December 23, 2019

Making Holiday Dinners Allergy Friendly

Cooking for the family can be stressful enough and that stress multiplies when you’re cooking for guests with food allergies. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! This resource will give you the information and confidence to make a tasty and safe holiday dinner.

How to avoid food allergy reactions when cooking

Understand what the big food allergies are

The big 8 (or as someone would argue the big 9) are the most common allergies and make up for 90% of all food allergies.

These allergens are:

·        Wheat

·        Peanut

·        Egg

·        Milk

·        Soy

·        Fish

·        Shellfish

·        Tree Nut

·        Sesame Seed

It can be daunting to try and check all your labels for these 9 allergens, which is why it’s important to understand which ones you need to look out for.

Reach out ahead of time – communication is key 

Contact all your guests and ask if they have any allergies you need to look out for. Even if you know that your cousin has peanut allergies, it’s always safe and nice to double check that there isn’t anything else you should look out for. This is also a good time to remind your friends and family about any allergies your family (and the other guests attending) has, so they know what to avoid with their side dishes.

Read all your ingredient labels

Even if you think a product is allergen-free, read the label. Manufacturers can change their ingredients or even where they make the food that could introduce allergens first unlisted.

If you’re having trouble finding a certain ingredient or food without allergens, check out our list below for our favorite food allergy friendly recipes for holiday dinners!

Teach yourself about cross-contact (cross contamination)

We all know the hectic, chaotic place that is a kitchen during a holiday dinner. If you’re planning on using a dish that does contain an allergen, you need to be confident that you’re avoiding cross contact.

You’ll need to set up a food allergy safety zone and limit allergens to a certain spot. Luckily we have a thorough guide to get you through this process!

Freeze dishes ahead of time

Save yourself some time on the day of your holiday meal by preparing safe dishes ahead of time and freezing them. Holidays are a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Shop for and prepare dishes when you have lots of time to read labels. Stick them in the oven when you’re ready to bake them. Be sure to plan some extra cooking time if you bake them from frozen.

Our favorite recipes for an allergy friendly holiday season

Appetizers & Sides 

·        Allergy-Friendly Garlicky Sweet Potato and Kale Mash

·        Apple cider vinaigrette coleslaw

·        Baked sweet potato chips

·        Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Browned Butter, Garlic and Sage

·        Five minute gluten-free gravy

·        Homemade gluten free stuffing

·        Instant pot cranberry sauce

·        Instant pot vegan mashed potatoes

·        Vegan green bean casserole

·        Wild Mushroom Tartlets


·        Bourbon BBQ turkey burgers

·        Honey lemon chicken

·        Pepper-crusted beef tenderloin – Free of top 8 allergens and gluten

·        Roasted pork tenderloin with apples and sweet potatoes

·        Rotini with turkey and veggies

·        Skillet pork chops with apples


·        Allergy, friendly buckeyes

·        Eggless Chocolate Cookies

·        Festive, Vegan Sugar Cookies

·        Nut, dairy, egg, and gluten free Gingerbread cookies

·        Pumpkin pie

·        Sugar and gluten free vegan apple pie

·        Vegan and allergy friendly cheesecake

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About The Author:

Stacy Silvers, MD

Dr. Silvers is a board certified allergist specializing in environmental and food allergy diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Dr. Silvers oversees our allergy program and protocols, and also leads the food allergy and oral immunotherapy (OIT) program at Aspire Allergy & Sinus. Dr. Silvers is considered an expert in the field of food allergy diagnosis and treatment. In 2019, Dr. Silvers was named Best Allergist in the Statesman's Best of the Best Contest.