Table of Contents
- Miss E’s (Kid-Approved) Favorites, the Best Gluten-Free:
- Heather’s (Mom-Approved) Favorites, the Best Gluten-Free:
If you have been recently diagnosed with celiac disease, it is completely normal to miss some of your old favorite gluten-containing foods. The good news is that the gluten-free market has expanded rapidly and there is a gluten-free product replacement for just about any food craving.
My daughter (Miss E) and I both have celiac disease We have each curated a list of our favorite products to help you when you are on the hunt for a replacement food for you or a loved one. If you are planing a kid-friendly celebration, this favorite products list dovetails beautifully with our post on 15 Easy, Gluten-Free Party Foods for Kids.
Everything you are looking for is probably on the kid-approved list from my daughter, Miss E, which has all the best gluten-free indulgences.
My list is a little more practical, with a few treats sprinkled in.
Full disclosure, this list is almost exclusively a gluten-free junk food list, at least the first half. The majority of a healthy, gluten-free diet is naturally gluten-free foods, such as fruits, veggies, fish, lean protein, other (gluten-free) grains, legumes, and dairy. There you go! That’s the list you need most of the time.
Except when you don’t. Because sometimes you just need a cookie. Then you need this list.
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Miss E’s (Kid-Approved) Favorites
Best Gluten-Free Cookies
If you are an Oreo cookie fan, you will be happy to know that there is a gluten-free Oreo that tastes like, well, an Oreo. Like the “real thing”, this gluten-free version is also made by Nabisco, and currently comes in regular and double stuf. My gluten-eaters tell me that these are as good as or better (more chocolatey) than the originals.
Miss E and I both love Tate’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. They make an excellent graham cracker substitute in s’mores… better than graham crackers, in Miss E’s opinion.
In the fall, Tate’s Gluten-Free Ginger Zinger Cookies make a delicious seasonal treat. Tate’s makes regular and gluten-free cookies, so double-check the label on the package every time!
Best Gluten-Fee Graham Crackers
With all of the fabulous cookies above, you may never buy another graham cracker. But if you do, Miss E suggests Pamela’s Honey Grahams Graham Style Crackers.
Best Gluten-Free Pasta
Miss E loves spaghetti. It’s her favorite variety of pasta. She says it’s classic. The closest we have found to traditional, store-bought, wheat spaghetti is La Veneziana, made in Italy, and the top-selling corn pasta in the country. It is available on Amazon.
A close second is readily available in most grocery stores and more affordable, gluten-free Barilla.
Between these two brands, you can get just about any popular variety: fusilli, capellini, fettucini, rigatoni, penne, and elbow. I am partial to pasta that holds the sauce.
Both La Veneziana and gluten-free Barilla are a great choice to serve gluten-eaters, as they are largely indistinguishable from traditional pasta. For Barilla the gluten-free package is also largely indistinguishable from the traditional package, so double-check the label every time you purchase, to avoid accidental gluten exposure.
Best Gluten-Free Pizza
For many years, Against the Grain pizza has been Miss E’s favorite pizza. It has a cheesy crust, which gives it a bit more of a chewy, traditional texture than the typical thin gluten-free pizza. Against the Grain also makes really good baguettes.
Recently, Miss E discovered a new favorite pizza, Feel Good Foods Gluten-Free Square Pan Pizza. Yes, you read that correctly, pan pizza. It is her new favorite for precisely the reason you are imagining… a deep-dish, bready crust. This is the pizza you have been missing unless you happen to live in Chicago. If you are a pepperoni-lover, add your own, and call it perfect!
Best Gluten-Free Waffles
Miss E likes us to keep Van’s Gluten-Free Blueberry Waffles in our freezer for a breakfast option she can quickly make for herself. These waffles are even better topped with fresh berries. This is another product label that deserves a word of caution, the regular box of waffles looks extremely similar to the gluten-free box… double-check this label every time.
Best Gluten-Free Pot Stickers
Feel Good Foods Pot Stickers come in chicken, vegetable, and pork varieties. Miss E likes to microwave these pot stickers for speed, but they are even better when you have time to pan-fry them.
