Gluten-Free Christmas Guide

Whether it’s your first or 10th gluten-free Christmas, holidays like Xmas might have you saying “bah humbug.” But here me when I say, a safe and enjoyable Christmas is possible!

In this Gluten-Free Christmas Guide we’ll cover everything from grieving the changes you may be experiencing to different gluten-free Xmas gifts to give your friends.

This guide was drafted by Dietetic Intern, Jan Wasmuth and revised by Dietitian, Tayler Silfverduk.

Table of Contents

Gluten-free Christmas Guide - Tayler Silfverduk, RD - Celiac dietitian

The Purpose of Christmas

When talking about surviving Christmas on a gluten-free diet, it’s important to hold the purpose of this holiday close.  Christmas means various things for different people, but most people have some Christmas traditions that relate to food.

Although many Christmas traditions involve food, this is not the purpose of Christmas. Christmas traditions are meant to bring people together to celebrate what is meaningful to them this time of year. 

For some people, this means celebrating the birth of Jesus. For others, it is simply a time to reflect on the gift of time with loved ones and to be generous. Either way, food is just one way to honor traditions. 

Celebrating Christ’s birth can be commemorated by going to church on Christmas eve, reading advent devotions, setting up a nativity scene, etc.

Enjoying special times with loved ones can include giving heartfelt gifts, decorating the Christmas tree with special ornaments, watching Christmas movies together, etc.

As you can see, the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate special moments with those we love… something you can easily do, despite celiac.

Grieving the Xmas Traditions That Have Changed

Although the purpose of Christmas remains the same, it is true that some traditions change when celebrating a gluten-free Christmas. It’s okay to grieve your losses and it’s healthy to allow yourself to experience your emotions. 

This might look like letting yourself feel angry over not being able to have the gluten-filled Christmas cookies everyone else is munching on (p.s. if you’re in need of gluten-free xmas cookies, check out this post). Or feeling sad about not being able to build ginger bread houses.

You may want to explain to loved ones that you have to avoid all gluten to stay celiac-safe. You may be able to modify traditions so they are gluten-free, or you may choose to create new traditions. Either way, the new manner of celebrating the holiday will take some adjustment.

So, be patient with yourself and your loved ones, feel all your emotions, and be gentle with yourself as you make new memories the celiac-safe way.

Managing Stress of Being Gluten-Free at Christmas

Grief and purpose out of the way, celebrating a gluten-free Christmas can be stressful. The Christmas season can be stressful for anyone. From shopping to baking to wrapping gifts to hosting parties, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Add celiac disease to the mix, and you can find yourself on the verge of celiac burnout. Because now it’s not just worrying about getting food on the table or presents wrapped and under the tree in time… Now you also have to worry about if your food is gluten-free, educating friends and family, fielding rude comments, and keeping an eye out for cross-contact.

The best ways to manage stress of being gluten-free at Christmas are to plan ahead and be flexible. Always make your safety your priority because staying gluten-free is very important, even at Christmas. Prioritize your mental health. A gentle walk, deep breathing, or even taking a break to walk into the other room is all beneficial and can help lower your stress. 

Social batteries can drain quickly, especially when managing celiac. So remember that it’s perfectly okay to say “no” and not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.

If it’s your first Christmas gluten-free, it may be time for your sister to host the family Christmas party instead of you, and that’s okay. Or maybe you’d feel more comfortable hosting and keeping it all gluten-free.

Whatever you decide, make sure to care for yourself during the stress of the season, whether that be a hot shower, educating friend’s and family on how to prevent cross-contact, taking a walk in freshly fallen snow, or a gluten-free cookie and a glass of milk by the fireplace.

Gluten-free Christmas Travel Tips - Tayler Silfverduk, RD - Celiac dietitian(1)

Travel Tips for Christmas

Speaking of stress when gluten-free at Christmas celebrations, traveling adds even more to the stress. However, it is possible to have a safe and enjoyable trip. When traveling for Christmas with celiac disease, planning is key.

Figure out what route you will take and find gluten-free accommodations along the way. There are apps that can help you locate restaurants with gluten-free food (like FindMeGlutenFree). However, be careful to not blindly trust online reviews. Nothing ever substitutes you screening and verifying the safety of restaurants yourself. A nothing ever substitutes you asking for the correct precautions when ordering food. If you need help with this, check out my Gluten-Free Dining Course!

If you’re not sure if something is celiac safe, don’t take a chance. You certainly do not want to get accidentally glutened while traveling.

If you’re staying with family, be sure to educate them on your gluten-free and cross-contact needs. If you’ve traveled there before, be sure to gently remind them. And if you need help with this, I’ve got a whole section of my Celiac Crash Course dedicated to providing materials to share with your host to help them keep you safe.

