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10 Allergy-Friendly Meals For Thanksgiving

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Table of Thanksgiving foods

Thanksgiving is a holiday equally about togetherness and sharing a delicious meal. If you have friends and family with food allergies, intolerances, or a special diet, making an effort to be inclusive ensures that everyone is safe and well-fed.

Making Thanksgiving dinner while avoiding allergens doesn’t have to be hard. A slew of products and companies make allergy-friendly and drool-worthy foods that you can use as a substitute for your favorite recipes.

Checking labels is key when shopping for allergy-friendly foods. If you’re cooking for an allergic guest, they can fill you in on their unique allergies, but it helps to know the basics. The top eight allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Together, these allergens make up 90 percent of food allergies in the U.S., according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. Allergens outside the top eight (like sesame, celery, or mustard) do not have to be listed on food labels by law, according to Spokin. Some allergic people avoid foods made in the same facility as their allergens, and some don’t, so your guest can suggest their go-to brands.

Whether you’re having a gluten-free Thanksgiving, a dairy-free cream that whips, or you’re looking for a nut-free pie, we’ve found the best allergy-friendly meals for Thanksgiving so everyone can partake. Your friends and family with food allergies or a special diet will be thankful to be included!

Dairy-Free Milks For Cooking And Baking

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Jars plant-based milk and ingredients

Baking with dairy-free milk is key if you’ll have a vegan or guest with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance at the table. Many dairy-free milks and creams are made using other top eight allergens like nuts or soy, so you want to ensure you’re not choosing something that someone else may be allergic to.

There are many options for dairy-free milk, including flax, almond, soy, oat, coconut, or rice — and more. When cooking and baking with dairy-free milk, you’ll want to check the label carefully, as many are sweetened; to avoid savory dishes with a weirdly sweet note, look for unsweetened versions. Nut-based milks carry a nutty flavor that is stronger when heated — which might be pleasant in a pie but is less desirable in mashed potatoes.

Oat, hemp, and rice milks are free of the top eight allergens, but some can separate when heated. Oatly is a neutral-tasting option used as a one-for-one substitute in cooking and baking. It contains plant-based dipotassium phosphate, so it doesn’t separate when heated, ensuring it works like dairy milk in recipes.

Thanks to its high protein content, soy milk is particularly useful in baking if it’s safe for your guests. The protein creates a texture similar to dairy milk in recipes and helps with browning. If you’re looking for a plant-based cream, Country Crock Plant Cream is top 8 allergen-free and can be used in baking and cooking.

Allergy-Friendly Stuffing Made From Scratch Or From A Mix

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Trader Joe’s stuffing box and bowl

Stuffing can be a minefield for people with food allergies — it can contain milk, dairy, and nuts, and it almost always contains wheat and gluten. Luckily many grocery stores now carry brands of stuffing mix that can make this an easy side dish that is safe (and delicious) for everyone.

Thrive Market makes an entirely grain-free, top eight-free stuffing mix that’s organic and based on tiger nuts, which are not actually nuts but a kind of edible tuber. Another delicious gluten-free option is Aleia’s Savory Stuffing, which is dairy, corn, and soy-free. Williams Sonoma makes a gluten-free stuffing mix, but be warned this option contains eggs. One of the most popular gluten-free stuffings is Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Stuffing, which contains egg, milk, and soy. This stuffing is made using wheat-free flour like rice, tapioca, and potato. Some of the flavor in this option comes from chicken fat, so this isn’t a vegan-friendly pick.

If you’re looking for stuffing mix made in a nut-free facility, a delicious choice is Martin’s Potatobred Stuffing, although it does contain sesame seeds. If you prefer to make your own gluten-free stuffing, we recommend using one of our favorite gluten-free breads like Schär Gluten-Free Artisan Baker White Bread, Young Kobras Original Gluten-Free Sourdough, or Bread Srsly Classic Gluten-Free Sourdough.

Allergy-Friendly Edible Place Settings Guests Will Gobble Up

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Wrapped and unwrapped chocolate turkeys

For a thoughtful and delicious decorative place setting at the table, there are lots of allergy-friendly chocolates in seasonal shapes and festive foil. An allergy-friendly solid chocolate turkey at each seat or a Thanksgiving-themed pop tucked into each napkin is a thoughtful touch that guests won’t soon forget.

For guests with nut allergies, Vermont Nut Free Chocolates is an entirely nut-free facility that makes high-quality, solid turkeys in dark and milk chocolate, as well as foil-covered mini chocolates in seasonal shapes. They also have turkey-shaped chocolate pops. For a top nine allergen-free place setting, No Whey! Foods Turkey Pops are an adorable option featuring white and dark chocolate details that really pop.

