Healthier Takes on 6 of Your Favorite Nostalgic Holiday Baked Goods 

Last Update: March 21, 2024

When you wander into a kitchen around the holidays, chances are, you’re going to be met with a warm, sweet smell coming from the oven. Nostalgic baked goods are a quintessential part of the holiday season, from just-cooled pies filled with nuts and fruit to lightly browned sugar cookies decorated with shimmering icing. 

This year, we’re rounding up recipes for a few of our favorite nostalgic holiday treats — with your eating preferences in mind. From gluten-free to low-sugar, these better-for-you dessert recipes check all the boxes for every type of eating. 

Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Pie 

Most of your childhood favorite baked goods are loaded with gluten, sugar, and dairy, but this pumpkin pie recipe lets you enjoy all the silky texture and fall flavors of your favorite autumn dessert without those heavy ingredients. With a nutty crust and some smart sugar swaps, it makes a wholesome finale to your Thanksgiving dinner. 

Yield: One 8-inch pie
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour


For the pecan-walnut crust:

1 cup Thrive Market Organic Raw Walnuts, ground
1 cup Thrive Market Organic Raw Pecans, ground
½ teaspoon Thrive Market Mediterranean Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Cinnamon
6 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Brown Coconut Sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Ghee, melted

For the pumpkin filling:

1 can Thrive Market Organic Canned Pumpkin Puree
3 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup Thrive Market Organic Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Cardamom
1/2 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Ginger
1/4 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Cloves
1/4 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Allspice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Recipe Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust, combine the nuts, sea salt, cinnamon, coconut sugar, egg, and ghee in a large bowl. 

Mix until they come together to form a dough. 

Evenly press into the bottom and sides of a tart or pie pan. Bake for 7 minutes.

While the crust is baking, whisk together all remaining ingredients until light and fluffy. 

Pour mixture into crust and place back in the oven to bake 30 to 40 additional minutes, or until the pie filling has fully set.

Note: If desired, serve with a spiced coconut whipped cream. Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and zest of 1/2 an orange to traditional whipped cream and dollop on top of pie.

Earl Grey Ice Box Cake 

Infused with flavorful Earl Grey tea and topped with candied lemon slices, this easy-to-make ice box cake recipe gives you a truly elevated dessert without turning on the oven. Use gluten-free cookies so everyone can enjoy a bite!

Yield: 1 9 x 5-inch cake
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours and 30 minutes


For the simple syrup:
½ cup water
½ cup Thrive Market Organic Cane Sugar
2 bags Thrive Market Fair Trade Organic Earl Grey Tea

For the candied lemon slices:
1 lemon
½ cup Thrive Market Organic Cane Sugar, divided
½ cup water

For the cake:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 bag Thrive Market Fair Trade Organic Earl Grey Tea, leaves divided
1 (7-ounce) bag gluten-free chocolate chip cookies


To make the simple syrup, heat water, sugar, and tea bags in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes, then remove tea bags.

To make the candied lemon slices, peel the yellow rind off lemon, leaving behind the pith (the white part). 

Add rinds to a small saucepan along with ¼ cup sugar and the water. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, until the rinds are tender. 

Place remaining sugar on a plate, then remove the rinds from the saucepan and place them on top of the sugar and toss until coated. Transfer to a sheet tray and let dry.

To make the cake, whip mascarpone cheese in a large stand mixer until smooth. Add ⅓ cup Earl Grey simple syrup and mix until well blended. 

On low speed, gradually add 2 cups of whipping cream. Increase speed and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Cut open the Earl Grey tea bag and add half the loose leaves, stirring by hand to incorporate; reserve the rest to garnish the cake.

Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving overhang on both sides. Layer cookies on the bottom, breaking them as needed to fill in all the spaces. 

Top cookies with 1 cup of the cream filling and spread evenly. Repeat with additional cookies and cream, until the last layer of cookies is sprinkled on top. Cover the top of the cake with the hanging plastic wrap and freeze at least 8 hours overnight.

When the cake is frozen, make the final topping. Add remaining 1 cup whipping cream and whip in a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Add remaining Earl Grey syrup and mix until just combined. Invert cake onto a platter and remove plastic wrap. Frost with whipping cream and garnish with remaining tea leaves. Return to the freezer for 30 minutes, then top with candied lemon slices (if using) before slicing and serving.

Orange-Molasses Cinnamon Roll Recipe 

Is there anything better than waking up with fresh-baked cinnamon rolls on a chilly winter morning? These are made with whole wheat flour and organic molasses, making them a better-for-you version of the classic breakfast pastry. 

