8 Gluten-free desserts for Thanksgiving everyone will love you for

A primer on gluten-free baking and the sweet treats everyone at the table will devour

A primer on gluten-free baking and the sweet treats everyone at the table will devour

If you're serving guests that can't tolerate gluten, you might be stumped for how to handle dessert. But actually, there are many desserts out there that contain no gluten at all. Some of them are made with alternative flours like nuts or quinoa, while others are cream-based and contain no flour. We've rounded up the best of those recipes below, but first, a few tips to help you master gluten-free baking.

The first step is understanding what gluten actually is so you can identify and avoid it. Simply put, gluten is a protein found in wheat and certain other grains like barley and spelt. Because the amount of gluten in each ingredient varies, it's important you clarify the level of sensitivity. For example, spelt is lower in gluten than all-purpose flour and may be okay for some people. But it's important to never assume this.

Celiac disease is a whole other matter and even a tiny amount of gluten can make a person very sick. In this case, you have to be very careful with what ingredients you use and make sure that no cross-contamination occurs in your kitchen. The best thing about making gluten-free desserts from scratch is that you're in control of the whole process. This is the safest way to satisfy a gluten-free sweet tooth, and your guests will appreciate the effort you make.

Here are some more things to keep in mind:

Avoid contaminating your pantry ingredients all year by using a separate spoon for flour. When in doubt, start with a fresh package.

Bulk ingredients can be contaminated if the scoops at the store get moved around, so choose wisely and never assume the almonds that live by the flour are gluten-free.

Buy gluten-free baking powder. It exists, and depending on the level of gluten intolerance, it may be something you need to switch to.

Some chocolate brands — and other ingredients — come with a disclaimer that they may have come in contact with wheat. Be sure to read labels and, if unclear, ask your guests to recommend a brand.

Check ice cream labels too. Gluten can show up in unexpected places.

That honey or butter in your cupboard can be contaminated from all that sandwich building you've been doing, so watch out for that and if in doubt, crack a fresh container.

Let gluten-free guests fill up their plates first, so any accidental switching of serving spoons doesn't cross-contaminate their safe dishes.

Now that you know what precautions to take, let's get to the recipes. We've rounded up crowd-pleasing, festive, and easy to make desserts below. Most can be prepared ahead too, so be sure to check this guide and follow our workback and get started on those soon! Serving vegetarian guests? We've got the best recipes for that too — check out this guide and happy feast planning!

The best gluten-free desserts

Delicate French Macarons

Hazelnut Cake

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Whipped Coconut Topping

Cinnamon Mousse

Almond Panna Cotta with Chocolate Sauce

Ricotta Espresso Mousse

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Lemon Mascarpone Mousse


Jessica Brooks is a digital producer, trained chef and DIY investor.

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