Cookies, cakes, gingerbread, oh my! The holidays are here and they’re made even sweeter by the treats that mark, oh, pretty much every holiday occasion. If you’re baking sweets to give as gifts, bring to your kid’s holiday party at school, take to your annual cookie swap party, or just leave out for Santa, you may want to consider using allergy-friendly baking ingredients to ensure that everyone can partake.
We’ve broken down common holiday baking ingredients into four categories — plus an all-purpose baking mix section — to make allergy-friendly baking easier for you, because it’s the holidays and we know how busy you are. Some common allergens (i.e., peanuts, tree nuts) are easy to avoid: just don’t use them. Others will require an ingredient substitution; we did our best to help you find the right ones. Phew.
And remember: It’s really difficult to make desserts that are free of all common allergens, so label your treats so that everyone knows which ones they can safely enjoy.
Allergy-Friendly Baking Ingredients: Chocolate
Chocolate gets tricky for those with peanut, tree nut, and dairy allergies. Either it contains those ingredients or is made in a facility that also processes those ingredients, causing the potential for cross contamination. Here are three great options to avoid those issues.
Vermont Nut Free makes really excellent chocolate for baking that is safe for those with peanut and tree nut allergies. You can order their chocolate chips in 16 oz bags online for all of your holiday needs in semi-sweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, or butterscotch flavors. They also sell candy melts perfect for making homemade cake pops and cocoa powder too.
Enjoy Life Foods makes delicious baking chocolate that is dairy-free, nut-free, and soy-free, which means that most everyone can enjoy your cookies, truffles, fudge, and more during the holidays. And the best part is that these taste just like Nestle Tollhouse chips. You can order their products online or find them at most local supermarkets.
Divvies makes tasty chocolate chips for baking that come in 12 oz bags that are peanut-, tree nut-, egg-, and dairy-free, making them a great allergy-friendly choice. You can order bags online, and if you sign up for a monthly shipment, you’ll get a 15 percent discount. Hey, why not? You can never have enough chocolate chips!
Allergy-Friendly Baking Ingredients: Milk
If you’re concerned about dairy allergies, you can substitute a plant-based milk in equal amounts in nearly any recipe. Here are a couple of options that we think work particularly well.
Eden Foods soy milk, made with 100 percent organic soybeans — or whatever your favorite soy milk — is a great alternative for all of your holiday baking. When it comes to cooking, soy milk is one of the best plant-based options because it’s stable at high temperatures and has a high protein content. While soy milk is obviously not safe for people with a soy allergy, it is a good option for those with peanut and tree nut allergies, as most other plant-based milks are made using nuts. Find it at your local Whole Foods or many other supermarkets.
So Delicious Dairy Free offers a variety of tasty non-dairy milks to bake with (and to drink, of course) made of coconut, almonds, and cashews. All of their dairy-free milk beverages are 100% plant based, as well as soy-free, gluten-free, and Non-GMO Project verified. Note that, other than coconut milk, these alternatives are not safe for those with peanut and tree nut allergies. Coconut is not a nut, though, but rather considered a fruit. Most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut.
Allergy-Friendly Baking Ingredients: Flour
Unfortunately, the flour in baking is probably the most difficult thing to adapt for gluten-free cooking, but don’t worry! We found two high-quality substitutes.
King Arthur Flour makes an excellent measure-for-measure, certified gluten-free flour that makes it easy to convert your favorite recipes to gluten-free versions. Just substitute this flour 1:1 for an easy and convenient swap for conventional flours. Easy breezy. You can find King Arthur flours at your local supermarket or, if they don’t carry the gluten-free variety, online at the King Arthur site.
Cup4Cup, the brainchild of famed chef Thomas Keller (so you know it must be amazing), makes a multi-purpose certified gluten-free flour that you can substitute 1:1 in almost all baking and cooking recipes that do not require yeast. All Cup4Cup products are also made in a facility free of tree nuts, peanuts, and soy. The flours and some of their mixes are sold at Williams-Sonoma, or you can buy them directly at the Cup4Cup site.
Allergy-Friendly Baking Ingredients: Eggs
Some common substitutes for eggs, such as flaxseed or chia gel and applesauce, work well in some recipes…but less so in others. If you use them, I suggest testing the recipe once before making a batch for sharing. Or try using one of these pre-made commercial egg replacer powders instead. I find them an easy way to successfully bake without eggs in any recipe.
Ener-G Egg Replacer is a great egg alternative made from potato and tapioca starch that is free of all the common food allergens. Just mix 1-1/2 teaspoons of this powdered substitute with 2 tablespoons of warm water for every egg needed in your recipe.
Bob’s Red Mill, which is sold at many supermarkets, also makes an egg replacer that is a great substitute for whole eggs in recipes that need a leavening agent to make them light and fluffy. It’s made with a combination of potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda and psyllium husk fiber, which means that it’s also gluten-free!
Allergy-Friendly Baking Ingredients: Boxed Baking Mixes
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, things that make your life easier make the season more joyful too. Here are three really good allergy-friendly boxed baking mixes that you can safely use as a shortcut. Think of them as an early holiday gift!
Cherrybrook Kitchen makes really good boxed baking mixes that are prepared in a peanut-free and tree-nut free facility on dedicated equipment that does not produce dairy or egg products, and includes a line of gluten free mixes too. From cakes to cookies, Cherrybrook Kitchen has an allergy-free or a gluten-free baking mix for all of your holiday baking. You can find them at Whole Foods and some other local supermarkets.
Enjoy Life Foods, one of our favorite baking chocolate manufacturers above, also makes terrific boxed baking mixes, like the fudgey brownie mix that is not only gluten-free, but also free of all common allergens. Grab the holiday cookie cutters and festive brownies for everyone!
King Arthur Flour also makes baking mixes that are certified gluten-free and produced in a dedicated allergen-free facility that is guaranteed to be free of the top eight most common food allergens. The Sugar Cookies mix is easy to roll out and cut into shapes, the perfect canvas for all your holiday cookie decorations.