10 best free-from cookbooks

Cook up a feast with recipes that cater to everyone, whatever their dietary dos and don’ts may be

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The Independent Online

An increasing number of people nowadays have food allergies, intolerances or different dietary requirements, and if you find yourself having to cater for such a crowd, it can be difficult to know what to make. It can be useful, therefore, to have at least one free-from cookbook on hand, for when you have a celiac friend coming round for tea and cake, or a group of vegans coming over for dinner.

When choosing the following selection of cookbooks, our main priority was that the recipes needed to seem delicious enough to be enjoyed by everyone round the table, as well as those following a special diet. We’ve selected a range of books that cater for a variety of different free-from diets, ranging from vegan to dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar free.

Not all of the books we’ve selected here are entirely focused on free-from recipes. We’ve also thrown in a few that happen to contain a number of recipes free from gluten or dairy, as sometimes living with a restricted diet means your enjoyment of conventional cookbooks can be a little limited too. 

1. Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes by Dana Schultz: £24.99, Avery

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Much-loved food blogger Minimalist Baker’s eagerly-anticipated debut cookbook boasts a wonderful array of recipes, which are entirely vegan and mostly gluten-free too. Dana Schultz proves that dairy and gluten-free cooking needn’t be fussy or expensive and all her recipes can be made with 10 ingredients or less, made in one bowl, or take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Her book includes helpful tips for how to make coconut whipped cream and vegan parmesan as well as “free-from” twists on classic recipes like double chocolate waffles, garlic scalloped potatoes and tiramisu.

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2. Cooking Allergy-Free: Simple Inspired Meals For Everyone by Jenna Short: £19.99, Taunton

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This comprehensive book will come in especially useful if you’re catering towards people with allergies. It includes a wide range of recipes that are free from gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy and corn. Look out for no-fuss crowd-pleasers like seared steak fusilli and chocolate chip banana bread. All the recipes come with a list of suggested substitutions for vegetarians and vegans, as well as pointing out potential allergens in each recipe and ways to get round them.  

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3. Ready, Steady, Glow: Fast, Fresh Food Designed for Real Life by Madeleine Shaw: £20, Orion

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After the success of her first cookbook Get the Glow, nutritional health coach Madeleine Shaw returns with a fresh selection of recipes that are quicker and easier to make than her previous ones, while retaining all the health benefits. All of the recipes in this book are free from gluten and refined sugar, and all but a few are dairy-free too. Just because you’re avoiding dairy products doesn’t automatically make you a vegan, and delicious recipes like Chinese duck bowls and lamb cutlets with salsa verde are bound to satisfy even the carnivores, setting this book apart from a lot of other “healthy” cookbooks. But herbivores fear not, as the book does include a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options too, such as black bean shepherd’s pie with parsnip mash and sweet potato, quinoa and orange stew.

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4. Clean Cakes: Delicious pâtisserie made with whole, natural and nourishing ingredients and free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar by Henrietta Inman: £20, Jacqui Small LLP

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With dozens of colourful photographs of intricately prepared cakes, this impressive book by pastry chef and bakery owner Henrietta Inman is as much a feast for the eyes as her cakes are for the stomach. We particularly recommend this one for budding GBBO stars, or really just anyone who likes to spend a little longer making their cakes extra special. Free-from doesn’t have to mean free from fun, after all. As the title suggests, every single recipe here is free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar.

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5. Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book by Jennifer Katzinger: £16.99, Sasquatch Books

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Jennifer Katzinger started up the Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle in 2002, specialising in gluten-free and vegan baked goods. She also uses alternative sugars, and unlike a lot of other dairy and egg-free products, her recipes are also free from soy too. What made this book really stand out for us, however, is how unique it is in terms of the ingredients used – think blueberry cinnamon scones made with brown rice flour and chickpea flour, oaty biscuits made with teff flour and a pie crust made with cornmeal and ground pine nuts. There’s an explanatory chapter listing all the ingredients she uses in the books, pointing out where you can buy the ingredients and recommending some brands, too.

