ThanksgivingHoliday EntertainingChristmasVegan CookingWhat to CookVegetarian CookingCommunityAdvice

How to Accommodate Guests with Special Diets and Stay Sane

20 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Thanksgiving is a day where everyone you love comes together, the uniting factor being food. So what happens when you have guests who have special diets? How do you serve a satisfying menu without straying too far from traditional Thanksgiving fare?

Vegan Shepard's Pie

Every year, concerned hosts who want to make sure their vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or gluten-free guests don't leave hungry come to the Hotline for help. We have a summary of the best solutions—substitution is the name of the game.


The Pros Propose

  • If you like the idea of serving a meat alternative that doesn't come out of a box, try Andrea Nguyen's homemade tofurkey, complete with a vegetarian version of her family's sticky rice dressing. 
  • Mollie Katzen suggests serving a large platter of olive oil-roasted vegetables. She says: "Most food restrictions fall under vegan, gluten-free, or nut-allergy categories. Almost all restricted eaters can eat vegetables and olive oil—it's pretty safe territory." She also notes that it can be hard for non-dairy eaters to enjoy many traditional Thanksgiving preparations of potatoes and sweet potatoes, so be sure to include them in your roasted vegetable medley. 
  • Amanda Hesser suggests serving Crispy Delicata Rings with Currant, Fennel, and Apple Relish—it works for a number of different dietary requirements. 
  • Anita Shepard has multiple suggestions for vegan desserts. For pie crusts, try subbing 3 parts non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening and one part coconut, safflower, or olive oil in place of the butter. To replace an egg, she uses 1 tablespoon flax blended with 3 tablespoons warm water until gooey. And for a custardy pie, she uses chestnut flour and full-fat coconut milk instead of egg and milk, and kabocha squash in place of pumpkin. 

Andouille Sausage Stuffing

Gluten-Free Stuffing

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Satisfying Paleo and Vegan Guests

More: Psst—we're full of ideas for veganizing Thanksgiving.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Gravy

How to Make Dairy-Free Gravy 

  • Gena Hamshaw makes a vegan and gluten-free gravy using brown rice flour or chickpea flour along with nutritional yeast flakes.
  • Monita and megandrob both make a roux from pan drippings, cooking with flour or cornstarch and substituting chicken broth, wine or a combination of the two, simmering until the roux thickens. 
  • SeaJambon reminds us to first stir the cornstarch in a few drops of water, instead of putting it directly in the pan, as it will develop lumps. 

Tell us: How do you modify your favorite Thanksgiving dishes for your guests' diets? 

Have you missed any of our Thanksgiving roundup of Burning Questions? Catch up now:

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: special diets, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, thanksgiving, holiday, hotline

💬 View Comments ()