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Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipes and Ingredients

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

Avoiding foods that contain gluten, a protein found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley, is critical in managing celiac disease, an abnormal immune system response. Removing gluten from your diet also can reduce negative symptoms if you are mildly allergic to this protein.

Such a diet can present challenges at Thanksgiving, as many traditional and popular dishes contain gluten, which is present in most cereal, grains, pasta, and many processed foods. To help ease this, UAB Medicine highlights some gluten-free recipes and alternative ingredients below.

Before diving in, though, please remember some basic rules. Always read food ingredient lists carefully to make sure the food you want to eat or prepare doesn’t contain gluten. In addition, if you have celiac disease, discuss gluten-free food choices with a dietician or health care professional who specializes in the condition.


Turkey and Dressing

The turkey itself is not a problem, but old-fashioned cornbread dressing is. Get around it with this superb recipe from The Gluten-Free Foodsmith.

But What about the Gravy?

You could use cornstarch, but for those who insist on starting with a classic base of broth, turkey fat, and flour, here’s Martha Stewart’s gluten-free answer.

Cranberry Sauce

This popular side item is already gluten free in most cases. Here’s UAB Medicine’s recipe.

Green Bean Casserole

The best thing about taking this Campbell’s soup and canned onions tradition into gluten-free territory is that you dispense with the canned stuff and create instead an elegant, top-quality side dish. Here’s how.

The Pie

Pumpkin pie is at the top of many people’s Thanksgiving dessert lists, and fruit and cream pies are common throughout the holiday season. But any way you, um, slice it, there’s good news here: If you master a gluten-free pie crust, you’ve removed most worries about gluten-free pie ingredients. There are some excellent ready-made gluten-free pie crusts available now at most supermarkets, but homemade crust remains the gold standard. There are hundreds of recipes online, but you won’t find a more detailed guide (with handy tips and hacks) for gluten-free crust than this recipe from Mama Gormand.


Revising the Forbidden Foods List

If you are maintaining a gluten-free or mostly gluten-free diet, then you already know how to read labels and detect any problem ingredients. However, staying current on what products and/or ingredients you must avoid can be confusing or misleading. The good news is that certain items that may be on the forbidden list are not actually a legitimate concern. Here are some ingredients that are commonly but incorrectly thought to contain gluten:

  • Monoglycerides and diglycerides: There is no evidence that these fats have ever contained gluten.
  • Spices: Some seasoning blends may contain gluten, but spices alone do not.
  • Distilled vinegar: Malt vinegar derived from barley may contain some gluten, but the distillation process removes it.
  • Caramel coloring: Most manufacturers use corn, not wheat, to produce caramel color. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that a product’s label must indicate if wheat is used in caramel coloring.
  • Dextrose: No matter which starch is used in the making of dextrose, the end result of such high-level processing contains no gluten.
  • Dextrin: In rare cases dextrin is made from wheat, in which case “wheat” will appear on the label. Otherwise, Dextrin is gluten-free if made from potato, arrowroot, corn, rice, or tapioca. Maltodextrin, even if made from wheat, is processed to the point that no gluten is present.
  • Citric acid: Citric acid usually is made from corn, beet sugar, or molasses, but it also can be made from wheat. Citric acid is highly processed and purified and thus free of gluten proteins.

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