Thanksgiving Recipes for Every Diet: Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan or Keto, We’ve Got You Covered

dinner table

The hope of celebrating Thanksgiving this year in the company of family and close friends is a welcome gift. When guests have dietary constraints, however, it can be challenging to create a menu that works for everyone at the dinner table. We’ve got you covered with this flexible menu template that caters to a few of the most common dietary practices right now: gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and keto. This delicious collection of recipes provides instructions for easy modifications to address specific dietary restrictions so you can spend less time thinking about what to make, and more time celebrating. After all, there’s so much to be thankful for this year, so lean in, get cooking, and enjoy the holiday.

The Main Bird

Turkey is the natural star of the Thanksgiving table. (Don’t worry, we’ve got a centerpiece-worthy main you can serve your vegetarian and vegan guests, too.) But with so many different preparation methods to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which approach to take. First, there’s the question: to brine or not to brine? Dry brine or wet? This recipe says yes to a brine, and a dry one at that. Dry brines are simple (just salt and seasonings) and less messy than liquid brines, which require refrigerating a hefty bird submerged in unwieldy liquid for multiple days. You do need to start the dry brining process ahead, but simply with a good salt rub. The salt acts as a cure and draws the moisture out of the turkey, creating a natural brine that is then re-absorbed during refrigeration, thus seasoning and tenderizing the meat with the flavorful juice. This technique was made famous by San Francisco chef Judy Rodgers, who dry-brined her iconic roast chicken at Zuni Café.

Roast Turkey

Serves 8–10
Gluten-free, keto


  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, thoroughly defrosted if frozen
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, softened


  1. Two days before serving, rinse and pat the turkey dry. Using 1 tablespoon of salt per 4 pounds of turkey, combine the salt, sugar, thyme and black pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the bird, including between the skin and flesh and in the cavity. Place it in a large baking pan, breast side down, and refrigerate uncovered for 24 hours. After 24 hours, flip the turkey and continue to refrigerate for 24 hours more. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.
  2. Heat the oven to 425° F (or prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium-high heat).
  3. Lightly stuff the cavity and neck of the turkey with the onion, thyme and sage. Truss the legs and tuck the wings under the bird. Smear the butter all over the turkey and between the skin and breast meat. Arrange on a rack in a baking pan or grill pan.
  4. Place in the oven (or on the grill) and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° F or adjust the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat (as close to 325° F as possible).
  5. Continue to roast the turkey until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, registers 160° F, about 12 minutes per pound for total cooking time. If the turkey begins to darken before it’s finished cooking, lightly cover with foil. Let rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

The Vegetarian Showstopper

Every holiday table deserves a festive centerpiece. While the turkey is an obvious stunner, an elaborate vegetarian dish can be equally decorative, providing a holiday-worthy main course for vegans and vegetarians. Winter squash makes a naturally vibrant vessel for stuffing with wholesome grains, dried fruit and nuts. There are numerous squash varieties that work well, including butternut, acorn and kabocha. If the squashes are small, you can serve them individually using their tops as lids, or if they are very large, you can quarter them and spoon the filling over the centers, relying on the serving platter to catch the overflow. No matter how you serve them, your stuffed, edible vessels will be both stunning and delicious.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Shiitakes and Cranberries

Serves 4 as a main course, or as a side dish
Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian


  • 2 acorn squash, halved horizontally
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper Maple syrup
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/4 cup) 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 cups pre-cooked quinoa (or grain of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest


  1. Heat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Brush the squash flesh with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking tray lined with parchment, cut sides down, and roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the insides with maple syrup. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° F.
  3. While the squash halves are roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and sauté them until they release their juices and begin to brown, about 6–8 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
  4. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots and sauté until soft, 2–3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and then add the orange juice to deglaze the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the quinoa, cranberries, pecans, parsley, orange zest, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if desired.
  5. Fill the squash halves with the quinoa mixture. (The squash may be prepared in advance to this point. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 20–30 minutes before baking.)
  6. Arrange the squash on a baking tray. Transfer to the oven and cook for 10–15 minutes to heat through. Serve warm garnished with parsley.

The Seasonal Salad

A vibrant salad adds fresh contrast to the holiday menu. Brimming with hearty and nutritious greens, fruit, nuts and seeds and tossed with a tangy dressing, this autumnal salad can easily be tweaked to suit all diets, while providing color and bling to the festive table. The salad can be assembled up to 3 hours before serving, which is ideal for entertaining.

