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8 Pro Tips for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

cornbread stuffing

Thanksgiving, amazingly, is not all that difficult to make a gluten-free affair, says Williams-Sonoma test kitchen cook Emily McFarren. In fact, sometimes even the pros who don’t need to do so end up preparing a totally gluten-less menu.


“I end up doing a lot of things gluten-free because I think it tastes better, works better, and I don’t have to worry about that one random guest coming in and saying, ‘I can’t eat that!’” says McFarren. Below are a few of her tips for a tasty, gluten-free approach to T Day.


1. Make Cornbread Stuffing

“I always do a cornbread stuffing,” says McFarren, who thinks it is “way better than traditional stuffing.” She loves this Charlie Parker recipe, which mingles homemade gluten-free cornbread with chicories, onions, celery, apples and yogurt. “It’s super, super-delicious,” she says.


2. Buy Cornbread Stuffing

Don’t feel like making your own cornbread? Not to worry. “We also carry a pretty amazing stuffing,” says McFarren. “I just tested it the other day with bacon, celery and onions and all that good stuff, and you honestly can’t tell the difference.” (Or consider this wonderfully savory bacon-and-kale recipe.)


3. Make Gluten-Free Gravy

Classic Turkey Gravy


Gravy is another classic turkey side that’s a snap to make without flour. Of all the gorgeous T Day foods, says McFarren, “Stuffing and gravy are my go-tos. And in a gluten-free gravy I actually think rice flour works better than all-purpose flour for a roux.” Rice flour, she says, keeps things “super-smooth, and the gravy doesn’t get lumpy.” To see how easy it is to whisk rice flour into your gravy, check out this recipe.


4. Make Your Own Crispy Shallots for Green Beans

green bean casserole


Smitten with green bean casserole every November? Not to worry, says McFarren. “If you do the crispy shallot topping for a green bean casserole and you don’t buy the storebought onions that people are very loyal to, use rice flour.” It has, she says, “a way better texture, and makes them way crispier.” Try swapping out rice flour for regular flour in this excellent recipe, for instance.


5. Skip the Bread

McFarren doesn’t see the need to fill the holiday table with baskets of bread or biscuits. “Nobody eats it anyways,” she says, laughing that people tend to fill up on everything else.


6. Use Gluten-Free Flour for Pies

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie


The one thing you shouldn’t try to do is skip the pie course, lest your guests are crestfallen. “Desserts are the biggest challenge,” says McFarren, but she’s found a fabulous solution. “Cup4Cup flour makes a really great pie crust for baked goods. It’s really amazing.” Pie lovers won’t miss the gluten.


7. Consider Almond Meal 

If you haven’t played around with almond meal or almond flour yet, now is the time to give it a try. Light as can be, with a very restrained nitty flavor, it’s an excellent way to get a delicate texture without using regular flour. “Take almond flour and stir in melted butter until it looks like wet sand,” suggests McFarren. When it looks almost like a graham cracker crust, press it into a pan, blind-bake it for a little bit, and move forward with your pie recipe of choice.


8. Make a Cookie Crust

key lime pie


Remember that some of the tastiest pies around don’t use a speck of flour. Using gluten-free gingersnaps (as for this key lime pie), gluten-free graham crackers, gluten-free cookies, or gluten-free biscotti is a smart move when you want all the glory of a pie without using flour, suggests McFarren.

Find Thanksgiving table ideas, essential tools and dozens of recipes at the Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving Headquarters.

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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.