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Alternative Thanksgiving Menus: Pleasing Every Palate

Posted on 10/20/2023

in Holiday

by Green Paper Products

Family praying holding hands at Thanksgiving table. Flat-lay of feasting peoples hands over Friendsgiving table with Autumn food, candles, roasted turkey and pumpkin pie over wooden table, top view

Alternative Thanksgiving Meals

Thanksgiving is a time for coming together with loved ones and sharing a delicious feast. However, with an increasing number of dietary restrictions and preferences, it's essential to accommodate everyone at the table. In this guide, we'll explore alternative Thanksgiving meal ideas that cater to various diets, ensuring that your holiday celebration is inclusive and satisfying for all.

Thanksgiving Alternatives for Different Diets

When preparing Thanksgiving dinner for a diverse group of guests, it's considerate to account for different dietary restrictions. In this post, we'll go over some alternative Thanksgiving menus to accommodate everyone at your table.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

A vegetarian diet is a dietary pattern that primarily consists of plant-based foods while excluding or minimizing the consumption of animal products. Vegetarians abstain from eating meat, including poultry and seafood. However, the specifics of a vegetarian diet can vary.

Some people follow lacto-ovo vegetarian diets, which include dairy products and eggs, while others adopt stricter forms, like veganism, which excludes all animal-derived foods. Vegetarians often rely on a wide range of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and plant-based protein sources to meet their nutritional needs. Health considerations, environmental concerns, and ethical convictions are just a few of the factors influencing this dietary choice.

What is a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal-derived ingredients. Vegans consume a variety of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, to meet their nutritional needs. Potential health advantages, as well as ethical considerations relating to animal welfare and environmental sustainability, frequently drive this dietary choice.

What is a Gluten-Free Diet?

A gluten-free diet is a dietary regimen that excludes gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives.

People with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergies typically follow a gluten-free diet to avoid adverse health effects. They focus on consuming naturally gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables, rice, potatoes and gluten-free grains like quinoa and corn. Additionally, there are many gluten-free alternatives available, including gluten-free flour, pasta, and bread, to help individuals maintain a balanced diet without gluten-containing ingredients.

What is a Dairy-Free Diet?

A dairy-free diet, also known as a lactose-free diet, excludes all forms of dairy products and by-products. This dietary choice is made by individuals who are lactose intolerant, have a dairy allergy, or follow a vegan lifestyle.

Dairy products include milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter, which are derived from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep. To maintain a dairy-free diet, individuals rely on alternative milk options like almond, soy, coconut, or oat milk, as well as dairy-free versions of cheeses and yogurts made from plant-based sources. The aim is to avoid any food or drink containing milk proteins, lactose, or dairy-derived additives.

What is a Low-Carb Diet?

A low-carb diet, short for a low-carbohydrate diet, is an eating plan that restricts the intake of carbohydrates, primarily found in foods like grains, starchy vegetables, and sugary items. The goal of a low-carb diet is to reduce the body's reliance on carbohydrates as a source of energy, leading it to use stored fat for fuel instead.

By minimizing carb consumption, individuals often experience weight loss, better blood sugar control, and improved overall health. Low-carb diets typically encourage the consumption of foods high in protein and healthy fats, such as lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and non-starchy vegetables, while limiting or avoiding foods like bread, pasta, rice, and sugary snacks. The specific level of carb restriction can vary among different low-carb diets, with some allowing slightly more carbs than others. Popular low-carb diets include the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu

Holiday appetizers with cranberry sauce, brie cheese and thyme

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Appetizers

Stuffed Mushrooms:

These savory delights are filled with a mouthwatering mixture of breadcrumbs, garlic, herbs, and cheese, creating a delightful start to your meal.

Butternut Squash Soup:

A warm and creamy butternut squash soup seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon will set the perfect tone for your vegetarian Thanksgiving feast.

Cranberry and Brie Bites:

These sweet and savory bites combine the tanginess of cranberry sauce with the creaminess of Brie cheese, all tucked into flaky pastry cups.

Avocado Spring Rolls:

Fresh avocado, crunchy vegetables, and aromatic herbs are wrapped in rice paper and served with a zesty dipping sauce for a refreshing appetizer.

mouthwatering avocado veggies spring rolls, served with a tantalizingly sweet Thai mango sauce—perfect for a fresh and flavorful delight

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Mushroom Risotto:

Creamy and indulgent, well-prepared mushroom risotto is the ultimate side dish to complement your Thanksgiving meal.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

Seasoned with balsamic glaze and topped with toasted paprika bread crumbs, these roasted Brussels sprouts offer a delightful contrast of flavors and textures.

Herbed Mashed Potatoes:

Elevate classic mashed potatoes with a blend of fresh herbs and garlic, creating a fragrant and creamy side dish.

