Festive and Fabulous Gluten-Free Golden Fruitcake

By Natalie R.Toney M.F.A.,C.H., Healthy Planet Food Editor 

When thinking of all of the decadent and delightful treats that are presented, exchanged, and devoured through the holiday season, most have visions of festively decorated cookies, candies, tortes, and pies in their heads (recipes for AIP/GF cookies and dye free icing in the Dec.2022 archives). Then there are those few who are dreaming of fruitcake, eagerly awaiting its arrival. My late mother and grandmother were the latter and could easily split one between them. Maybe not all at once, though by the new year every last dry crumb, and candied cherry would be gone. However, after decades of shunning the traditional “Christmas Cake” as it is often called, I crossed over to the other side. My late father made a variation that was somewhere in between panettone (an Italian rising bread, with fruits, and sometimes nuts, or chocolate inside) and a golden fruitcake the consistency of a pineapple upside down cake, which I have been trying to recreate ever since. One of the upsides to fruitcake is its versatility. Any number of fruits, nuts, spices, and liquid can be added in based on tastes, allergies, and diet. I have to be particularly careful of what dried fruits I include for myself due to a sunflower allergy, though many can be found without sunflower oil. Raisins, currants, cherries, cranberries, fig, dates, candied ginger, apricot, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, and dark chocolate are all popular choices for both golden and darker fruitcakes (darker fruits and ingredients deepens color, as does adding alcohol prior to baking). They can be baked in bundt, decorative, and loaf pans for serving and gift giving, and stay fresh for weeks with proper storage. While they are not exactly “health food”, they are certainly healthier than most holiday cakes, especially when modified using primarily dried fruits and nuts. Imbued with spirits, or a simple syrup, iced and decorated, or as is, you’ll likely hear cheers of joy instead of “bah humbug” when serving this festive and fabulous gluten-free fruitcake alongside the rest of your dazzling holiday desserts.


Careful not to overload batter with fruits and nuts, as cake will be unable to hold shape. To “feed” fruit cake after baking for added flavor and impart moisture, poke holes in top and either wrap cheesecloth soaked in chosen liquid, or pour a Tbsp + over the top, and additional Tbsp + on bottom and sides and wrap in plastic, and continue to do so for as long as stored,1-2x a week.(if curing with alcohol, store in dry, cool place, otherwise refrigerate). Most fruitcakes are made 2-4 weeks ahead of time in order to mature. Can keep 1 month cured with alcohol at room temp,6 mos.in fridge, or 1 year in freezer. Note that every substitution can alter results slightly.


  • 1 3/4 C. Gluten free flour (rice flour-based works best, coconut, and almond can be in the blend, tapioca can have a gummier consistency)
  • 1 C. Granulated sugar (1 C. Brown sugar, or 3/4 C. Honey, molasses, or maple for a darker cake, sweetness will vary)
  • 3 lg eggs (or non-dairy substitute, ex: ¾ C Applesauce=3 eggs)
  • 3/4 C. Unsalted butter, soft room temp.(or non-dairy substitute)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Xanthum gum (omit if flour has it) possible substitute: cornstarch, or psyllium husk-I have not used either for recipe, unsure of results
  • 1 orange for zest and juice
  • 1/2 C. Simple syrup, ginger syrup, fruit juice, or water(flavored brandy, rum, sherry, cognac, or bourbon if infusing with alcohol. Note that the cake will be darker depending on the juice/spirit used.)
  • 1 1/2 C. Mixed dried fruits
  • 1/2 C. Nuts
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp. Simple syrup, fruit juice, or chosen spirit to “cure” cake after baking.


Grease or line a 9×5 pan, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse fruit, having chopped any larger pieces in halves or quarters prior, let drain instead of patting dry. Beat butter with hand or stand mixer until fluffy, adding in sugar as you go. Mix in 2 eggs on low, then 1 C. flour until blended, then chosen liquid/spirit, remaining egg, flour, xanthum gum, salt, baking powder, zest and juice, any spices, and mix on medium until combined. Stir in fruits and nuts, and transfer batter to the pan. Bake for 60-70 min, rotating halfway through (check at 50 min.). Allow to cool about 15 mi. Before curing. Decorate if desired just prior to serving.

Yields 8-10 servings.