It’s definitely worth mentioning that Feel Good Foods also sells egg rolls and has a growing line of gluten-free food. In addition to the pot stickers and pan pizza, Miss E loves the Feel Good Foods mozzarella sticks, buttermilk pancake bites, cauliflower crust pepperoni pizza bites, and gluten-free calzones. This brand beautifully fills a niche for specialty items that folks with celiac disease really miss.
Best Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread
Another fabulous brand, where everything they make is the best, Canyon Bakehouse sells sandwich bread that takes remarkably like traditional wheat-based sandwich bread. Usually, you have to toast gluten-free bread to get it to “taste right”. Canyon bakehouse bread tastes just right untoasted.
Pick up a Heritage Style Loaf if you want a larger piece of bread for your sandwiches.
Admittedly, I have been gluten-free for so long that I am no longer a good judge regarding whether or not a gluten-free bread tastes “normal” but the gluten-eaters in my life tell me this one does.
Miss E and I both highly recommend Canyon Bakehouse burger buns and everything bagels. Canyon Bakehouse has also recently announced that Hawaiian sweet rolls are coming soon to the freezer section of grocery stores around the US. We will keep you posted if these make the list of our favorite products. Fingers crossed!
Best Gluten-Free Cake Mix
Miss E and her friends love Pillsbury’s Gluten-Free Funfetti cake mix. Please note, Pillsbury makes both a wheat-based and a gluten-free version of this cake mix, so look for “gluten-free” on the box.
Best Gluten-Free Macaroni & Cheese
Miss E’s favorite macaroni & cheese is Annie’s Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese, Rice Pasta. I especially love the single-serving microwavable cups, as an easy way to make her a meal for a playdate or party. This is another one of those brands where you have to check the labels closely, as the gluten-free version looks very similar to the gluten-full version.
If you are missing the exact taste of Kraft Mac & Cheese from your childhood, you are in luck! Kraft now makes a gluten-free Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, so you can long no more. My gluten-eaters tell me it tastes just like the original.
Best Gluten-Free Cereal
Panda Puffs Organic Peanut Butter Cereal is Miss E’s favorite treat cereal. I try, occasionally successfully, to get the kids to add berries (like a PB & J or PB & banana sandwich).
Best Gluten-Free Crackers
I am a fan of everything from Simple Mills, but Almond Flour Cheddar Crackers by Simple Mills are even at the top of Miss E’s kid-approved list for the best gluten-free crackers.
These crackers are a wonderful substitute for Cheese-Its. While they are not an exact replica of the taste, they more than make up for it with their own wonderful flavor and nutritious ingredients. The first ingredient is the Simple Mills nut & seed flour blend, which, in my opinion, makes these crackers a more satisfying snack than the gluten-full original.
In addition to the standard size box for sharing, these crackers are sold in a six-pack of single serving bags, which are the perfected addition to a school lunch.
Best Gluten-Free Donuts
The best gluten-free (storebought) donuts, per Miss E, are Katz Glazed Chocolate Donuts.
Here’s the hard truth about gluten-free donuts. If you really want the donuts you remember from Krispy Kreme or the corner donut shop, you will either have to make your own (using yeast and frying in oil) or find a gluten-free bakery that makes them, like Twice Baked Baking Company in Long Beach, CA (Saturday only, go in the morning, before they run out).
Miss E doesn’t remember eating a Krispy Kreme donut. If it’s been a long time for you or if you grew up eating cake-like donuts from the grocery store, then like her, you will find that gluten-free cake-style donuts meet the need wonderfully.
When serving donuts to Miss E’s gluten-eating friends, I prefer to either serve Katz Gluten-Free Donut Holes, with a higher ratio of crispy, sugary outside to cake-like inside. Or we set up a donut decorating bar, because kids love anything they have covered with icing and sprinkles.