Maple-Glazed Carrots:

Sliced carrots are roasted to perfection and drizzled with a sweet and savory maple glaze for a crowd-pleasing side.

Baked carrots with thyme, maple syrup, garlic and pistachios. White sauce with pistachios.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entrees

Stuffed Acorn Squash:

Tender acorn squash halves are filled with a savory stuffing of quinoa, vegetables, and herbs, creating a hearty and visually appealing entree.

Beet Wellington:

A dazzling centerpiece dish featuring roasted beets, mushroom duxelles, and vegan cheese encased in flaky puff pastry

Portobello Mushroom Steaks:

These marinated and grilled portobello mushroom caps offer a meaty texture and robust umami flavor that's perfect for a vegetarian main course.

Eggplant Parmesan:

Layers of crispy breaded eggplant, marinara sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese create a comforting and satisfying Italian-inspired entree.

Raw avocado chocolate mousse with hazelnuts

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Desserts

Pumpkin Pie:

A classic favorite, pumpkin pie made with a buttery graham cracker crust and a silky pumpkin filling is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert.

Apple Crisp:

Warm apple slices with cinnamon and a crumbly oat topping make for a delightful, no-fuss dessert that can be served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse:

This rich and creamy chocolate mousse is made with ripe avocados and sweetened with maple syrup, offering a guilt-free treat.

Fresh Berry Cheesecake:

Velvety cheesecake meets a delightful burst of fresh raspberries and blueberries, all crowned with a luscious berry sauce.

Vegan Thanksgiving Menu

Fried breaded cauliflower florets on plate, copy space on the side (Selective Focus, Focus on the cauliflowers)

Vegan Thanksgiving Appetizers

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms:

Stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, herbs, and dairy-free cheese, these mushrooms are the perfect bite-sized appetizers for your vegan Thanksgiving spread.

Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip:

Creamy and flavorful, this dairy-free dip pairs perfectly with fresh vegetable crudites or crispy pita chips.

Crispy Cauliflower Bites:

Tender cauliflower florets are coated in a seasoned batter, baked or air-fried to golden perfection, and served with your choice of vegan buffalo or barbecue dipping sauce.

Vegan Spring Rolls:

Loaded with fresh vegetables, tofu, and a savory peanut dipping sauce, these vegan spring rolls are both healthy and delicious.

vegan green bean casserole

Vegan Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Vegan Green Bean Casserole:

Creamy mushroom sauce, crispy fried onions, and tender green beans come together in this dairy-free version of a holiday classic.

Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Creamy mashed potatoes, made with roasted garlic and plant-based butter, are a comforting and irresistible vegan side dish.

Vegan Cornbread Stuffing:

A cornbread stuffing filled with hearty vegetables and aromatic herbs is a must-have at your vegan Thanksgiving table.

Vegan Cranberry Sauce:

A homemade cranberry sauce made with fresh cranberries and sweetened with maple syrup adds a delightful touch of tartness to your meal.

homemade red cranberry sauce

Vegan Thanksgiving Entrees

Vegan Lentil Loaf:

Packed with lentils, vegetables, and savory seasonings, a vegan lentil loaf makes a satisfying and protein-rich centerpiece.

Stuffed Bell Peppers:

Bell peppers are filled with a flavorful mixture of rice, chickpeas, and vegetables, creating a colorful and nutritious vegan entree.

Vegan Shepherd's Pie:

Layers of mashed potatoes, lentils, and mixed vegetables, all smothered in rich vegan gravy, make for a hearty and comforting dish.

Vegan Portobello Steaks:

Marinated and grilled portobello mushroom caps, served with a balsamic glaze, offer a substantial and flavorful vegan entree option.

raw vegan coconut cream pie on a wooden board

Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts

Vegan Pumpkin Pie:

A vegan-friendly pumpkin pie, made with a flaky crust and a creamy pumpkin filling, is a delightful way to end your vegan Thanksgiving meal.

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie:

A delicious tropical dessert featuring a luscious coconut cream filling nestled in a coconut-infused crust and topped with toasted coconut shavings.

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies:

Creamy chocolate pudding made with ripe avocados and sweetened with dates is a decadent and healthy vegan dessert.

Vegan Mixed Berry Sorbet:

A refreshing sorbet made with a blend of mixed berries and a touch of agave nectar offers a light and fruity vegan dessert option.

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu

Delicious fried shrimp in coconut chips close-up and sauce on the table. Horizontal top view

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Appetizers

Gluten-Free Coconut Shrimp:

Succulent shrimp are encased in a crispy coconut crust, paired with a delightful dairy-free white dipping sauce.

Gluten-Free Baked Sweet Potato Fries:

A vibrant medley of seasoned sweet potato fries, baked to crispy perfection, and served with a zesty fresh cream dipping sauce.

