Whole Story

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Have a Happy Gluten-Free Holiday

It’s time to get your holiday bake on and the treat train won’t stop until the end of the year. If you’re celebrating a gluten free holiday due to gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, there’s no need to forego holiday pies, cookies, breads and muffins. 

Gluten-free baking can seem like a pretty tough order, but it’s easier (and more delicious!) than you think.

Gluten-Free Pie Crust  Butternut Custard Pecan Pie

Flour Blends

Finding the perfect gluten-free flour blend is a matter of taste. The premade mixes are great and often rely on rice or sorghum flour as the base. Starches like potato and tapioca are added to lighten things up and xanthan and guar gums are used as thickeners and stabilizers in both gluten-free and vegan baking. If you have any other special diet considerations, be sure to check the ingredient list though as some mixes also incorporate dry milk products.

Experiment with making your own perfect blend, too. A mix of medium and heavy flours made lighter and more tender by light flours and starches is a great way to start. There are tons of gluten-free flours out there – try lots of them and determine which is best for your needs.

 Gluten-Free Flaxseed Muffins Gluten-Free Carrot and Date Muffins

Light Flours

  • White and Sweet Rice: These flours are sweeter than most and a little sticky which is great for binding.
  • Starches like potato and tapioca add very little flavor, but work to emulsify the baking ingredients, standing in for the tough strains of gluten that hold dough together in gluten-based recipes.

Medium Flours

  • Brown Rice: Finely textured and nutty, brown rice flour offers balance to flour blends.
  • Oat: Familiar tasting and easy to make on your own (just zap gluten-free rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground), oat flour is a versatile standby.
  • Sorghum: A close second to the taste and texture of wheat flour, sorghum flour is a good option for the base flour in any baking blend.

Heavy Flours

  • Almond and other nut flours: These are rich and sandy (in a good way!) adding excellent texture to baked goods. It’s best to use nut flours sparingly because they add extra fat to a recipe, which may throw things off.
  • Buckwheat: This flour is strongly flavored and protein-rich, making it a great add-in.
  • Cornmeal: My personal favorite add-in, cornmeal contributes a buttery crunch to just about anything.

As with any cooking or baking projects, be prepared to brush off mistakes – disastrous rolls or breads make perfect croutons or stuffing mixes – and experiment, making notes of what goes right (and wrong). Happy gluten-free baking!

What are you favorite gluten-free products or flour blends? Share you tips and suggestions in the comments section below.

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Linda Walters says …

I purchased an Apple pie (gluten free) last year in Phoenix at the Whole Foods Store. Are they available this year in Tucson?


I want to make gluten free pie crust and have King Arthur flour but it calls for xanthum gum which I am unable to find in the grocery store. Any ideas? Thanks

Debbie says …

My friends and I are looking for a gluten free graham cracker crust. Do they have these already made? How about regular gluten free pie crusts? Thank you.

erin says …

Is Wholefoods brined turkey Gluten Free? (One of my holiday guests cannot have gluten.)

Emma Kruase says …

Molly you give some good tips but there are other gluten free flours that can be useful and better tasting if combined correctly. Take a look! http://lovelyhealthylife.com/2012/11/18/guest-post-emma-krause-schools-us-in-gluten-free-baking/

Cara says …

My favorite mix for sweet baking is equal parts corn flour (from bobs red mill, not masa), bean flour (such as soy or garfava), potato starch, arrowroot starch, quinoa flakes and coconut flour. I have to slightly reduce flour in some recipes, because it seems to absorb a lot of liquid. But the quinoa flakes give a nice body and the coconut flour a sweet flavor. i also make a multi-grain blend i sometimes sub for part of the sweet mix (or for part of the flour in yeast bread) which is hemp protein powder, rice bran, and buckwheat groats. I like it in my rustic breads and in fall spice muffins! I also use corn flour, millet flour, potato and corn starch, and quinoa flakes or almond flour in yeast breads. For pastry and biscuits, i use mostly starches, with a little bean and coconut flours for flavor and nutrition. I came up with these mixes because one son has trouble with rice, and I have trouble with tapioca, sorghum, and oat.

Catie Schlatter says …

I went to the website recommended for Emma Krauss in giving gluten-free advice with flours. I found she listed oats as a grain to use, but please remember oats must be certified as gluten-free if they are to be used for gluten-free baking and those with Celiac disease. Also, rye flour is not a gluten-free flour. It is a low gluten flour, but not gluten-free. Those with celiac, or high sensitivity might become ill using this flour. There are some very interesting recipes included in this post, one may want to try, just be sure to use ingredients that are certified as gluten free to avoid any unpleasant or unexpected illness over your holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to all! Dr. CS, C.N.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DEBBIE - Since our products vary between locations, check with your local store to find out what exactly they have in stock!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ERIN - Our vendors differ so check with your local store to find out for sure!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LYNN - Were you able to check with the store to see if they had xanthum gum in stock? Bob's Red Mill typically has an option I have seen in various stores.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LINDA - I have seen these in my local store but our products can differ. Check with the store directly to see what they have in stock this year!

Maria Barker says …

greetings, can you please clarify if the prepared Chicken and Rice soup is made with GF chicken stock? The label reads Chicken Stock, but the woman in the department said that all the soups are made with GF Stock? Can you clarify? Thanks very much!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARIA - I would suggest following what the ingredient list states on the tag. Our soup recipes vary so the store would be able to answer this better. If the ingredient list does not include wheat, then there should not be added wheat in the stock.

D. Loeffler says …

Can you suggest a custom GF flour blend that I can make at home and keep in the refrig or freezer? I have a Vitamix with the dry blade so I can grind my own flours. Also, I know that WF sells some already ground non-wheat (GF) flours in the bulk section. I would like something for bread and muffins (and maybe some cookies).

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@D - We do not have any flour recipes on our website but I found a great one at http://www.thekitchn.com/glutenfree-baking-how-to-make-132517. Hopefully this will work and let us know how it turns out!

createsjg says …

Most anything that you can't get at the supermarket or whole foods you can get on amazon. It is hard to believe that any market doesn't have a basic GF section or Bob Red Mills display anymore.

sheila Clawson says …

I found an article called "Pie for ALL' in your Holiday guide 2014 in my Boston WF. with a great picture for a Butternut Custard Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving. Went on line and tried and tried to locate the recipe, with no luck. Can you Please send me the link to this recipe? So want to make it.. Thanks so much, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SHEILA - You can find the recipe at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/butternut-custard-pecan-pie. Let us know how it turns out!