Gluten-Free Desserts that Won’t Have You Missing the Flour

By Carolyn Stine July 3, 2019 

We rounded up the most mouth-watering gluten-free dessert recipes that you can make in your very own kitchen.

Learning how to identify a good-gluten free recipe, and pull it off successfully, is something that we learned the hard way. There was that time that we decided to go off-script and sub in almond flour for all-purpose flour while baking a cake, which resulted in said chocolate cake running over the sides of the pan and setting off the smoke alarm (we’re still finding singed chocolate crumbs in the oven to this day). And there was many a time that we made a gluten-free recipe that just didn’t taste quite… right. We got to the point where we wondered if gluten-free desserts were out there that tasted just as good, if not better, than the originals, and didn’t sacrifice flavor, richness, or texture in the name of glutinous, all-purpose flour. After a meticulous and thorough search, our gluten-free dessert-lovers out there can rejoice! We’re not only breaking down all of the details and know-how you need to be aware in advance of your gluten free baking, but we’re rounding up the best gluten-free dessert recipes that will have you going back for seconds (and not missing the AP flour one bit).

Gluten Free Desserts
Lemon Tart Elisabeth & Butter

So, what is gluten anyway?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat (and other grains such as barley and rye), and it is in the all-purpose flour that’s most commonly used when baking. Gluten helps to create the structure in your baked goods, which is what holds them together and contributes to the texture. When baking gluten-free desserts, it’s important to find the right substitution for glutinous flour so that your treats hold together in a comparable way. What you use in say, a dense and chewy cookie, may be very different from what you use in a cake that needs to rise while remaining light and fluffy.

One tip that we cannot stress enough is that we advise against taking a dessert recipe that requires regular flour (read: non-GF), and subbing in GF flour. This does not always work, and will leave you with a cake that doesn’t rise, bread with not-so-desirable crumb, or something that just doesn’t taste quite right. You’ll want to look to recipes that were specifically and specially designed to be gluten-free, as they will be intentional about the type(s) of flour used, if a binder is needed (more on that later), and what the right proportions are in order to get that perfect consistency.

Gluten-Free Flour Encyclopedia

While there is an incredible variety of gluten-free flour on the market, and this list is in no way comprehensive, we’ve put together a Bashed cheat sheet of some of the most quality gluten-free flours that should be on your list when you head to the grocery store (or let’s be real, your Amazon Prime account). These are also the flours used in some of our favorite GF dessert recipes, which we’ll share a bit later. Happy baking!

Almond Flour - Ah, the humble almond. Not only do we eat them raw and make them into mylk (link to make your own mylk article) but when ground, they are excellent to bake with in place of AP flour. Note that this flour will have more of a nutty flavor, will be more coarsely ground than other GF flours, and also boast a plethora of nutrient adds such as calcium and iron.

Coconut Flour - Made from the meat of dried coconut, coconut flour has (you guessed it), a slight coconut flavor. It also absorbs more water than almond flour or regular flour, so you’ll see that reflected in the ingredient proportions in a recipe that uses it. Coconut is high in those healthy saturated fats that we love, so coconut flour tends to be more caloric as well.

Cassava Flour - Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that is a sleeper hit of the GF flour world. The root is grated and dried before grinding, and just so happens to not only be GF but also nut-free, which is great if additional allergies are a concern. This flour is the most similar to white flour, and is lower in calories than both almond and coconut flours.

Tapioca Flour - Cassava root is back! Tapioca flour is made from liquid extracted from the cassava root, and serves a very different purpose than cassava flour in a given GF recipe. While there are not really any nutritional benefits, it acts as an excellent thickener.

Arrowroot Flour - Another lesser-known GF flour, but an important one to have in your arsenal when baking. It’s often mixed with other GF flours, as it acts as a great thickener and also browns really nicely.

Xanthan Gum - You’ll sometimes come across xanthan gum in gluten-free baking recipes, and in truth, it does sound a bit intimidating. It’s a food additive that is often included in gluten-free flour blends, or listed as a solo ingredients in a GF recipe. It acts as a thickening agent and binder to provide some extra structure to your baked goods, in lieu of the gluten that develops when using conventional flour.

Bon Appetit

Bashed-Approved Recipes

If you like coconut cream pie…

While we love a nutty graham cracker crust, this glutinous (and highly processed) crust base can easily be recreated with the swap-out of thoughtful gluten-free ingredients. This golden milk pie combines sliced almonds, shredded coconut, and rolled oats for out of this world pie crust flavor that we actually enjoy even more than the grahams. Plus, the velvety coconut filling is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cardamom to give you all of those warming spice feels, and it happens to be dairy-free. The bright and cheery yellow hue is gorgeous to place whole on your dinner party table and plate there for all to see.

If you like vanilla birthday cake…

… And let’s be serious, who doesn’t? One of the things that we love most about a beloved vanilla birthday cake is all of the ways that it can be personalized. Raspberries in season? Add a blanketing of them on top. In the mood for PB? Add a hefty layer of it in between the cakes. This vanilla cake recipe was meticulously tested so that it tastes like an amazing cake, period, not an amazing gluten-free cake. It’s recommended to be made with Better Batter Gluten-Free Flour, with contains xanthan gum as a binder so you won’t need to add it separately. Try making multiple layers for a sky-high birthday cake.

If you like a seasonal fruit crisp...

If straight-from-the-farmers-market is your idea of the perfect summertime dessert, look no further than a fantastically seasonal fruit crisp. This one uses juicy summer strawberries and nectarines, without a smidge of gluten in sight. The combination of rolled oats, almond meal, and chopped pecans gives the crumble topping nuttiness and depth, and it’s so good that you’ll want to have it over Greek yogurt for breakfast the next day.

If you like mom’s classic chocolate chip cookies…

Nothing says “childhood memories” quite like a warm and chewy chocolate chip cookie, but if you’re gluten-free, it can be difficult to find an alternative that lives up to that nostalgia. We love these triple chocolate chunk cookies because the recipe is quite close to the one we all know from childhood, and the cookies aren’t “healthified” in any way (in fact, there’s a mix of THREE types of chocolate in there!). This recipe has also been tested with multiple types of GF flour, and the recommendation is that they taste best when made with Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Flour, which is a combo of rice flours and tapioca flour with binders already added so that the cookie texture is spot-on.

If you like lemon tart…

Beautiful, sophisticated, and oh-so-perfect for summertime. A lemon tart is a timeless classic whether you’re bringing it to a bridal shower, birthday brunch, or hosting a warm weather dinner party. Almond flour is the star of the show in this crust, which is baked until golden brown before the light lemon filling is added. Top with your favorite farmers market berries and you’re golden (literally).

If you like fudgy AF brownies…

You know that we can never resist adding a unique twist to a classic recipe, and these chocolate tahini brownies are no exception. The crazy thing about this recipe is there’s actually not any flour in it, at all. Cornstarch serves as the binder, and coconut oil makes them out of this world moist and fudgy. Plus, don’t even get us started on the sweet tahini swirl that adds the perfect nutty flavor to complement the rich chocolate.

If you like apple pie…

Buttery pie crust has always felt like an intimidating item for us in the kitchen, and the thought of making it gluten-free was even more worrisome. Well, our fears were alleviated when we found this apple pie recipe. It combines almond flour and tapioca flour in the crust for a light consistency that still tastes buttery and gets nice and toasty brown in the oven. When paired with that cinnamon-y apple filling and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it doesn’t get much better than this.


Bon Appetit

What are your gluten-free dessert go-tos? Share them below for a chance to have them featured in “Peyton Tries”!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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