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How to Choose the Best Holiday Desserts for Your Health

How do you choose the healthiest holiday desserts? Turn to this list, complete with gluten-free and diabetic-friendly options!

How to Choose the Best Holiday Desserts for Your Health

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of year. However, it can be challenging to keep up your health goals when baking the best holiday desserts.

From pumpkin pie to your favorite Christmas treats, learn all the tips and tricks for making holiday treats healthier. So, read on for the 11 best desserts for the holidays like the best gluten-free holiday desserts and the best diabetic holiday dessert recipes. 

Best Holiday Desserts

The holidays are full of tempting treats that make it difficult to clue into your body’s appetite cues. It is easy to overdo it when surrounded by seasonal sweets. However, it is important to keep your health goals in mind when the holiday snacking starts. 

Instead of store bought pound cake that adds on the pounds, try the following homemade desserts for the holidays.

Pumpkin Pie 

Pumpkin pie isn’t just a Thanksgiving favorite. Often served throughout the holiday season, this traditional favorite is generally around 250 calories a slice. 

For reduced calories, make tartlets instead (about 150 calories per serving) or enjoy without whipped cream or ice creams. You can also add pecans to the top of your perfectly spiced pie for increased nutrient density since pecans have protein and healthy fats (which can help balance blood sugars).


Even with brown sugar and molasses involved, a gingerbread cookie may be one of the healthier holiday treats. Thanks to warm winter spices, a single gingerbread cookie can be satisfying and contains around 75 calories (even with icing). 

Plus, this biscuit is among the more versatile types and can be used to create everything from gingerbread houses to cookie cutter christmas trees.

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies are another seasonal sensation. However, the amount of calories and sugar can quickly rise with the addition of jam.

Luckily, there is a vegan version that uses whole wheat flour and keeps each cookie around 100 calories. 

Best Diabetic Holiday Dessert Recipes

Holiday treats can be especially dangerous for diabetics. Knowing which nutrients help keep blood sugars balanced can help you select the best dessert for you. 

The following treats contain healthy fats, fiber, or protein to help you take control of your diabetes during the holiday season. 

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Chocolatey peanut butter truffles contain thoughtful ingredients that will make them your new favorite holiday treat. They contain nut butter and Greek yogurt, which make them protein-packed, nutritious, and delicious. 

Dark chocolate also adds antioxidants, which can help your body deal with the stress of the season. 

Mint Cookies 

Not only does mint contain health benefits, it is a staple seasonal flavor. From peppermint candies to festive candy canes, there are many ways to enjoy mint over the holidays. 

Looking for a peppermint dessert that is diabetes-friendly? Skinny mint cookies contain whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and dark chocolate for guilt-free goodness in every bite.


Among the most classic of Christmas dessert recipes is eggnog. Instead of a sugar- and fat-filled confection, try a lower sugar concoction designed for diabetes. It can even be made dairy-free! 

Dessert Dips

If you want the taste of holiday cookies without the calorie commitment, dessert dips are the way to go. Use Greek yogurt as a way to increase protein intake, such as in a snickerdoodle cookie dip

Dessert hummus is also a healthy alternative that makes a protein-packed snack for diabetics. Cookie dough hummus goes great with a holiday charcuterie board, too. 

Best Gluten Free Holiday Desserts

Going gluten free, too? No worries! 

Here are four of the best gluten free christmas desserts to help you keep your health in mind during the holidays. Each is a tasty twist on traditional treats without the use of allergy-inducing ingredients.

Hot Chocolate 

Hot cocoa and hot chocolate are one of the healthier holiday drinks. One packet of mix is generally around 150 calories. 

Beyond being gluten-free, hot cocoa is often lower in saturated fat and can help keep you hydrated. It can easily be made dairy-free as well. Using natural cocoa or cacao powder in place of a sweetened powder can also make homemade hot chocolate healthier. 

Dried Fruits and Nuts

Dried fruits and spiced nuts are so delicious, you’ll forget they are gluten free (and naturally dairy free, too). You can enjoy them as part of a charcuterie board at a party or on their own as a snack between holiday meals. Pecans are a crowd-pleaser, known for their excellent balance of sweet and spiced flavor. 

Healthy Buckeyes 

Buckeyes are another type of classic holiday cookie. Rich and decadent, this delicious cookie is generally filled with an excess of sugar. 

Healthy Buckeye alternatives contain almond flour (a gluten-free flour option), coconut sugar, and plenty of peanut butter for a better balance of ingredients. 

Orange Chocolate Bars

Chocolate and mint get a lot of attention around the holidays, but orange and chocolate are another classic flavor coupling. A fiber-filled orange chocolate bar can help curb cravings over one of the sweetest times of the year. 

The gluten-free chocolate and orange bars are also a great snack for kids to sneak in a curious combination of black beans, avocado oil, and orange juice. Crushed walnuts on top are optional, but they do add extra nutrients. 

The Bottom Line On Healthy Holiday Desserts

Healthy holiday treats can be both delicious and nutritious. Try homemade treats filled with protein, fiber, and healthy fats to help curb cravings and keep blood sugar balanced.

Many treats are also gluten-, dairy-, and other allergen-free so you can keep focus on your health while enjoying seasonal sweets. 


Butler K. 21 Desserts for Diabetics that are Dietitian Approved. SkinnyMs. Published July 2021. https://skinnyms.com/21-desserts-for-diabetics-that-are-dietitian-approved/

Hassing S. 5 Healthy Holiday Treats. The Real Food Dietitians. Published December 2018. https://therealfooddietitians.com/5-healthy-holiday-treats/

Hultin G. Healthy Holiday Desserts by Dietitians. Ginger Hultin Nutrition. Published December 2019. https://gingerhultinnutrition.com/healthy-holiday-desserts-by-dietitians/.