Food Allergy-Friendly Holiday Cooking and Entertaining Tips

holiday-themed cookies

Special holiday recipes often come with secret ingredients that are passed down from generation to generation. But, sometimes these tasty dishes contain allergic triggers and may be harmful for people with life-threatening (severe) allergies, since they are at risk for anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Food allergies, a common cause of anaphylaxis, are on the rise. And with an estimated one in 13 children in the U.S. affected by food allergies, cooking for holiday festivities can be a challenge.

Chef, cookbook author, blogger and mother of five children (including one with food allergies), Kelly Rudnicki understands the obstacles that may come along with this joyous season. Kelly has partnered with Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis™, an educational initiative that offers practical information to help communities better understand, get ready for and manage the potential consequences of life-threatening (severe) allergies.

With the holidays upon us, Kelly, on behalf of the Get Schooled in Anaphylaxis initiative, encourages everyone to be cognizant of each ingredient served at the table and to keep in mind these helpful cooking and entertaining tips.

Know Your Audience & Their Allergies 

Whether you’re baking brownies for second graders or hosting a dinner for extended family, it’s important to be aware of those with life-threatening allergies. This can be as simple as talking to the teacher about the students or including a note to guests in your invitation.

Food Allergy-Friendly Substitutions

With simple substitutions, many recipes can become allergy-friendly. Some substitutions that work well for Kelly include:

Substitutes for Egg Allergies

For people with egg allergies, replace with applesauce or another fruit puree, like pear (one egg usually equals about a quarter-cup of fruit puree).

Believe it or not, water often works as a replacement for eggs or milk – but it’s best to test the recipe before serving it to guests. And for people with nut allergies… skip the nuts! Think about using extra chocolate chips for recipes that need extra crunch.

Dinner Diplomacies

If you’re hosting, place ingredient cards in front of each dish, include separate utensils to avoid cross-contamination and invite guests with food allergies to serve themselves first. If you’re attending a party, always contact the host ahead of time to let him/her know about your food allergies. Kelly often offers to bring a dish she knows is safe.  

Plan Ahead to Avoid Allergy Triggers

Even by taking precautions to avoid allergic triggers, it’s still important for everyone to know how to respond to a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). People with food allergies and their friends and family should be ready to use an epinephrine auto-injector and seek immediate emergency medical care if anaphylaxis occurs.

Additional resources, including specific recipes and tips for dining out, can be found on


Kelly Rudnicki

Kelly Rudnicki, author of The Food Allergy Mama's Easy, Fast Family Meals, The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book and Vegan Baking Classics, can further discuss cooking and entertaining tips for an allergy-friendly occasion and offer her personal experience as a caregiver of a child with food allergies. Learn more on the Food Allergy Mama website.