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6. The Happy Pear: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Food to Change Your Life by David and Stephen Flynn: £18.99, Penguin

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Twins Dave and Steve Flynn are not only local celebrities in their much-loved café in Greystones, Ireland, but they also have fans all over the world thanks to their popular YouTube channel. Their infectiously bubbly demeanour has seeped into the writing in their cookbook, and their no-fuss, no-nonsense approach to food makes their recipes particularly budget-friendly – they are ideal for people who are short of time, too. We particularly recommend this cookbook for those in search of quick but comforting dishes like Mexican black bean chilli and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Although there are a couple of recipes that use cheese and honey, the vast majority of the recipes are vegan, and gluten-free and refined sugar-free to boot.

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7. Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Motherf*ckers by Thug Kitchen: £16.99, Sphere

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Feeding a crowd of people including a gang with special dietary requirements can be tricky. This book will be your go-to for these times. So many people are vegetarian nowadays, and this book will enable you to create satisfying and crowd-pleasing dishes that are free from meat and fish, but also dairy and eggs. The recipes are all dished out with a wonderful down-to-earth sense of humour – “The only real VIP at any party is the food” – so we especially recommend this one for anyone looking for a good laugh.

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8. Livia’s Kitchen: Naturally Sweet and Indulgent Treats by Olivia Wollenberg: £20, Ebury Press

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Here’s a great book for anyone with a sweet tooth. All the recipes in this book are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and refined sugar-free, but what’s unusual about this book in particular is that a lot of recipes are also nut-free, which is quite unusual in the realm of free-from baking. Although some recipes require more expensive and hard-to-find ingredients such as maca powder, the majority are surprisingly simple and easy to make – think rice pudding made with coconut milk and peach crumble made with oats and maple syrup.

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9. Basque: Spanish Recipes from San Sebastian & Beyond by José Pizarro: £25, Hardie Grant Books

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Just because you’re avoiding dairy or gluten, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy normal cookbooks, and this particular one by acclaimed Spanish chef and restaurant owner José Pizarro is great for just this reason. Although it is not specifically a free-from cookbook, it includes a lot of recipes that happen to be gluten and dairy-free, such as griddled marinated quail and pan-fried hake. (The book doesn’t expressly state which recipes are free-from, so be sure to check the ingredients for your requirements before setting off). Although most of the desserts do contain dairy products, the majority of them are gluten-free – look out for the chocolate pots and chestnut flan. The book also gives you an opportunity to learn a lot about the rich culture and history of the Basque region of Spain, with the aid of stunning photographs.

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10. Nordic Light: Lighter, Everyday Eating from a Scandinavian Kitchen by Simon Bajada: £20.00, Hardie Grant Books

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“This book is not attempting to be raw, whole, vegetarian, Paleo or celiac friendly,” writes Simon Bajada in his introduction to this bible for Scandinavian eating. However, the majority of the recipes in the book tend to be all-inclusive. Even decadent-sounding desserts such as the saffron, pistachio and coconut pines, and the white chocolate, blackberry and rosemary mud slice can be enjoyed by those staying away from sugar, gluten or dairy products. (Again, this book doesn’t tell you explicitly which recipes are free-from, so you'll need to check the ingredients). As well as a chef, Bajada is also a photographer, so it’s no surprise that the book is filled with beautiful photographs that will transport you to the idyll of the Scandinavian countryside. The book also includes a helpful list of easy and budget-friendly replacements for anybody who doesn’t live within easy reach of ligonberries and birch syrup.

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Verdict

For anyone who’s cooking on a budget or in a hurry, we’d recommend The Happy Pear, or Madeleine Shaw’s Ready, Steady, Glow. But for convenience, innovative recipes, and mouth-watering photographs, our absolute favourite is Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking.

All prices listed are RRP

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