It’s worth mentioning that Katz plays the Hostess game really well. If you miss Hostess cupcakes and twinkies, Katz makes Heavenly Creme-Filled Cupcakes and Creme Cakes that will make you cry happy tears. These are in the “not worth the calories” category for me, so I have not personally tried them. They do come highly recommended, though, by gluten-free and gluten-full folks alike!
Best Gluten-Free Cupcakes and Brownies
Typically, we make our own cupcakes and keep extra ones unfrosted in the freezer to take to parties. In a pinch, though, it’s nice to quickly pick up a delicious cupcake at the store before a party.
To dress up your Lucky Spoon cupcakes or match the party theme, add gluten-free sprinkles or pearls. Betty Crocker sprinkles are my go-to, as the company tells you right on its website if a product is gluten-free.
Best Gluten-Free Lunch Box Snacks
Made Good is the winner in this category. Miss E loves having a Made Good Vanilla Crispy Square as a lunch box treat. Note, this bar is less marshmallowy and therefore less sweet than a traditional Rice Krispie Treat.
If you want to go to the other end of the spectrum, run to your nearest Starbucks and splurge on a single Marshmallow Dream Bar that Starbucks accurately describes as “made of ooey-gooey, soft marshmallows”. But I digress from Miss E’s list. We’ll get to my list soon. Meanwhile, back to Made Good.
I’m just thrilled Miss E can have a granola bar at all, thanks to Made Good’s carefully sourced purity protocol oats. Granola bars are a great energy snack, and it’s wonderful to have a gluten-free option with safe oats.
Best Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
Applegate Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets are Miss E’s favorite chicken nuggets.
Chicken nuggets are really easy for manufacturers to make undetectably gluten-free, as the choice of flour for the coating is not critical to taste or texture. Your gluten-eating guests (including the pickiest of kids) will not know the difference if you don’t tell them.
Applegate also makes really good gluten-free chicken tenders.
Be aware that both the Applegate chicken nuggets and tenders also come in a gluten-containing version, so double-check the label every time you purchase. I once made the mistake of not carefully checking the bag of another brand of gluten-free chicken tenders and accidentally purchased the regular, gluten-containing tenders. Thankfully, I caught my mistake before serving them. Whew!
Best Gluten-Free Cheese Bread
Ok, so… I might have made up this category just to find a place to put Miss E’s beloved Brazi Bites. Brazilian cheese bread is traditionally made with tapioca flour and is naturally gluten-free.
Stored in the freezer and heated up in the oven or air fryer, Brazi Bites are delicious on their own, as a side dish, or even better… dipped in marinara sauce.
Brazi Bites is extending its product line from the original cheddar & parmesan to classic ranch and garlic asiago, and it is extending its brand into related products including gluten-free empanadas and pizza bites.
Best Gluten-Free Pretzels
This means they work perfectly in any of those adorable, kid party snacks you’ve seen on Pinterest. Now you can make gluten-free pretzel butterflies, reindeer pretzel marshmallow pops, and pretzel cheese broomsticks. If you need gluten-free chocolate for dipping, Nestle chocolate chips and Nestle white morsels are labeled gluten-free.
For school lunches, Snyder’s also sells 100-calorie snack packs of gluten-free pretzels.
Best Gluten-Free Chips
Speaking of school lunches, Miss E has found several favorite chips or chip-type snacks over the years, and currently Flamin’ Hot Cheetos rank at the top of her list.
The issue of gluten-free chips comes up most often at kid birthday parties. Good news! You will almost never have to pack gluten-free chips for a party. More often than not, party hosts serve chip bags from the Frito-Lay Variety Pack. I do, too! But read on for important details.
Frito-Lay does a stellar job at making this easy for us. On its website, Frito-Lay maintains lists of gluten-free products and of products with no gluten ingredients. The latter are produced on shared lines and could have gluten cross-contamination. Read the lists carefully, and click on the links to see precisely which varieties are gluten-free within each brand line. To make it even easier, the gluten-free products will state gluten-free right on the package.
The Frito-Lay Variety Pack contains items from both lists. Miss E and I are comfortable eating the gluten-free products while serving the products with no gluten ingredients to guests in our gluten-free home.
