This post is brought to you by Udi’s Gluten Free.

Aww. Baby Henry.


Happy Holidays! Things that I love about the holidays: time off, moments with family and friends, giving and receiving beautiful gifts, and eating all of that delicious food.  But if you’re like me – gluten-free – eating holiday treats requires a little bit more knowledge and planning. When it comes to living gluten-free, I am constantly discovering which foods are ‘safe’ and which are not.


I always have to remind myself to read labels. When I screw up, this is always how it happens – I don’t read the label! Gluten lurks in foods that you wouldn’t imagine, so you have to always double check.  And, just as a side note, if you’re cooking for someone with a severe gluten issue (like Celiac disease), you’ll want to select foods that are certified gluten-free – not just free of gluten – to avoid potential cross-contamination issues.


Without further ado, here’s my list of holiday treats to be wary of if you’re gluten-free. Proceed with caution!


Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Other Baked Goods – Of course, anything with flour in it contains gluten. There are lots of great gluten-free alternatives for ‘flour’ and mixes (I really like Udi’s Cinnamon Rolls, Immaculate Baking Company fudge brownie cookies, and the Betty Crocker box mix of chocolate chip cookies {SO GOOD – I have no idea why it has such a low rating on their website}. I also want to try this pre-made refrigerated pie dough from Pillsbury, but I haven’t seen it in my grocery store yet).

If you’re looking for a homemade gluten-free pie crust, I really love this one: Vegan Pumpkin Pie from OSG.


Soups – Gluten may lurk in soup. Flour is often added to broth to thicken it up. Bouillon cubes may also contain gluten. For example, here’s the ingredient list for Knorr’s beef cube:

Turkey and Ham – Obviously, you’ll want to avoid turkeys that are pre-stuffed, as stuffing is made from bread. But be wary of other turkeys and hams, too. The sweet glaze put on some meat contains gluten.  Also, some cold cuts contain gluten, so be sure to read the labels.


Gravy – Sorry to break it to everyone, but gravy = flour = gluten. There are many ways to make gravy gluten-free, but the cook would’ve needed to use a gluten-free flour like rice flour (here’s one recipe) or use cornstarch in lieu of flour (here’s a description how to do that).

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional mashed potatoes, try this mashed cauliflower recipe!


Certain Sauces and Dressings – Gluten often lurks in sauces, marinades, and dressings under mysterious-sounding names, including malt vinegar and modified wheat starch (gluten is used to thicken such sauces). Keep an eye out for soy sauce, which contains gluten. As a side note, this site has a good list of "gluten’s guises on ingredient labels."

Hot Chocolate – Most of the major brands of powdered hot chocolate are safe, but some contain starches that include gluten. Same goes for the marshmallows – many brands are gluten-free, but some are not.


Candies -  Lots of chocolate bars and other sweet treats are safe, but again – some are not. For example, Butterfinger Crisp bars, M&M Pretzel, Kit Kat, and Whoppers contain gluten.


Chips and Dip – When it comes to dip, read the ingredient list. Like salad dressings, wheat is sometimes added to dip to thicken it.  Potato chips and tortillas chips should be safe, but some manufacturers add gluten to the chips’ seasonings. Here’s a list of safe gluten free chips.


Ice Cream – Any ice cream with cookies, brownies, or cookie dough is out of the question. But you should still read the ingredient list (are you sensing a trend here?) because some flavors of certain brands – like Blue Bell – add wheat to the ice cream to thicken it up.


Beer – Sooooo sad. Soooo terrible. Yes, beer contains gluten. But there are great alternatives, like cider. I love so many different brands of cider (both apple and pear!), but my favorites include: Crispin and Woodchuck. And there’s always wine!

I have a long way to being a perfect gluten free eater… as I said, I’m constantly learning and discovering new things about it. Heck, I learned a lot just by compiling this post!  The list above is certainly not all inclusive, but I sure hope it makes your gluten-free holiday a bit easier to navigate!


Now it’s your turn:  Share your most valuable tip on living gluten free.