If you’re not staying with family, it’s great to book a place to stay that has a kitchen, such as an AirBnB. This way, you can do your own cooking and ensure your food is free of gluten and not in danger of cross-contact. I also teach you how to stay set up airbnbs to stay safe in my Celiac Crash Course too. But even a hotel room with a mini fridge and microwave can be helpful so you can bring simple gluten-free meals or snacks. 

Speaking of snacks, be sure to pack plenty of gluten-free snacks for your trip. There may be times when even your best-laid plans fall through. Perhaps you get hungry while driving and the restpark vending machine doesn’t have any celiac-safe options. You’ll be glad when you have a box of gluten-free protein bars or a bag of trail mix to reach for in the backseat.

You may also need to fill in gaps sometimes; maybe you can order a gluten-free soup and salad but you want some crackers. It is nice to have a little bag of celiac-safe crackers or chips to accompany your meal. 

If you are traveling overseas, language can be a hurdle to staying celiac safe. Language cards can be helpful to order food and ensure that no cross-contact occurs at restaurants. If you will be traveling by plane, you may be able to request a gluten-free meal if you request it AT LEAST 48 hours prior to your flight (but better if done immediately after you book) to ensure you have a celiac-safe meal served to you on your flight.

For more help with staying safe on trips like this, I’ve got lot’s of travel resources in my Celiac Crash Course! Including tips for airplanes and road trips. Check it out here.

Gluten-free Christmas Buffet Tips - Tayler Silfverduk, RD - Celiac dietitian

Gluten-Free Tips for a Buffet-Style Christmas Dinner

Another common stressor when attending Christmas while Gluten-free are buffet-style dinners. Families often serve a buffet-style Christmas dinner. It can seem like an impossible task to try to choose gluten-free foods and avoid cross-contact as you fill your plate in a quick-moving line of hungry friends and family. But, it’s possible to create a coherent meal that is celiac-safe. 

If you are comfortable doing so, it can be helpful to talk to the host in advance. Explain that it would be helpful if you could go first through the buffet so that there is less chance of cross-contact. Request that there be a sign asking people to get a new plate each time they go through the line (this helps prevent cross-contact, as well). Ask about the menu and what dishes will be available.

You can offer to bring a gluten-free dish to share so that you will for sure have at least one safe option. It can also be a great conversation starter and make everyone feel less anxious if they see you are safely enjoying a yummy dish you brought. Who knows… your gluten-free fruitcake could become the favorite dessert that everyone looks forward to each year!

Or, bring some snacks to help fill in the gaps in case there aren’t many celiac-safe dishes. Propose asking those who are contributing to put ingredient cards by the dish they prepare. Don’t be afraid to politely question recipes and preparation to be sure your food is celiac-safe and free from cross-contact.

If you need help with educating your family on how to prepare gluten-free food so that it’s free from cross-contact, I’ve got cross-contact cooking demos and recipe cards with cross-contact precautions in the Celiac Crash Course. You can send them the resources to help them learn or you can have even more fun with it by scheduling cross-contact cooking demo dates, and cooking to the videos together.

Remember that there are hidden sources of gluten that your loved ones may not be aware of, such as in flour or yeast extract in sauces or gravies. People may think their dish is safe simply because they didn’t prepare it with wheat. You may think the turkey is the safe option and forget it was stuffed with gluten and thus is actually not safe.

If all else fails, you can always bring your own Christmas dinner to enjoy. Make sure it’s got all of your holiday favorites so that you don’t feel left our or deprived!

Gluten-Free Tips for When They Pass Food Around the Christmas Table

Another stressful part of a gluten-free Christmas might be round table Christmas dinners.You may feel embarrassed and scared by the thought of sitting at the Christmas table to share a meal that likely contains gluten.

First, don’t be ashamed of needing to adhere to your gluten-free diet. If  you’re comfortable you can  into share details about what foods you can eat, how cross-contact can occur, and what happens when you ingest gluten. It can feel good to know others support you and are watching out for your wellbeing.

Your loved ones may not understand all the details of celiac disease, but they certainly want you to feel well for the holiday. They care more about you spending time with them than about what you can or can’t eat, so try to focus on the fellowship around the table and make memories.

Again, if you are comfortable with it, it can be helpful to share with trusted people about your celiac disease so that they understand what you need to do to keep yourself safe. 

Ask ahead of time what will be served so that you know if you will be able to eat any of the dishes. If someone else is hosting, request that gluten-free food be made separately from gluten-containing food. Or, offer to come over and help prepare the food so you can ensure the gluten-free foods are celiac safe, plus you can teach your family member or friend about safe gluten-free food preparation.

Another option is to host the dinner yourself. That way, you will know the dishes are safe for you to eat and you can show your loved ones that gluten-free dishes can be delicious!

Yet another possibility is to bring one or two dishes of your own to the home of whomever is hosting the dinner. That way, you know there will at least be some foods you can eat. 

