While some of us might not be able to imagine life without wheat, others find a gluten-free diet to be a necessity. (And even if you fall into the former category, chances are ever greater these days that someone you know and love belongs to the latter, which means you may well end up planning a menu with gluten sensitivities in mind.) There's abundant variety to be had in such a diet—we've got a whole slew of gluten-free recipes for all occasions, and even gluten-free desserts are easy to come by if you stick with ice cream, custards, and the like. But baked goods—like cookies, breads, and cakes, which are often formulated specifically to be made with wheat flour—can be a different story.
Luckily, using carefully selected alternative flours, or a blend thereof, makes delicious wheatless baked goods a possibility. You can try substituting one of these three flour blends in just about any recipe that calls for wheat flour. But if you'd rather roll with a made-to-be-gluten-free recipe, we've got plenty to choose from: fluffy, cloudlike angel food cake; pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting; and snickerdoodles that'll take you back to your after-school days, to name a few. Keep reading for 18 of our favorite baking recipes that anyone, GF or not, can enjoy.
The Ultimate Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake
This gluten-free angel food cake isn’t just as good as our wheat-flour version—it might actually be even better. That's because the blend of cornstarch, tapioca starch, white rice flour, and coconut flour is more delicate than all-purpose flour, producing a cake that's unbelievably light and fluffy. It's also remarkably easy to make—just whip up a simple meringue, then fold in the dry ingredients—and dairy-free as well.
Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Bundt Cake
A "dump"-style Bundt cake like this one is great for entertaining: It comes together in one bowl with minimal effort, but still looks impressive. Sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and tapioca starch form a smooth flour blend that won't leave the cake gritty. Strong brewed coffee added to the batter helps enhance the chocolate flavor, and a simple ganache poured over the top forms a satisfyingly rich glaze. (To make the finished product a little lighter, top with a citrus-scented confectionary glaze instead of ganache.)
One-Bowl Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
Another one-bowl dessert that's gluten-free (and dairy-free, too), this chocolate cake comes together just as quickly as a boxed mix, but with a delicate crumb and a chocolate flavor deepened by the addition of coffee. It works equally well as a full-sized cake or cupcakes. Here, we've topped the cupcakes with a fluffy coconut and marshmallow frosting; feel free to substitute any icing you choose.
Apple-Ginger Tishpishti (Gluten-Free Almond and Walnut Cake)
Because leavening action is prohibited during Passover, most desserts prepared for the holiday eschew flour entirely, which makes these recipes an ideal resource for anyone avoiding gluten. Tishpishti is a Sephardic Jewish cake made with walnuts and almonds and traditionally eaten over Passover; this Americanized version includes grated apple, which lightens up and tenderizes the dense nut-based cake. Though the original version is often doused with a rosewater syrup, we complement the apple flavor by using one flavored with ginger and Applejack instead.
Easy, Light, and Tender Honey-Vanilla Almond Cake
Like our tishpishti, this cake is made with almond flour, either store-bought or homemade—we like to grind our own flour in a food processor because it gives us more control over the texture of the finished dish. Use skin-on almonds for an earthier flavor or blanched ones for a lighter cake. Either way, the key to this cake's remarkably light texture is to properly beat the egg whites: to soft peaks only, at a relatively slow speed, with a couple drops of lemon juice added to stabilize the foam.
Gluten-Free All-Day Lemon Cake (With a Choice of Two Toppings)
The restrained sweetness of this lemon cake, whose light texture comes from a combination of rice flour and tapioca starch, makes it just as appropriate for dessert or breakfast (hence the name). There are a couple ways to customize it—top it with a simple-syrup glaze or a lemon icing, and feel free to toss fresh berries into the batter if you have some on hand.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Icing
Pumpkin season (and pumpkin spice season) is a long way off, but if you can find canned pumpkin purée in stores near you, you can enjoy these warmly spiced cupcakes all year long. The neutral flavors of white rice flour and cornstarch allow the pumpkin itself to take center stage—though make sure you look for real pumpkin purée, not pie filling. A teaspoon of ground ginger gives the cupcakes a little bite without pushing them into gingerbread territory.
Pies and Cobblers
Flaky and Crisp Gluten-Free Pie Crust
It’s easy to make a gluten-free pie filling—the crust is the tricky part. Our recipe uses the same base as our GF angel food cake (cornstarch, tapioca, white rice flour, and coconut flour), plus xanthan gum to give the dough extra strength and elasticity. Once you’ve rounded up the ingredients, the technique is the same as for our traditional flaky pie crust.
