Wheat, barley, and rye are all common sources of the protein known as gluten. It is what makes bread elastic and aids in its rising.

However, not everyone can tolerate gluten, and those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should stay away from it. Finding desserts can be difficult because many traditional desserts contain gluten.

This article will examine which desserts contain gluten and offer substitutes for those who must avoid it.

What is Gluten

gluten free desserts

Gluten is a type of protein that is made up of two smaller proteins called glutenin and gliadin. It is found in various grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, as well as in some processed foods that contain these grains as ingredients.

Gluten plays an important role in the baking process, as it gives dough its elasticity and helps it to rise. This is what gives bread its light and fluffy texture.

However, for some people, gluten can be harmful. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the small intestine in response to gluten consumption.

Gluten sensitivity is another condition in which individuals experience similar symptoms but do not have celiac disease.

As a result, many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity must avoid gluten altogether. They must rely on gluten-free alternatives such as almond flour, coconut flour, and rice flour to make baked goods and other foods.

Fortunately, there are now many gluten-free products available on the market, making it easier for those with gluten intolerance to enjoy a wide range of foods.

Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1% of the population. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten and must avoid it completely. Gluten sensitivity is a less severe condition that causes similar symptoms but does not involve the immune system.

Desserts That Contain Gluten

In this section, we will discuss desserts that typically contain gluten and why they are problematic for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Cakes, Cupcakes, and Cookies

Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies often contain wheat flour, which is high in gluten. They may also contain other ingredients that have gluten, such as oats, malt, and barley malt. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consuming cakes and cupcakes can cause a range of digestive symptoms and damage to the small intestine.

Pies and Tarts

while pies and tarts can be delicious desserts, it is important to be mindful of their gluten content and their overall impact on health. Pies and tarts usually have a crust made from wheat flour and butter, both of which contain gluten. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, there are now many gluten-free options available, while others may choose to enjoy these desserts in moderation and opt for healthier alternatives whenever possible.


Pastries such as croissants and danishes are made with layers of butter and flour, which are both high in gluten. The gluten in pastries comes from the wheat flour that is commonly used in their preparation. Alternative flour such as almond flour, coconut flour, or gluten-free oat flour can be used in place of wheat flour to create pastries that are safe for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.


Donuts are typically made with wheat flour and may also contain other ingredients with gluten, such as barley malt. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, as well as other grains like barley and rye, which is a key ingredient in the dough used to make traditional donuts. Therefore, people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease may need to avoid eating donuts or seek out gluten-free options.

Gluten-Free Dessert Alternatives

In this section, we will provide alternatives for people who need to avoid gluten but still want to enjoy desserts.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This rich and indulgent dessert is made without wheat flour. Instead, it uses almond flour to create a dense and fudgy texture that’s perfect for chocolate lovers.

Fruit Crisps and Cobblers

These classic desserts can be made gluten-free by swapping out wheat flour for alternatives like gluten-free oats or almond flour. The result is a deliciously crisp and crumbly topping that pairs perfectly with sweet, juicy fruit.

Ice Cream and Sorbet

Most ice cream and sorbet brands are naturally gluten-free, but it’s always a good idea to double-check the label to ensure there are no hidden sources of gluten. Enjoy these creamy treats as a refreshing dessert on a hot day.

Puddings and Custards

Cornstarch or rice flour can be used as a substitute for wheat flour when making puddings and custards, resulting in a smooth and silky texture. These comforting desserts can be enjoyed warm or chilled, and can be easily customized with different flavorings and toppings.


Many desserts contain gluten, but there are also plenty of alternatives for people who need to avoid it. By being creative and using alternative flours and ingredients, it is possible to enjoy delicious desserts without compromising health.


1. What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

Symptoms of celiac disease can include digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, as well as fatigue, anemia, and weight loss.

2. Can people with gluten sensitivity eat small amounts of gluten?

It depends on the person. Some people with gluten sensitivity may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten, while others may need to avoid it completely.

3. Are there any gluten-free baking mixes available?

Yes, there are many gluten-free baking mixes available, including mixes for cakes, cookies, and bread.

4. Are there any gluten-free flours that can be used in place of wheat flour?

Yes, there are many gluten-free flours available, including almond flour and coconut flour.

5. Do all desserts have gluten?

Not all desserts contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Many desserts can be made without these ingredients, providing gluten-free options.

Fruits, puddings, mousse, and certain ice creams are typically gluten-free.

6. What in a cake contains gluten?

In a cake, the main sources of gluten are the flour and sometimes additives. Traditional wheat flour contains gluten which provides structure and texture to the cake.

Gluten-free alternatives like almond or coconut flour can be used for those with gluten sensitivities.

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