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine. Learn more about living gluten free! Visit Udi’s Gluten Free.



  • Erica House (@Erica_D_House) December 10, 2013, 1:30 pm

    Great guide! This is my first holiday season trying to keep gluten to an absolute minimum. It’s been a challenge, but at least it’s helping me avoid the holiday treats a bit!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats December 10, 2013, 1:59 pm

    When I first had to go gluten free a few years ago I thought it would be easy – I already didn’t eat a lot of typical wheat products. But I had no idea how many things gluten is in that you wouldn’t expect! I got really frustrated, but eventually accepted it (and really good at reading labels!)

  • Aerevyn December 10, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Thanks for this. I have a bunch of friends who are gluten-free, and this helps me share the holidays with them. : )

  • Alex December 10, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Thanks for this! I am gluten-free, too, and also a lover of beer! I live on the west coast, and we have a gf beer called Omission. I don’t know if you can find it on the east coast but it is really, really good! I highly recommend it. Also, my favorite ciders are Aspall (your husband might know it- it’s English!) and Angry Orchard.

  • Sarah December 10, 2013, 2:25 pm

    I have to live MSG-free (and all its sneaky hidden forms) and there are a lot of parallels with other sensitivities like gluten.

    My tip for those cooking for someone with a food sensitivity/allergy… don’t try to be too helpful. It’s hard for someone to tell me “I picked out this ____ because it’s MSG free!” when in reality, it contains hidden forms of MSG and I feel like a jerk. I’m sure it’s the same with gluten sneaking into different products. It would be much better to just ask your guest to provide an acceptable product to cook with or ask them to bring a dish and leave it at that.

  • Amanda December 10, 2013, 2:30 pm

    I think I’m more concerned about the MSG on that label than seeing the gluten! 🙂 I really try to eat gluten free as well, not because I’m particularly sensitive to it, but it’s yet another processed ‘food’ that I try to avoid. Although on occasion, I’ll eat sprouted Ezekiel raisin toast with coconut oil. I’ll bet Udi’s has a version of it though minus the gluten. But, it’s still a dead food, so I try to avoid it. We also make our own hot cocoa out of almond milk (on the stove) and melt a dark mint chocolate bar in it. Delic! You could try it!

  • Amelia @i_heart_kale December 10, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Great points and reminders Caitlin! 🙂 Gluten is serious business!!! Always make sure it says “certified”. So many companies like to say ‘gluten free’ but when you flip over the package it may be processed in the same facility. People need to realize that gluten allergies or ANY for that matter should be treated like nut allergies. They have the potential to send anyone into anaphylaxis!
    I used to own a gluten free/ vegan bakery, then decided to go back to school to become an RD since I had so many Celiac clients. Recently my own sister was diagnosed Celiac (explains her inability to gain weight for the past 24 years of her life despite what she ate and constant struggle with stomach pains & headaches). Any restaurant outings and holidays are treated with even more care than ever before.
    Some other terms to look for are things like ‘natural flavor’ which can be found in butter but may be derived from gluten. Same goes for vinegar. Find out what kind of grain is being used. Also keep in mind when going out to breakfast, are they using the same grill to make omelets or eggs as they will be frying someone else’s French toast or pancakes? Many restaurants now have special colored cooking utensils/ pots pans/ equipment used only for gluten free patrons. Mellow Mushroom uses a small separate oven for their gluten free pizzas as opposed to their gluten containing ones.
    Enjoying French Fries? That deep fat fryer that is used to fry the fish or nuggets has GLUTEN in it, which in turn can contaminate the oil.
    Happy Holidays & Eating!

  • Bobbie December 10, 2013, 3:42 pm


    • Caitlin December 10, 2013, 4:40 pm

      sooooooooo bad. did you find a brand that’s decent???

      • Bobbie December 10, 2013, 5:02 pm

        Omission and Green’s are pretty good! I fully admit they are not the same but if you’re really craving a beer…
        I find most of the ciders to be a little too sweet for me so I mostly stick to wine!
        This is the hardest part of eating gluten free for me! I like beer! Delicious, hoppy beers!!! 🙁

        • Marissa December 13, 2013, 7:27 pm

          I second Omission!