Ask that a separate utensil be used in each dish. If possible, serve the gluten-free dishes first, then serve the gluten-containing dishes. Request that people don’t let serving utensils touch their plates or the food on their plates. 

It’s okay to say “no thank you” to keep yourself safe. If you are in doubt, pass on that food. Never feel like you have to try a bite even though it’s grandma’s famous macaroni and cheese… or better yet, come over early and help grandma make her famous recipe using gluten free noodles so everyone can enjoy it!

You can explain when you choose not to eat something, but you certainly do not have to do so. A simple “no” is sufficient to keep yourself safe.

Christmas Dishes That May Contain Gluten

When attending Christmas while gluten-free, it’s important to know which dishes contain or could contain gluten. While some dishes obviously contain gluten (such as traditional yeast dinner rolls) or are clearly gluten-free (such as fresh fruit), some Christmas dishes have hidden gluten.

It’s important to be careful of Christmas dishes that may contain gluten in order to keep yourself safe.  First, be aware that any dish can contain gluten if cross-contact occurs. That’s why it’s important to be careful about what foods you eat.

Make sure foods were prepared separately from gluten-containing foods and proper cross-contact precautions were taken when cooking. If you need help with educating your friends and family on this, remember, I’ve got a cross-contact cooking demo library to help with this!

Additionally, Ensure that separate serving utensils are used for gluten-free foods. Be mindful that a few crumbs of gluten-containing food is enough to make your dish no longer gluten-free.

Foods to specifically keep an eye on include:

  • Mashed potatoes can contain gluten because of natural flavorings which could hide gluten if it’s made from a package. Additionally, some recipes call for flour to thicken them. Always check the label of mashed potato mixes, or with the host about what was used to prepare the mashed potatoes.
  • Cream sauces can contain gluten as these are usually started with a roux. Roux’s involve cooking fat and flour together to make a thick sauce base. And most people use wheat flour for this which is not gluten-free.
  • Gravies can contain gluten because they are usually thickened with flour. Always check with the host if the gravy was thickened with anything. An easy substitute is corn starch.
  • Cornbread/corn puddings even though corn is in the name, often gluten-containing flours are involved in preparation.
  • Stuffing can contain gluten because it’s often made with flour and bread. This includes homemade and store-bought versions.
  • Turkey can be unsafe for people living gluten-free if it has been stuffed with gluten-filled bread. Make sure the turkey has been seasoned with gluten-free sauces/seasonings and has not been stuffed with gluten.
  • Ham that has been glazed or flavored can contain gluten. Always check the ingredients to make sure that there is no gluten or ask that the ham remain unglazed.
  • Green Bean Casserole and other kinds of casseroles can contain gluten either from the soups/stocks used to make them or from crunchy toppings like crispy onions that can contain gluten. Always check all of the ingredients before enjoying.
  • Anything with a crust (think pies) because pie crust is usually made with gluten-containing flour. And no, you can just eat the filling on top of the crust. If you have celiac, this would be a major point of cross-contact

Other things to consider are that cooking bags may not be something you think of when you consider gluten around Christmas. However, many people use flour to ensure it won’t explode in the oven. Make sure to check that whomever cooks the turkey uses gluten-free cornstarch or potato starch instead. 

Lastly, if people are cooking for you, ask them to save food labels or take pictures of the food they are preparing so you can check them for gluten.

Gluten-free Christmas Recipes - Tayler Silfverduk, RD - Celiac dietitian

15+ Gluten-Free Christmas Dishes

Purpose, grief, stress, and obvious forms of gluten out of the way, let’s get into the fun part of a gluten-free Christmas, the food. Just because you have to eat gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to miss out on delicious food this Christmas.

Help your loved ones prepare delicious gluten-free versions of their favorite holiday dishes, host the dinner with lots of gluten-free options, or bring a gluten-free dish to share and make it your signature dish that everyone looks forward to each year! 

There are always naturally gluten-free options, such as making garlic roasted green beans, a fresh fruit platter, or mashed potatoes made with just potatoes. Or, get cooking and baking to enjoy some scrumptious special gluten-free dishes! Below are recipes to help you get started!

And remember, if you need help with modifying your family favorite recipes, I’ve got an entire guide to that in my Celiac Crash Course!

Gluten-Free Christmas Main Courses

Enjoy a gluten-free xmas with delicious main courses. Traditionally these include ham or turkey. Below are some recipes to help you get started!

