Gut Friendly Christmas Trifle

Let me say this now: If you’re feeling like you’re running on empty this Christmas, please choose a different dessert. This can be a joy to make when we’re in a good space, but with all the extra load (let’s be real) that Christmas brings, if you’re feeling the strain – this is not the dessert for you. It’s not hard. But there’s a few moving pieces that require some forethought and making in advance. There are plenty of easier and still delicious Christmas recipes out there.
If this trifle IS calling you, here we go….
My grandma made trifle every Christmas. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan. I mean, I love all the components separately, but together somehow seemed a bit of  mess. But at the request of a No Fuss coaching member, I attempted a gut friendly version this year for Jordan’s family Christmas.
‘Twas better than expected!
I liked it because with all the sweetness abounding in the feast, the sweetness of the trifle was there but it was subtle. All the elements of the trifle were delicious. The custard was yummy, the jelly was yummy, the gluten free almond meal cake layer was yummy.
To be completely transparent, this Gut Friendly Cherry Trifle looks amazing and tastes lovely for those who appreciate a trifle (my kids don’t like trifle), and those who don’t need a bucket load of sweetness on their plate. If you’re the one person in charge of dessert for extended family who love crazy amounts of sweetness on the regular, then they may like a sweeter dessert alternative, or you could try upping the sweetener in this recipe.
I really enjoyed it, the adults in my family really enjoyed it and it was a welcome addition to the Christmas dessert buffet on offer.
PS. Is trifle a lost art? Half the people at Christmas lunch yesterday didn’t know what trifle was! I mean, I thought it was an Aussie (or English) Christmas tradition!
To make this FODMAP friendly, simply purchase lactose-free milk (available from big supermarkets these days) and avoid strawberries when making the jelly. Swap out the cherry decoration with other fresh berries like blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Gut Friendly Christmas Cherry Trifle

Prep Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Setting: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 40 minutes


  • 1 Trifle bowl it'll make your life easier if the edges are vertical instead of angled but either is ok


For the Jelly

  • 1.2 kg frozen cherries or mixed berries
  • 8 tbspn gelatin powder grass fed or organic (sometimes found in the supplement aisle of health food stores). Some brands I like are Changing Habits, Thankfully Nourished, Nutra Organics.
  • 12 cups water filtered if you have it
  • 2 large lemon juice of
  • 8 tbspn maple syrup pure (not maple 'flavoured' syrup)

For the Cake Layers

  • ¾ cup coconut oil 160g
  • 12 eggs free range / organic
  • ½ cup honey 100g
  • 3 tspn vanilla extract or 1.5 tspn vanilla powder
  • 10 cups almond meal 1.2kg
  • ½ tspn salt sea salt / himalayan / celtic
  • 1 tspn bicarb soda

For the Custard

  • 500 ml milk organic if you can
  • 2 vanilla pod split and scraped or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup or 3 tablespoons of Rapadura sugar or 3 tbsp coconut sugar. For fructose free, do rice syrup or stevia powder to taste.
  • 8 egg yolk

For the Decoration

  • 600 ml cream
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 handfuls cherries


  • For efficiency, I suggest making the parts of the trifle all in this order. You can break it up over a few days or just bang it out in one session. You can even assemble the trifle a day ahead if you like, but I'd suggest leaving whipping the cream and placing the fruit on top until the day you're serving it.

To Make the Jelly

  • 1. You want to make your jelly first, because it takes about 4 hours to set and you need it to be set before adding the next layer.
  • 2. Simply double batch this 'Gut Friendly Jello' recipe:
    Follow the instructions until the jelly is ready to be poured into the container it will set in. Cherries or dark berries will create a darker more stunning colour than strawberries will.
  • 3. Pour your first jelly layer into the bottom of your trifle bowl. The amount will depend on the size of your trifle bowl, so just eye-ball it. You'll be creating 6 layers, so allow enough room for that. If you want your 2 layers of jelly to be the same height, measure the cups of jelly as you add it to the trifle bowl, so you can do the same for your second layer.
  • 4. Pour the same amount of jelly mixture into another container to set. I used a silicone cake tin. You don't need to worry about it being the exact dimensions of your trifle bowl, because once this sets you're going to cut it up into pieces to create the second layer of jelly.
  • 5. You'll have left over jelly. It's meant to be that way! Pour it into a bowl and set it in the fridge. You've just made a snack or treat for the kids (or yourself!) for later.