  • Johanna B December 10, 2013, 4:39 pm

    I appreciate this post. I have Celiac Disease and have been GF for 5 years now. It’s become 2nd nature to read ingredient labels and I think it’s made me a healthier eater. BTW Udi’s is my favorite GF brand although I don’t like their cinnamon roll frosting.

  • Kathleen Ojo @ My Ojos December 10, 2013, 4:44 pm

    My #1 tip: be prepared to do a lot of your own cooking. My family has made a LOT of adjustments for my gluten free lifestyle, but they refuse to compromise on their stuffing and gravy at Thanksgiving. As a result, I end up roasting my own turkey (and making gravy from the juices) and making gluten free stuffing with Udi’s bread, and essentially packing a lunch to take with me to Thanksgiving festivities. I do the same around Christmas time – if there’s a work potluck or Christmas party to attend, I bake a big batch of GF cookies to take. That way I still get to eat a treat and feel included, but don’t have to worry about whether or not the host will provide GF provisions (I have Celiac, so I prefer not to take chances even if someone swears that something doesn’t contain gluten – if I don’t REALLY know you and I can’t see an ingredient label, I can’t eat it!)

  • Angie December 10, 2013, 5:02 pm

    I made an amazing apple crisp for Thanksgiving – no sugar and no gluten! The apples were chopped and then mixed in cinnamon with some lemon juice squeezed over the top. Then the topping was a mixture of almond meal and chopped pecans mixed with melted coconut oil and honey. My family said it was better than the traditional oatmeal/flour/brown sugar crisp.

  • Ali December 10, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Are you eating meat? I don’t know that I’ve see you recommend meat products since you went vegetarian. I was vegan for about 10 years before going back to fish and poultry for personal and health reasons.

    When I first was diagnosed with Celiac, I ate a lot of the GF frankenfoods, but they are really awful for you – so much sugar and fat. I try to stick with whole foods if I can now and feel a lot better.

    • Caitlin December 10, 2013, 5:54 pm

      Nope! I just wanted GF meat eaters to be aware 🙂

  • Elizabeth @ Positive Change December 10, 2013, 5:36 pm

    Great list! Being GF myself this is a great reminder! I love the holidays because it makes me try new GF recipes and find ways to enjoy food that I might not be able to try in the past because it contained gluten.

  • Christina December 10, 2013, 5:47 pm

    No secrets about being GF, but that Knorr’s ingredient list is insane! It’s like everything anyone would want to avoid, packed into one cube.

  • Megan @ The Running Doc December 10, 2013, 6:20 pm

    Costco has started selling an all-purpose gluten-free flour that can be used as a 1:1 substitute. It’s great for pancakes, pizza crusts, or baked goods and makes it super easy to make any favorite holiday goodies!

    Also, alcohol is usually a big part of holiday parties and can be a bit tricky. Our favorite gluten-free choices are wine and hard ciders. Wood Chuck is our favorite!

  • Amber K December 10, 2013, 7:18 pm

    I always bring something of my own so I know I’ll have something safe to eat. I’m incredibly sensitive so even if the host made a dish that was gluten-free I’d be concerned with cross-contamination issues from whatever they cooked it in.

  • Nena December 10, 2013, 8:05 pm

    That gluten free pie crust is actually sold at Wal-Mart. They have the pie crust and the chocolate chip cookies. I have yet to try it. You should put a review up. When you do try it. 🙂

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More December 10, 2013, 8:09 pm

    I was trying to eat GF for 30 days and see how I felt. 15 days in and I broke it…completely on accident. I’m traveling for work and went to a great veggie organic restaurant. I picked one of their hot bowls that looked to be gf only to realize the SAUCE was not and they even had a GF version of the sauce. DOH! But I also know my boss is planning to get beers for the office tomorrow. I was talking to a friend and she said “don’t let your diet rule your life” which really resonated with me. I’m lucky that I don’t have such a severe allergy that I HAVE to be entirely GF but after 15 days, I know that I benefit from a GF diet and plan to keep at it to the best of my ability.

