Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Tips & Recipes

Publish Date September 8, 2023 4 Minute Read
Author Kroger Registered Dietitians

Is there anything more appetizing than a plate overflowing with warm, buttery rolls, fresh turkey and a hearty stuffing, all dressed in a rich and decadent gravy? If you follow a gluten-free lifestyle, this plate might sound like wishful thinking, but what if we told you that every ingredient was gluten-free? Since many premade food items contain gluten, and often in hidden or unexpected ways (read this article for more tips about Gluten-Free Eating), we’re sharing a few of our favorite gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes and tips to help you plan your own holiday menu – no gluten required. From swapping wheat flour for a gluten-free blend to choosing sides that don’t call for gluten to begin with, we’ll help you put together a gluten-free Thanksgiving meal that contains modified versions of your favorite classics, new and delicious flavors to try and more.

How to Spot Gluten

Gluten is a naturally occurring part of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley as well as any ingredients derived from these. Individuals affected by a gluten sensitivity or allergy can be sensitive to even tiny amounts of it (like crumbs or dust). Thus, even naturally gluten-free foods (e.g. oats, gluten-free condiments and fried foods) can contain trace amounts of gluten if there was cross-contact with gluten during manufacturing or preparation. Read labels and be diligent cleaning shared preparation equipment to prevent trace amounts. Not everyone following a gluten-free diet is this sensitive so if preparing food for someone else, check with them to see what precautions they need.

Follow these steps to determine if a product is gluten-free or not:

  1. If there is a gluten-free logo or claim, the product is safe, and you do not need to look any further! It can be in small print anywhere on the package.
  2. If the product is not labelled gluten-free, then read every ingredient and look for any gluten ingredients listed below.

    Wheat, wheat flour, semolina, triticale, durum, oats (not labeled GF), rye, barley, graham, malt (malt syrup, vinegar, extract), matzo

    Some condiments (marinades, sauces, dressings, barbecue sauce, teriyaki), breadcrumbs, panko, soy sauce, bouillon, broth, hot dogs, lunch meat, gravy, soups, baked goods, spice mixtures, yogurt or ice cream with mix-ins, veggie burgers

    Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, flax, legumes, millet, nuts, oats (labelled GF), potatoes, quinoa, rice, seeds, soy, tapioca, yucca, yams, fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs, sugar, honey, most dairy products, oils, herbs

Gluten-Free Appetizers

Though some popular holiday appetizers are naturally gluten-free, like hummus (serve with Gluten Free Crackers) others simply aren’t, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave them off your holiday menu. You can still begin the meal with warm, fresh bread by making gluten-free rolls. Another great way to start the feast is with a crisp salad made with homemade dressing, like this Roasted Pear Salad with Ginger Tahini Dressing. For something that offers elegant flavor but doesn’t require any utensils, consider Bacon-Wrapped Butternut Squash. As always ensure any ingredients and sides to recipes are gluten-free as well.

Gluten-Free Turkey

Since turkey is naturally gluten-free, you don’t have to worry when it comes to the meat. Most gravy and stuffing options, however, are likely made with gluten. We recommend bypassing the pre-packaged or pre-seasoned options and spicing the bird yourself. Use our interactive turkey tool to figure out how many pounds of meat you’ll need, read up on how to brine a turkey, then pick out the ideal recipe for your holiday feast, such as this Juicy Smoked Paprika Turkey.

Gluten-Free Stuffing & Gravy

Just because you can’t use regular bread doesn’t mean you have to skip the stuffing. For a traditional take on this must-have dish, try swapping classic bread with a revised version, like in this gluten-free stuffing recipe. Or serve up something new, like a flavorful Sausage Mushroom Rice Stuffing that works great as both a filling and a side. No time for homemade? Take a shortcut with a gluten-free, boxed stuffing option in-store.

Another holiday staple that’s often heavy with gluten is gravy. This creamy dressing is typically thickened with wheat flour, meaning it would be off-limits. Instead of serving a gravy that not all guests can enjoy, make a simple one yourself by substituting an equal amount of all-purpose gluten-free flour for the wheat flour in your favorite gravy recipe – guests won’t even be able to tell! For another shortcut, some pre-packaged and canned gravy options are made gluten free, like the Simple Truth Organic™ Turkey Flavored Gravy.

Gluten-Free Sides

  • Potatoes - Typically made with potatoes, butter and cream, mashed potatoes are a staple dish that, thankfully, don’t normally contain gluten. Keep things traditional with classic Fluffy Mashed Potatoes or sweeten the deal with Browned Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes. If the recipe has more ingredients, then ensure they are gluten free.
  • Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese - Whether serving adults, kids or both, macaroni and cheese is another must-have holiday dish that’s typically off the table for those avoiding gluten. You can still make this indulgent dish by easily swapping standard noodles for a gluten-free pasta (Pro tip: since gluten free pasta can quickly become soggy when overcooked, be sure to follow package directions and err more towards an “al dente” or firm texture). Some recipes may have wheat flour as a thickener in the cheese sauce, but you can substitute equal parts of all-purpose gluten-free flour instead. This year, enjoy a modified take on the comforting classic with a gooey gluten-free Baked Macaroni and Cheese.
  • Gluten-Free Cooked Vegetables - A well-rounded holiday meal calls for a rainbow of cooked vegetables. Luckily all vegetables are naturally gluten free, just be sure any enhancing sauces or spices are gluten-free as well. Impress with a delicious selection of Roasted Vegetables with Honey Horseradish Glaze. If your oven is occupied, use your stove top to cook the veggies, like how this sweet and savory Cinnamon-Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash is prepared.
  • Gluten-Free Desserts - We have our eyes on the pies and there’s no gluten in sight! Finish the meal with homemade treats that exclude unwanted ingredients and load up on incredible flavor. Consider dazzling guests with an Oatmeal Pecan Pie or fun and festive Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting. Is it not a holiday without your family pie recipe? Grab a gluten-free pie crust in the freezer section or a gluten-free pie crust mix in the baking aisle and fill it with memories (be sure to swap any gluten ingredients in the filling with a gluten-free substitute of course).

Now it’s time to celebrate the holiday! Start your holiday planning with hosting tips, fresh food ideas, learn cooking hacks, and shop ingredients.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Gluten-free Thanksgiving Menu