Kale Salad with Cranberries and Almonds

Serves 6
Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto



  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • 1 large bunch curly green or lacinato kale, tough ribs removed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 small head red cabbage, cored, shredded 
  • 1–2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins 
  • 1/4 cup chopped or sliced toasted almonds 
  • 2 tablespoons pepitas (optional)


  1. Whisk all the dressing ingredients, except the oil, in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking to emulsify. Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Place the kale in a large serving bowl. Drizzle it with the lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Massage the leaves for 1 minute to coat and slightly soften the leaves.
  3. Add the cabbage, carrots, scallions, cranberries and almonds to the kale. (The salad may be prepared up to 3 hours in advance to this point. Cover and refrigerate until use.) Before serving, toss the salad with the dressing. Garnish with the pepitas (if using) and serve.

The Mash

Fluffy mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving mainstay, and sure to please a crowd, but they don’t work for all diets. For a vegan option, go light and simply mash the potatoes with vegan butter. Or better yet, turn to cauliflower, which ticks all the diet-friendly boxes, including keto. This cauliflower purée is so light and silky, you might never return to the simple spud for your mash.

Cauliflower Purée

Serves 6
Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto


  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock 
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese or 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast (vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, ghee or vegan butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • Thyme leaves for garnish


  1. Combine the cauliflower and chicken or vegetable stock in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover the pot and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, 15–20 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cheese or nutritional yeast, butter, garlic powder, salt and black pepper and process to blend. If it’s too thick or lumpy, add some of the cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, and process to your desired consistency. Serve warm garnished with fresh thyme leaves.

Dependable Side

Humble Brussels sprouts can be controversial (love them or hate them), yet happily, these little crucifers work for all diets, which makes them reliably versatile. This recipe has a few simple techniques that may win over any steadfast sprout-hater. The trick is to roast the sprouts, which softens their assertive flavor and accentuates their natural sweetness. A shellacking of balsamic vinegar provides a lip-smacking finish. This recipe can be adapted to suit different diets: Omit the farro for a gluten-free option, as well as the grapes for a keto-friendly option.

Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Grapes

Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6–8
Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto


  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed but intact 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large
  • 12 ounces seedless red grapes (optional)
  •  2–3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup pre-cooked farro (optional)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts


1. Combine the balsamic vinegar and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and simmer until thickened and reduced by half, 10–12 minutes. Discard the garlic clove and stir in the salt.
2. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
3. Toss the Brussels sprouts, grapes (if using), thyme sprigs, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice.
4. Remove from the oven, drizzle half of the balsamic glaze over, and stir to coat. Return to the oven and roast until the sprouts are tender and caramelized in spots and the grapes have begun to shrivel, about 10 minutes more.
5. Remove the sprouts from the oven, discard the thyme sprigs, and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the farro (if using) and walnuts; stir to combine. Drizzle the remaining glaze over and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Crispy, Sweet Endings

The beauty of a fruit crisp is that the filling and topping can be adjusted to your preference and diet. The toppings may be prepped a day in advance, and the crisps can be assembled and baked hours before your guests arrive for easy entertaining. If you’re feeding a group with mixed diet preferences, prep the toppings separately and assemble the fruit crisps in separate baking dishes or individual gratin dishes, so everyone is sure to get the crisp of their choice for a sweet and happy ending.

Cranberry Fruit Crisp

Serves 6
Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian



  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (regular or gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free
  • flour blend
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter or vegan butter, chilled


  • 4 sweet-tart apples, peeled and cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (not defrosted) cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  Pinch of kosher salt 


1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Combine the topping ingredients, except the butter, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop the walnuts. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (The topping may be prepared up to one day in advance. Refrigerate in a sealed container.)
2. Combine the apples, cranberries and sugar in a large bowl and stir to coat. Whisk the cornstarch and orange juice in a small bowl. Pour it over the fruit, then add the zest, cinnamon and salt, and gently stir to combine the mixture. Spread the fruit in a 9-by-9 inch (or similar size) baking dish or divide the fruit between six to eight individual gratin dishes. Spread the topping in a thick layer evenly over the fruit.
3. Bake in the oven until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about
40 minutes for a baking dish or 25 minutes for individual gratins. If the topping starts to brown before the filling is fully cooked, then loosely cover the dish with foil to prevent it from burning.
4. Remove and cool slightly to set and allow the flavors to develop. (The crisps may be baked up to 4 hours before serving. Let stand at room temperature until serving.) Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, ice cream or vegan ice cream.

Keto-Friendly Fruit Crisp

Serves 6



  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (not defrosted) blueberries and/or blackberries
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (not defrosted) cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar substitute
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 
  • 1 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  Pinch of kosher salt


1. Heat the oven to 350° F.
2. Combine the topping ingredients in a bowl. Mix until clumps form. Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix.
3. Spread the fruit in a 9-by-9 inch (or similar size) baking dish or divide the fruit between six to eight individual gratin dishes. Spread the topping over the filling. Transfer to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 35 minutes for a baking dish and 25 minutes for individual gratins. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

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Lynda Balslev is an award-winning cookbook author based in the North Bay, a former Marin Literacy Program board member and volunteer at Lasagna Love.

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