5 Tips To Making Thanksgiving Dinner Gluten-Free

Written By: Sofia Layarda, MPH

Title: Master of Public Health

Alumni: University of California, Berkeley

Last Updated on:

Mention Thanksgiving and immediately an image of family gathering around a table loaded with food comes to mind. But what to do if some of your expected guests this year require gluten-free dishes? Here are some tips to make your Thanksgiving gluten-free yet enjoyable for everyone.

How to Create A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal

First, let’s celebrate: many Thanksgiving staples are already gluten-free. Think about it: mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables, green beans, fresh salad full of vegetables, and the centerpiece of roasted turkey – that’s already practically the whole meal. The tricky part comes in the stuffing, gravy, sauces, soups, and dessert items – many of which require some sort of flour or starch for thickening or texture.

We interviewed gluten-free expert author and registered dietitian Shelley Case and here are five practical tips:

  1. No wheat extras in your meat: Some turkeys are injected with flavorings that contain hydrolyzed wheat protein or modified wheat starch, which can be a serious problem for celiac disease sufferers. Be careful and check the label to be sure you are buying a plain turkey with no unwanted extras. The same goes for ham – flavored honey ham, for example, may have wheat starch in the glaze.
  2. Spices, bouillon cubes, or prepared broth: Check ingredient lists to ensure that there are no wheat ingredients.
  3. Gluten-free stuffing: Traditional stuffing uses bread or bread crumbs. To make a gluten-free stuffing, simply toast gluten-free bread in the oven. Another alternative is using brown rice or wild rice.
  4. Gravy: Corn starch is the easiest gluten-free way to thicken gravy.
  5. Dessert:
    • Fruits are naturally gluten-free. Serve a chocolate fondue with cut-up fresh fruit. But be aware when choosing the chocolate for your fondue; make sure it contains no barley malt as an ingredient.
    • For pie crust, go with crushed gluten-free graham crackers, or go crustless and pour the filling directly into a ramekin dish.
    • Gluten-free flour works in many bakery products. But if you only bake gluten-free occasionally, it’s easier to go with commercial gluten-free cake mixes, such as  those from Kinnikinnick, Bob’s Red Mills, or King Arthur, so you don’t have a bunch of leftover flour. Alternately, Bob’s Red Mills has gluten-free oats that you can use to make fruit crisp.

The Bottom Line

By using practical tips from the list above, you can create a gluten-free Thanksgiving that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of whether they have a gluten allergy. If you still decide to serve gluten-containing dishes, be sure to have separate sets of serving utensils to avoid contaminating the gluten-free items.


dinner, gluten free, seasonal celebrations, Thanksgiving


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