How to Make Your Holiday Dinner Vegan & Gluten Free Friendly

Group of people eating dinner together, toasting with wine

How do you accommodate vegan and gluten free family and friends at a dinner that’s based primarily around meat, cheese, and carbs? There are easier ways than you might think! Use this post as a guide to adjusting classic Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner dishes to be vegan friendly and gluten free.

Keep your family recipes in circulation, just sub out a few ingredients so that everyone can eat! Your vegan or gluten free guests will appreciate the effort you put in to make sure they can enjoy their holiday dinner, too. You don’t need to replicate every dish for them, but having a few options to fill their plates will go a long way.

I went vegetarian around twelve years old, so I lived on mac ‘n’ cheese and mashed potatoes (sans gravy) for any family get-together. I surely would have spent the night hungry if I’d known what veganism was back then! With recent advances in store-bought vegan and gluten free food items, it’s a lot easier to accommodate family with dietary restrictions at the holidays. But why not cook up something special that everyone can enjoy? I promise, your meat- and wheat-loving guests will eat these up, too.

A cooked turkey

Vegan Turkey Ideas

  • Try our lentil loaf recipe for a meaty homemade option.
  • Go store-bought! Field Roast makes a tasty Celebration Roast and Tofurky offers their classic. You may need to find a specialty grocery in some areas, but even big chains like Target and Kroger carry these!
  • Roast a whole cauliflower head. Sounds weird, huh? Trust me, it’s delicious, and your meat-eating guests can enjoy some as a side.

Gluten Free Turkey Ideas

Is turkey gluten free? Yep, unless you’re adding flour or some other wheat component, your turkey is already gluten free. Make sure to check out our gluten free gravy and gluten free stuffing ideas below to make sure your guests have all the proper turkey accoutrements.

A cheesy casserole next to tomatoes

Vegan Green Bean Casserole Ideas

  • Classic Green Bean Casserole relies on condensed cream soup. Lucky for you, there are a bunch of dairy-free “cream” soups available on store shelves. If the vegan soup you find isn’t condensed, simply add a little corn starch and adjust with your own seasonings to reach the proper texture.
  • If you make your Green Bean Casserole with cream cheese, whip up a quick batch of this cashew cream cheese instead and use as a 1:1 substitute. Top with breadcrumbs as well as fried onions to increase browning.

Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole Ideas

  • The worst gluten offenders in a classic Green Bean Casserole are the fried onions on top. But what’s a GBC without fried onions?! Good news, you can make your own. Julienne (thin slice) a yellow onion, coat in a light layer of corn starch, then fry until golden brown. Lay out to dry on a paper towel. They’ll keep for about a day at room temperature.

Macaroni and cheese in a bowl, topped with bacon

Vegan Mac and Cheese Ideas

  • Mix up a batch of this instant vegan mac and cheese powder ahead of time, using ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. On the big day, simply mix with a little non-dairy milk and toss with pasta reserved from your regular batch of mac.
  • Experiment! Mac and cheese is great, but why not go for a vegan pesto mac? Omit the parmesan cheese and a classic pesto recipe of basil, pine nuts, and olive oil will still be delish.
  • Vegan mac and cheese has come along way in the aisles of your grocery store, too. Check out the Chao brand (frozen) or Daiya (instant) for effortless options.

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese Ideas

  • Good news here — most major grocery stores now carry at least one brand of gluten free dry pasta. Remember to skip the breadcrumbs for your GF guests!
  • Who says macaroni has to be the only vehicle for that creamy cheese sauce? Grab a bag of arborio rice, whip up a quick risotto (I promise, you don’t need to stir it all day), and stir in your favorite shredded cheeses at the end for a scrumptious cheesy risotto.

Two dinner guests serving themselves at Thanksgiving - How to Cook for Vegan and Gluten Free Guests at Thanksgiving

Vegan Stuffing Ideas

Gluten Free Stuffing Ideas

  • Gluten free stuffing–at least, as you know stuffing–isn’t gonna be an easy one. The best and tastiest way to pull off a gluten free holiday stuffing recipe is to (sigh) bake your own bread. Follow this easy, no-knead dinner roll recipe and substitute a gluten free all purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great one). Keep a few for serving whole, then cut the rest into one inch cubes and dry it in the oven at the lowest temp (or with only the oven light) for a couple hours. Then, make your stuffing recipe as normal.
  • Okay, hear me out: it’s possible to make bread-free stuffing. All the delicious flavors of stuffing from fruit to nuts to a hearty stock can come together without the wheaty mess of stale bread. Instead, substitute garbanzo beans, white beans, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or rice. I promise it will still be crazy good!

Fluffy mashed potatoes in a white crock

Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Gluten Free Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

  • Your mashed potato recipe is most likely gluten free already!
  • Remember that gluten free all purpose flour from the stuffing suggestions? Go grab it, and swap it out for regular flour in your roux. It will work perfectly.
  • If you’re lacking in gluten free flour, you can always substitute corn starch to thicken your gravy. To avoid lumps, mix cornstarch 1:1 with water or stock as a slurry, then whisk into your gravy.

A counter covered in food waiting to be served, including pies

Vegan Holiday Pie Ideas

  • Did you know that most frozen pre-made pie dough is already vegan? For those of us who don’t have time to craft from-scratch doughs, just check the ingredients on store-bought pie crusts. Watch out for any dairy ingredients, lard, animal shortening, or honey.
  • Looking to make a custardy pumpkin pie without eggs? You’ll never believe me when I tell you that a 1:1 mix of chickpeas and aquafaba (the water from cooking chickpeas) will be a perfect egg replacer in a pie…but it is. You won’t taste them, and the texture will be on point.

Gluten Free Holiday Pie Ideas

  • You’re gonna get some good use out of that gluten free all purpose flour. Make a quick shortbread crust by combining this flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Press into a greased pie pan and do a 10 minute “blind bake” at 350°F before adding the filling.
  • If you’re making a sturdy, custard-based pie, you can skip the structural crust and opt for a combination of nuts, toasted coconut, and dried berries to add a flavorful wrapper to your pie. Pulse a few times in a food processor until finely ground, then press along the edges of a buttered pie tin. The filling should secure your anti-crust in place as it cooks!

Other Vegan and Gluten Free Holiday Dishes

What are you cooking up this year? Are there any dishes you need to veganize or make gluten free? Let us know in the comments and we’ll give you some suggestions!

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