There’s a magic element that makes wheat so ubiquitous in baked goods: gluten, a chewy protein that adds structure and stability to desserts and breads. When I first started baking without gluten, I thought it would be as simple as replacing wheat flour with a gluten-free option. But with every dense, crumbly, and pasty-flavored item that got tossed in the can, I learned that I needed a little magic of my own to mimic gluten’s binding and lightening properties. Once I hit upon a winning formula (see “Alison’s GF Baking Mix”), I again experienced the joy of delicious, perfect-texture desserts.

Although a bowl of fresh fruit with a nut crumble or a splash of maple syrup makes an excellent gluten-free sweet, the holiday season begs for something a bit more enticing. With these tried-and-true recipes, you can look forward to the smells and sensations of seasonal, homemade baked goods—minus the gluten.

Alison’s Gluten-Free Baking Mix

Serves 12. View Recipe.

Almond Apple Pie

Serves 12. Even newbies have an easy time working this crust; as long as it stays cool, it will behave. View Recipe.

Super Fudge Brownies

Serves 16. Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, these gluten-free goodies hold their own against the real thing. View Recipe.

Carrot Cake with Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 16. Rich and moist, this decadent treat is a hit for birthday parties and autumn potlucks. View Recipe.

Flourless Hazelnut and Pear Torte

Serves 16. So scrumptiously rich, a thin slice satisfies. In summer months, substitute peaches or nectarines. View Recipe.

Oatmeal Pecan Praline Cookies

Makes about 30. The nutty praline adds a touch of sophistication but can be omitted if you want a more traditional cookie. View Recipe.

Alison Anton is chef-instructor at Bauman College Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colorado. Her seasonal enewsletter, Natural Cooking, is available at