What Are the Best Gluten- and Dairy-Free Dishes I Can Make for Thanksgiving?

published Nov 12, 2019
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My husband and I will be abroad over Thanksgiving, so we’re hosting an early one with our families. Two of the guests are gluten-free (one has celiac disease) and one is also dairy-free. I’m at a loss for what to cook. Does everything have to be gluten- and diary-free? Should I make two versions of things? We’re not tied to the traditional Thanksgiving menu, but his family are very plain eaters and I think anything other than meat and sides wouldn’t go down well. I’d love to show off my cooking skills and impress, but I have 0 experience with gluten-free cooking or baking. Please help!



Arie: Love this question! So, I think to answer your question “Does everything need to be gluten- and-dairy-free?” — I think it really depends on the allergies here. Like, if one of your guest is truly celiac, then I would think that really everything needs to be gluten-free. But with dairy-free, it really depends on their allergy.

Faith: Yeah, make sure to really clarify what “dairy-free” means to the guest. Some people mean that as, absolutely no butter or dairy of any sort. Others just mean, oh, I can’t eat straight ice cream or sour cream, etc.

Arie: Paging Lauren Kodiak, our resident gluten-free expert, for ideas.

Lauren Kodiak: Ooh yes, I have lots! So my favorite Thanksgiving hack is to make our 5-ingredient pumpkin pie filling, using sweetened condensed coconut milk (instead of regular) and just baking it in individual ramekins — so it’s crustless, dairy-free, and still tastes like Thanksgiving!

Arie: Oooo yum! Are there any stuffings you make?

Lauren Kodiak: I would opt for a wild rice stuffing or something of that nature vs. subbing GF bread in a regular stuffing.

Faith: Yes, or cornbread — some GF cornbread stuffings are so good, yeah?

Lauren Kodiak: Ooh yessss.

Lauren Kodiak: I think the only other dish that’s a big watch-out is the green bean casserole — if they use a thickened cream soup in there or put the French’s onion crunchies on top. But there are so many lovely fresh green bean dishes! Ina’s! My mom makes this one at Thanksgiving.

Grace: Ooh and that recipe won our green bean battle last year!

Faith: I also think, for desserts, try to avoid “subbing” or recreating and instead think outside the box of what might be considered a Thanksgiving dessert. It’s easy to have a pie for the gluten & dairy eaters; for the others, don’t try to make a GF pie crust. Instead, do a panna cotta or pudding for the gluten-free (a butterscotch pudding is WOWZERS on Thanksgiving).

Christine: For the gravy, skip the flour and thicken with a cornstarch slurry instead.

Faith: BTW this is a great post on how corn is so central to a GF Thanksgiving.

Patty: Don’t forget mashed potatoes! Meghan’s vegan mashed potatoes are dairy-free.

Grace: Oh yes! Those mashed potatoes are SO GOOD.

Faith: If the dairy-free guest is OK with butter in baked goods, this chocolate cake would make a stunning dessert for everyone. Or a pumpkin creme brulée for everyone but the dairy-free guest.

Chris: One gluten-/dairy-free dessert: Paleo brownies.

Arie: Oo here’s a good gluten-free cornbread stuffing. There is some dairy in it with the butter, but if the guest isn’t sensitive to that, that would be a great option!

Faith: Also don’t forget those famous cookies! The ones everyone can eat! Also our vegan thumbprints are gluten-free too I believe — I love those.

Patty: Crisps are great for GF too! You could swap out the butter for a vegan spread.

Sheela: We do also have a great GF pumpkin pie on the site! And you can use coconut milk to make it dairy-free!

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