a gluten-free thanksgiving table with pumpkins, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, turkey, and indistinguishable, blurred dishes

Simplify Your Gluten-Free Thanksgiving! (Free Printable Planner, Recipes & Tips)

Our first Thanksgiving after celiac disease entered our world was overwhelming. If this is your first Thanksgiving since your diagnosis, you know the feeling. Hosting Thanksgiving can be daunting enough, without all of the added challenges of learning to make it gluten-free.

I am proud to say that we hosted a fabulous gluten-free Thanksgiving that first year and every year since.

You, too, will quickly find your new gluten-free rhythm to Thanksgiving. Let’s get started!

Ready to start planning your gluten-free Thanksgiving? Get your free printable “Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Planner” which includes a to-do list leading up to Thanksgiving, gluten-free menu with recipe links, shopping planner, cooking schedule, and printable menu to display.

Text: gluten-free Thanksgiving planner, logo with blue-green cloud and text: Go Gluten Freely, four orange pumpkins along the bottom of the page

Some of the links on this post are affiliate links. To learn more, visit our Disclosures.

gluten-free Thanksgiving menu, teal background, white text: Thanksgiving menu, entree, rosemary roasted turkey, sides, crockpot stuffing, cream cheese mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, corn, cranberry-kale salad, spiced cranberry sauce, gluten-free sourdough rolls, dessert, pumpkin cheesecake bars

Let’s tackle each of these dishes, one at a time:

Gluten-Free Turkey

Most turkeys are naturally gluten-free, but check the label, as there is the possibility that a brine, marinade, or injection in your turkey could contain gluten.

I personally use Butterball turkeys the company states that its Butterball fresh and frozen raw unstuffed turkeys are always gluten-free.

Watch out for gluten in turkey recipes, sometimes flour is added to a rub or marinade.

Close up of the body of a roasted turkey with a sprig of rosemary resting on top
Gluten-Free Rosemary Roasted Turkey
This Rosemary Turkey roasts quickly in an oven bag, keeping it juicy and tender for your Thanksgiving dinner. The bag is removed for the last 15 minutes of cooking for perfect, crispy skin. The oven bag is also helpful for cooking a gluten-free turkey in someone else's gluten-filled kitchen.
Check out this recipe

Prep ahead tip! you can prep the chopped rosemary, whole rosemary sprigs, celery stalks, and sliced onion the night before Thanksgiving when you are chopping vegetables for the stuffing and roasted vegetable side dishes.

Put that leftover turkey to good use with Gluten-Free Turkey Pot Pie (an Easy 1-Skillet Recipe). It’s quick and easy to make in one skillet, with leftover turkey, leftover veggies, and even a leftover pie crust!

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Many of your family recipes are probably already naturally gluten-free: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and roasted vegetables.

Others are simply gluten-full: gravy, stuffing, cornbread, and dinner rolls.

We’ll cover everything with this delicious lineup of gluten-free Thanksgiving sides.

Gluten-Free Gravy

During the 15-20 minutes that the turkey is resting, quickly whip up gravy from scratch using the gravy recipe in my rosemary turkey recipe card.

Shortcut idea! Purchase ready-made McCormick’s turkey gravy. It’s labeled gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Stuffing

gluten-free stuffing in a white oval bowl with a sprig of rosemary
Slow Cooker Gluten-Free Stuffing
This flavorful Gluten-Free Stuffing is made in your slow cooker, saving precious space in your oven on Thanksgiving Down. It is a crowd-pleaser. For a traditionally gluten-full side dish, it is wonderful to know this fabulous dish will have your guests reaching for seconds, never missing the gluten!
Check out this recipe

The stuffing is the first thing you’ll tackle in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day. You’ll start with a store-bought gluten-free stuffing mix to keep it easy (Trader Joe’s is amazing). Once you have spent about 15 minutes sautéing vegetables and mixing the ingredients together in your slow cooker, you only have to check on your stuffing after 45 minutes to lower the temperature. Then it is truly “set it and forget it!”

Prep ahead tip! Chop the vegetables the night before.

Make-Ahead Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

These make-ahead cream cheese mashed potatoes can be made and refrigerated up to two days before Thanksgiving. Your turkey will be cooking at 350°, so adjust the reheat cooking time for the mashed potatoes down to 35-45 minutes, if you have one oven.