  • This Gluten-Free Christmas Glazed Baked Ham is the perfect blend of sweet citrus fruit and savory spices. With only 25 minutes of prep time yet a delicious taste, this classic Christmas dish will be the star of the show on your table.
  • Gluten-Free Stuffed Turkey – You don’t have to deal with the added effort of cleaning a turkey on your busy holiday. Make a gluten-free Stuffed Turkey Breast! Plus, you get to enjoy stuffing the celiac-safe way.
  • Lamb Leg – Mint is such a classic Christmastime flavor. This Leg of Lamb with Mint lets you enjoy the holiday flavor in this tender dish.
  • Christmas Tree Pizza – Gluten-free Christmas Tree Pizzas are a fun spin on a well-loved food. Pizza is loved by people of all ages, so it’s perfect for Christmas get-togethers. The tree shape adds a festive flare!
  • Roast Chicken -This Perfect Roast Chicken is so simple yet so delicious. It’s versatile and can be perfectly paired with various side dishes.
  • Roast Beef – If you prefer an alternative to chicken, try this Perfect Roast Beef. It is wonderfully juicy and the seasonings add a flavorful kick.

Whether you like ham, turkey, lam, chicken, or beef, hopefully those main courses are fun starting place for you in planning out your Christmas dinner.

Gluten-Free Christmas Side Dishes

Now that we have gluten-free Christmas main course out of the way, we can’t let those dishes go lonely! Here are some gluten-free holiday side dishes to serve along side them…

  • Sweet Potato Casserole – This Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping is almost like dessert potatoes! It’s the perfect blend of sweet and savory creamy goodness.
  • Cauliflower Stuffing – This is a great alternative to traditional gluten-containing stuffing. The herbs and spices pair perfectly with the veggies.
  • Gluten-Free Crescent Roll – There’s nothing like a soft, warm gluten-free crescent roll with Christmas dinner… especially when you spread homemade cinnamon butter on it!
  • Roasted Garlic Parmesan Baby Potatoes – Thesse go well with any meat you fancy, from roast beef to chicken or turkey. This side dish is simple to throw together and tastes amazing.
  • Holiday Mashed Potatoes are creamy and smooth. They are a great addition to your holiday meats and corn, or simply put a pat of butter on them and enjoy them by the spoonful.

The side dishes are where you can really creative in complementing your main courses. Whether you want something sweet or savory, it’s a great way to balance out the meal.

Gluten-Free Christmas Desserts

Now that we have gluten-free Christmas main course out of the way, we can’t let those dishes go lonely! Here are some gluten-free holiday side dishes to serve along side them…

  • GF Peppermint Cupcakes – Who says peppermint is only for ice cream? Try these delicious White Peppermint Cupcakes for a peppermint flavor flare that’s perfect for the festive season.
  • Chocolate Gingerbread Bars – Can’t decide between baking brownies or gingerbread cookies? Make these warmly spiced Chocolate Gingerbread Bars to satisfy both cravings at oncce.
  • GF Cherry Pie – You don’t have to miss out on a classic Christmas pie this year just because you have to eat gluten-free. You’ll love this festive Gluten-Free Cherry Pie!
  • Fudge is a Christmas tradition, so enjoy it the celiac-safe way with this recipe! You’ll be a fan of this creamy treat whether you prefer chocolate, vanilla, or peanut butter fudge.
  • GF Fruitcake – If your Christmas isn’t complete without fruit cake, look no further than this Gluten-Free Fruitcake Recipe. It’s bursting with spices and fruity flavors, perfect for the season.

Looking for gluten-free Christmas cookies? Get 15 gluten-free Christmas Cookie recipes PLUS tips for getting the perfect texture when baking gluten-free in this post!

Now you have a full holiday meal. You’ve got the main course, side dishes and finally dessert. But the gift of  food isn’t the only thing you can share with loved ones…

Gluten-Free Holiday Drinks

When it comes to a gluten-free Christmas, you might be wondering which holiday drinks are safe. The most common Christmas drinks include Eggnog, Hot Buttered Rum, Glogg, and Hot Chocolate. So are they gluten-free?

Is Eggnog Gluten-Free?

Eggnog is typically made of eggs, sugar, milk, heavy cream and vanilla extract. Sometimes people spike it with brandy and spices. All of these ingredients are naturally gluten-free and so generally, you shouldn’t have to worry about Eggnog.

That said, it’s important to either check the recipe used to prepare it and the ingredients of the Eggnog to make sure it is safe. If you’re looking for a recipe to try, consider this Homemade Eggnog Recipe by Gluten-Free Baking.

And if you need a gluten-free and dairy-free version because you have lactose intolerance with celiac, check out these options:

  • Silk Original Dairy-Free Soy Holiday Nog
  • So Delicious Coconut Milk Holiday Egg Nog
  • Califia Farms Holiday Nog Almondmilk
  • Elmhurst Oat Nog (an oat product that is certified gluten-free so is considered safe)
  • Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk Egg Nog

Note that the Chobani Oat Nog and the Good & Gather Target Brand Oatmilk Holiday Nog are not considered celiac-safe. Read more about when oat milks are or aren’t safe here.

Hot Buttered Rum Gluten-Free?

