Part 2: Smash Cake Alternatives for Allergy Friendly Birthdays

If you haven’t already, check out part 1 of this post with other ideas too!

Finding birthday cake ideas for a one or two year old with food allergies could be one of the most challenging and heartbreaking parts of the allergy journey. It’s so hard when you want your child to be able to enjoy all of the same things on their birthday as other kids, but you also want them to be safe.

When my daughter turned one, we had strawberries and Neocate infant as safe foods that she could eat because her allergies were so severe. It was a real struggle to find ideas for a baby’s birthday party that didn’t involve food, or that involved food with limited ingredients. When my son came along, he also had FPIES and was very limited on the foods he could eat. But, for his first birthday, we had more safe foods to work with, and I was actually able to make a depression cake and substitute out some of the ingredients. It wasn’t pretty but it held together, and we were able to put something on top that resembled icing.

Baby eating smash cake

You may be at a place where you need to trade out one of two ingredients and you’ll have a cake that looks great. Or, you may be here because you need something totally out of the box because a regular cake has too many ingredients and that’s not in the cards for this year. Either way, you’re in the right place. Below you will find a mix of traditional cake ideas that can be made with limited ingredients, as well as non-traditional cake ideas.

Depression Cake (AKA Wacky Cake)

This cake was born during the Great Depression era, when people needed to make cakes but there was a shortage of butter, milk, and eggs. This cake uses some crazy chemical reactions (vinegar and baking soda volcano flashbacks!) to achieve the light and airy texture that you would normally get from butter and eggs. It can be made gluten free as well by substituting whatever type of flour you are able to do. I made this for my son using coconut flour and coconut oil in the cake recipe. Then I froze a can of full fat coconut milk and beat it with a little bit of coconut sugar to make an icing. Coconut was one of our only safe foods at that time, but we were able to make a full cake out of it using flour, sugar, and oil all from coconut products!

Baby eating smash cake

Pancake Stacks

stack of pancakes with syrup

Stacked up pancakes make a great cake. You can even make a pancake out of just a banana and an egg if those are safe. Or if you have more safe ingredients you can make a regular pancake or one with fruit mixed in it. You can even make homemade whipped cream using just coconut milk and sugar to dollop on top. 


Jello is another really popular idea. My kids wouldn’t have been able to do this around age one or two because they didn’t have many safe foods, but there are a lot of families that can do this. You can also make your own jello using gelatin powder and fruit juice. Be sure to cut out shapes with cookie cutters for a fun, messy treat.


Stacked meringue or even small pieces of meringue is another great idea. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a sweet, crunchy concoction that is made from egg whites and sugar and literally melts in your mouth. Meringues can be formed into shapes and then baked for a birthday “cake” shaped like whatever you want. You can also make this using aquafaba (the juice that comes in a can of chickpeas) if eggs aren’t safe.

Piping bags can come in handy to pipe it into different shapes, and different piping tips can make them look like roses or grass or whatever design you want. Once you bake it, it turns hard and crunchy on the outside but once it hits your tongue it just melts like cotton candy would.

Meringues for birthday party


Chia Parfait - Cake alternatives

Chia-Pudding Parfaits are awesome, and can be made with just Chia seeds, Coconut Milk (or any alternative milk you want), and sugar. I used this recipe because it was pretty limited in terms of ingredients. You can swap out any of the sweeteners and any kind of milk or even use water if you don’t have milk. 

Watermelon Cake

Fruit rings or slices stacked up to make a cake – I’ve seen this one done a number of different ways. I’ve seen a large slice of watermelon with or without icing around the outside (this could be made with coconut cream that’s been whipped up or just plain). I’ve also seen people stack up slices of apple in a circle so that it makes a cake, then put the candle on top. 

Here’s a video with the watermelon cake idea, but you could use any fruit you like.

Just Enjoy It.

Whatever you decide to do, first birthdays are a time to remember and have fun. So if there’s guilt over not being able to have a traditional cake, squish it however you can. I carried it around for my daughter’s birthday and wasn’t really able to enjoy myself because I was too worried about what people would think that there was no cake.

When my son’s first birthday came around, I was already 2 years in to the FPIES life, and it didn’t bother me nearly as much. We did what we could and moved on. I was able to enjoy the day and I look back with really fond memories of that birthday.

Take a breath, enjoy the moment. Hopefully, FPIES will be a thing of the past for you guys one day and you can enjoy a cake-filled birthday party down the road.

Don’t forget to pin this one for later if you aren’t to the point of first birthdays yet…the day will come and you will want to remember that you have options!

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