Highlight Fruity Fall Flavors in These Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Treats

It can be a challenge to use the words “healthy” and “desserts” in the same breath, especially when you’re serving up Thanksgiving dessert. Keep this one trick in your back pocket and you’ll be surprised at how sweet healthy desserts can really be: You can’t go wrong if you bake along with the season.

All of these treats (all gluten-free) use your fall fruit favorites, like pumpkin, apples and pears — low in calories and high in fiber. Plus, cranberry is naturally bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C.

Pear-Cranberry Crumb Cake (pictured above)

Yield: 8 servings


For the Gluten-Free Flour Blend:

3 cups (435 grams) white rice flour

1 1/2 cups (187 grams) tapioca flour

3/4 cup (123 grams) potato starch

1 tablespoon (8 grams) xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) salt

For the Crumble:

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons Gluten-Free Flour Blend, recipe above

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Cake:

1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend, recipe above

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup finely ground coconut sugar

1/2 cup unflavored coconut oil or non-hydrogenated canola oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 pear, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup fresh cranberries


Make the Flour Blend: In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt.

Make the Crumble: In a small bowl, stir together the pecans, sugar, chocolate, flour and cinnamon.

Make the Cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9-inch springform pan or round cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Beat in the oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, top with the pears, cranberries and crumble mixture. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan set on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Coconut Custard

Yield: 6 servings


3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup coconut cream

One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon salt

Coconut whipped cream, optional, for topping


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put water on to boil for a water bath. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut cream, pumpkin puree, coconut sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt to combine. Divide the mixture among six 6-ounce Pyrex cups and place in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan; carefully pour in the boiling water. Place the custard cups in the water bath and bake, uncovered, until just set, about 40 minutes. Remove from the water bath and let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. To serve, top each custard with a dollop of whipped cream, if using.

Cider-Roasted Caramelized Pears with Candied Ginger

Yield: 8 servings


2 tablespoons unflavored coconut oil

4 red Anjou or Bartlett pears, cored and quartered

Coconut sugar, for sprinkling

1 cup apple cider

Candied ginger, chopped, for topping


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In an ovenproof nonstick large skillet, melt the coconut oil over high heat. Sprinkle the pears generously with sugar and place, cut-side down, in the skillet; cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes.

Turn over the pears and pour in the apple cider; roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pears to a platter and cook the remaining cider over high heat until reduced to a syrup, about 5 minutes.

To serve, drizzle over the apple cider syrup and top with candied ginger.

Granola-Stuffed Baked Apples

Yield: 4 servings


4 large apples, such as Honey Crisp, cored and seeded

1 cup oat-free granola

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

2 tablespoons coconut oil or unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup apple cider


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the apples in a small baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the granola, cinnamon, sugar and coconut oil. Spoon the granola mixture into the apples.

Pour the cider around the apples in the dish, loosely cover the dish with foil and bake, basting occasionally, until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes.

Pumpkin, Oat and Cranberry Cookies

Yield: 36 cookies


For the Gluten-Free Flour Blend:

3 cups (435 grams) white rice flour

1 1/2 cups (187 grams) tapioca flour

3/4 cup (123 grams) potato starch

1 tablespoon (8 grams) xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) salt

For the Cookies:

1 1/2 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend, recipe above

1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 cup softened unflavored coconut oil or unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 cup dried cranberries

Gluten-free old-fashioned oats, for coating


Make the Flour Blend: In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt.

Make the Cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour blend, oat flour, quick-cooking oats, salt, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice. In a large bowl, cream together the softened coconut oil, granulated sugar and coconut sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Stir in the flour mixture, alternating with the pumpkin puree, until combined. Stir in the cranberries.

Place some old-fashioned oats in a small bowl. Using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop cookie dough and roll to coat. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining oats and cookie dough. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Need more help with your Thanksgiving prep?

Best 5 Thanksgiving Cocktails

Thanksgiving Gravy Recipes

50+ Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes

Top Cranberry Sauce Recipes

How to Brine a Turkey

Silvana Nardone is the author of the Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed.

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