Hot Buttered Rum can be a gluten-free Christmas drink. It’s typically made from dark rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, cloves, salt, butter, and water. All of these ingredients are naturally gluten-free. Yes, even the dark rum should be gluten-free as long as it has no gluten additives in it. However, always check the ingredients to make sure no gluten was added in.

If you’re looking for a Hot Buttered Rum recipe to try, consider this recipe by Gluten-Free Recipe Box. It makes about 10 servings.

And below is a list of the confirmed gluten-free dark rums in the USA!

  • Meyers’s Original Dark
  • Rondiaz Dark Rum
  • Bacardi Dark Rum
  • Cruzan Aged Dark Rum
  • Cruzan Estate Diamond Dark Rum
  • Havana Club Cuban Dark Rum

This is not an all-inclusive list but a place to start. And understand, ingredients and manufacturing are subject to change. Be sure to assess suitability and safety for yourself.

If you need help with knowing how to tell if an alcohol is safe in the USA, this is one of the many celiac safety topics I cover in my Celiac Crash Course. Learn more about it here.

Is Glogg Gluten-Free?

Glogg and other mulled wines are other gluten-free Christmas drinks to enjoy. For the most part these drinks are gluten-free. They are typically made with spices, fruit, wine, and distilled alcohol.

While distilled alcohols can be made with gluten, as long as no gluten additives are added in afterwards, they are considered celiac-safe. Check out this blog post to learn more.

And if you want to learn how to make Swedish Mulled Wine, check out my Swedish family’s recipe. Make note, it does not include many of the traditional ingredients like Aquavit as it’s nearly impossible to get in the USA.

Is Hot Chocolate Gluten-Free?

Last but not least, hot chocolate is a delicious gluten-free holiday drink. Most hot chocolate is gluten-free but chocolate often can contain wheat, barley and rye in it.

So when shopping or making hot chocolate, make sure they ingredients are all gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Christmas Advent Calendars

One of the things that was hard for me during my first few gluten-free Christmass was not having an advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas with. Before my celiac diagnosis, I would get fun calendars with cool candy and chocolates that would be a fun treat to look forward to every day.

After my diagnosis, it was hard to find gluten-free advent calendars so, I thought I would list a few to make your life easier! A heads up that some of these are affiliate links where I’ll make a small commission at no cost to you for the sale.

No Whey Chocolate Advent Calendar

This gluten-free Christmas chocolate advent calendar is made by No Whey Foods, an allergy-friendly and vegan food company that helps support the inclusion of those with food challenges into everyday life.

Their Chocolate Advent Calendar has lots of fun shapes for every day you count down to Christmas! PLUS, the chocolates are all free from gluten, dairy, nuts, peanuts, soy and more! Perfect for my lactose-intolerant and celiac friends.

Venchi Chocolate Advent Calendar

This Venchi Gluten-free Christmas Chocolate Advent Calendar, is a gluten-free labeled advent calendar with chocolates to enjoy every day of December until Xmas.

The ingredients listed are as follows “sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, cocoa powder, anhydrous milk fat, emulsifier: soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavor”.  Thus, making it suitable for someone with celiac but not suitable for someone with celiac who may need to avoid dairy.

Albert's Advent Calendar

The Albert’s Advent Calendar on Amazon is only $6.53 as of writing this. It is one of the most affordable gluten-free Christmas Advent Calendars in this list.

And it says gluten-free on the back of the packaging. I know this because this is the advent calendar Kyle and I got for our 2021 Christmas. And let me tell you, the gluten-free chocolates in this calendar are delicious!

This calendar is also peanut-free but please note the packaging does say it may contain tree nuts so if you have an related allergy, factor that into your chocie!

Pukka Tea Advent Calendar

A fun non-candy related gluten-free Christmas advent calendar to consider is the Pukka Tea Advent Calendar. You’ll get a new fun flavor of tea to try every day of the advent calendar countdown!

And yes, Pukka teas do not contain any gluten-containing ingredients per their FAQ section. However, it is important to note that the Night Time and Relax teas in this calendar contain oat flowering tops.

Now oats aren’t always celiac-safe, however in the Pukka FAQ section they do state “the analytical tests undertaken on these teas show that gluten is absent, consumers who are extremely sensitive may want to check the suitability of oat straw further for related gluten allergies like avenin”.

Do with this information what you will!

Bonne Maman Advent Calendar with Mini Fruit Jams

Another fun non-candy related gluten-free Christmas advent calendar to consider is the Bonne Maman Advent Calendar. You’ll get a new fun flavor of jams and spread to try for every day counting down to xmas!

And yes, Bonne Maman fruit spreads and jellies are all gluten-free, per their FAQ section on their website! So if you’re a big fruit jam person, this could be a fun advent calendar to try!

Perfect for if you have toast, oatmeal, or even yogurt every day. Simply top your breakfast with these jams!