Mix it up with these options:

  • Substitute red potatoes and leave the potato skin on for extra vitamins and color.
  • If you don’t want to make these ahead, follow steps 1 & 2 only in the make-ahead cream cheese mashed potatoes recipe. Enlist a second pair of hands to manage the mashed potatoes. Your day-of mashed potatoes will take about 45 minutes from start to finish, and they are pretty hands-on during the busiest time in your Thanksgiving kitchen.

Shortcut idea! Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes are labeled gluten-free. For a homemade look and taste, add a little cream cheese, sour cream, and a sprinkle of chopped, fresh parsley.

Gluten-Free Cornbread

Cornbread is another easy side to make undetectably gluten-free. It already has a bit of a natural crumble, since it’s made from corn flour. And the secrets of gluten-free baking come into play when using corn flour, making it easy to bake up cornbread with an exceptionally tender crumb.

Like all gluten-free bread, I highly recommend you serve gluten-free cornbread warm.

2 squares of gluten-free cornbread stacked, with honey being poured on top by a honey dipper.
Gluten-Free Honey Cornbread
Delicious gluten-free homemade cornbread, sweetened with honey, soft and fluffy in the middle with perfectly crispy edges!
Check out this recipe

Shortcut Tip! There are gluten-free cornbread mixes on the market if you need to save a little time.

Roasted Vegetables

Vegetables are naturally gluten-free and roasting brings out the best flavor of even the most maligned vegetable.

Simply roast 3 lbs of your favorite traditional, fall vegetable(s) tossed in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Think of brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, onions, and beets.

Once you have chosen your vegetables, follow these simple steps to serve 12 guests:

  1. Cut 3 pounds of vegetables into roughly 1-inch square pieces. Note that sweet potatoes take longer to roast, so keep them separate and start roasting them 10 minutes before the other vegetables.
  2. Toss vegetables in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Add any combination that pleases you of chopped bacon/prosciutto, garlic, spices, and a sprinkle of fresh parmesan.
  3. Spread vegetables out on a full-size baking sheet or two half-sheets.
  4. Roast at 350° for 35-45 minutes. Increase the temp to 425° during the last 10 minutes, after you remove the turkey to get the wonderful crispy, caramelized finish that makes roasted vegetables delicious.

Roasted vegetables are incredibly forgiving in terms of roasting temperature, time, and seasonings. But, if you are uncomfortable not having a very precise recipe, here’s an easy one for Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon.

Make ahead tip! Cut your vegetables (and bacon/prosciutto) the night before.

Space-saving and mess-saving tip! It is Thanksgiving, after all, and your fridge will be crowded. To alleviate tight space in the refrigerator, store your prepped vegetables in a gallon ziplock bag. Before roasting, add olive oil and salt (or any other chosen add-ins) and toss the vegetables still in the bag. They’ll toss evenly, go straight from the bag to the baking sheet, and you will have fewer dirty dishes.


Despite how many carbs are already on the table, corn is a must-have for my husband at Thanksgiving. You can keep this as simple as heating up canned corn in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Optionally add any or all of the following: 1-2 tablespoons butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper before heating.

Cranberry-Kale Salad

Kale cranberry salad with fresh orange wedges.

Eat Smart’s Sweet Kale Salad is my go-to salad year-round, but it is especially suited to holiday meals with its included cranberries and pumpkin seeds. It’s labeled gluten-free and comes with poppy seed dressing in the bag. You can serve it as-is or dress it up with fresh orange wedges.

For a bigger crowd, it’s worth picking up a two-pack at your local Costco.

Last minute time saver! Mix your salad during the lull in the kitchen after starting your crockpot stuffing and roasted turkey. When it’s time to get all of the food on your holiday table, your salad will be ready to go in a serving dish.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce in a white bowl on top of a black and white plaid dishtowel.
Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce
Spiced Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce is full of seasonal flavors and warm spices. The perfect addition to your holiday table!
Check out this recipe

While cranberry sauce is naturally gluten-free, that can change if your once you start to get a little fancy with your recipe. Read our gluten considerations for homemade cranberry sauce and take a closer look at everything you are adding from alcohol to spices.

The above article also includes store-bought cranberry sauce options, which are helpful if you need to cut corners when bringing your own gluten-free meal to a gluten-filled family Thanksgiving.

