Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Tips & Recipes

While many of us look forward to the Thanksgiving feast with mouths watering and forks and knives in hand, the big holiday meal can actually give those following a gluten-free diet, nightmares.

Butter and wheat flour dishes abound at the Thanksgiving meal, all of which can prove dangerous to a gluten-free guest. Luckily, because the holiday is about bringing the family together around the table, you’re more likely to know if someone around your table is following the gluten-free diet.

While the term gluten-free has popped up more and more in culinary conversations of late, it’s still a diet many do not understand confidently. For holiday hostesses looking to keep Thanksgiving gluten-free, or at least gluten-free friendly for certain guests, we’ve put together this short and sweet guide. Complete with a few essential tips and definitions, as well as some delicious recipes to fit the bill, with our guide you can pull off a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast without much more work than you typically expect from the big meal!

What does gluten-free mean?

Before we get into the recipes, you’ll want to understand what exactly a gluten-free diet is! Definition wise, when a dish is said to be “gluten-free” it means there’s no gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale and malts. There’s still a lot of controversy over what a safe intake level of gluten is acceptable for those suffering from celiac disease who adhere to this diet, but if possible, we recommend nixing as much gluten from a dish as possible.

OK, but what ingredients are safe to use?

Gluten-free isn’t hard to understand, but how are you supposed to know if an ingredient is or is not gluten-free if you’re not following the diet strictly? There are a lot of sites like Celiac.com and MayoClinic.com with entire lists of approved ingredients. If you’re looking to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle, we recommend checking them out.

However, if you’re simply in search of recipes you can use for the Thanksgiving meal to keep it gluten-free, we’ve rounded up these recipes as substitutes to the most popular and traditional Thanksgiving dishes deemed a no-no for gluten-free diets.

Click through our slideshow for lots of delicious gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes.


  • First, the appetizers.

    Before the big feast there's often a big spread of appetizers. Make sure you get a few gluten-free options in there starting with these stuffed mushrooms from Clean Green Simple.

  • Bacon is gluten-free, so use it!

    There are a few foods that will make my family smile - bacon is at the top of the list. Gluten-free and always a crowd pleaser, these bacon potato bites from the Kitchn are really perfect for Thanksgiving!

  • Now, the Bird.

    Don't assume your turkey is gluten-free! A lot of producers will add gluten for either preservative or flavor purposes, so make sure you get your hands on a Thanksgiving bird that's deemed safe. Usually, so long as you find a free-range never frozen turkey you're all set, and once you do, we found a recipe over at Gluten Free Girl that is perfect for your feast!

  • The all-important stuffing.

    Perhaps the most daunting replacement for a gluten-free Thanksgiving is the stuffing. Most easily filled with non-friendly ingredients it proves the most intimidating one to reconstruct. Not to fret. Canyon Bakehouse has a delicious gluten-free stuffing recipe that uses their focaccia for a base. With a few easy additions, this stuffing is so flavorful, so delish and so perfectly paired, it'll become the family classic!

  • Mashed potatoes are OK!

    One popular Thanksgiving recipe that's typically gluten-free is mashed potatoes. They pair perfectly with turkey, are safe for all and a classic side dish found at most Thanksgiving feasts. We like this baked recipe from Recipe Girl - creamy, warm and delish!

  • Don't be afraid to jazz up gluten-free Thanksgiving sides!

    What's so great about adopting a gluten-free approach to Thanksgiving is that it forces you to abandon the old favorites. While there will still be a place in your heart for them, there's just as tasty sides out there, if not more delicious, to try - sort of like this bacon and goat cheese string bean recipe from Whole Foods.

  • Gluten-Free cranberry sauce is't hard to find.

    Cranberries are naturally gluten-free, so a sauce version isn't usually hard to find. However, if you reach for a can, it could be another story. To keep it safe and extra delicious we like this old fashioned cranberry sauce recipe from My Recipes for our Thanksgiving feast.

  • Skip the pie.

    Turning a pie into a gluten-free Thanksgiving dessert is a lot of work, but we promise - if you've got this pumpkin bread from Gluten-Free Goddess on the table, no one is going to miss the overly sugary treat.

  • Additional sweetness is OK, too, though!

    If you do have a sweet-tooth on a gluten-free diet at the table, whip up these tasty pumpkin whoopie pies from Deliciously Organic. We've tried the recipe and really loved it - plus it really wasn't any more challenging than a typical whoopie we've made in the past!

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