Rarely, do I need to send gluten-free chips to a birthday party, because Miss E is able to quickly identify something safe in the variety pack.
Heather’s (Mom-Approved) Favorite Gluten-Free Products
My turn! My list of gluten-free favorites leans toward the more decadent or conversely healthier products than Miss E’s kid-friendly list. Most items on this list are about simplicity…. how do I make my life as a gluten-free mom easier? I hope you’ll find some new favorites of your own as you read on.
Best Gluten-Free Croissant
The gluten-free croissant from the Mariposa Baking Company unequivocally deserves to be at the top of this list of gluten-free favorites. I discovered this fabulous butter croissant and its sister pain au chocolat during a trip to San Francisco. There are two locations, one in the Ferry Building in San Francisco and another in Oakland. Thankfully, Mariposa ships across the US.
Somehow Mariposa has managed to perfect the buttery layers of a French croissant and pain au chocolat. Everyone in my family loves these, gluten-free or muggle. My husband also has a special place in his heart (and stomach) for Mariposa’s gluten-free cinnamon rolls.
Financially, this treat is a splurge. But I would rather eat one Mariposa croissant or pain au chocolat, than 5 loaves of gluten-free bread. I’d even take one as a birthday gift.
If you sign up for the email list, Mariposa regularly offers a discount for certain minimum purchases, which can help a bit. The products freeze well, so I will often purchase several items at once to keep in my freezer and enjoy from time to time.
Now, I’m finding myself browsing the Mariposa website rather than writing this post!
Best Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Dough
Another much-loved product and one that makes my life easier is Schar’s puff pastry dough. It is currently only sold in large quantities on Amazon, so I recommend using Schar’s store locator feature to find it in your local grocery store.
This pastry dough is a game changer. Tarts, puffs, pinwheels, pasties, mini-quiches… all of the cute puff pastry appetizers that were once out of reach can be back on your table.
Best Gluten-Free Pasta (spaghetti squash and lentil pasta)
You already know Miss E’s favorite gluten-free pasta, which I use for feeding company.
For the regular diet of my family, though, I want something more nutritious than corn or rice-based pasta. My two favorite pasta replacements are spaghetti squash and 100% red lentil pasta.
The lentil pasta option provides protein for a vegeterian pasta dish, and maintains an al dente texture (my personal preference) better than most gluten-free pasta. Tolerant and Barilla both make certified gluten-free lentil pasta with only one ingredient, red lentils. My whole family loves this pasta.
My family is split on the other pasta replacement, spaghetti squash. CJ and I are fans, Miss E and Dave, not so much. If you can get your family on board, spaghetti squash is high in vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Spaghetti squash is so easy to prepare:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Slice the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
- Drizzle both halves with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper, before placing the squash cut side down on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned on the outside and fork tender on the inside.
- Use a fork to gently scrape the inside of the squash, forming spaghetti-like strands.
Best Gluten-Free Brownie (mix)
King Arthur’s gluten-free ultimate fudge brownie mix is decadent and certified gluten-free.
This one is a win because it is rich and doesn’t “taste gluten-free”.
It actually is not much of a stretch to make a really good gluten-free brownie, because the most important ingredients are cocoa, sugar, butter, and eggs. Gluten-free baking is really only a challenge when flour is the star, as it often is. In a good brownie, however, where cocoa and butter are center stage, the flour is merely incidental. This is why flourless chocolate cake is so amazing!
These brownies are perfect as-is, but you could add your favorite gluten-free mix-ins, such as Nestle dark chocolate morsels or premiere white morsels (labeled gluten-free), or sprinkle crushed candy canes on top at Christmas time.
Best Gluten-Free Pancake & Waffle Mix
As a busy mom, I am always looking for ways to make meal prep quick and easy, while still nutritious. Every Simple Mills product I have tried has been a win in this area. The brand produces quality, tasty products with just a handful of ingredients, the kind you would use if you were making something from scratch.
