ago you’d struggle to find gluten free.
But now pretty much every supermarket variety is gluten free as standard and marked up this way.
You should be able to find these pretty easily in all supermarkets and your guests will never know the difference as they’re not a specifically ‘free from’ product.
Gluten free roast potatoes
I always like to make my own gluten free roast potatoes – by tipping the fluffy potatoes into super hot fat, they crisp up beautifully.
You might find some gluten-eating relatives use flour in their roasties, so this is definitely something to double check.
They’d either have to use gluten free flour or completely take it out to make them safe.
You can also pick up frozen gluten free roast potatoes as well – just double check the packaging to make sure the ones you choose are safe.
Gluten free gravy
The free from aisles are packed with gluten free gravy options nowadays (check out my round-up here) so you should be spoilt for choice.
I know there’s a lot of pressure on to get the best gravy, so it might be worth testing a few to see which ones you like.
You can pick up a few varieties of gluten free gravy granules in the free from aisle, or check the chilled aisles for ‘extra special’ gravies as often these are labelled gluten free too.
I normally go the extra mile and make my own gravy for Christmas Day, using the juices from the meat and the water from the vegetables.
There are loads of great gluten free gravy recipes online or you could easily adapt your favourite by using gluten free flour instead of normal flour.
Gluten free Yorkshire puddings
Nothing beats making your own gluten free Yorkshire puddings at Christmas, if you ask me!
They’re actually really easy to make – I even have a recipe for gluten free Yorkshire puddings which you can follow right here.
But if you want to keep things even simpler don’t worry, you can pick up ready-made ones in a lot of supermarkets.
The Real Yorkshire Pudding Co ones in Asda are delicious and a lot of the supermarkets also do their own brand ones in the frozen free from aisle.
Gluten free sauces
The piece de resistance of any good Christmas Dinner is of course the sauces you serve it with!
Cranberry sauce is usually gluten free, as is horseradish sauce (which we always get through a lot of!) but always double check the labels in case.
If you fancy mustard then be aware that most English Mustards contain wheat flour – but Dijon or wholegrain mustard is usually gluten free.
A few supermarkets such as Morrisons and M&S do a gluten free bread sauce, so if you don’t fancy making your own then you can pick some up here.
And of course if you're making a white sauce or cheese sauce for vegetables, make sure you use gluten free flour.
I tend to find guests think it tastes exactly the same anyway - check out my gluten free cauliflower cheese recipe here!
I’ve written a full guide to gluten free sauces and condiments here so check this out if you’re ever feeling baffled by what is gluten free and what’s not!
Cross contamination at Christmas
One thing you need to be aware of when organising your Christmas cooking is cross contamination.
This is where gluten free food comes into contact with gluten - and even a crumb of gluten in your meal could cause symptoms if you have coeliac disease.
The easiest way to resolve this problem is to cook everything gluten free, but if you can't do that, a few top tips to help with cross contamination are:
- Cook everything gluten free on a separate tray. If you're really pushed for space in the oven you can sometimes fashion 'dividers' out of foil. But to be safe you should never cook gluten free and gluten-y food together. Keeping it separate will ensure the gluten free food is coeliac-safe too.
- Use different spoons. Whether you're stirring sauces or serving your food up buffet-style, you must ensure you use separate spoons for each dish. Mixing serving spoons is a quick way to contaminate everything you're eating so keep everything very separate.
- Pick your food first. In our house I've always served up my Christmas Dinner first. That way if anyone else slips up and and accidentally contaminates any of the dishes, at least I don't have to miss out. Just make sure you get a big portion in case you miss out on seconds!
- Be careful of crumbs. It's really important to make sure you wipe down any surfaces you're going to cook on before you start preparing your gluten free food. I guess COVID has made us all more aware of this now anyway, but you don't want any crumbs of dustings of flour ruining your Christmas meal.
Gluten Free Christmas Desserts
The first rule to remember when it comes to gluten free Christmas desserts is that FRUIT IS NOT A PUDDING.
If someone in your family decides to serve you up a platter of melon while everyone else is scoffing some chocolate monstrosity, disown them.
Okay, so that may be a tad harsh, but there are so many options for desserts which are naturally gluten free (or easy to find a gluten free version of) that there’s no excuse!
Gluten free Christmas puddings
These can be found in the free from aisle and you’ll probably find several different versions in each supermarket.
They often come in a large variety and a one-serving portion, so if your family insist on having a ‘normal’ pud then you can have your own.
A lot of the time the meringue roulades available in the frozen aisle of the supermarket are gluten free.
You’ll have to double check the ingredients list but there’s usually a good variety to choose from, ranging from fruity delights to toffee-rich treats.
