Recipe

How to Host a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is a major commitment. Most of the time we get so caught up in preparing the menu, shopping list, plate settings and decorations, that we forget to think about who exactly is coming. Today there are tons of food allergies, preferences and restrictions that your guests may have. Whether you personally are gluten-free or not, it is always a good idea as the host to have an idea of what's on your table.

Guests will be extremely grateful if you present multiple options to them. While you aren't required to make your whole spread gluten-free (trust me, people are still expecting crescent rolls and pecan bars), having a main, a few sides, and a dessert for your gluten-free guests would be a nice gesture. And luckily, learning how to host a gluten-free Thanksgiving is easy; it really only requires a few substitutions here and there. You can even still serve stuffing.

#SpoonTip: If you are hosting a potluck-style Thanksgiving, ask guests to write down any common allergens that are in the dish they bring. This will help guests navigate the table without bombarding you with questions.  

The Basics (Naturally Gluten Free)

Turkey

The centerpiece. The MVP. The guest of honor. The turkey. It doesn't matter if you're having a party of 50, or just Thanksgiving with your parents, everyone deserves a beautiful turkey.  First time host? Stick to the basics with this simple roasted turkey.

#SpoonTip: Avoid deep-fried turkeys. It is very common for the turkey to be rolled in flour before frying to crisp up the skin.

Sweet Potatoes

A Thanksgiving dinner table isn't complete until the sweet potato casserole has entered the picture. Not a fan of marshmallows? That's okay, there are dozens of other ways you can make sure that this delicious root veggie gets on your plate. Whether you like them mashed, roasted, baked, pureed or glazed, there's a recipe out there to fill this part of your plate.

#SpoonTip: Don't automatically assume the casserole is gluten-free. While sweet potatoes are naturally GF, it is common for the streusel topping to have flour in it, so always ask the chef before taking a scoop.

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are likely a staple in your diet if you are gluten-free, so give them some love this holiday season! Don't be embarrassed if you don't have a mashed potato recipe down pat; we've got you covered with this mashed potato guide. Plus, I don't know about you, but mom's mashed potatoes are always better, even if we follow the same recipe. So just sit back and let mom take the lead on this one.

The Sides

Green Bean Casserole

Everyone can agree that a green bean casserole isn't complete without the crispy onions on top. Well good news, you don't have to sacrifice any part of this dish if you are gluten-free. Simply coat the raw onion rings in cornstarch instead of white flour before frying them. Since this is usually the only vegetable on most Thanksgiving dinner tables, it's important that everyone can eat their vegetables. 

Creamed Corn

Creamed corn is a traditional southern side dish, and possibly one of the easiest Thanksgiving sides to make. With just three ingredients, this gluten-free creamed corn is ready in less than twenty minutes, and still thickens like its gluten-containing competitors. If you haven't put this on your menu before, I encourage you to try it out this year.

Cornbread

While you might have to pass up the crescent rolls and biscuits, you can still top off your plate with a delicious piece of bread. Cornbread is the easiest gluten-free bread to make, and is practically fool-proof. Make it southern style with some fresh corn kernels, top it with honey granules, or bake them as muffins for single-serving grab-and-go breakfast leftovers. Feeling lazy? There's no shame in whipping up a batch from a packaged mix.

Gravy

Gravy, like many sauces and spreads, often contains flour to act as a thickening agent. If you want to channel your inner Rachel Ray, you can make your own turkey gravy, using pan juices from that delicious turkey you just roasted. Or, you can do what I do and add McCormick GF turkey gravy packet to your pre-Thanksgiving shopping list. 

The Stuffing

Stuffing is a Thanksgiving must. Sadly, it is also just a giant dish of bread. AKA gluten. Fear not, there is hope. Cornbread stuffing can be made GF, if you make 100% cornmeal-based cornbread to work with. Feeling adventurous? Try a tater tot stuffing.  Feeling lazy? Grab a package of GF stuffing from your grocery store. Less time spent cooking means more time for eating.

The Appetizers

Butternut Squash Soup

While you're finishing up in the kitchen and your guests are mingling, give them something delicious to bond over, like this roasted butternut squash soup. The secret is in the roasting. Roasting the squash before pureeing gives it a warm, toasted flavor, making the soup taste like a warm hug (seriously).

#SpoonTip: Feeling spicy? Try adding a crushed hot sausage to the soup for a kick. Prefer sweet? Add in a diced fuji apple to sweeten up the soup.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Hosting a fancy dinner party? Desperately searching through recipe books for mini finger foods to offer guests before the meal is ready? These stuffed mushrooms will save your party. To make them gluten-free, simply sub out the breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs; several brands make GF breadcrumbs now, or you can make your own by toasting your favorite GF bread and breaking it apart.

Cheese Ball

There are few people who would pass up a giant ball of cheese. A cheese ball is traditionally a combination of cream cheese, cheddar cheese,  spices, additional cheeses and nuts, all combined and rolled in whatever add-in you have chosen. This is an easy appetizer to put out, and you can customize the dippers for your guests. Try serving it with gluten-free crackers, pretzels, raw vegetables, or apple slices.

The Desserts

Pumpkin Pie

No matter how full you are, you always leave room for a slice of pumpkin pie. The only substitution you have to make to most recipes is finding a premade gluten-free pie crust. Forgot the crust and don't want to whip out the rolling pin? Make a crustless pumpkin pie instead.

#SpoonTip: Try pulsing your canned pumpkin in a food processor to create an even smoother and creamier pie filling.

Pumpkin Muffins

These gluten free pumpkin muffins are the perfect bite-sized sweet treat to end your feast on. If you don't have almond flour on hand, try these instead: pick your favorite GF boxed cake mix, and make two-ingredient pumpkin muffins. And if you can't squeeze one in after dinner, they make the perfect Black Friday breakfast (but let's be honest, there's always room for dessert). 

So get your stretchy pants ready, because you’re about to pig out like everyone else at the dinner table this Thanksgiving.