Another fun option is placing an Amanda’s Own Acorn and Leaf Bag at each seat. The ribbon-tied bags feature top 14 allergen-free foil-wrapped chocolates, covering the widest range of allergens of any of the festive Thanksgiving-themed chocolates we found. The company also makes other foil-covered fall shapes, as well as Thanksgiving-themed chocolate pops.

A seasonal touch that isn’t chocolate based is See’s Candies Pumpkin Spice Lollypops. Unlike the company’s chocolate candy offerings, they’re made in a nut-free facility (per the company’s FAQ), and reviewers say they “taste like pumpkin pie on a stick.”

Dinner Rolls Safe For A Wide Range Of Allergies

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Sliced rosemary dinner rolls

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without fluffy dinner rolls. Whether you’re an accomplished baker who uses Tangzhong to achieve ultra-plush rolls or like the convenience of heating up frozen dinner rolls, there’s an allergy-friendly way to ensure they’re safe for all your guests. Rhodes dinner rolls are a great option for nut and seed allergies, as they are made in a facility that is free of peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds.

Gluten-free diners have plenty of options too. If you prefer French-bread style rolls, look for Udi’s Gluten-Free Classic French Dinner Rolls in the freezer section of your grocery store. Against The Grain makes three kinds of dinner rolls: Vermont Country Rolls, Original, and Rosemary, which is the perfect flavor to accent Thanksgiving dinner. These rolls do contain cheese, so they are not safe for those with dairy allergies. Katz Gluten Free makes a sesame seed-topped challah dinner roll that’s not only gluten-free but also produced in a facility free of peanut, tree nuts, and dairy — but these do contain eggs.

If you’re baking your own dinner rolls from scratch, Mom’s Best Gluten-Free Rolls Mix makes it easier to whip up a gluten-free version. For recipes that contain dairy, you can substitute dairy-free milk that’s designed for cooking and a plant-based butter.

Plant-Based, Dairy-Free Butter For Cooking And Baking

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Sliced butter on plate

Thanksgiving tends to be a butter-heavy holiday, and because regular butter contains dairy, it’s a no-go for dairy allergies, lactose intolerance, and vegans. There are plenty of butter substitutes that can be used in baking with varying levels of success, like flax or applesauce. For cooking, it’s best to reach for oil or dairy-free butter.

If you’re looking for a baking-friendly dairy-free butter, Miyoko’s Creamery makes European-style vegan butter that contains cashew and coconut. A top eight-free choice is Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks, which work well in cooking and baking. Country Crock makes several plant-based tubs for buttering your allergen-friendly dinner rolls and several baking stick butters. Their three varieties are each based on a different plant-based fat, including olive oil, avocado, and almonds. Melt Organic makes organic, non-GMO tub and stick butters with no artificial flavors or colors that are top eight allergen-free (except for coconut.) Another top eight-free tub butter choice that is also non-GMO is WayFare

Safe Marshmallows For Topping Sweet Potatoes And Pies

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole

No ingredient label should go unchecked when cooking for someone with food allergies — including marshmallows. Marshmallows can contain soy and are usually not vegan because they contain gelatin, which can be sourced from pork or fish.

There are plenty of vegan marshmallows on the market that are also allergy friendly. Yummalo is a brand that makes vegan marshmallows that are also gluten- and peanut-free. Dandies, a popular brand that ranks highly for taste on Mashed, are top eight allergen-free except for soy and are non-GMO and kosher.

With a facility free of dairy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, crustacean shellfish, wheat/gluten, soy, and sesame, Campfire Marshmallows is a brand that covers a wide range of potential allergies, and they are available in many grocery stores.

Amanda’s Own Confections carries large marshmallows that are free from dairy, tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, wheat, soy, egg, sesame, mustard, shellfish, and crustaceans.

Allergy-Friendly Ready-Made Pie Crusts And Crust Mixes

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Pricked raw pie crust

Making your own pie crust from scratch is an option that ensures your crust is free of the allergens you’re avoiding. Gluten-free pie crusts, in particular, can be tricky to make because they can become crumbly. If it is safe for your guests, adding an egg to dry ingredients before adding water can help.

Making a crumb-based baked crust using cookies or graham crackers that are free of your guests’ allergens is another safe and easy way to make a tasty crust without worrying about the drama of rolling out a pie crust.