I also have a recipe for a toffee and pecan roulade which is a favourite in our house around Christmas-time!
This is another dessert which can easily be bought (or made) gluten free.
Pavlova is an easy gluten free dessert option as you don’t need any flour to make it and can still get a sweet and delicious pudding from it.
It’s also often naturally gluten free so you won’t feel left out and your guests won’t feel like they’re eating something out-of-the-ordinary.
If you want to make your own pavlova you can use my gluten free pavlova recipe here as a base, but feel free to change the toppings to something more festive if you like!
Make your own!
The possibilities for a gluten free Christmas dessert really are endless when it comes to making your own.
You don't have to rely on what's available to buy ready-made with limited choices, you can make anything you like!
A gluten free cheesecake is always a favourite of mine - check out my festive Melto 'Bueno'-style cheesecake recipe for a delicious festive treat.
You could whip up a gluten free yule log for everyone to enjoy or even create a show-stopping trifle.
Whatever you choose to make, a lot of gluten free desserts can be made a day or two before to take the pressure off on Christmas Day itself.
Gluten free Christmas chocolates
While I can't list every single gluten free Christmas chocolate, there are a few regular contenders I get asked about each year.
The best advice I can give for this (and actually, for everything!) is to download the Coeliac UK Gluten Free Food Checker App.
With this app you can scan the barcodes of foods and it will tell you whether they are gluten free or not.
In terms of popular Christmas chocolates, the following ARE suitable for a gluten free diet:
- Cadbury's Roses
- Quality Street
- Cadbury's Heroes (except the Dinky Decker)
- Lindor WHITE or STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM truffle balls only
- KitKat Christmas Breaks
- All Matchmakers
These popular Christmas chocolates are sadly NOT gluten free or suitable for coeliacs:
- All Lindor truffles not listed above
- Terry's Chocolate Orange - has a 'may contain' warning
- Celebrations (they have a cross contamination risk)
There are obviously hundreds (if not thousands) more chocolates around at Christmas but these seem to come up regularly in gluten free forums.
It's important you always double check the ingredients as these can often change.
This post was last updated in December 2020 so if you're reading this in the future, be aware recipes may have changed.
Gluten free alcohol
When it comes to alcohol, you'll be pleased to know a lot of it is actually gluten free.
Wine, Champagne and prosecco are all gluten free, so that’s my Christmas sorted.
Cider is also gluten free, as is Crabbie's ginger beer which I absolutely love – it’s beer that is the main stumbling block.
Beers, Ales, Lager and Stouts all contain gluten UNLESS they are specifically labelled as gluten free.
You can often find quite a few gluten free beers to choose from in the free from aisle of most supermarkets.
It’s also worth checking out the ‘craft beer’ aisle as some smaller brands may be there instead – for example one of my favourite gluten free beers, Jubel, is stocked there!
According to Coeliac UK all spirits are gluten free, even if they are made from grains.
This is because the gluten is removed in the distilling process, so even spirits such as whisky are gluten free and safe to drink.
Christmas fans, you’ll be pleased to know that Bailey’s is gluten free, as is their vegan version if you can’t have dairy either.
You may need to be careful in double checking some pre-mixed drinks but mostly these are fine – gluten will be listed as an allergen if they’re not.
Gluten free party food
I doubt many of us will be attending any Christmas parties in 2020 but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy an evening of gluten free party food!
In fact, buffet-style dinners are my absolute favourite at this time of year so I can just pick at the bits I want to eat.
The best news is that each year, more and more Christmas party foods appear which are actually gluten free.
A lot of this will be with the normal party food and not in the free from aisle – but most of it is clearly labelled as gluten free.
Co-op is the one to beat, as pretty much all of its frozen gluten free party food is gluten free, including spring rolls, halloumi bites, Indian selection platters and more.
M&S also does an excellent choice with the mini gluten free chicken kievs being a firm favourite year-on-year.
Most other supermarkets have several items in their range which are gluten free – and happily for me this nearly always includes mozzarella sticks.
Again, this all updated in my gluten free supermarket guides as I find new products which I have listed at the bottom of this blog post.
Gluten free supermarket guides
Each year I go around the supermarkets and update my posts showing you what is gluten free.
The gluten free Christmas product ranges seem to get better and better every year, which is always good news!
Here are all my gluten free supermarket round-ups for you to bookmark and return to - keep checking back as I update them all through the festive season!
Don't forget to download the Coeliac UK Gluten Free Food Checker App so you can double check anything you're unsure of as you shop!
You can also check out the charity's Christmas section for loads of great tips and advice throughout the festive season.
Gluten free Christmas recipes
Want some recipes to create your own magical gluten free Christmas this year? Here are some of my favourites from the blog to get you started.