Gluten Free Thanksgiving: How to Prepare the Best Menu for Your Guests
Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and a time to recognize all of the things you have to be thankful for. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, you may not be particularly thankful for your digestive system, but it doesn’t have to ruin your holiday.
Gluten free cooking is not as complicated as many people think. It may require the use of some alternative ingredients and a little extra planning, but there is no reason you and your guests can’t enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving meal that will be safe for everyone at the table. Who knows, you may even find that you enjoy the gluten free versions of your favorite holiday dishes more than the original!
In this article, we’ll talk about the challenges of serving a gluten free holiday meal and you’ll receive some simple tips for making your gluten free Thanksgiving a success. You’ll also receive a handful of gluten free holiday recipes to help you get started planning your menu.
Challenges of Gluten Free Holiday Cooking
Whether you’re new to gluten free cooking or a seasoned professional, if you’re serving up a holiday meal to gluten free guests you need to exercise caution. The last thing you want is for one of your guests to end up sick due to a mistake. Before you start planning your holiday menu, take the time to familiarize yourself with some of the challenges associated with gluten free holiday cooking.
Here are some of the most common challenges and pitfalls to keep in mind:
- Use caution when choosing your turkey – be wary of pre-basted turkeys and those that have been soaked in brine, marinades, or glazes that might contain wheat.
- Avoid gravy mixes in favor of making your own – white rice flour is a great substitute for wheat flour when thickening gravy.
- Don’t forget to swap out the wheat bread in your stuffing recipe for gluten-free bread – toast the bread before tossing it with the liquid to keep it from getting too soggy.
- Err on the side of caution by selecting naturally gluten free side dishes like potatoes and roasted vegetables instead of pre-made casseroles, where gluten might be hiding in the ingredients.
- Always double-check the package when using store-bought gluten free foods to make sure it is certified gluten free and doesn’t have any gluten-containing ingredients on the ingredients list.
- Be extra cautious about cross-contamination if you are preparing foods that are not gluten free – be sure to use separate cutting boards and serving utensils and keep items well separated.
- Label everything you are serving so your gluten free guests can be absolutely sure they don’t accidentally eat something that contains gluten.
Though there are certain challenges you’ll have to navigate when preparing a gluten free meal for guests, that’s part of the fun! If you love to cook, finding ways to turn your holiday favorites into gluten free versions can be exciting and you may even find that you like the gluten free versions more.
Simple Tips to Prepare a Gluten Free Feast
The key to having a gluten free Thanksgiving that goes off without a hitch is to plan ahead. Before you head to the grocery store for supplies, you should have your entire menu planned out. If you’re serving traditional holiday dishes, make sure they are gluten free or find an alternative recipe to try. Once you’ve decided what you’re serving, you can think about how to make sure it’s gluten free.
Here are some simple tips for preparing a gluten free holiday meal:
- Consider going all-out gluten free just to be safe – if you don’t serve anything that contains gluten, your guests will feel more comfortable, you won’t be risking gluten ingestion or cross-contamination.
- Start from scratch with your turkey to make sure it hasn’t been contaminated – the good news is that you don’t need a complicated recipe, just some butter and herbs.
- Make your own gravy and thicken it with rice flour or cornstarch – cornstarch will have a slightly gelatinous texture, so go with rice flour if you want it to be more like the original.
- Use yogurt instead of flour to thicken any casseroles you’re serving as side dishes – not only is it gluten free, but it is also healthier than flour.
- Roast a big tray of mixed vegetables as one of your main side dishes – it’s extremely easy to prepare for a crowd and everyone loves it.
- Purchase your own gluten free dinner rolls or check the freezer section at your local grocery store for options - if you can’t find any, consider making a batch of gluten free cornbread.
- Don’t skimp in the desserts! Schär has a variety of pre-made gluten free cakes, cookies, and chocolates you can serve.
When it comes to holiday cooking, there are no rules. Sure, you may have some traditions and a few favorite recipes, but it is never too late to start creating new traditions. Use this Thanksgiving as an opportunity to try new things and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll come up with a gluten free meal truly amazing that will have your guests clamoring to take home their share of the leftovers.
Gluten Free Recipes for Thanksgiving
Now that you have a better idea what pitfalls to watch out for you’ve received some simple tips for gluten free holiday baking, you’re probably anxious to get started! Here you’ll find a handful of gluten free recipes for Thanksgiving holiday favorites to try out this year.
1. Easy Roasted Turkey
- 1 frozen turkey, thawed (12 to 20 pounds)
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 8 cloves minced garlic
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 medium apple quartered
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and adjust the oven rack so the turkey can be set in the center.
- Stir together the butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs in a small bowl.
- Place the turkey on a roasting pan and remove the giblets from the cavity – pat dry with paper towels.
- Season the cavity with salt and pepper then add the lemon, onion, and apple as well as any herbs you have leftover.
- Rub some of the butter mixture under the skin over the breasts then tuck the wings under the turkey.
- Melt the remaining butter and brush it over the entire turkey.
- Roast for 13 to 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165°F.
- Start checking the turkey about halfway through and cover the top with foil if the skin starts to brown too quickly.
- Let the turkey rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
2. Gluten Free Gravy
- 2 cups chicken broth or turkey drippings (or combo of both)
- ¼ cup all-purpose gluten free flour
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- Salt and pepper
- Pour the broth or drippings into a small saucepan.
- Add the flour, butter, salt, and pepper then heat it over medium heat.
- Whisk the ingredients constantly to combine them.
- When the mixture starts to boil, whisk smooth then remove from heat.
- Adjust seasoning to taste and serve hot.
3. Gluten Free Stuffing
- 1 (24-ounce) loaf gluten free bread
- ¾ cup butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 medium stalks celery, sliced
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground sage
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth
- Lay out the slices of bread on a baking sheet and let dry for 1 to 2 hours.
- Cut the bread into cubes and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat then add the onion and celery.
- Cook until the onion is translucent then stir in the herbs and season with salt and pepper.
- Toss in the bread cubes then drizzle in the broth and toss to combine.
- Stuff the turkey with the mixture or bake in a casserole dish at 350°F for 35 to 45 minutes until browned.
4. Oven Roasted Vegetables
Servings: 6 to 8
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 2 cups chopped butternut squash
- 2 small zucchinis, sliced
- 1 medium red pepper, cut into chunks
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and lightly grease a large rimmed baking tray with cooking spray.
- Combine the broccoli, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, red peppers, and mushrooms on the tray.
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with garlic and thyme.
- Season with salt and pepper then gently toss to combine.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender then serve hot.
5. Gluten Free Cornbread
- 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 1/3 cup white sugar
- 4 large eggs, whisked
- 2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.
- Whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda then set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
- Whisk in the sugar then the eggs until well combined.
- Stir in the buttermilk mixture until just combined then set aside.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, xanthan, gum, and salt.
- Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet then spread in the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool for 5 minutes before slicing to serve.
This Thanksgiving, challenge yourself to make an entirely gluten free meal and invite your gluten free friends over to share it. With the right recipes and a little planning, you can prepare a delicious gluten free feast that will satisfy everyone’s hunger with leftovers to enjoy for days afterward.