A Celiac's Guide to Pastry Shops

A Celiac's Guide to Pastry Shops

Celiac disease might make you feel a bit left out when visiting a pâtisserie. Fortunately, there are some naturally gluten free items in most sweets shops. In fact, you might have more options than you realized! Most of these sweets contain dairy, but we’ll specify if there are versions of the item that are both gluten and dairy free. As always, you’ll want to check that the item was made in a way that’s safe for you to consume.

Table of Contents

Cookies and Cakes


bakery items

Image from Chelsea Audibert via Unsplash
  • These little cookies are made from almond flour and egg whites, so they’re always a good option.
  • Usually filled with buttercream, but some varieties with a jam filling are dairy free.


  • An Italian pine nut and almond cookie. Made from almond paste, pine nuts, and egg whites.
  • Dairy free!

Amaretti cookies

bakery items

Amaretti from Quin Engle via Unsplash
  • These are the Italian version of macarons. They’re made from almond flour, egg whites, and almond flavoring.
  • Usually dairy free!


  • These coconut-based cookies are a desendent of Italian amaretti. They’re traditionally made with coconut and almond flour, but some modern recipes include flour. Make sure you ask for the ingredients to be safe!
  • Most version contain sweetened condensed milk and egg whites, but they can sometimes be dairy free.

Flourless chococolate torte

bakery items

Flourless chocolate cake from Butternut Bakery
  • Definitely double-check that no breadcrumbs or other gluten ingredients were used in the batter or to coat the pan. Many use only ground nuts or cocoa powder as a thickener, but it’s worth making sure.
  • Contains butter and eggs, although some places will make a dairy free version.

Flourless clementine cake

  • A traditional cake made from almonds, whole oranges, and eggs. Double-check that it’s gluten free, and that no flour was used to coat the pan.
  • Contains eggs, but is often dairy free.

Custards, Puddings, and Frozen Desserts

Crème brûlée

bakery items

Image from Whisper of Yum
  • This French custard with a shatter-y sugar topping is almost always gluten free. Because it’s made in it’s own pan, risk of cross-contamination is low.
  • Contains dairy, and usually eggs. Very few places will offer a vegan option.

Panna cotta

  • A wobbly Italian dessert made of heavy cream and set with gelatin. Basically always gluten free and has a low risk of cross-contamination.
  • Contains dairy and gelatin.

Flan (crème caramel)

bakery items

Leche flan from Serious Eats
  • A plain custard with a clear caramel sauce on top. Flan is the name in Latin America, Spain, the Phillipines, and the US. Crème caramel is what it’s called in the rest of Europe and the UK. Gluten free with a low risk of cross-contamination.
  • Contains dairy and eggs.

Crème bavaroise

  • A dessert made of milk thickened with both eggs and gelatin or isinglass (fish gelatin). Gluten free and has a low risk of cross-contamination.
  • Contains dairy, eggs, and gelatin.


bakery items

Image from Claudio Schwarz via Unsplash
  • Plain gelato is always gluten free, just make sure any mix-ins are also GF. If you go for plain flavors like chocolate, sweet cream, etc, you should be safe! Might be worth asking them to use a clean scoop if you’re worried about cross-contamination.
  • Gelato is made with milk, so your best bet is sorbetto if dairy is an issue.


  • Sorbets are free of gluten and dairy! Ask them to use a new scoop if you’re concerned about cross-contamination.

Chocolate mousse

  • Mousses are usually gluten free, but make sure the mix-ins are safe. They’re made from chocolate, eggs, and whipped cream.
  • Contains heavy cream, eggs, and sometimes butter.

Rice pudding

bakery items

Image from Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup via Unsplash
  • Rice pudding is popular around the world. Almost every version is gluten free, but it’s worth double-checking to be safe.
  • Almost always contains milk, and sometimes eggs.


  • This Italian custard is thickened with either cornstarch or cookies, so make sure to double-check that it’s gluten free.
  • Contains dairy and eggs.

Meringue-Based Desserts

Meringue Cookies

bakery items

Image from Massimo Virgilio via Unsplash
  • A cookie made of egg whites and sugar, often with a swirl of jam, nuts, or caramel for flavoring. The meringue base is gluten free, but make sure the mix-ins are safe.
  • Often dairy free, depending on the flavorings.


  • Pavlova is a dessert made of a chewy and crunchy meringue layer that’s topped with whipped cream and fruit.
  • Contains dairy in the form of whipped cream and eggs if a fruit curd is included.

Eton mess

bakery items

Eton mess from Cooking Light
  • A traditional English dessert made of broken meringue, berries, and whipped cream. Always gluten free, just ask about possible cross-contamination.
  • Contains whipped cream, so it’s not dairy free.

Candies and Chocolates


bakery items

Halva from Mashed
  • Most halva is sesame-seed based, but there are some flour-based varieties. Only the nut and seed-based variety is gluten free. Ask for the ingredients to confirm the type and watch out for cross-contamination.
  • Sesame, sunflower, and peanut halva is usually dairy free! Egg whites are sometimes used, but it’s often vegan.


  • A hard sugar candy embedded with nuts. Always gluten free, as long as no other mix-ins are added.
  • Contains butter.


bakery items

Salted caramels from Inspired Taste
  • Caramel is almost always gluten free, but make sure no mix-ins contain gluten. Also worth double-checking for possible cross-contamination because some places use their caramel as a dip for things like pretzels.
  • Contains milk, heavy cream, and butter.


  • Almost always gluten free, but make sure any flavorings don’t include gluten.
  • Most truffles contain heavy cream.


bakery items

Image from Tamara Malaniy via Unsplash
  • A smooth blend of sugar and almond meal that’s often sculpted into little fruits. Always gluten free, but you may want to ask about cross-contamination.
  • Dairy free, but can contain egg whites and honey, so not always vegan.


  • Most is gluten free, but some versions contain flour, so make sure to ask.
  • One of the main ingredients is buttter, so it’s not dairy free.


bakery items

Easy fudge from BBC
  • Almost always gluten free, but make sure any flavorings don’t include gluten.
  • Most fudge contains milk and butter.


  • There are a couple different varieties of praline candies, and they’re all gluten free.
  • The Belgian and American varieties contain milk.

* Title image courtesy of Sebastian Coman Photography via Unsplash.

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