Make ahead! Because you can make this side dish up to three days ahead, it is so easy to include on your Thanksgiving table, while keeping your holiday meal stress free.

Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls

This one can be a challenge. Serving guests who are not regularly on a gluten-free diet requires our very best gluten-free bread, served warm. Brush a little olive oil or butter on top. Optionally, add a sprinkle of salt and chopped rosemary. Definitely warm the bread in the oven before serving. Here are a few options that are undetectably gluten-free:

  1. Bread SRSLY Gluten-Free Classic Sourdough Dinner Rolls are my personal favorite dinner roll for Thanksgiving. Your guests will not notice they are gluten-free unless you tell them.
  2. Gluten-free Croissants from the Mariposa Baking Company taste exactly like a traditional croissant with rich, buttery, layers, but only buy them for a crowd if you want to splurge.
  3. Udi’s Gluten-Free French Baguettes or Classic French Dinner Rolls are fairly ubiquitous. Look for them in your grocery store’s freezer section.
  4. For a sweet option, Canyon Bakehouse makes Gluten-Free Brioche-Style Sweet Rolls. In my area, I have only been able to find them in Walmart.

Use the Promo Code GlutenFreely for 15% off your first Bread SRSLY order of Classic Sourdough Dinner Rolls!

Bread SRSLY Gluten-Free Sourdough

Thanksgiving Appetizers

row of three baked prosciutto-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, sitting on a wood & marble cutting board

Prosciutto-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese are my favorite appetizer for just about any gathering. Or choose one of these 60+ Gluten-Free Appetizers to satisfy your guests’ appetites while watching football or waiting for the big meal.

Thanksgiving Desserts

Depending on the size of your crowd, choose one or more of these Thanksgiving desserts:

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

There’s nothing more classic than pumpkin pie.

birds eye view: most of a pumpkin pie with pastry leaf shapes decorating the side and five in the center, plaid blue/aqua dish towel in the background
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
The BEST Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie recipe with an easy, flaky crust. The delicious pumpkin filling is packed with your favorite fall spices & brown sugar for even more seasonal flavor.
Check out this recipe

Shortcut tip! Making your own crust is so easy. But, if you want a shortcut Wholly Gluten-Free Pie Shells are a great option. These shells are fairly shallow, so you will end up with a little leftover pie filling (but not enough for a second pie).

Make ahead tip! Make your gluten-free pumpkin pie the day before and store it in the fridge until time to serve.

I like to make Homemade Maple Whipped Cream during the lull between dinner and dessert. Or rather, my stand mixer makes whipped cream while my coffeemaker brews coffee. Note, that you do have to double the recipe to use a stand mixer, but that’s usually the perfect amount for a Thanksgiving gathering.

Store-bought whipped cream also does the trick. Reddi-Wip is labeled gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Birds eye view: orange mini pumpkin and a swirled pumpkin cheesecake bar on a wood and marble cutting board on top of an orange dish cloth.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Easy-to-make, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are the perfect combination of pumpkin pie and cheesecake, swirled together in a buttery, gluten-free, graham-cracker crust.
Check out this recipe

These Pumpkin Cheesecake bars are as easy as pumpkin pie and are a great make-ahead dessert. The bars serve 12, or can be cut up into bite-size pieces and added to a Gluten-Free Dessert Charcuterie Board with Gluten-Free Mini Cranberry Tarts, Gluten-Free Gingersnaps, 3-Ingredient Cream Cheese Caramel Dip, and fresh fruit.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pasties

Mini pumpkin and 3 pumpkin pasties with lightning-shaped vent cut on a cutting board.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pasties
Pumpkin Pasties are a unique twist on pumpkin pie. Harry Potter fans will recognize them as a holiday treat from the series. Of course, unless you are randomly planning a Harry Potter-themed Thanksgiving, replace the lightning scar on top of the hand pies with 2-3 slits to vent your pasties.

Time Saving Tip! To save time on Thanksgiving, assemble your pumpkin pasties the day before and pop them in the oven when you head to the table for dinner. Remember to set a timer to take them out. By the time your guests are ready for dessert, your pumpkin pasties will have cooked and cooled slightly to be perfectly ready to eat.

