Recipes and Ideas for Gluten Free Holiday Entertaining

Guest Post by Janelle 

With the holidays approaching fast, many of our minds are turning to the inevitable Christmas party. Entertaining on a budget is challenging.

Entertaining GLUTEN FREE on a budget: Even more challenging. But, not impossible. Here are some ideas to help you keep it simple and yet delicious, whether for yourself, or a guest with a gluten intolerance.

1. Go Natural

Fruits and vegetables are delicious. Make the most of them. A nice plate full of fruit is a great place to start. And who doesn’t love a veggie tray with a yummy dip?

Instead of attempting to recreate the usual “party foods” and make them gluten free (which can be disastrous), work with the foods that are naturally GF as your base, then spruce them up a bit.

A cheese tray with a few sauces is a nice addition. Or a bowl of different types of nuts. My family loves cashews and almonds especially. It doesn’t have to be a plain jar of salted peanuts. Get creative!

Here’s a great recipe for a Party Cheese Ball that I have made for years. I have yet to find someone who doesn’t rave over it. Add a box of Nut Thins or other rice crackers. With this delicious cheese ball, no one will guess they are gluten free.

Party Cheese Ball
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 T very finely chopped onion, optional
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (there are some more natural versions of this at health food stores)
  1. Mix all together and form into 1 large or 2 smaller balls. If you want, you can roll the ball in finely chopped pecans. This gives it a bit of an earthy flavor. It spreads most easily at room temperature.


2. Have a Cozy Drink

Sometimes a warm drink especially in the wintertime, can feed the soul much better than a table full of food. Create a delicious warm drink for your guests, and you can’t lose! Here’s an idea that my family loves:

Russian Tea
Recipe type: Beverage
  • 2 tea bags (your preference)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 6 ounces orange juice concentrate
  • 8 cups water
  • ¾ cups sugar (you could experiment here with alternative sweeteners such as Stevia as well)
  1. Steep 2 tea bags, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves in 2 cups boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags.
  2. Add lemon juice, orange juice concentrate, water, and sugar.
  3. Heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Remove the whole spices before serving.

Makes a wonderful hot, seasonal drink.

3. Serve Something Sweet

Here are a few great recipes that don’t use flour!

Cinnamon and Spice Dip (for fruit)
Recipe type: Desserts and Sweets
  • 2 cups homemade whipping cream
  • ¼ cup unrefined brown sugar (like Sucanat or Rapadura-it has a brown-sugar taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Serve with fruit.


Recipe type: Desserts and Sweets
  • 1 cup peanut butter (both chunky and creamy work great!!)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Mix together peanut butter, sugar and eggs.
  2. Then stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips
  3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 350.


My entire extended family now bakes these instead of regular chocolate chip cookies. You cannot tell AT ALL that they don’t contain any flour, and they hold together nicely. The flavor is out of this world!

Which gluten free treats do you serve during the holidays?

 Janelle is wife to Brad, who is celiac, and mom to 2 sweet girls, one of whom is celiac. She blogs about the gluten free life on a budget, including coupons, deals, recipes, and other money-saving tips at Gluten Freely Frugal.

Top image by KRO Media



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  1. Is there any such thing as a really good GF bread? I have tried several recipes and they all end up virtually the same, edible the first day and after that, it’s cat food. I made my Thanksgiving dressing out of Udi’s white bread because it looked like it would be nasty, but I toasted one piece (after I had torn up the rest) and it was really kind of decent, although there was a huge hole in each slice.

  2. As someone who is gluten free/ dairy free I really appreciate this post! I actually can find dairy free versions of the ingredients to make the cheese ball, I am so excited to make it !!

  3. Great post! Thanks for all these tips. I will definitely have to check out your blog! My daughter has been GF for about 3 months, and I am ALWAYS looking for new treats for her!!

  4. I have been GF for years and have been able to successfully made an all-purpose flour mix that is used in all of our holiday baking that really does work wonders as just swapping 1:1 for regular flour. My wonderful in-laws also are able to do a number of baking GF things (they are German and do a type of pretzel-ball that is to DIE for…not even going to try to spell it the german way!) and that has been nice. I also think it’s fairly easy to do soups as part of the meal and hot drinks too, like you mentioned, are so helpful because they help the belly feel ‘full’ instead of just being able to eat 1/3 of what everyone else is eating.
    Good recipes–I think I’ll try the cookies!
    Sarah m

  5. I make all of our holiday foods gluten-free. I have some recipes on my blog, such as for pie/crust, sweet potato biscuits, cranberry sauce, etc. The cheese ball sounds delicious. I have a similar cookie recipe, but we use less sugar (using sucanat), add vanilla, and only 1 egg. :)


  6. Thanks for the tips!!

  7. Shoot…now I’m hungry for cheese ball. :)


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