Christmas Advent Calendar with Mini Animal Plush

Yet, another fun non-candy related gluten-free Christmas advent calendar that’s perfect for kids is this one with mini animal plushies. Make every day a fun animal adventure and open the advent calendar and hang a new plush on the tree!

Christmas Advent Calendar with Squishy Toys

Don’t want more stuffed animals in the house during your gluten-free Christmas? I’m not a kid but even I am tempted to get this Squishy Toy Christmas Countdown Calendar.

Not only do the squishy toys look adorable but they look like so much fun to fidget with. And as a self-proclaimed master fidgeter, I’m so tempted!

Rocks, Minerals & Fossils Advent Calendar

Another cool non-food related gluten-free Christmas count down calendar is this National Geographic Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils advent calendar. Every day of December until Christmas, you’ll get a new fun rock, mineral, or fossil to learn about and add to your collection.

Kinder Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar

The Kinder Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar is gluten-free by ingredient. I found these at my local CVS and Kroger. That said, when researching these calendars online, not every Kinder advent calendar is gluten-free.

Some of them do list wheat flours and other sources of gluten in the ingredient list. So while the milk chocolate ones that I saw appeared to be gluten-free, not all of them are. So be sure to double check the label before buying.

Don’t know what to look for? My gift to you is my 100% free USA Food Label Reading Class. In this free class, I’ll teach you what to look for on a food label to know if it’s safe. Watch it here!

Gluten-Free Christmas Candy

Now that we’ve got our gluten-free Xmas meal squared aware, let’s talk about gluten-free Christmas candy! The good news is that many candies are gluten-free! The bad news is that candy can hide gluten. So let’s dive into the celiac-safe candy you can enjoy this Christmas!

Gluten Ingredients in Candy

Before we get into gluten-free Christmas candy, it’s important to know how to check candy for gluten.

First you want to check and see if the candy has a gluten-free claim or certification on it. If you see “gluten-free” written anywhere, that means this candy per FDA law must have <20ppm of gluten and thus be celiac-safe.

If you see a gluten-free claim, you can stop here and enjoy the candy. If you don’t see a gluten-free claim, you will want to look for gluten containing ingredients. Some common gluten ingredients in candy include:

  • malted barley
  • barley malt extract
  • barley malt
  • enriched wheat flour
  • wheat flour

You also want to check for ingredients that may contain gluten, like natural flavors. If you see natural flavors on a candy that’s not labeled gluten-free, contact the manufacturer to check on it’s gluten-free status.

If you don’t see any gluten containing ingredients in the ingredients label, it should be safe. But if you’re in doubt, just pick a candy you know is safe.

For more practice and guidance with identifying gluten on a food label in the USA, check out this FREE training where I’ll break the process down into 4 simple steps!

Gluten-Free Candy Canes

Gluten ingredients commonly found in Christmas candy out of the way, let’s talk about the star of the holiday candy show: candy canes!

I don’t know why but there are my favorite candies to enjoy during this holiday season. I’m guessing it has to do with my love for efficiency and candy that can serve as both a fun treat AND decor? Count me in.

The good news about candy canes? I have yet to find a candy cane that contains gluten. That does not mean they don’t exist but that I haven’t found one in the 10 years I’ve been living gluten-free.

That said, you’ll still want to check the label of the candy canes you buy to make sure they are safe because if I know one thing to be true about gluten, it’s a sneaky lil bugger.

To make your life easy, here’s a list of known gluten-free candy canes:

  • Spangler Candy Canes – Per their website, they clearly mark any wheat and gluten in their products. They make a wide variety of candy canes that are gluten-free including the fun flavors listed in this list.
  • Jelly Belly Candy Canes –  Jelly Belly is known for gluten-free Jelly Beans but also gluten-free Candy Canes (my favorite are Very Cherry and Blueberry) provided by Spangler!
  • Soda Candy Canes – A Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Hawaiian Punch Candy Canes – A Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Dum-Dums Candy Canes – Gluten-free by ingredient but also a Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Starburst Candy Canes – A Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Lifesavers Candy Canes – A Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Skittles Candy Canes –  A Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Hot Tomales Candy Canes – Another one of my favorites, it’s also a Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Airhead Candy Canes – A Spangler product so the gluten would be declared per the company policy.
  • Brach’s Candy Canes  – Made by the Ferrara Candy Company, who when speaking to a represenative of over the phone, confirms that they do not hide gluten in natural flavors, which is the main concern when reading the label of their candy canes. This means their Cherry Rainbow, Bob’s Red and White Mint, Wintergreen, Funfetti, and Rainbow Punch Candy Canes are gluten-free.
  • Yum Earth Candy Canes – These say there are gluten-free right on the packaging.

Many of the links above are affiliate links, to which I make a very small commision on at no cost to you! Again, always check the label to ensure suitability and safety for yourself. People have varying gluten-free needs plus manufacturing and recipes are subject to change quickly in the food industry.

