Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Home Style corn bread being served from a cast-iron skillet.

Thanksgiving is on its way. That means turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie. That means if you have Celiac disease, you cannot eat anything on Thanksgiving, right? Not so! Just because you have to eat a gluten-free diet does not mean you have to starve while the rest of your family indulges right in front of you. There are plenty of Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts that are easy to make gluten-free. 

By Laurie Leahey, Cook Scrap Craft

Stock Your Pantry

Just about any Thanksgiving side dishes recipe can be made gluten-free if you know how to substitute the right ingredients. But before you start cooking your Thanksgiving side dishes or desserts, make sure your pantry and freezer are stocked with some of these gluten-free essentials: 

  1. Gluten-free all-purpose flour 

This is the one main ingredient that will get you through so many different recipes. It is preferable to use a gluten-free all-purpose flour with a 1:1 ratio. That means if the original recipe calls for one cup of all-purpose flour, you would simply use one cup of gluten-free all-purpose flour. No math involved! There are many great brands for this: Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, and Metta Gluten Free are just a few. 

  1. Gluten-free gravy  

You can easily make your own gluten-free gravy using cornstarch and the pan drippings from your turkey. However, for a shortcut, purchase a gluten-free gravy. McCormick makes a gluten-free turkey gravy mix that gets mixed with water and heated on the stovetop for a deliciously rich and thick gravy in just a few minutes. 

  1. Gluten-free cornbread mix 

I love eating cornbread as a side dish, but I especially love using it every year in a gluten-free sausage stuffing. Bob’s Red Mill is my go-to gluten-free cornbread mix, but in a pinch, I have even purchased pre-baked gluten-free cornbread or muffins. 

  1. Frozen gluten-free pie crust 

Can you make a gluten-free pie crust from scratch? Well, of course, you can. However, one of the things to remember on Thanksgiving when so much other cooking is going on is to keep it simple. If you have never made a pie crust before, let alone a gluten-free one, or you are short on time, just purchase a pre-baked gluten-free pie crust. Wholly Wholesome makes a great gluten-free pie shell that I have easily found in my grocery store’s freezer section. Just fill it with your pie filling, bake, and serve. 

  1. Gluten-free chicken broth 

You probably use chicken broth (or vegetable broth or beef broth) in many recipes throughout the year, so this is another good staple to always have on hand. Brands such as Kitchen Basics and Pacific Foods make gluten-free broth, but even Swanson chicken broth is now gluten-free! 

Recipes

Now you can start cooking! Here are a few easy Thanksgiving side dishes that will be a hit on the holiday or any day you want to make them. These are some of the best Thanksgiving sides I have made on this special holiday. 

Fruit Dip

If you are looking for healthy Thanksgiving sides, try this recipe that can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or a dessert. It was one of my mom’s favorites, so I am glad that she shared it with me so that I can share it with you. You do not need any special ingredients because cream cheese and marshmallow fluff are naturally gluten-free. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 eight-ounce packages of cream cheese 
  • 1 13-ounce jar of marshmallow fluff 

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, mix cream cheese with marshmallow fluff.  
  2. Serve with your favorite fruit. 

Gluten-Free Sage Buttermilk Biscuits adapted from Katie Lee’s Sage Buttermilk Biscuits

This is one of my favorite easy Thanksgiving side dishes, as well as a great side dish for any fall meal. All you have to do to make it gluten-free is substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour. You can make these biscuits without the sage, but I really like the fall flavor the herb gives them. This recipe makes 12 biscuits. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ½ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour 
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes 
  • 4 tablespoons of softened butter (for after the biscuits bake) 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a large bowl, use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the 8 tablespoons of chilled butter into the flour. 
  3. Then stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and sage. 
  4. Make a well in the center and stir in the buttermilk. 
  5. Mix with a fork until all the ingredients come together and a dough begins to form. 
  6. Lightly flour a work surface (with gluten-free flour, of course) and form the dough into a ball. Then roll it out until it is ½-inch thick. 
  7. Flour the edge of a biscuit cutter or juice glass (which is what I use) and cut out the biscuits. Leftover dough can be rolled out again and cut into biscuits until there is no more dough left. 
  8. Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and brush with the heavy cream. 
  9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 
  10. Remove biscuits from the oven and spread with softened butter. 

Green Beans Almondine

One of the most traditional Thanksgiving sides is Green Bean Casserole! Yes, you can make a gluten-free version and even buy gluten-free fried onions for the topping. But what about a Thanksgiving vegetable side that is naturally gluten-free, meaning you do not need any special ingredients? My mom gave me this recipe, and my family makes this easy side dish with many meals. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can of kitchen cut green beans  
  • 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds 
  • 2 tablespoons of butter 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 

Directions: 

  1. In a small saucepot, cook the slivered almonds in butter over low heat, stirring frequently until golden. 
  2. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice. 
  3. Pour the green beans into a microwave-safe dish and cover with a paper towel. Heat in the microwave for four minutes. 
  4. Pour the almonds over the beans. Serve. 

Additional Tips for Cooking Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Sides

Some other things to keep in mind when cooking gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner sides are: 

  • Is the turkey gluten-free? Turkey is, of course, not a side dish; it is the main course at Thanksgiving dinner! And because of that, check the nutrition label of your turkey to make sure it says “gluten-free”. Even if the turkey is gluten-free, the gravy packet might not be. (See above for gluten-free gravy suggestions.) 
  • Always read nutrition labels for any packaged food. Manufacturers are required to list if their products contain any of the top eight food allergens, including gluten/wheat.  
  • Don’t have Celiac disease but are cooking Thanksgiving side dishes for people who do? 

Is your kitchen 100-percent gluten-free? If not, be aware of potential cross-contamination. Do not share cutting boardsspoonsspatulas, etc., among ingredients. Wipe down your kitchen counter after making something that contains gluten. The best practice is to have two food prep areas: one for gluten-free food and one for gluten-containing food. An even better practice? Just make all the Thanksgiving sides gluten-free!  

No matter what Thanksgiving side dishes you like to eat, it is still possible to enjoy them even if you have to eat gluten-free. It is easy to substitute ingredients and achieve the same flavor or just use naturally gluten-free products for a new twist on classic turkey side dishes. Happy Thanksgiving! 

Laurie Leahey

Laurie Leahey is a Midwest transplant living on the East Coast with her triangle family: mommy, daddy, and daughter. She is a passionate toy and baby gear product review writer for TTPM.com and writes about crafting, gluten-free food, books, and #momlife at her blog, http://cookscrapcraft.blogspot.com/. When not writing and blogging, you can find her in her craft room trying to get caught up on scrapbooking all the photos she takes.

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