The Pancake and Waffle Mix, for example, has only seven ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot, organic coconut sugar, organic coconut flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and sea salt.
I typically add blueberries to the batter when making pancakes for the family. If I’m making pancakes or waffles just for me, I prefer to add Matcha Green Tea Powder, my favorite source of caffeine, and put fresh raspberries on top.
We make waffles as frequently as pancakes, thanks to our space-saving, vertical waffle maker. Cool kitchen appliances are very limited in my world, because we have a small kitchen, but this waffle maker with a small footprint earns its place in my kitchen.
As much as I am a fan of Simple Mills, if you are simply longing for a pancake that tastes like the fluffy, wheat-flour pancakes you remember, Trader Joe’s sells a fabulous gluten-free pancake & waffle mix. For those who love fall flavors, no matter the season, both Trader Joe’s and Simple Mills have a pumpkin version of their pancake & waffle mixes, and I can personally vouch for both!
Best Gluten-Free Tortillas
If you have tried gluten-free tortillas and had your taco or burrito fall apart, there is good news. So much progress is being made on this front.
I am so excited to share two of my favorite tortilla brands because both are pliable and delicious, and will hold together while eating.
Potapas sweet potato tortillas are perfect for smaller tacos or quesadillas. As a sweet potato fan, I am probably a bit biased, but these are also approved by those in my family who don’t love sweet potatoes.
Siete makes slightly larger flexible and great-tasting almond flour tortillas and cassava flour tortillas. The trick to getting these just right is to warm them in a pan for about 15 seconds per side before filling.
Best Gluten-Free Pizza & Bread Flour (for yeast recipes)
When celiacs visit Italy, we marvel at the delicious, bready pizza the Italians manage to make out of gluten-free flour. In many cases, the secret is Gluten-Free Caputo Flour! It’s this flour that provides the authentic pizza texture.
The trick to achieving the amazing texture is that the Gluten-Free Caputo Flour contains gluten-free, wheat starch, which is safe for celiacs (when purchased from reliable manufacturers), but not suitable for those with a wheat allergy.
Aside from the warning for those with a wheat allergy, it is important to note that Caputo makes traditional wheat flour as well as the gluten-free wheat starch flour. Make sure you buy the one that is labeled gluten-free.
The flour has the unique feel of starch. You’ll recognize it if you’ve ever made kids’ crafts, like oobleck, out of corn starch.
It’s easiest to make the whole bag at once, which yields about 4 pizza crusts. Whatever you don’t make into a pizza within 3-24 hours can just be left in a ball, wrapped in plastic, and stored in your freezer for the next time you crave the perfect gluten-free pizza. Here’s the recipe:
Gluten-free Caputo flour also provides exceptional texture for gluten-free bread recipes. If you want to recreate the texture of wheat bread,
Best Gluten-Free Baking Flour (for Baked Sweets)
Here are the ingredients of my top three gluten-free baking flours, in order of preference:
King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour ingredients: rice flour, whole grain brown rice flour, whole sorghum flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, cellulose, xanthan gum, vitamin and mineral blend
Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 ingredients: sweet white rice flour, whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, whole grain sweet white sorghum flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum
Cup4Cup Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour ingredients: cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, rBST-free milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum
Seeing the ingredient lists laid out side by side, you will notice the commonalities that give you excellent results with your gluten-free baked goods.
They are all a blend of rice flours and starches. Gluten has such an important role in traditional baked goods. It makes things fluffy and chewy and holds everything together. It is not possible to replace all that gluten does with just one ingredient. There is absolutely a place for a single flour. Almond flour, oat flour (if the oats are certified gluten-free and you can tolerate oats), and coconut flour are excellent in recipes designed around those flours, but they will yield a very unique taste and texture. If you are trying to recreate the results you get with wheat flour, a blend is the way to go.
These flours also all have xanthan gum as a binder, which provides elasticity, stickiness, and structure.
King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure tops my list because of the addition of sorghum flour and the vitamin and mineral blend. Cup4Cup takes third place because the leading ingredient is cornstarch. However, all three of these flours will give you the end result you are looking for, and I would not hesitate to use whichever I could get my hands on.