Is Brach's Peppermint Nougat Gluten-Free?

Candy canes aside, another candy you might wonder about during xmas is Brach’s Peppermint Nougat. Is it gluten-free?

Well the ingredients are as follows: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Salt, Peppermint Oil, Modified Food Starch (Corn), Soy Protein, Egg Whites, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 6, Red 3.

I don’t see any gluten containing ingredients which would mean they are safe. I know cross-contact can be a concern but in this case it’s not, learn more about this with label-reading in my FREE Label-Reading Class linked here!

Reese's Trees are gluten-free?
Statement from Hershey about products...

Gluten-Free Christmas Chocolates

Candy canes asides, let’s talk about gluten-free Christmas chocolates. Chocolate is one of the higher-risk candies as it can have wheat flour, barley malt extract, and more.

We’ll be covering some of the most popular and confusing chocolates below…

Are Reese's Christmas Trees and Bells Gluten-Free?

Another popular Christmas candy are the Reese’s Tree and Bell holiday shapes. Many sources say that the holiday shaped Reese’s aren’t gluten-free but when researching this I found otherwise. Let’s break the label down to learn more…

When checking these cups for gluten we start by looking for a gluten-free claim for certification. Unfortunately, these cups don’t contain a gluten-free claim which tends to scare a lot of people but this does not necessarily mean it’s not safe.

Continuing through the CANS acronym, we now check for an allergen statement. This is a statement that notifies you if the product contains wheat. In this case, there is no warning for wheat.

Now we check for NOT safe ingredients on the label. These ingredients would be those that contain gluten. To easily remember which ingredients these are, remember the BROW acronym which stands for Barley, Rye, Oats (sometimes), and Wheat. When checking, we don’t see any of these ingredients so we can move to suspicious ingredients.

Now suspicious ingredients are any ingredients that could hide gluten per FDA labeling laws. Now if these ingredients were derived from wheat, they would have to be listed in the allergen statement. But that doesn’t protect us from barley and rye. So we still need to check on these ingredients to make sure they are safe.

In this case, Reese’s Bells and Trees do not contain any suspicious ingredients and thus are gluten-free. And if you’re not sure what ingredients can hide gluten in the USA, check out my FREE label-reading class where I cover all of that!

Now many people have said these candies are not gluten-free because they can be processed on the same lines as gluten. However, when contacting Hershey, they reassured me these candies do not contain gluten and that the reason they don’t have a gluten-free claim is that they are not tested for gluten like the classic peanut butter cups that are sold year-round.

They also assured me that while these cups can sometimes be made on lines that process candy with gluten, they have strong cross-contact protocols to prevent contamination. This is the case for most processing plants because not only do they need to manage cross-contact but they also need prevent food-borne illness.

So basically, yes, the Reese’s Trees and Bells are gluten-free. Of course assess suitability for yourself and if you’ve been told different by your dietitian, discuss it with them.

Are Christmas M&Ms Gluten-Free?

Another popular Xmas candy are the Christmas M&Ms. These are another Christmas candy people aren’t sure are gluten-free. Our best tool in getting to the bottom of it? Reading the label.

When looking at the label, there is not gluten-free claim or certification but there also isn’t an allergen warning. When reading the ingredients, the are as follows: Milk Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Skim Milk, Cocoa Butter, Lactose, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Artificial Flavors), Sugar, Cornstarch, less than 1% – Corn Syrup, Gum Acacia, Coloring (includes Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 2), Dextrin.

I don’t see any gluten containing or supsicious ingredients in that, so it appears that Christmas M&Ms are gluten-free! Of course read the label and assess the suitability for yourself.

Be cautious though that not ALL M&Ms are gluten-free. Pretzel and crisp M&Ms do contain gluten. So be sure to always check the label. And for more help checking labels for gluten, seriously, check out my FREE label-reading class!

Is Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark Gluten-free

Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark is a loved Christmas chocolate that many in the gluten-free community are confused about. I used to recommend proceeding with caution with these chocolates because they weren’t listed as gluten-free on the website.

However, after looking at the ingredients of these chocolates (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Whole Milk Powder, Unsweetened Chocolate, Nonfat Dry Milk, Yellow Corn Flour, Soy Lecithin, Palm Oil, Natural Peppermint Flavor, Fruit and Vegetable Juice (Color), Vanilla Extract, Corn Starch, Curcumin (Color), Natural Flavor, Rice Syrup), the only potential risk for gluten is the natural flavors.

Now it’s uncommon, but natural flavors can sometimes be used to represent gluten derivatives like barley malt. So I decided to contact Ghiradelli to see if they every use natural flavors to represent gluten.

Here’s their response “Regarding your question on “natural flavor”, this is a flavor that meets FDA requirements to be called a “natural flavor”.  The exact details of the flavor are proprietary. However, should a natural flavor contain one of the big 8 allergens it would be noted in the ingredients list.”