Yield: 12 rolls
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours


For the dough:
5 cups Thrive Market Organic Sprouted White Wheat Flour
1 packet dry active yeast
1/2 teaspoon Thrive Market Mediterranean Sea Salt
1/4 cup organic molasses
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten

For the filling:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon organic molasses
1/4 cup Thrive Market Organic Cane Sugar
2 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Cinnamon
Zest of 2 oranges


In a large bowl, mix together flour, yeast, and salt.

In a small saucepan, heat molasses, milk, and butter until lukewarm. Remove from heat and whisk in eggs. 

Combine flour mixture with liquid mixture in a large bowl and mix until well blended to form the dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, dough can be kneaded in a stand mixer using the hook attachment, adding more flour when necessary to avoid sticking.) 

Place in a well-greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

While the dough is rising, make the filling. Stir together butter, molasses, sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest in a medium bowl.

When dough has risen, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. 

Spread the filling all over the surface of dough. Beginning at the long edge of the rectangle, tightly roll up the dough. Cut into slices 1 1/2-inches thick.

Brush the bottom of a round baking tin with butter and place cinnamon rolls close together in the pan, with sides touching. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake until golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Low-Sugar Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Sweet, spicy, and endlessly nostalgic, gingerbread cookies are, for many, the ultimate holiday cookie. While many gingerbread recipes are loaded with sugar, this one is made with organic molasses and your favorite granular sweetener instead of traditional sugar. 

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1.5 hours


6 tablespoons butter (or ghee), at room temperature
6 tablespoons Thrive Market Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, at room temperature
1/2 cup granular sugar replacement
3/4 cup (255g) organic molasses
2 teaspoons Thrive Market Organic Ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Allspice
¼ teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Cloves
¼ teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 2/3 cups Thrive Market All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Thrive Market Baking Soda

Icing ingredients (optional): 

1 cup powdered Sugar
1 tablespoon milk, plant-based milk, or water
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Vanilla Extract 


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, coconut oil, sugar substitute, and molasses until creamy and uniform. Add spices and salt and mix to combine.

Beat in egg, scraping mixture from sides of the bowl.

Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and mix until combined. Dough will be sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove dough from the fridge and roll out to ¼-inch thick, using flour to keep dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Dip cookie cutters in flour before punching out shapes. 

Space cookies out on baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.

Once baked, allow cookies to cool on a rack completely before icing.

For the icing:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Whisk together until consistency is smooth and there are no lumps. 

Note: If you want thicker icing for piping, use less liquid or add more powdered sugar to reach the desired consistency.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Shortbread cookies offer buttery, dense goodness in every bite, but for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, they’re often off-limits. With this recipe, you can create the same rich flavor and texture by replacing the normal flour with a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour. 

Yield: 24 cookies
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 ¼ sticks) salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup Thrive Market Organic Cane Sugar
¼ cup Thrive Market Organic Light Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Pure Vanilla Extract
2 ¼ cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
6 ounces Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks
1 large egg, beaten
Sugar or granular sugar substitute, for rolling
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling


Line a rimmed baking sheet (two, if you’ve got ‘em) with parchment paper. 

Using an electric mixer and a medium bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, both sugars, and vanilla on medium-high till it’s super light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. 

Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, slowly add the flour, followed by the chocolate chunks, and beat just to blend.

Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic over so that it covers the dough to protect your hands from getting all sticky. 

Using your hands (just like you’re playing with clay), form the dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. You can also do this using parchment paper, if you prefer. Each half should form two logs 2 to 2 ¼ inches in diameter. Chill until totally firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. 

Brush the outside of the logs with the beaten egg and roll them in the Demerara sugar (this is for those really delicious crispy edges). 

Slice each log into ½-inch-thick rounds, place them on the prepared baking sheet(s) about 1 inch apart (they won’t spread much), and sprinkle with flaky salt. 

Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all.

Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies 

Think you have to miss out on decorating cookies if you’re skipping sugar? This recipe for sugar-free sugar cookies uses a  1:1 sugar replacement to create the same effect — now it’s just up to you to do the decorating! 

Yield: 24 cookies
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
1 ¼ cup Swerve Granular Sugar Replacement
1 egg, preferably organic and/or pastured
1 3/4 cup Thrive Market All Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Vanilla Extract
Lily’s Stevia-Sweetened Milk Chocolate Style or Dark Chocolate Baking Chips


Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat for easy clean-up.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and Swerve using a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Next, add the egg and mix until well combined.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract.

Using a tablespoon, scoop dough into balls. Place dough balls onto a cookie sheet about 1 ½ to 2 inches apart. Lightly press each dough ball with the bottom of a glass until slightly flattened.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks.

Melt chocolate chips in a bowl, either in the microwave (in 20-second intervals) or over a double boiler. Once cookies are cooled, decorate with the melted chocolate by drizzling or dipping. Allow chocolate to set before serving.

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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