41 Recipes to Bring Out the Healthier Side of Thanksgiving

41 Recipes to Bring Out the Healthier Side of Thanksgiving

Looking for gluten-free, vegetarian, Paleo, and keto recipes you can serve at your holiday feast? We have options for every kind of celebration.

Healthier, better-tasting meals are easier than you think with help from Yummly! Try it free now.

A good friend who’s gluten-free. A nephew’s significant other who doesn’t eat meat. A sister who’s gone keto. As cooks we all know someone who throws a monkey wrench um, an opportunity into the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and chances are good at least one of them will be sitting at our table this year.

You’d think any discussion of “healthy cooking” or special diets would be moot at Thanksgiving. After all, it’s a no-holds-barred eating holiday when most of us gleefully consume approximately triple what sanity dictates. And yet just as America is the land of apple pie, it’s the land of gluten-free apple crisp. What Grandma might define as “Cousin Carolyn’s crazy new diet,” Carolyn might trumpet as the reason her skin is glowing and she’s shed five pounds. (The guy she met at the Cross-Fit gym? That’s another story.)

Fortunately, however you define healthy Thanksgiving recipes, there’s no need to settle for less than a fantastic meal. In the spirit of making everyone happy and keeping the peace here are delicious choices to accommodate many needs. A Thanksgiving table laden with amazing food, and with all your near and dear gathered: That’s something to be thankful for indeed.

Gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes

Gluten-free Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes and Dried Cranberry Stuffing

When you cut out gluten the stretchy protein in wheat dough you cut out a lot of Thanksgiving favorites, like traditional bread stuffing and gravy. Tasty Kitchen rises to the gluten-free stuffing challenge with quinoa, which is technically a tiny seed rather than a grain. A mix of red and white quinoa creates a beautiful color contrast, and chunks of roasted sweet potato add jewel-like sweetness.

Wild rice is another great choice to keep in mind as the base for gluten-free stuffings. Even gluten-free bread stuffing can be yours when said bread is made gluten-free, an option at many supermarkets these days. As for the gravy to go on top, these recipes use potato starch or cornstarch as the thickener instead of wheat flour. Potatoes au gratin, another favorite starchy side dish, doesn’t need flour to thicken it when you opt for whipping cream as the liquid. (Think of it as an oven-baked sub for mashed potatoes!)

Vegan Quinoa, Spinach, and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash RecipeVegan Quinoa, Spinach, and Mushroom Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe
extra virgin olive oil, dried cranberries, baby spinach leaves and 17 more
Wild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans RecipeWild Rice Stuffing with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pecans Recipebutter, carrot, chopped pecans, chopped celery, sliced leek, kosher salt and 8 more
Super Veggie Sage Stuffing with Brussels Broccoli + Kale RecipeSuper Veggie Sage Stuffing with Brussels Broccoli + Kale Recipevegetable stock, coarse ground black pepper, kale, chopped parsley and 10 more
Gluten-Free Gravy RecipeGluten-Free Gravy Recipegarlic, olive oil, kosher salt, ground black pepper, chicken stock and 2 more
Potatoes Au Gratin RecipePotatoes Au Gratin Recipesalt, parmigiano, butter, heavy cream, russet potatoes, ground black pepper
Gluten-free Harvest Apple Crisp

If healthy Thanksgiving desserts means gluten-free desserts for your clan, you can bake with gluten-free all-purpose flour (such as Cup4Cup brand), as Real Food Dietitians does in the crumbly topping for this crisp. The recipe is also dairy-free, as it’s made with coconut oil instead of butter. But you’ll still find the classic brown sugar and cinnamon.

These next Thanksgiving desserts incorporate other handy gluten-free ingredients almond flour, gluten-free pie crusts, and buckwheat (a pseudo-grain, like quinoa) that you can pick up at many grocery stores. Of course you can also bake a no-grain fruit dessert such as the roasted pears.

Gluten Free Pecan Pie RecipeGluten Free Pecan Pie Recipeghee, coconut sugar, eggs, agave nectar, pecans, eggs, blanched almond flour and 5 more
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Pumpkin Pie RecipeGluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe
pumpkin pie spice, gluten free pie crust, candied ginger, cornstarch and 4 more
Gluten Free Apple Cake RecipeGluten Free Apple Cake Recipekosher salt, kosher salt, baking powder, unsalted butter, coconut sugar and 15 more
Pumpkin Butterscotch Pudding with Whipped Mascarpone and Toasted Buckwheat RecipePumpkin Butterscotch Pudding with Whipped Mascarpone and Toasted Buckwheat Recipeheavy cream, turmeric, vanilla paste, mascarpone, pumpkin puree and 16 more
Vanilla Roasted Pears with Cranberries RecipeVanilla Roasted Pears with Cranberries Recipe
unsalted butter, vanilla bean, cranberries, pears, red wine, sugar

Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes

Without turkey as the centerpiece, a vegetarian Thanksgiving spread may be in need of a “wow”-factor recipe. This savory butternut squash bread pudding, made rich with eggs and Swiss cheese, fills the bill deliciously. It’s a Yummly original, one of our Guided Video Recipes that takes you through the cooking step by step.

More flashy recipes to consider for your vegetarian feast include a tart and Wellingtons wrapped in flaky phyllo pastry, and a grand stuffed pumpkin. As for the rest of the meal, you might start your guests with a Buffalo cauliflower appetizer and come dinnertime, set out a healthy Thanksgiving side dish such as roasted brussels sprouts or mushroom stuffing.

Looking for vegan Thanksgiving recipes? We have 37 ridiculously good choices here.