There are also allergy-friendly pie crust mixes at grocery stores, like the readily available JIFFY Pie Crust Mix, which is made in a peanut- and tree-nut-free facility, according to their FAQ. Two highly-rated gluten-free pie crust mixes are King Arthur Baking Company and Bob’s Red Mill.

If you hate making pie crust, you’re not alone — allergy-friendly options are waiting on the grocery store shelf to speed up getting to the important part of making pie: eating it. Wholly Gluten Free makes an unbaked, ready-to-fill crust that’s not only gluten-free but free of dairy, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut, sesame, and corn. If you’re looking for a graham cracker or chocolate cookie-based crust, MI-DEL has two options that are vegan and gluten-free.

Pies You Can Buy At The Store Or Have Shipped

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Baked pumpkin pie

An easy way to serve an allergy-friendly dessert while supporting a small business is by choosing a pie or other dessert from one of the allergy-friendly bakeries that ship their goods nationwide.

Erin McKenna’s Bakery ships gluten-free and vegan pies, including pumpkin and Dutch apple, via Goldbelly. Karma Baker is a vegan and gluten-free bakery that ships tons of Thanksgiving-friendly desserts, including apple crumb, pecan, pumpkin, and chocolate pecan pies.

For gluten-free mini pies, WildFlour Bakery has a cornucopia of flavors, including apple, blueberry, lemon meringue, pecan, pumpkin, and s’mores. Full-size pies are also available, and many are vegan. The Maine Pie Co. makes some unusual (and beautiful) gluten-free pies, including a dark chocolate tart, apple cranberry nut pie, Maine blueberry pie, and a traditional pumpkin pie.

If you want something non-traditional, Caroline’s Cakes is a nut-free facility that makes beautiful cakes, including a sweet potato cake, seven-layer pumpkin cake, and caramel apple spice cake.

Katz Gluten Free is a brand available in the freezer section of many grocery stores. Their facility is free of gluten, peanut, tree nuts, and dairy, and they make a range of personal-size pies, including pumpkin and apple that are perfect for when you have one allergic guest. Another brand available in grocery stores is Raised Gluten Free. They make lots of delicious-looking pies, including chocolate silk, pumpkin, and Dutch apple pie. Their facility is free of gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, and peanut.

Dairy-Free Dessert Toppings For Perfect Pies

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Pecan pie with whipped cream

Now that you have an allergy-friendly pie, it’s time to think about whipped cream alternatives. There are many tasty options available from toppings that are pie-ready to plant-based creams that you can whip up yourself, like dairy-based heavy whipping cream.

A coconut-based option is So Delicious Original Cocowhip, which is reminiscent of Cool Whip in texture with a slight but not overpowering coconut flavor. There is also a light version of the product that contains half the fat. Containing soy and dairy, Truwhip is like a non-GMO Cool Whip (without the ingredients you can’t pronounce), and it’s made in a peanut-free facility.

If you want to make your whipped topping, Silk Dairy-Free Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative is free of dairy and gluten. The only nut it contains is coconut, and it is specially formulated to whip like regular whipped cream. Country Crock Plant Cream is a top eight allergen-free choice that whips into a whipped cream alternative by adding two tablespoons of powdered sugar and two teaspoons of vanilla extract to two cups of the cream.

Another option for making your own top eight allergen-free alternatives with an even simpler ingredient list is to use leftover chickpea water (called aquafaba) to make your plant-based whipped topping.

Ice Creams For Topping Pies And Cakes That Are Allergy Safe

food, 10 allergy-friendly meals for thanksgiving

Scooper in vanilla ice cream

If you’re team apple pie on Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin, you’re probably buying a few pints of vanilla ice cream to top it with. Some of the best-tasting dairy-free ice creams (that don’t contain mix-ins) are Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Vanilla Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, So Delicious Oh-So Strawberry Wondermilk Frozen Dessert, and Oatly Chocolate Frozen Dessert.

Many people with nut allergies avoid all ice cream because of the risk of cross-contamination with nuts at the factory. One company with an entire nut, sesame, and egg-free facility that makes dairy-based and dairy-free ice creams is A La Mode; they are available in grocery stores in the northeast, shipped from their own site, and shipped from Walmart.

Cado is a dairy-free, avocado-based brand that has a peanut-free (but not tree-nut-free) facility. If you live west of the Rockies, Straus Family Creamery is a dairy-based, gluten-free brand with a peanut-free facility that is free of tree nuts except for coconut. If you’re catering to multiple allergies or all of the top eight allergies, Sacred Serve is a top eight allergen-free option (except for coconut.)

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