Gluten-Free Blueberry Cheesecake Pie With Lavender Streusel
Looking for a recipe to put that gluten-free pie crust to work? This hybrid dessert combines two perennial favorites—cheesecake and pie—by filling a tender yet crisp crust with both tangy simmered blueberries and a light cheesecake layer. A lavender-scented streusel topping, made with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, adds the buttery crunch of the graham cracker crust more commonly used in cheesecake recipes.
Easy Gluten-Free Plum Cobbler
The key to this plum cobbler, which replaces wheat flour with sorghum and sweet rice flours, is to cut the fruit into thick pieces: Quartered plums may look huge going into the oven, but they'll cook down to the perfect size, growing soft and juicy while retaining some structure. If you can get good peaches, try swapping them for half of the plums.
Cookies and Bars
The gluten-free flour blend used here is a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose flour, making this an otherwise pretty standard snickerdoodle recipe. Just combine sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla; add baking powder, salt, and the flour blend; portion the dough; and roll each ball in cinnamon sugar. The result is a tender, buttery, crisp-edged cookie, and the whole recipe comes together in about an hour.
Buttery Gluten-Free Corn Cookies
Our gluten-free take on the corn cookies made famous by Christina Tosi of Milk Bar calls for replacing the wheat flour with white rice flour and slightly increasing the amount of corn flour (which is nothing more than very finely ground cornmeal). Tosi’s recipe calls for "freeze-dried corn powder"—make it by pulverizing freeze-dried corn kernels in a food processor, or buy it online directly from the Milk Bar store.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies With Peanut Butter Chips
A combination of cocoa powder and melted chocolate makes these cookies ultra rich, while melted butter instead of creamed butter produces a soft, tender crumb. After the dough comes together, in go the peanut butter chips, though if you prefer a crunchier cookie, try mixing in chopped unsalted peanuts instead. Want to make a variety of treats for entertaining or to send in a care package? The chewy chocolate chip peanut butter cookies pictured here are gluten-free as well.
Gluten-Free Fig Bars
Whether you're going gluten-free or not, a proper Fig Newton copycat depends on remembering the spirit of the brand's old slogan: They're not so much cookies as they are fruit and cake. Achieving that cake-like consistency means adding eggs and baking soda to the dough and using shortening instead of butter. The filling is a simple mixture of dried Mission figs, water, corn syrup, lemon juice, and salt, all pulsed together in the food processor.
Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcakes
Inspired by a recipe from James Beard, these strawberry shortcakes include one very unusual addition: hard-boiled egg yolks. As crazy as it sounds, the yolks give the shortcakes a texture that's light and tender, yet sturdy enough to receive a generous spoonful of sweet macerated strawberries. But do make sure to incorporate the eggs fully so that the biscuits don't come out studded with little bits of yolk.
Gluten-Free Apple Fritters
These gluten-free apple fritters require a specialty ingredient called Chebe cheese-bread mix, which is made with modified manioc starch and does a solid job of imitating a glutinous dough. This recipe isn't a quick one—you'll need to reserve a full afternoon to allow the dough to rise twice—but you'll be rewarded with fritters that are small enough to preserve the right ratio of crisp-fried exterior to chewy, apple-studded crumb.
Gluten-Free Potato Bread
If you've never made your own potato bread, you should give it a try, even if you're not avoiding gluten: Besides lending some interesting flavor, fully hydrated potato starch gives the loaf a nicely moist, tender crumb. The gluten-free all-purpose flour blend we use here produces a dough that doesn't exhibit much oven spring, so be sure to let the dough rise well before baking, which will create a beautifully light, bubble-filled texture in your bread.
Cuñapes/Pão de Queijo (South American Cheesy Bread)
Known by many names across South America, these cheesy mini breads are naturally gluten-free, as they're made with tapioca starch—though you'll want to specifically seek out Brazilian fermented, or sour, tapioca starch, rather than the Thai variety that's more common in the US, for the most authentic texture and lightly tangy flavor. A blend of cheddar and Grana Padano works nicely for the cheese filling. These bake well from frozen, too, so make an extra batch to have on hand when a craving strikes.