Gluten-Free Gleefully: Tips for How to Host a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

by Jen Wanous

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner can be a complicated dance with dietary restrictions. A gluten allergy is a new food red flag to pop up around many dinner tables. In this post, we’ll figure out how best to host a gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner so that you and your guests strike a savory samba, without too much stress.

It may seem daunting at first to make an all gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner, but let’s think about it, really all you have to worry about is the stuffing, gravy and pie. The turkey, cranberry, vegetable side dishes- even the mash potatoes are all already gluten-free. Great. Feels more manageable already, doesn’t it?

Here are some general tips for making a gluten-free Thanksgiving meal and following is how to modify the traditionally gluten-full dishes: stuffing, gravy and pie.

  • Keep it simple: choose to make the whole meal gluten-free. That way you won’t have to worry about cross-contamination and you’ll be making fewer dishes overall.
  • Don’t skimp on the fat. You’re already taking out one comfort food, gluten; you don’t need to take out the other, butter.
  • Have store-bought rolls available to appease your guests who eat gluten.
  • Be careful of hidden gluten ingredients. Gluten is in some sausages, gravy thickeners, bullion mixes and is in cream of mushroom soup. (Make fresh roasted vegetables instead of the traditional green bean casserole.)
  • For your vegetable sides dishes, always start with the highest quality, fresh, organic vegetables you can find. A simple side dish is olive oil, salt and rosemary roasted root vegetables (like carrots, yams, potatoes and beets).
  • Be open to creating new family traditions. It may be hard for you or other family members to adjust to new recipes for such a traditional meal but they will prove to be delicious in a whole new way.


Forego stuffing your turkey, besides the bacteria risk of possibly undercooking your poultry, your bird will cook faster and you’ll avoid any potential gluten cross-contamination. Bite the bullet and make your own stuffing. Of course it’s not as easy as the classic Stove Top, but you can make something much more robust and flavorful. I recommend making a gluten-free cornbread a couple days before and using that cornbread to make your own stuffing. Easily make your corn bread gluten-free by substituting a gluten-free flour mix, like Bob’s Mills in place of regular wheat flour.


Could there be anything more flavorful than roasted turkey drippings? It’s a great place to start! Add onion, carrots and celery to your roasting pan for an even more flavorful gravy. You can make your gravy just as you would before, by using pan drippings and turkey stock-only switch out the flour with an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix to thicken your gravy. Be careful when using a brined turkey, it can make for a gravy that is too salty. Be sure to taste your gravy as you go along, being careful not to add additional salt.


In my family, the guests always brought dessert. We would end up with plenty of pie, (enough for our tradition of pie for breakfast the morning after). You can ask your guests to bring dessert too, this way there will be lots of options for everyone. Just make sure you have at least one that is gluten-free. You can make a gluten-free version of pumpkin pie by foregoing the crust all together to make a personalized pumpkin flan in a ramekin. Or you can also make a nut crust to go with most any pie filling. For a basic nut crust add 2 cups of roasted nuts, a little sugar and some melted butter into a food processor. Press into a pie plate and add your desired filling.

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