Gluten-Free Thanksgiving: Do’s and Don’ts

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

This image of a gluten-free Thanksgiving courtesy of martha_chapa95

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving: Do’s and Don’ts

It’s that time of year again! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and those of us on a gluten-free diet have some planning to do. Although Thanksgiving is more complicated for gluten-free folks, there’s a lot you can do to ensure your Turkey Day is both gluten free and delicious. Our guide to A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving: Do’s and Don’ts solve some of the holiday’s biggest challenges with easy preventive measures, tasty recipes, and tried and true advice. Get ready – a legendary gluten-free feast is just around the corner.


DO: Talk to your host about cross contamination. Most Thanksgiving menus feature dishes that contain gluten, and in the flurry of preparation, it’s easy to overlook seemingly small incidences of cross contamination. Draw up a quick list of common culprits, and politely ask your host to prepare gluten-free dishes in thoroughly washed pots and pans, on clean surfaces, and in a separate toaster (or provide your own toaster bags). Even better, offer to come over early with your own dedicated kitchen supplies and help cook. Your host will be grateful to have an extra pair of hands on the big day.

DON’T:  Assume that your host has memorized the gluten-free guidelines you’ve outlined in years past. When it’s not your own diet, it’s easy to forget the nuances of eating gluten free. How many times have you told your aunt that you’re (still!) gluten-free, only to have her offer fresh baked cookies a few hours later? Play it safe and cover all the gluten-free thanksgiving bases with your host – you’ll stomach will thank you.

Turkey and Stuffing

DO: Verify the ingredients in the turkey. While the turkey itself should be gluten-free, any additional seasonings, marinades, broths, or gravy need to be triple checked. Plan ahead by finding out where the turkey will be purchased or prepared, and talk directly with the store or the person preparing the bird. There’s no excuse for failing to read the label – you never know where gluten may rear its ugly head.

DO: Make your own gluten-free stuffing – there are some great recipes and pre-made options out there. Whole Foods Market offers up a recipe chock full of vegetables and seasoning that only takes an hour to prepare. Udi’s stuffing recipe is as great option for those of us who already have a refrigerator stocked with Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, and the recipe is simple and straightforward. Trader Joe’s recently debuted their own Gluten Free Stuffing Mix, and at $5.99, it’s an affordable and flavor-packed alternative for the GF-inclined at this year’s (Gluten-Free) Thanksgiving dinner.

DON’T: Skip the stuffing this year! As the gluten-free market grows, it’s easier than ever to make a unique and satisfying stuffing alternative. We’d even recommend you make enough servings to share with the group – your gluten-free recipe might become a new family tradition. Gluten-free recipes often promote imaginative combinations,  bold flavors, and fresh spices. Who could say no to that?

Side Dishes

DO: Get creative. The upside of a gluten-free Thanksgiving is the reinvention of traditional (and let’s face it – often bland) holiday dishes. If you spent the majority of your childhood struggling through Grandma’s green bean casserole, now’s your chance to revamp her recipe. Even Betty Crocker is offering up a gluten-free alternative to this staple dish, and Foodista shares five different ways to make it. Isn’t it time to try something new?

DON’T: Get overwhelmed. Think back on the Thanksgivings of your gluten-filled yesteryear, and determine which dishes you miss the most. Most likely, every option at your Thanksgiving feast won’t be gluten-free. Narrow it down to a few of your must-haves, and ask close family members to alter their recipes to accommodate your diet. Send recipes their way well in advance so that they have time to ask questions, buy ingredients, and plan ahead. Even better: offer to host a gluten-free cooking party and show your family the ropes yourself.


DO: Treat yourself. Thanksgiving is a time for thanks, and we are (VERY) thankful for gluten-free pie crusts. If you’re whipping up your own pies this year, the the science of gluten-free crust is nearly perfected, and there are many options for pumpkin filling; canned or fresh. Not looking to wear the baker’s hat this year? Gluten-free pumpkin pies can be bought online or at local specialty markets, like Plum Market and Holiday Market.

DON’T: Risk it. Bring your own dessert, and steer clear of homemade treats that well-meaning distant relatives “think” are gluten-free. Even if a recipe is technically gluten-free, baked goods prepared in a non-dedicated kitchen are likely to have come in contact with flour on cooking utensils and surfaces. Cross contamination can quickly make a well-meaning attempt at a gluten-free Thanksgiving go badly, so play it safe, come prepared, and give thanks.

What is your favorite gluten-free Thanksgiving dish? Got any Turkey Day horror stories?  We’re here to listen. Please share them with us in the comments section below.

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