To Make the Cake Layer

  • Note: This cake recipe is attributed to Jo Whitton of Quirky Cooking. You can find her original recipe for 'Basic Almond Cake' here: I've had to provide specific instructions for it's application to this trifle, so I've included that below.
  • 1. While the jelly is setting, preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and grease 2 cake tins. I simply grab the butter from the fridge and rub it all over the cake tins. I used 2 square silicone ones about 20x20cm and it created a nice thickness.
  • 2. Combine coconut oil, eggs, vanilla + honey in a bowl and whisk.
  • 3. Add all other ingredients and mix.
  • 4. Using a 1 cup measurement, spoon 2.5 cups of mix each into 2 cake tins.. It will feel very shallow when you pour it into the tins. Trust the process - it will rise. If you need, use a wet back of a spoon to spread it out in the cake pan.
  • 5. With any leftover batter, pour it into muffin trays to bake with the cake layers, for snacks for later. #killingtwobirds
  • 6. Bake for 25mins or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  • 7. Leave to cool while jelly is setting.

To Make the Custard

  • Simply double batch this recipe:
  • I used 10 tspn tapioca flour to ensure the custard is thick enough.
  • If you don't have vanilla pods, use 3 tspn vanilla extract (though get the pods if you can - the flavour is insane!)

To Assemble

  • 1. Jelly: You'll already have your first jelly layer set in the trifle bowl. High five!
  • 2. Cake: Don't worry about not being able to cut the cake perfectly to size here. Nobody is ever going to know if you need to cut it into various shapes to get it to fit into the trifle bowl.
    The only thing you need to focus on is how it looks on the perimeter through the glass. Try to wedge the cake in tight so that it's flush against the wall of the trifle bowl so that the next layer (custard) won't cover the visibility of the cake.
    I found it easier to do my best to cut a circle cake, plop it on top of the jelly flush to as much of the wall of the bowl as I could and then fit pieces in around the edge that has space.
    Just do your best here and don't stress it.
  • 3. Custard: Pour your custard on top of the cake layer. It will be a thicker layer than your other layers but it does add a lot to the taste and texture of the trifle. If you feel it's too much for your trifle, that's fine - just reserve some to enjoy later.
  • 4. Cake: Repeat the process with your second cake.
  • 5. Jelly: Cut your other jelly that's in the fridge, into rectangles and place it like a puzzle as another layer.
  • 6. Cream: Whip the cream (you can add a little maple syrup if you like it sweeter) and pour it over the top of your trifle.
  • 7. Decorate with your cherries (I think leaving the stalks on and pointing up looked nice, and makes it more obvious that they still have pips in!) and then sprinkle on your pomegranate arils.
    To get your pomegranate arils out, you can either simply chop it in half, hold one half face down in the palm of your hand and bash it with the back of a spoon using your other hand. They'll fall out but you might get sprayed.
    Another method is here:
  • You're done! It's time to step back and admire your work. It won't look this pretty once people start diving in 😉 Merry Christmas lovely.


To make this FODMAP friendly, simply purchase lactose-free milk (available from big supermarkets these days) and avoid strawberries when making the jelly. Swap out the cherry decoration with other fresh berries like blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Course Dessert, Special Occasion - Christmas
Allergy FODMAP Friendly, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Legume Free, Nightshade Free, Oil Free, Peanut Free, Refined Sugar Free, Salt Free, Sesame Free, Soy Free
Value Vegetarian
Author: Laini Oldfield


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About the Author: Laini Oldfield

Laini is a mum of 5 and creator of STACKD Wholefood Blends, The Wholefood Collective + The No Fuss Nourished Method. She's coached tens of thousands of people on how to feel amazing using nutrition. She has a particular love for helping parents learn how to nourish their children and themselves without losing their marbles. Unconventional smoothies are Laini's obsession, and she's even developed a range of organic wholefood booster blends that target particular health goals and deliver maximum goodness in one complete and balanced meal. When she's not with her own family or coaching other families, you'll probably find her at the beach soaking up the sun and getting some much needed solitude.

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One Comment

  1. Danielle Cosgrove January 13, 2024 at 1:03 pm

    4 stars
    This makes A LOT! Which is awesome, but I overestimated the size of my trifle bowl haha I could have halved everything
    I think I overcooked the cake part a bit because it was quite dense, but I’m going to give it another go! I used the extra cake batter to make cupcakes but I think they need to be iced because noone at them (not sweet enough). The jelly was delicious but I forgot to smoosh the fruit up and then forgot to add the maple so I added that a bit later #cookingwithkids haha I blended up the strawberries and used them as a “sauce” to add another layer of colour to the trifle and to pour over the top. (I added a single piece of beetroot to it before blending to enhance the colour). In all, I will be trying it again next year!

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