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Gluten Free Thanksgiving Made Easy

November 10, 2012 by  
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If you have been gluten free for a while, you know that a great holiday meal is not as difficult as you thought it would be that first year. There is no reason to do without your old favorites. You just need to reformulate them. It may take some practice for some key items, so try out those important recipes before it’s time to serve them to your skeptical extended family.

Hosting a Thanksgiving celebration at your home makes it fairly easy to control the environment and the foods.

  • Make sure each item has it’s own serving utensil.
  • Keep gluten free items at one end of the table if serving buffet style.
  • Serve naturally gluten free items such as veggie trays.
  • Show your children what they can eat and don’t focus on what they can’t eat.
  • Make sure to have some special favorites for young gluten free eaters.

Being a guest in someone else’s home can be a bit more challenging.

  • Discuss the meal plans in advance with your host and confirm that they will not be offended if you bring many of your family’s altered favorites.
  • Choose what is most important and bring a few dishes to share, and don’t forget a great gluten free dessert.

Dairy Free: If your household needs to be dairy free as well, remember that you can substitute almond milk, rice milk or coconut milk for regular milk in almost all recipes. I prefer almond milk when I need a substitute.

Let’s Talk Turkey

  • Plain turkey is naturally gluten free, but read labels as some are injected with gluten containing broth or pre-stuffed
  • SOME gravy packets are gluten free, but not usually. Read labels, make your own gravy from scratch, or by premade gluten free gravy
  • Stuffed turkeys contain gluten

Gluten Free Turkeys

Here’s a list to get you started. Please add any brands you find that I’ve forgotten down in the comment section.

From their FAQ: “Only two of our retail products currently contain gluten: Butterball® Frozen Italian Style Meatballs and Butterball® Frozen Stuffed Turkey. Our gravy has been reformulated to eliminate gluten, but certain gravy packets may still contain gluten; it will be listed on the ingredient statement. Give us a call or use the contact us form on this page if you’d like to check on a specific product.”

Empire Whole Turkey and Turkey Breast

Foster Farms
“Our fresh natural chicken, turkey and individually frozen chicken are gluten-free. “

Honeybaked Ham/Turkey
As of two years ago, their glazes are Gluten Free, and their meats have always been gluten free. They have many products with gluten – sides and gravies, etc, but not the ham and turkey.

Honeysuckle White
Honeysuckle White Turkeys are GF
“The majority of Honeysuckle White® products do not contain Gluten. [Terryaki flavored strips, tenderloin and meatballs, do contain gluten] Always refer to product packaging for accurate ingredient statements. We don’t use flour on the conveyor belts in any of our Honeysuckle White® processing plants.”

Hormel Foods
Cure 81 ham and Hormel Black Label Ham are gluten free. Click the link to see their GF product list.

Their gravy packets “may contain gluten,” but most of their turkeys and hams are gluten free. Click link for complete gluten free list.

“Many PERDUE® products are free of gluten. Perdue chickens, chicken parts and turkeys are all gluten-free.”

Plainville Farms
“Yes, our turkey is gluten free and casein free. However, our turkey gravy and our homestyle dressing contain wheat. Our marinated teriyaki turkey tenderloins contain soy. Please read the ingredients labels.”

Publix Brand Turkey Breast
Fresh Young Turkey, Whole, Fresh Young Turkey Breast, Fully Cooked Smoked Turkey Breast
Fully Cooked Smoked Turkey, Whole, Ground Turkey, Ground Turkey Breast

Shadybrook Farms
“The majority of Shady Brook Farms® products do not contain Gluten.” Click the link to see their products that do contain gluten.


I often talk to newly gluten free folks who think they have to give up gravy. Not so. Substitute cornstarch, arrowroot, or a gluten free flour mix in place of the wheat flour and your gravy is as tasty as ever. Personally, I usually avoid flour mixes with bean in them for gravy. They make the gravy taste a little pasty for me.

Buy some gluten free turkey gravy if you prefer. Here are some options. I find the Imagine brand at most grocery stores.

Gluten Free Condensed Soups

No need to skip that favorite Green Bean Casserole. Use Pacific Naturals Gluten Free Condensed Soups in your recipe and it tastes the same. For the topping I’ve heard of people using crushed FritoLay Funyons, or try almonds, gluten free bread crumbs, or crushed Rice Chex cereal. You can even make your own “fried” onions with thinly sliced and battered onions (in gluten free flour of course) and then broil in the oven or fry in oil.

