5 Tips for Gluten- and Dairy-Sensitive Bakers (And a Bonus Recipe)

January 22nd, 2015

When I learned I couldn’t have gluten or dairy anymore, I kissed my Huckleberry Bakery days good bye and immediately jumped into baking gluten- and dairy-free.

To my surprise, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Let me share some of the tips I picked up along the way.

1. Get to know your ingredients.

It might seem strange as the first suggestion, but when I started, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know, like the way sugar lends extra moisture to a pastry. When substituting, you have to make sure you account for that.

2. If your goal is to bake vegan pastries, buy chia or flax seeds.

Chia seeds are the better substitute for eggs.  Add three tablespoons of water to every tablespoon of seeds, sit back and watch the magic happen!

3. Don’t think that you need to substitute margarine for butter.

The more components in something, the less pure an ingredient. Instead of artificial margarine or another butter substitute, try grapeseed oil for its mild flavor. Okay, sure, there are certain things you cannot make with grapeseed oil, like cinnamon buns, but I would faster turn to coconut butter than margarine. A general rule of thumb is ¾ cup oil replaces 1 cup of butter, but it really depends how you prefer your cookies.

4.  Invest in almond meal.

If you’re making cookies, almond meal is essential for gluten-free baking.  Not only do you get protein, but it adds a nutty flavor.  Most chefs buy blanched almond meal, but I buy unblanched.

5.  Replace refined sugar.

If you don’t eat refined sugar, maple syrup, honey and the fruit syrup Wax Orchard are great replacements in cakes. You can play with the ratio so the flavor is neutral.

With those five rules in mind, try whipping up one of my favorite recipes: gluten and dairy-free chocolate chip cookies! To make this recipe vegan, simply substitute chia seeds for the eggs.

Gluten and dairy free chocolate chip cookies Recipe


3 ounces grapeseed oil
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
¾ cup almond meal
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup bittersweet chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix together the sugars, salt and oil. Add the egg and vanilla and emulsify. Add in the almond meal and baking powder and stir to combine. Add the chocolate chips.

The batter should be loose, so it is best to use a small ice cream scoop to get them on to your cookie tray. I suggest using a piece of parchment. If you don’t have any, you can use a nonstick baking mat.

Bake the cookies for approximately 13 minutes, although all ovens are different. They should be golden brown. For crispier cookies, bake a few minutes longer.

I love mix-ins, and have recently added dried cherries and toasted shredded coconut to my cookies. Nuts are also a great addition. If you’re adding in, I wouldn’t add more than 2 tablespoons of each.

Side note about cherries: they do occasionally have pits left in them, so be careful! Also, if adding them in, look for non sulfur, natural dried cherries without added oils and sugars. Soak them for 5 minutes to rehydrate them before you add them to your dough.

Photo credit: Coco Bakes LA

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This article is related to: Baking, Dairy-Free, Dessert, Gluten-Free, Healthy Desserts, Recipe

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Coco KislingerCoco's lifelong love for baking was so strong that she ditched law school to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Then the unthinkable happened: she developed an intolerance to dairy and a sensitivity to gluten. Luckily Kislinger is a plucky sweet-toothed survivor. She tweaked her high level culinary skills to create small batches of baked goodies using a restricted gluten and dairy free list of ingredients. Her not-too-sweet treats are sure to cure any sweet or chocolatey cravings.

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