Are You Ready For a Gluten Free Thanksgiving? Part One

By Leanne Overlander | GF Information

Nov 14

Thanksgiving turkey It is that time of year.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and then the holidays will be in full swing.  This can be a a daunting time of year for those who are gluten free.  No one wants to go to a party and not have anything to eat because there was no safe food, or worse to eat something that unknowingly contained gluten and end up spending the holidays sick.  Over the next several posts, I want to help you find ways to enjoy the holidays just as much as everyone else. Since Thanksgiving is in two weeks, I will start by giving some tips to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner that is completely gluten free. Several years ago, my husband and I offered to make the whole meal without telling everyone attending that it was all gluten free.  Only those who were in the know, knew it was all gluten free.  No one else ever knew.  This proved that there is no reason you cannot enjoy the same foods in a traditional meal just by making them all gluten free. Many of the foods are naturally gluten free.  The turkey, cranberry sauce,potatoes, green beans(yes we were able to make the casserole gluten free too!).  The ones that aren't, with planning can be done gluten free.  Some take more forethought than others.  To make stuffing, you will need to either purchase gluten free bread, or make it and then cut into cubes, and cook in the oven at 350  until the consistency of croutons.  If you like the herb dressing you could mix butter and herbs together and then brush bread cubes before baking.

Preparing Turkey

There are several ways to prepare turkey, all of them naturally gluten free, but be sure to check seasoning before using.  The first is the traditional roasted turkey.  This is a simple method that can have as many variations to it as the herbs that you choose to use.  On  of our favorite tricks is to place herbs under the skin of the bird.  However, if you plan to stuff a turkey, be sure to use gluten free croutons. A second preparation method, and a family favorite preparation in my household, is smoked turkey.  There are numerous options for planks that will each provide a slightly different flavor after smoking. The most important thing to remember is to smoke the bird on low heat with a long cook time ( 2-3 hours on the grill). A third option is to brine the turkey overnight before roasting or smoking.  As with the traditional roasting, flavors can vary widely depending on the herbs used in the brine.  But beware:  Finding a container the right size may prove to be your greatest challenge with this method.  We usually end up using a garbage can that is designated to brine in or our large cooler. Another popular alternative to roasting the turkey is deep frying.  This method will make the skin crispy and lock the moisture in the met of the bird.  But, a word of caution, this method should always be done in a turkey deep fryer and done OUTDOORS ONLY!!!

Brining your turkey

Supplies needed:

To properly brine a turkey you need to start the night before you plan to cook ( 10-12 hours), and a container large enough to hold your turkey and enough brine to cover it.  You'll also need salt, water, sugar, seasoning, and enough room to refrigerate your bird.


1 C. Salt 1 Gallon water (you may need more water, but this is a good ratio to start with) Make sure the salt is completely dissolved before you add the seasoning.  Make sure none of the seasoning contain salt.  Brines can be spicy hot with peppers and cayenne, savory with herbs and garlic, sweet with molasses, honey and brown sugar.  Sweetening the brine Sugar is optional to any brine, but works to counteract the flavor of the salt. Add up to 1 C. sugar per gallon of brine.  Like the salt, you need to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.


Place the turkey in the container and pour in enough brine to completely cover the turkey, You do not want any part of the turkey above the surface of the brine. Place the container int he fridge.*  The turkey should sit in the brine for 1 hour for every pound of turkey. *Don't have room in the refrigerator.  Try a cooler.  If the weather is cool, but not freezing, you can out the whole thing outside until the turkey is needed.


Once soaked, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it off thoroughly with cold water until all traces of salt are off the surface inside and out. Baking: Bake according to the roasting instructions and enjoy!   Have a happy Thansgiving

About the Author

Classically trained in Biology and Genetics at the University of Minnesota St. Paul Biological Sciences campus. Gluten free for more than 5 years.