Assortment of holiday foods against a blue background

Simple swaps for your favorite holiday foods

Table of contents

Are you in charge of cooking up the most delicious holiday meal this year? Holiday meals are known to be made up of some of the best comfort foods, but if you’re someone who has just taken our Food Sensitivity Test, you may be avoiding reaching for some of your favorites this season. As you try to determine which foods could be the culprit of symptoms like stomach pain, bloating, headaches, indigestion, and more we understand that some foods may be temporarily “off-limits.”

Regardless of if you’re trying a temporary elimination diet and add back challenge, or just want to change things up, finding creative ways to swap out common foods in some of your favorite recipes can be a fun challenge. If you’re looking for delicious recipes that allow you to enjoy some of your seasonal favorites with equally delicious substitutions, look no further. We’re here to help. We scoured the internet with the mission of finding some festive food swaps, so you don’t have to.

Here are some creative alternatives to some of the most common holiday food staples.


Let’s face it. Holiday season or not, potatoes are a fan favorite. Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, potato pancakes—you name it. The list of potato recipes is endless but lucky for you, so are the alternatives. If you’re avoiding potatoes this holiday season, try swapping them out for root vegetables, cauliflower, or a whole grain instead.

Here are some of our favorite versatile potato-free recipes:


Who said gluten-free has to be boring? Lucky for everyone, you can find a recipe for just about anything gluten-free these days. Try your hand at some gluten-free jelly donuts or butternut squash mac and cheese. If you’re the adventurous type, maybe even venture out into the world of lentil loaves and bean-based pasta (trust us, they’re pretty delicious).

Check out these gluten-free recipes for any time, any meal, and any day.


Side dishes

Dessert options


Time to rethink your holiday snacks! Consider swapping out your traditional nut mix with crispy roasted beans. Roasted kidney, pinto, and garbanzo beans make for a great crunchy appetizer or snack as a substitute for nuts. Just the right amount of flavor with the crunch factor we all know and love.

Love baking nut-based pie crusts? Swap out the nuts with pretzels for the same delicious, crunchy texture. Make it gluten-free with gluten-free pretzels!

There are some of our favorite nut-free recipes:

Spice swaps

Festive fragrances are a cornerstone of the holiday season. The aroma of spices like cinnamon, ginger, and garlic fill the air during holiday cooking and baking. . Though these spices are likely in all of our favorite holiday dishes, that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to replace. Yup, you guessed it—there are swaps for these, too.

Fortunately, when it comes to cinnamon or ginger, there are so many alternatives. Allspice, nutmeg, and mace are among some of the most common alternatives. Cardamom is another good swap for the holidays, given its piney, fruity, herbal aroma can bring any dessert to life.

Follow these ratios to help you make the swap just right:

  • Cinnamon (1 tsp)

For the perfect 1:1 ratio, sub cinnamon for the same amount of allspice or nutmeg.

  • Ginger (1 tsp)

Follow the same 1:1 ratio here and sub ginger for allspice, nutmeg, or mace.

  • Cardamom

Cardamom is a great substitute for either cinnamon or ginger. Check out this cardamom cookie recipe for a new adventure in baking with holiday-themed spices.

  • Garlic

While there are garlic-free seasoning mixes you can buy, you might as well put all of those spices on your spice rack to good use. Or, sub garlic for onions, chives, or shallots to bring out the pungent flavor of a dish.

Try your hand at some of these garlic-free seasoning mix recipes to season your favorite poultry or Mediterranean dishes.

Whether you’re following a temporary elimination diet after taking our Food Sensitivity Test, or you’re just looking to make more mindful choices this holiday season, food swaps don’t have to be a flop. Try your hand at some of these alternative recipes, or test the waters with a creative swap of your own. We hope these ideas inspired you to get cooking!

Food Sensitivity Toolkit

Meal planning ideas for food sensitivities during coronavirus

Food substitution & meal planning guide

Everlywell makes lab testing easy and convenient with at-home collection and digital results in days. Learn More