Vegan Mushroom Wellington RecipeVegan Mushroom Wellington Recipethyme sprigs, ground pepper, red wine, vegan margarine, puff pastry and 10 more
The Great Stuffed Pumpkin RecipeThe Great Stuffed Pumpkin Recipepomegranate seeds, pumpkin, diced celery, pepitas, dried fruit and 12 more
Buffalo Cauliflower RecipeBuffalo Cauliflower Recipe
extra-virgin olive oil, hot sauce, salted butter, blue cheese dressing and 8 more
Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Apples RecipeRoasted Brussels Sprouts & Apples Recipemaple syrup, pepper, dried cranberries, apple, brussels sprouts and 3 more
Kale & Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing RecipeKale & Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing Recipepepper, dried cranberries, kale leaves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and 9 more

Paleo Thanksgiving recipes

Bacon-Topped Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole

Those who follow a Paleo diet focus on foods eaten by early humans, including meats, fish, nuts and seeds, vegetables, and fruit. They limit dairy products, grains, and legumes. And then there’s bacon. Did early humans eat bacon? Of course they did. Well, it’s possible, right? With Do You Even Paleo’s green bean, fresh mushroom, and bacon casserole, you can give that conundrum some very tasty exploration.

When it comes to Thanksgiving turkey, Paleos can go all-in, but you want to choose a recipe that uses oil rather than butter. Stuffing can be made with an ingenious sweet potato “cornbread” or simply be a melange of roasted sausage (more meat!) and veggies like butternut squash. Desserts present some clever and delightful work-arounds for pecan pie crust (almond flour, coconut flour, and tapioca starch with lard), frozen date-coconut-nut crust for avocado tarts, and cashew “cream” for chocolate pot de cremes.

Roast Turkey RecipeRoast Turkey Recipemeat, chopped fresh thyme, orange, salt, lemon, olive oil, turkey and 1 more
"Cornbread" Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing {Grain Free, Dairy Free} Recipe"Cornbread" Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing {Grain Free, Dairy Free} Recipecoconut oil, pork sausage, sea salt, pecans, pink lady apple and 18 more
Paleo Butternut Sausage Stuffing with Apples & Cranberries RecipePaleo Butternut Sausage Stuffing with Apples & Cranberries Recipesalt, sea salt, dried cranberries, fresh parsley, celery stalks and 8 more
Roasted Broccoli with Spicy Bacon Crumbs RecipeRoasted Broccoli with Spicy Bacon Crumbs Recipechili flakes, garlic cloves, olive oil, sliced bacon, broccoli and 3 more
Paleo Pecan Pie RecipePaleo Pecan Pie Recipelarge eggs, pecans, ghee, pure maple syrup, date paste, Himalayan salt and 3 more
No Bake Lime Avocado Tart RecipeNo Bake Lime Avocado Tart Recipecoconut oil, lime, avocados, agave, pitted Medjool dates, pecans and 5 more
Chocolate Pots De Creme (Vegan & Paleo) RecipeChocolate Pots De Creme (Vegan & Paleo) Reciperaw cacao powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, raw cashews, sea salt and 2 more

Keto Thanksgiving recipes

Garlic Butter Keto Bread

If you’re still catching up on keto, the idea is to eat a high-fat, very low carbohydrate diet and thereby enter a state called ketosis where instead of burning carbs for energy, the body burns fat. What’s in: fats, some protein (meat, fish, eggs), and some vegetables. What’s out: sugar, grains, starches, fruit, legumes, and root vegetables. Naturally, carbs may be what the Thanksgiving keto diner craves. Eat Well 101’s gorgeous solution is a garlic bread made with parmesan and two more kinds of cheese, browned butter, fresh herbs, and almond flour.

We have lots more keto-friendly Thanksgiving choices to explore, including turkey, more allowable “carbs,” gravy, low-sugar cranberry sauce, side dishes, and even some highly Yummable desserts.

Instant Pot Turkey Breast with Garlic Butter Gravy {Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Keto} RecipeInstant Pot Turkey Breast with Garlic Butter Gravy {Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Keto} Recipelemon juiced, chopped cilantro, unsalted butter, salt, coriander seeds and 6 more
Gluten-Free Keto Thanksgiving Bread Stuffing RecipeGluten-Free Keto Thanksgiving Bread Stuffing Recipe
black pepper, keto bread, cauliflower, large eggs, unsalted butter and 9 more
Cheesy Keto Biscuits RecipeCheesy Keto Biscuits Recipemelted butter, shredded mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, almond flour and 2 more
Easy Keto Ham and Cheese Rolls RecipeEasy Keto Ham and Cheese Rolls Recipeshredded cheddar cheese, eggs, diced ham, grated Parmesan, shredded mozzarella cheese
Keto Gravy RecipeKeto Gravy Recipegrass-fed butter, freshly ground black pepper, coconut flour and 3 more
Homemade Cranberry Sauce – Keto and Low Carb RecipeHomemade Cranberry Sauce – Keto and Low Carb Recipewater, fresh cranberries, fresh lemon juice, fresh cranberries and 6 more
Keto Broccoli Salad, Low Carb Broccoli Salad RecipeKeto Broccoli Salad, Low Carb Broccoli Salad Recipebroccoli, red onion, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, chopped bacon and 1 more
Loaded Keto Green Bean Casserole RecipeLoaded Keto Green Bean Casserole RecipeDijon mustard, crushed garlic, butter, bacon rashers, cheese and 7 more
Low Carb Keto Brownies RecipeLow Carb Keto Brownies Recipevanilla extract, chocolate chips, cream cheese, chocolate chips and 6 more
Keto Pumpkin Pie RecipeKeto Pumpkin Pie Recipepure vanilla extract, butter, erythritol, blanched almond flour and 5 more

Looking for more ideas for a healthy Thanksgiving? Check out our collection of healthy Thanksgiving recipes, from healthy sweet potato casserole to pumpkin pie parfaits.