Alternative Recipe in Place of a Birthday Cake

Posted 8.8.13 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

Did you know that Neocate is turning 30 this year? It’s true! We’re ready to celebrate. We’ve all come to expect that when you go to a birthday party, you’ll get to sing the “Happy Birthday” song, watch some candles being blown out, and enjoy a piece of cake. But what to do when the birthday boy or girl has a food allergy that means cake isn’t in the cards? Find a great alternative, add a candle, and keep the festivities going!

Birthday Trifle "Cake"

Instead of a cake, a trifle might be the next-best thing. You can layer almost any dessert-type items along with fruit in a trifle dish to make a dessert worthy of candles. It looks fancy, tastes delicious, and everyone can enjoy.

  1. Start by choosing fruits your little one likes in an age-appropriate form (pureed for 1st birthdays, cut into small pieces for toddlers, or slices for an older child).
  2. Add a layer of a favorite baked good, if you have a “safe” one to choose from, such as an allergen-free cookie. This could be whole, cubed, or even crushed into crumbs. Looking for ideas? Try the Neocate Food Allergy Cookbook.
  3. A pudding or something similar makes a great third layer. If boxed pudding mixes aren’t an option for your little one you could prepare a basic pudding from scratch with a starch-based recipe like this one by replacing the dairy with fruit juice, or you could use Neocate Nutra.

    We find that mixing Neocate Nutra with half the water that the directions suggest gives a nice pudding-like consistency. You could even make a flavored version by adding Neocate Junior to Nutra, as seen in these past blog posts: Chocolaty Nutra Pudding, Neocate Vanilla Pudding, Neocate Tropical Pudding.
  4. Once you choose your fillings just keep repeating layers until you reach the top of the trifle dish!
  5. Add candles and other decorations (if you can’t use icing, wash a plastic toy in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry for the ultimate “cake”-topper!).

Non-cake Birthday Cake

Looking for another idea? Check out this post that Mallory wrote last year for a clever suggestion that might work well.

In short: For kids who are not able to eat food at all, non-edible birthday cakes are an option. You can create one with a bit of imagination and some cardboard, foam paper, ribbon, tissue paper and glitter paint. Once you have the basic shape of the cake made out of cardboard (or foam), poke little holes in it and insert candles for your birthday boy or girl to blow out (just make sure to practice fire safety first!).

Remember: celebrating birthdays is much more than cake. By creating no-cake birthday cake you can still sing birthday songs and blow out the candles. Bonus! You can keep your foodless cake as a great keepsake.


The moral of the story is that food restrictions don’t have to stop you from giving your little one a happy birthday. When it comes down to it, birthdays are not about the cake but about the effort that goes into making your little one feel special on their day. With a little creativity, you can still have a great time celebrating another year and milestone.

Do you have a little one with a birthday coming up? What will you do to help them celebrate?



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About Us

Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.