Hosting guests with special dietary requirements this Christmas? Whether your dish needs to be gluten-free, dairy-free or more, here are our tips for the easiest swaps:

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1. Switch eggs in cakes, bakes and meringues for aquafaba or flaxseed

Orange, cranberry & pistachio pavlova on a serving platter

Using chickpea water (or aquafaba) in sweet bakes might sound strange but the results are impressive. Whip as you would egg whites to make our pretty orange, cranberry and pistachio pavlova. Alternatively, you may be able to use flaxseeds in some recipes as they absorb liquid and bind mixes together.

For more ideas, check out our vegan Christmas desserts – we have mince pies, Christmas pudding and chocolate yule log.

2. Try soya, oat or coconut milk for a rich, creamy custard without the dairy

Vegan custard with date pudding

You'll still get all the satisfaction of proper custard with our vegan version, made with custard powder and coconut milk. Especially when generously poured over our spiced carrot, coconut & date pudding that's made with chia or flaxseeds.

Alternatively, try our vegan date & chocolate bread & butter pudding – we used soya milk to make the vegan custard.

3. Gluten-free flour and mincemeat works great for mince pies

Crumble-topped gluten-free mince pies

You may be surprised to hear that most shop-bought mincemeat contains gluten, thanks to the wheat flour used to dust the suet. Look out for the gluten-free version and use it to make our easy gluten-free mince pies, they're topped with a deliciously festive cinnamon crumble.

If you've got dairy-free guests, you could use the recipe for our vegan pastry to make your mince pies.

4. For diabetic-friendly bakes, try xylitol or erythritol in place of sugar

Chocolate-orange steamed pudding with chocolate sauce

Like we did in this rich chocolate-orange steamed pudding with chocolate sauce – it's low in sugar but no less decadent than other desserts, we can assure you.

For more ideas, check our diabetes and nutrition hub, we have diabetic cake recipes and diabetes-friendly recipes to enjoy all year round.

5. For that fudgy effect without the butter, try avocado in your brownie or muffin recipes

Easy vegan chocolate cake

The fat in avocado is a fabulous replacement for regular butter as it lends a dense, richness to bakes. In our chocolate avocado cake recipe, it's whipped with sugar until smooth before combining with the rest of the cake ingredients. Go on, give it a go...

Alternatively, if you have some vegan margarine in the fridge, use it to make our decadent vegan cherry & almond brownies.

6. Try ground almond or chestnut flour in place of wheat flour to make your cakes gluten-free

Gluten-free banana bread studded with whole banan pieces

Although this might change the flavour and texture slightly, it will still produce and wonderfully light and enjoyable bake. Try it in our gluten-free banana bread, or browse our gluten-free cake recipes for more inspiration.

7. Make your own gluten-free breadcrumbs using your favourite loaf

Pan-fried sprouts & crunchy chorizo crumbs in a serving dish

Blitz with chorizo and fry until crispy then scatter over sprouts for a heavenly Christmas side dish using our pan-fried sprouts & crunchy chorizo crumbs recipe. Just be sure to check the chorizo is gluten-free.

For another breadcrumb alternative, blitz gluten-free oats in a blender for a couple of seconds, until they're chunky but not too fine.

8. Oat or coconut cream are great alternatives for garnishing soup

For a delightful, dairy-free Christmas starter, make our vegan pumpkin soup then swirl with your favourite cream alternative.

For more ideas on how to start your meal, check out our vegetarian Christmas starters, vegan Christmas starters and make-ahead Christmas starter recipes.

9. Swap cow’s milk for soya, oat or almond in cocktails, pancakes, béchamel and smoothies

Vegan eggnog in three festive glasses

The possibilities are endless when it comes to substituting milk for dairy-free alternatives. One of our favourites has to be this vegan eggnog, made by soaking dried, spices and cashews overnight before blitzing with almond milk and brandy until smooth.

Plus, we think you'll love our seriously creamy vegan hot chocolate, it's lightly spiced with cinnamon and cardamom.

10. For an egg-free breakfast, use tofu in dishes like scramble and shakshuka

Tofu scramble with tomatoes on toast

There are plenty of special breakfasts around Christmas, so it's good to have a few free-from recipes up your sleeve. Browse our best vegan breakfast recipes for dishes like spiced tofu scramble on toast, vegan banana pancakes and vegan French toast.

Hungry for more? Try...

Vegetarian Christmas recipes
Budget Christmas recipes
Gluten-free Christmas recipes
Healthy Christmas swaps
Vegan Christmas baking recipes
Christmas menu for 6
Edible Christmas gifts
Christmas canapé recipes
Christmas leftover salads

Do you have a festive free-from recipe you come back to every year? Share it with us in the comments below.


This article was published in December 2022.

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All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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