It’s Christmas time!
As we celebrate with Christmas gatherings, school parties, and sweet gifts, those of us with celiac disease or gluten intolerance spend a large part of the holiday season on a quest for safe gluten-free sweet treats.
Following is a list of gluten-free candy for your festive celebrations, including candy canes, chocolate Santas, and advent calendars! You won’t miss out on a thing this Christmas!
This ultimate gluten-free candy list has ideas for every delicious treat from Christmas cookies to gingerbread houses.
Plus, 4 tips to help you confidently satisfy your sweet tooth for every gluten-free Christmas to come!
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Gluten-Free Christmas Candy (All Labeled Gluten-Free)
All of the following products listed in this section make reassuring gluten-free claims right on the package labels. If this is your first year celebrating Christmas on a medically necessary gluten-free diet, you will be happy to know that so many holiday candies are gluten-free. Look at all of these sweet options!
Tip! Leftover red & green wrapped candy? Save the red ones for Valentine’s Day and the green ones for St. Patrick’s Day!
Gluten-Free Candy Canes
Arguably the most important candy of the season!
Are candy canes gluten-free?
While most candy canes do not contain gluten ingredients, many companies do not make a gluten-free claim. Here are a few brands that do:
You’ll be excited to know that Spangler also produces your favorite co-branded candy cane varieties and lists all of the following as gluten-free: M&Ms Candy Canes, Soda (Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, 7Up) Candy Canes, Skittles Candy Canes, Starburst Candy Canes, Hawaiian Punch Candy Canes, Airheads Candy Canes, Smarties Candy Canes, Jelly Belly Candy Canes, and Dum Dum Candy Canes. That’s a long list of candy canes you CAN eat!
Yum Earth’s Candy Canes are labeled gluten-free right on the box, so you never have to wonder if they are safe to enjoy!
Note, some candy cane brands list the ingredient: natural flavors, which could potentially indicate hidden barley. Those candy canes warrant a call to the manufacturer to verify whether or not they contain gluten.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Santas
This one hits home for me. I spent much of my childhood in Germany, where every St. Nikolaus Day meant waking up to a Lindt chocolate Santa in my boot. Sadly, those Lindt Santas contain barley malt and are not gluten-free.
For my children, I now pick up Chocolate Santas from See’s Candy. They are made in See’s Candy factories, which do not process gluten ingredients.
While most See’s products are made in See’s Candies Facilities which do not produce gluten-containing products, please note that its candy canes are part of a short list of items produced by outside partners on shared equipment and in shared facilities.
Gluten-Free Advent Calendar
Affordable! Gluten-free, nut-free: This is a real treat… a gluten-free advent calendar at an affordable price. Only $2.29 at Walgreens, in stores or online, this advent calendar is clearly labeled gluten-free on the back.
Gluten-free, nut-free: Gluten-free Advent Calendars from Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates are available in milk or dark chocolate. I emailed the company to confirm that the advent calendars are made on their dedicated gluten-free line. They quickly verified that their “advent calendars are 100% gluten-free.” The company has “two production rooms with different equipment and air systems. One room has ingredients with gluten, sunflower, and egg, but the second room has only dairy and soy as top allergen concerns, and the Advent Calendars are made in that room.”
Reusable: Buy a wooden advent calendar to reuse every year. Fill the drawers of this adorable tree-shaped reusable advent calendar with gluten-free candy from the huge list above. Individually wrapped Hershey’s Kisses, York Peppermint Patty Snowflakes, Reese’s Miniatures, and Andes Peppermint Crunch Thins are all sweet surprises perfect for counting down the days until Christmas.
Consider non-candy options:
- Men’s ELF Socks Advent Calendar
- L.O.L. Surprise! Calendar
- LEGO Advent Calendar: LEGO makes several advent calendar options, from LEGO Friends to Marvel. Last year, my Harry Potter fan had fun opening a new mini-build or minifigure from his LEGO Harry Potter calendar each day before Christmas.
Our family tradition, carried on from my childhood, is to take turns filling an old 24-slot Coke bottle crate with a wooden ornament every day in December through Christmas Eve.
Decorating Ideas for Gluten-Free Christmas Cookies, Cakes, Cupcakes & Gingerbread Houses
- All the gluten-free candy options from the above list!
- Pillsbury Funfetti Frosting & Sprinkles: labeled gluten-free
- Betty Crocker Holiday Sprinkles: Most, not all, are gluten-free. They are clearly labeled.
- Betty Crocker Cookie Icing: labeled gluten-free. I stock up on the Betty Crocker sprinkles and icing when there’s a BOGO or buy-two-get-one sale at the grocery store.
For inspiration, you’ll love these holiday recipes: Soft! Gluten-Free Christmas Sugar Cookies for Your Holiday Cookie Tray, Gluten-Free Gingerbread House (Bundt Cake), and 50+ Festive Gluten-Free Christmas Desserts!
Speaking of gingerbread houses, here’s a list of gluten-free, allergy-friendly gingerbread house kits.
Tips for Finding Gluten-Free Christmas Candy
- Visit the candy aisle at your favorite big box store in early/mid-November to make a mental note of safe candy. This up-to-date information will help you quickly vet safe candy when it shows up at a Christmas party or in the goodie bag of your celiac kid. You’ll also have safe candy top-of-mind when there’s a last-minute candy need.
- Understand the gluten and allergen policies of major candy brands. Hershey declares all gluten ingredients, so there’s no need to worry about hidden barley. The company also maintains a list of gluten-free candies online and clearly labels many of its candies as gluten-free. Tootsie Roll Industries does not currently make any gluten-containing products, and you’ll see its peanut-free, gluten-free symbol across its product line. Learn more about other major candy manufacturers to simplify the gluten-free candy hunt year after year.
- Be cautious with seasonal items. Candy that is usually marked gluten-free, may lose that claim for seasonal shapes and sizes that are produced on shared lines with gluten-containing products. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are a classic example, as the seasonal shapes (Santas, Christmas Trees, Snowmen, Snowflakes, Stockings, and Bells) are not labeled gluten-free.
- The product label has the most accurate and up-to-date information. After that, the company website or customer service department is the best resource. No source of information, including Go Gluten Freely, is more accurate or current than the manufacturer. My celiac mantra is “read every label, every time.”
Wishing you a Merry Christmas!