Gluten-Free Turkey: Preparing for Thanksgiving

Many of you are planning delicious food for Thanksgiving this week. If you’re new to the gluten-free diet, you are probably focused on dishes like stuffing and pie, and that’s understandable. I didn’t even include any gluten-free turkey recipes in my Thanksgiving recipe roundup.

It’s pretty easy to make gluten-free turkey, but it’s also possible for the Thanksgiving turkey to contain gluten, if you don’t know what to look out for. Whether you’re cooking the turkey yourself or someone else is, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Gluten-Free Turkey: Preparing for Thanksgiving | The Gluten-Free Homemaker

Plain Fresh Turkey is Gluten Free

While poultry is regulated by USDA, not the FDA, and therefore the food labeling laws are different, gluten-containing ingredients are usually labeled. Fresh, plain turkey is gluten free, and some are labeled as such.


Whether the seasoning comes with the turkey or is being added at home (yours or someone else’s), you need to find out what’s in it. Single-ingredient herbs are gluten free, but seasoning packets or mixes could contain gluten. Read ingredients, and if you are unsure, just opt for using seasoning you know is safe.

Gravy is a Common Source of Gluten

Gravy packets that come with turkey, canned gravy, and homemade gravy often use wheat flour to thicken it. Your best option is to make it yourself, or ask your host to make it using cornstarch or rice flour. Be sure that any gluten-containing gravy is not ladled over the sliced turkey before serving.

Don’t Stuff the Turkey

When extended family gathers and only one or two people are gluten free, it’s expected that there is going to be gluten present at the meal. It’s important to keep the turkey gluten free by not stuffing it with gluten-filled stuffing. Ask your family to prepare the stuffing separately, or offer to make gluten-free stuffing for everyone.

Oven Bags

If an Oven Bag is going to be used to cook the turkey, be sure that gluten-free flour is used in the bag. Directions say to add one tablespoon of flour to the bag. A well intentioned friend or family member may not think twice about throwing in that spoonful of flour. If someone else is cooking the turkey, be sure to question them in advance. Cornstarch or rice flour can be used as a substitute.

Enjoy the Day

There is no point in fretting over the food you can’t eat. Focus on what you can eat, and put time into preparing gluten-free versions of some of your favorite foods. It can be difficult, but try to find a balance between getting involved and asking questions (so that gluten-free food is not contaminated) and relaxing and enjoying the day.

As much as I love food, I would rather eat less and have fun than pig out but have a stressful day.

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  1. says

    These are great reminders, Linda, and what a stunning turkey photo! Shared on my gfe Facebook page. I know your post will really help folks stay safe this Thanksgiving and holiday season :-)

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family! It’s coming up quickly. 😉


  2. says

    This is really hard when I am the only one that has a gluten intolerance.I did get a gluten free turkey and really stuck with the stuffing and gravey,I usually do the gravey with flour.

    • Christina says

      @Joyce don’t let the gravy stick you. If you can, use Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Flour (any GF all-purpose I’m sure would be fine) instead of regular flour. For the stuffing you could make a loaf of GF bread and then slice, cube and dry it.

  3. says

    I really like your suggestions and descriptions for the turkey. Turkey is not the problem, only the basting, gravy and stuffing are! Thanks for putting this together so clearly.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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