  • Anna December 10, 2013, 8:50 pm

    My favorite tip for making GF cookies (including the Betty Crocker chocolate chip) is to refrigerate the dough before baking. That way they turn out nice and chewy – just the way I like them! Also, this is one of my favorite, easy GF desserts:
    Happy Holidays!

  • Stacy k December 10, 2013, 10:45 pm

    Have to agree with reading labels and not be in a hurry. My best friends hubby bought her tortillas and he was so happy bc they haven’t found any she likes. After eating them for a week upon closer inspection they were “guilt free” but her hubby read it as gluten free. We laughed for weeks about that.

  • Kathy December 10, 2013, 10:54 pm

    I try to take the pressure off people if they’re hosting me for a meal and offer to bring some of my own food. People get a little panicky trying to figure out what to feed you if you’ve got food restrictions and since I’m celiac, vegetarian and have an egg allergy, I put the fear of God in people! Also, I stumbled upon an amazing recipe for 7 layer bars when researching gluten free goodies a few years ago…they’re soooo good, I make it every Christmas and all my non-GF family eat them too…humph. ( It’s on under amazing gluten free layer bars..make extra!)

  • Sarah December 11, 2013, 9:16 am

    Perfect timing on this post! I have a friend coming over for dinner on Friday who is Celiac and I was just thinking about brands etc… This post is VERY helpful. Oh and this friend is also nut-free….oh vey lol Wish me luck!

  • Ali December 11, 2013, 9:32 am

    I eat egg, dairy and gluten free. Cider beers have become my best friend. It’s really sad that beer contains gluten, but thankfully cider doesn’t. For sweets and candy, there’s a brand called Enjoy Life that has candy bars that are egg, dairy, gluten, soy and nut free and they taste good. I also have a bakery near me that has lots of breads and baked goods that are egg, dairy, gluten and soy free! It gets easier each year to eat this way and still enjoy life!

  • Kelly December 11, 2013, 2:32 pm

    I. LOVE. THIS. POST. I have been reading your blog since basically when you started it, my daughter was diagnosed with Celiacs this summer, so this is our first holiday going GF. Wish us luck 🙂

    • Caitlin December 11, 2013, 2:34 pm

      good luck 🙂 thanks for reading for so long!

  • Emily December 12, 2013, 11:11 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post! My brother has been having health issues for a couple of years now and was finally diagnosed with Celiacs Disease a week before Thanksgiving. Let me tell you; the prep for a gluten-free Thanksgiving meal was a LOT of work! But so worth it. (and still super yummy!) I’m forwarding him a bunch of your links so he can become more familiar with “safe” foods out there for him.

    I’m never a comment-er, but felt I needed to let you know that I appreciate this post! 🙂

  • Live Love Yum December 13, 2013, 6:42 am

    Hi Caitlin, would love your approach on how to tell others you are strictly gluten-free….without people thinking you’re being too obsessive…I go places and end up with no options and give into best choice I can but still not GF…I thought it was okay, I could get away with it because I didn’t have Celiac’s…but now I’m getting sick and tired of feeli g sick and tired. I’m going to a kids’ birthday party tomorrow for a friend and it’s last-minute. It’s from lunch to late afternoon so I can get away with not eating anything but everyone else will be and I will be oddball without…it just gets so awkward and annoying….:(

  • Lauren @ Peaks and Passports December 14, 2013, 11:23 am

    Thanks for this post! Along with the other commenters, it’s also my first GF holiday season. The worst part for me has been turning down cookies – who does that?! One thing I’ve found really helpful is the ShopWell app for iPhone. You create a profile with your food allergies and dietary preferences and then use it to scan labels. It tells you what should be safe for you or not. Yes I’m placing a lot of trust in an app, but it makes things SO much easier. I also downloaded it on my mom’s and boyfriend’s phones with my profiles so they can shop for me without worrying. Love it!

    I’d love to hear if anyone has any feedback on the accuracy of ShopWell… please let it be good feedback though!

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