Tips for baking with gluten-free flour to get the best results:
- Let your batter rest for 30 minutes to hydrate the gluten-free flour. It will reduce dryness and provide a better texture. This is the most critical of the tips. Even 15 minutes makes a difference if you are short on time.
- Mix your batter a few minutes longer than the traditional recipe instructs. This provides the extra structure that gluten-free baked goods require.
- Related to the above tip, invest in a stand mixer. This is a pricey kitchen appliance, so I highly recommend waiting for a big sale, like Black Friday. At the very least, I suggest using a hand mixer.
- Add an extra egg, when using gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour, to increase protein and structure. This is a judgment call, but I might sneak an extra egg into a recipe that calls for three or four eggs, or replace 1/4 cup of a liquid with an extra egg.
Best Gluten-Free Cake Mix
Pick your favorite variety, yellow or chocolate, then bake, decorate and enjoy! Make a simple cake, half a cake for a half birthday, cupcakes, or try your hand at a masterpiece, like our Uni-Pega-Mer-Kitty cake, made with King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix. You will never miss the gluten.
Best Gluten-Free Sourdough
Many years ago, I was sitting in a MOPS’ (mothers of preschoolers) cooking presentation that involved spiralized zucchini. As my peers raved over the spiralizer and asked where to buy one, I was thinking, “am I the only one wondering where to buy spiraled zucchini?” As it turns out, it wasn’t just me!
Not much has changed in the past decade. As half the world discovered sourdough starters and then shared their abundance with friends, I lazily and happily continued what I did pre-pandemic, ordering Bread SRSLY Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread.
My favorite crowd-pleasing use of Bread SRSLY is to warm up the classic sourdough dinner rolls as a side for holiday meals. “Holiday Meals” means lots of guests who are not used to gluten-free, but no one can tell the difference. A fabulous flour blend, the sourdough fermentation process, and 12 hours of rising all come together to make a traditional sourdough that is certified gluten-free from a dedicated facility.
Best Gluten-Free Packaged Dinners
I love easy and healthy meals for my family. The vast majority of our meals are made using the eMeals meal planning service. I use the eMeals app to select each week’s recipes, sync the grocery list with my grocery delivery service of choice (Amazon Fresh, for me), and then return to the eMeals app cooking screen when making dinner.
Some nights, though, dinner needs to be even simpler. My favorite brand of packaged dinner entrees is Kevin’s Natural Foods. The meals are made with basic, whole ingredients you can read and understand, and they are certified gluten-free, noted right on the package. Cilantro Lime Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, and Thai Style Coconut Chicken all taste wonderful over rice or noodles with veggies.
While nothing is ever a sure thing at Costco, you can sometimes find Kevin’s Natural Foods there for a good value.
Best Gluten-Free Cookies
Last but not least. Goodie Girl Mint Slim Cookies. If you miss Girl Scout Thin Mints, you will cry happy tears when you try these certified gluten-free, perfect replicas.
I have a fond place in my heart for Girl Scouts. There have been a few in my family, including Miss E and me.
The Girl Scouts have tried to serve gluten-free customers by making gluten-free cookies for the girls to sell. I’m grateful they considered those of us who need to eat gluten-free. Still, what most of us really want is our favorite girl scout cookie. For me, this is the Thin Mint.
Enter Goodie Girl Mint Slim Cookies into the vacuum. These are not exact knock-offs, but they are impressively close, and maybe even better than a Thin Mint. You will not be disappointed!
Here’s how I handle little girls dressed in green or brown, though. Most regions have some version of Troop to Troops (Girl Scout troops donating cookies to deployed military troops) on the online order website. I order boxes to be donated, the military gets the cookies, the local Girl Scout troop gets the fundraising dollars, and I happily buy a box of Goodie Girl Mint Slim Cookies.
Still missing your favorite gluten-ful food? Over the years, we’ve found a replacement for just about everything. I’d love to hear from you and help you find what you’ve been missing.