Unfortunately, barley and rye are not considered a top 8 allergen and they seem pretty tight lipped on disclosing if the natural flavors they use may be derived from them. Unless we got different information, for now I can’t confidently say these are gluten-free or safe.

It’s a shame Ghiradelli won’t be more forthcoming or helpful in identifying gluten-free chocolates but some companies are not as friendly to the gluten-free community as others.

Gluten Free Stocking Stuffers on Amazon - Tayler Silfverduk, RDN

Gluten-Free Christmas Gift Ideas

You may not think of gifts being an issue when you’re shopping for a gluten-free Christmas. However, many gift items that are common at Christmas time actually contain gluten and you or your celiac friend may not be comfortable with it.

You may not know what to buy for your gluten-free friend and be nervous about getting the wrong thing. Fear no more! This guide will help you get some great ideas for celiac-safe Christmas gifts!

Lotions can make great gifts, but many have gluten-containing ingredients. While it’s not required for people with celiac to use gluten-free lotion, many prefer it. JR Watkins lotions are gluten-free and the Rejuvenating Peppermint Foot and Body Lotion (affiliate link) is the perfect way to pamper your loved one this Christmas.

Keep it traditional: There’s something special about memories made while decorating a gingerbread house. Give this childhood gift in the spirit of the season with Gluten-Free Ginger Bread House Kits (affiliate link)! 

Give the gift of cozy feet. Everyone gets chilly toes on cold winter evenings. Help your loved one get warm and cozy with this Micro Flannel Printed Heated Footwarmer (affiliate link)- free of gluten and full of warmth!

Give a cookbook! Your Celiac friend may be getting tired of eating the same foods they know are celiac-safe over and over. Give them a gluten-free cookbook for some inspiration! I’ve got an list of my favorite gluten-free cookbooks here if you need some help selecting one!

Gluten-free Play Dough – Kids love to make imaginative things with play dough and it’s great as a stress reliever for adults, too! While most brands contain gluten, Aroma Dough Aromatherapy Dough (affiliate link) is celiac-safe. It makes a great gift for adults and kids alike! While it’s not required to use gluten-free playdough as you can wash your hands when using it, kids can often try to put it in their mouth and families can more comfortable using gluten-free versions.

Lastly, give the gift of gluten exposure relief with a Warmie. These are stuffed animals designed to go in the microwave to warm up so that you have something warm to snuggle. Perfect for providing relief for angry tummies.

Gluten-Free Christmas Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Gifts and meals aren’t the only thing people are giving for gluten-free Christmas. You also have to think about what you’ll be putting in the stocking. Below are some GF xmas stocking stuffing ideas to get you started!

Gluten-Free Lip Balm – While some beauty products don’t need to be gluten-free, lip products generally need to be. Given that dry lips are a common occurrence in the winter, help out your gluten-free friends with this festive Hurraw! Lip Balm (affiliate link). They’ll enjoy soft lips and the aroma of Christmas time.

You can’t go wrong with Chocolate. Justin’s Nut Butter Cups (affiliate link) are a perfectly sweet way to say “Merry Christmas!” They come in a variety of flavors, from White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups to Dark Chocolate Cashew Butter Cups, so you’re bound to find the right flavor for your gluten-free loved one. You could also provide holiday shaped Reese’s in the USA, as they are considered generally gluten-free but make sure your friend is okay with this as this is a highly controversial topic.

One of the best gifts you can give your gluten-free child is safety and love. Protect them while making it fun with their very own Personalized Allergy Alert Lunchbox from Lil Allergy Advocates.

Peppermint bark is a holiday classic. You can help your gluten-free friends, including those with multiple food allergies, enjoy it this year! No Whey Foods Milkless Peppermint Bark (affiliate link) is delicious and filled with real candy cane bits. Perfect if your friend has celiac and lactose intolerance.

Give a Cozy GF S’mores Kit – S’mores are a yummy warm treat for a cold night! They’re perfect over a campfire or in the microwave or oven. North Mallow’s Gluten-Free S’Mores Kit is customizable with your choice of vanilla bean, chocolate chip, and caramel swirl for a personalized treat!

For more stocking stuffer ideas, check out this post!

That’s a Wrap…

I get it, being gluten-free at Christmas can feel overwhelming. From dinner parties to Christmas lists, it may feel intimidating whether you or your loved one has celiac disease. However, it’s possible to enjoy a celiac-safe Christmas!

Communicate your needs, plan ahead, and avoid gluten. Focus on making memories, enjoying celiac-safe gift giving and receiving, and tasting amazing gluten-free foods!

If you need more support with making celiac disease safety routine and educating your friend’s and family on how to keep you safe, don’t forget to check out my Celiac Crash Course! It’s got lots of tools and resources to simplify celiac disease (including the holiday season).

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...