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

It’s still apple season! Choose from these rustic and delicious apple desserts. The recipe cards include instructions to make them with and without festive cranberries!

gluten-free apple crisp in a white pie dish with a Burgundy trim, small chalkboard sign on the white, wood table reads: apple crisp
Gluten-Free Apple-Cranberry Crisp
Easier than apple pie (and better tasting), this delicious gluten-free apple crisp recipe is simple enough to make with kids and is an excellent addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table.
Check out this recipe

Make ahead tip! Similar to the pumpkin pasties, assemble your apple crisp the day before and bake it while enjoying your Thanksgiving meal. It takes longer to bake than the pasties, so be sure to get it in the oven as soon as the turkey comes out.

gluten-free apple galette on browned parchment paper
Gluten-Free Apple Galette
This Gluten-Free Apple Galette is simple but impressive. The rustic crust is flaky, and the filling is packed with fall flavors.
Check out this recipe

More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas:

Simplify with Shortcuts

Using the following shortcuts to make what you can ahead of time will keep your day-of cooking enjoyable and unhurried.

turkey with a sprig of rosemary on top and tied legs, on a bed of vegetables on a round white plate on a table with unidentifiable side dishes

Shortcuts & Ready-Made Options

Supplement your cooking with some entirely pre-made options or leverage a few pre-packaged products to shorten the preparation time for your recipes. Here is a quick review of the shortcuts we have already covered:

Make Ahead

Take advantage of the quiet(er) day before Thanksgiving to set your table and make a few dishes in advance:

  • Wash and chop all vegetables for your stuffing and roasted vegetable side dishes.
  • Make cranberry sauce 1-3 days ahead.
  • Make mashed potatoes 1-3 days ahead.
  • Make or assemble desserts the day before. Pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake bars are served chilled and can be baked the day prior. Apple crisp and pasties are served warm and can be assembled the day prior and baked during your Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Potluck: Celiac-Safe Dishes Your Guests Can Bring

hands of guests serving themselves from a potluck of salad, olives, and other serving dishes that are blurred with unidentifiable ingredients

Most folks are used to bringing a side dish or dessert to Thanksgiving. If you are maintaining a gluten-free home to prevent cross-contamination, it is important to kindly and briefly explain the importance of that standard to guests and offer some options that are safe.

We have a handful of friends and family who understand cross-contamination well and are comfortable and willing to make a gluten-free dish in their homes. If you have Thanksgiving guests that fall into that category, you can set them loose on taking on one of your side dishes.

Consider that there could be a place at your table for a dish that is gluten-free, but not cross-contamination-free. If the gluten-free folks don’t care if they skip green bean casserole, but it’s an important tradition for your aunt, ask her to make it with gluten-free fried onions and gluten-free cream of mushroom soup. Double-check her recipe for any unexpected ingredients, such as flour or soy sauce, and point her to gluten-free alternatives like Tamari for soy sauce. Everyone is happy and no one gets sick!

Allow your guest to prepare an easy side dish in your kitchen. It could be as simple as picking up the Cranberry-Kale salad from Costco and assembling it in your home. Or your guest could make a more hands-on side dish if you have the space in your kitchen. (and oven!)

Guests can bring gluten-free prepackaged items. Suggest safe brands!

  1. Beverages, such as sparkling cider or wine.
  2. Gluten-Free Ice Cream: Breyer’s vanilla ice cream is affordable, easy to find, and labeled gluten-free.
  3. Pre-packaged fruit and veggie trays for appetizers.
  4. Pre-packaged foods for a simple charcuterie board that can be assembled in your kitchen: gluten-free crackers, Boar’s Head deli meat, goat cheese, and grapes still in the package (wash in your colander).

Make a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dinner in a Gluten Kitchen

white subway tile, kitchen wall with shelf holding dishes, rack holding dishes and utensils, kitchen counter with jars and mugs, stoves with a white kettle and white, overhead vent

This can be done! I cooked an entire gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner in my sister’s very gluten-y kitchen. Ok, her kids did require wheat bread with their meal. Everything else was gluten-free. Most importantly, Miss E and I did not get glutened.

Here are my tips!