Facebook friend Marcia Kridner claims to have reproduced the crunchy onion bits for the top of her green bean casserole. Here’s her secret:
“You take about 9 shallots and slice them in to 1/4 inch rings. and take 1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted. You heat about 4 inches of oil in a deep saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sizzling. Working in batches, seperate shallots into rings; toss with cornstarch to coat, shaking off excess. Add them to the hot oil Fry for about two minutes until golden and crisp. You can make these two days ahead and store in airtight container.”

Details of the Pacific Naturals Soups

Here’s a recipe for your own Casein free, Gluten Free Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup, if you prefer. (From Gluten Free Cooking School)


Skip turkey that has been stuffed with non-gluten free stuffing while cooking – even if you skip the stuffing.

It’s easy to make gluten free stuffing! My family favorite used to be nothing fancy – Pepperidge Farms Herb Stuffing. Using Whole Foods bread stuffing cubes and this recipe, it tastes the same as we used to make it before! We used to make both versions, but all extended family members agree that the gluten free version is amazing, so we just make that one now. Click here for the recipe.

You can also make your own gluten free bread cubes by toasting a couple of loaves of cubed bread under the broiler in your oven – Or if you’re a corn bread stuffing person, Pamela’s makes a great corn bread mix.

Here are more gluten free stuffing recipes from New York Times blog.

Other side dishes

Here are a few others ideas if you are looking for more –

Pie Crust

Don’t be intimidated by making a gluten free pie crust! There are 3 pie crusts options that are my favorites. Kinnikinnick makes a new frozen fold out crust – just like the Pillsbury crust in the red box in the dairy case. Tastes flaky and great if you can find it. Here are the details.

My favorite pie crust mix is Inspiration. I’ve gotten this one at several stores in my area. Here are the details.

My favorite pie crust recipe is Grandma’s Pie Crust from Jules Gluten Free. Here’s the recipe.

If you have a Whole Foods store nearby, they carry several Gluten Free wonderful ready-made pies, Apple, Pecan & Pumpkin, as well as their own store brand pie shell in the freezer section, Gluten Free Bakehouse.

There are other desserts that are our family favorites that use other types of crusts. Here are some ideas for cookie crusts and graham cracker crusts. I’ve used all of these with much success.

  • Pamela’s shortbread cookies
  • Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies (like oreos)
  • Honey Nut Chex
  • Kinnikinnick S’morables or Graham Style Crumbs
  • Crumbled Chocolate Chip Cookies – any gluten free brand.
  • Nuts

Other Dessert Recipes

Here are our best pumpkin dessert ideas –

As always, this information is to serve as a guide only. Please double check labels yourself before consuming and products if you must abide by a gluten free diet. Confirmed for 2012

Have any other great holiday tips? Add them in the comment section below.



7 Responses to “Gluten Free Thanksgiving Made Easy”
  1. Carrie Gort says:

    Thanks for putting this resource together. Thanksgiving food is so important, and those of us who have to be gluten free can really feel left out – or afraid – or literally ill if we get gluten by accident. Wanted to let you know we shared the post on our FB page “Doesn’t Taste Gluten Free” to help spread the useful news.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. kelly says:

    Really closely read the label on the Honeybaked Ham Turkey Breast. After the company proclaimed it to be GF a few years ago, I bought one and got it home only to read that “wheat” was in the topping ingredients. Haven’t been back since.

  3. Nancy says:

    Kelly- It was only a couple of years ago that they changed the topping ingredients. They told me they phased in the new recipe to different locations. They claim they are all gluten free now.

  4. Debbie says:

    We had one Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. We made the turkey gravy with potato starch and it was great. We have family members with corn allergies so tried the potato starch for the first time. Thanks for the other tips. It is tricky to take into account dairy and corn allergies while remaining gluten free. I appreciate all help.

  5. Sherron says:

    This is my 1st Thanksgiving being Gluten Free. Is the a cornbread dressing/stuffing recipe out there?

  6. Nancy says:

    Hi Sherron- I picked up a box of this cornbread stuffing at Whole Foods the other day, but I haven’t tried it yet. I’d assume you can order it online, too.

  7. Laura says:

    Last year I stuffed my turkey with butter sautéed onions and fresh sage, salt and pepper. It flavored the turkey really nice and was a good side for the turkey.

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