  1. Take advantage of every shortcut and pre-packaged item available. This is the time to doctor up Bob Evans mashed potatoes, buy frozen gluten-free pie crusts, and Reddi-Wip.
  2. Choose a simple dessert, like pumpkin pie or apple crisp.
  3. Follow the make-ahead tips, so you can be relaxed and focused while preparing each dish.
  4. Place an online grocery order for pickup or delivery to simplify shopping in advance.
  5. Purchase items with a risk of cross-contamination in a gluten kitchen, such as gluten-free flour, sugar, and spices. Or bring pre-measured quantities from home. Don’t use your host’s open sugar, where a measuring cup may have double-dipped between flour and sugar.
  6. Pack a Celiac Travel Kit with your own skillet and spatula (for making cranberry sauce and sauteing vegetables for your stuffing). If your host has pans that can be thoroughly cleaned, you can safely use them.
  7. Include a flexible cutting board in your Celiac Travel Kit for chopping vegetables.
  8. Aluminum foil will keep your roasted vegetables and gluten-free bread from cross-contamination while using a “well-loved” baking sheet.
  9. Similarly, an oven bag will separate your turkey from an old roasting pan and rack that may have gluten residuals from previous holiday meals.
  10. Mix your ingredients in glass or metal bowls (scratched plastic can harbor small amounts of gluten). Or use zip lock bags to toss vegetables in oil and mash together butter, oats, and flour for your apple crisp.

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving in a vacation rental home, download your free copy of Go Gluten Freely’s Vacation Rental Planner, to get the full Celiac Travel Kit List and meal planner to cover you for all meals during your vacation.

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8 Thanksgiving Tips for the Gluten-Free Guest

Slices of turkey laid out in two rows.
Turkey Tenerloin takes 1 hour (including a 30 minute marinade) and makes 4 servings. It’s the perfect solution when you are making your own safe food to take to a Thanksgiving gathering.

Attending a food-centered event like Thanksgiving requires preparation for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Plan ahead and pick and choose from the following tips so you can confidently join in the holiday without missing out.

  1. Communicate with the host in advance. No need to apologize, but be appreciative and polite. Educate them on your dietary needs and the issue of cross-contamination. Explain that you will likely be bringing some of your own food, so you can safely enjoy the holiday with loved ones.
  2. Identify which, if any, dishes will be gluten-free and free of cross-contamination.
  3. Decide which (additional) dishes are important to you.
  4. Pick one or two of those to bring as your side dish or dessert to share. Stuffing and a favorite dessert are great choices.
  5. Choose simple options for buying or making a small portion of all other dishes that are a must-have for you at Thanksgiving.
    • Epicured offers a gluten-free Turkey Dinner for one and has cross-contamination prevention protocols.
    • Make Easy Turkey Tenderloin rather than a whole turkey. You will have leftovers for turkey sandwiches or any favorite leftover-turkey recipe.
    • Separately toss a small portion of vegetables, sweet potatoes, and red potatoes in olive oil and roast them for 30-40 minutes. Mash the sweet potatoes with a bit of butter and maple syrup, and the potatoes with a little butter and milk. Just like that, you’ll have veggies, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes. An impressive collection of Thanksgiving sides for one or two people with minimal effort.
    • Purchase pre-made items: gluten-free turkey gravy, Bob Evans mashed potatoes, a can of corn, and gluten-free dinner rolls.
    • Do you have a local gluten-free bakery? If so, order a gluten-free pumpkin pie or dessert. If not, purchase Tate’s Gluten-Free Ginger Zinger Cookies. They are so good! Eat the cookies on their own, turn two into an ice cream sandwich, or as an ice cream mix-in with Breyer’s vanilla ice cream (labeled gluten-free).
  6. Find a safe place to store your food before the Thanksgiving meal, to prevent cross-contamination. Cover it and label it with your name.
  7. Prevent cross-contamination when reheating your food at the host’s home. Cover your dish securely with a paper towel when reheating in the microwave. Use foil to cover it in the oven.
  8. Serve yourself before other guests. Take generous portions or make a second plate, if you think you’ll want seconds. Explain to the host in advance why this is important to prevent illness from cross-contamination.

Whether hosting, traveling, or attending as a guest, you are now ready for your gluten-free Thanksgiving! I would love to see pics! Post on social media and tag @goglutenfreely.

Text: gluten-free Thanksgiving planner, logo with blue-green cloud and text: Go Gluten Freely, four orange pumpkins along the bottom of the page

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