Gluten-Free Deviled Eggs:

Classic deviled eggs made gluten-free by using a gluten-free mayo and mustard. They're a crowd-pleasing appetizer for your gluten-free Thanksgiving gathering.

Gluten-Free Caprese Skewers:

Cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella (make sure it's gluten-free) drizzled with balsamic glaze create a delightful and gluten-free starter.

Homemade Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole:

Creamy and naturally sweet mashed sweet potatoes topped with a gluten-free streusel or marshmallows.

Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy:

A rich and savory gluten-free gravy made from pan drippings, gluten-free flour, and broth.

Gluten-Free Creamed Spinach:

A creamy and cheesy spinach side dish made with gluten-free flour or cornstarch for thickening.

Gluten-Free Green Bean Almondine:

Fresh green beans sautéed with toasted almonds and garlic for a crunchy and flavorful side.

Shepherds pie with ground meat, vegetables and potatoes in a cast iron pan top view

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Entrees

Gluten-Free Turkey:

A perfectly roasted turkey seasoned with gluten-free herbs and spices takes center stage as the gluten-free Thanksgiving entree.

Gluten-Free Stuffed Bell Peppers:

Bell peppers are filled with a flavorful mixture of gluten-free quinoa, beans, and vegetables, creating a colorful and nutritious gluten-free entree.

Gluten-Free Shepherd's Pie:

Layers of mashed potatoes, seasoned gluten-free ground meat, and mixed vegetables, all smothered in rich gluten-free gravy, make for a hearty and comforting dish.

Gluten-Free Salmon:

A beautifully grilled salmon fillet seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon offers a delicious and elegant gluten-free entree option.

Apple crumble with fresh apples

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Desserts

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie:

A gluten-free pumpkin pie, made with a gluten-free pie crust and a creamy pumpkin filling, is a delightful way to end your gluten-free Thanksgiving meal.

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp:

Sweet and spiced gluten-free apple slices topped with a crispy oat topping create a comforting gluten-free dessert.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake:

Rich and decadent gluten-free chocolate cake, topped with dairy-free frosting, is a crowd-pleasing gluten-free dessert.

Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Parfait:

Layers of gluten-free granola, dairy-free yogurt, and mixed berries offer a light and delicious gluten-free dessert option.

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Menu

Tasty spinach dip in frying pan on black table, flat lay. Space for text

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Appetizers

Dairy-Free Spinach and Artichoke Dip:

This creamy dip, made with dairy-free cheese and mayonnaise, offers the same indulgent flavors without the dairy.

Dairy-Free Tomato Basil Bruschetta:

Fresh diced tomatoes, basil, garlic, and balsamic glaze on dairy-free toast points create a flavorful and dairy-free appetizer.

Dairy-Free Guacamole:

Avocado, lime, and a blend of spices create a creamy, dairy-free guacamole perfect for dipping with tortilla chips.

Dairy-Free Roasted Red Pepper Hummus:

Smooth and flavorful, this dairy-free hummus pairs wonderfully with fresh veggies or gluten-free crackers.

Yummy green beans with almonds in serving pan on table

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Creamy mashed potatoes made with roasted garlic and dairy-free butter offer a comforting and dairy-free side dish.

Dairy-Free Green Bean Almondine:

Fresh green beans sautéed with dairy-free butter and toasted almonds create a delicious dairy-free side.

Dairy-Free Scalloped Potatoes:

Sliced potatoes layered with dairy-free cheese and a creamy dairy-free sauce make for a dairy-free twist on a classic side.

Dairy-Free Cranberry Orange Relish:

Fresh cranberries, orange zest, and maple syrup combine for a tangy, sweet, dairy-free cranberry sauce.

Roast turkey in the foreground on a festive table.

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Entrees

Dairy-Free Turkey:

Roasted turkey seasoned with dairy-free herbs and spices serves as the dairy-free centerpiece.

Dairy-Free Lentil Loaf:

A hearty lentil loaf filled with vegetables and herbs is a satisfying and dairy-free entree option.

Dairy-Free Stuffed Bell Peppers:

Bell peppers filled with dairy-free quinoa, beans, and vegetables offer a colorful and nutritious dairy-free entree.

Dairy-Free Vegetable Stir-Fry:

A flavorful vegetable stir-fry with tofu or tempeh in a dairy-free sauce provides a lighter dairy-free entree option.

Traditional american homemade vegan pumpkin pie

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Desserts

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie:

A dairy-free pumpkin pie, made with a dairy-free pie crust and a creamy pumpkin filling, is a delicious dairy-free dessert.

Dairy-Free Apple Crumble:

Sweet and spiced apple slices topped with a crisp oat topping create a comforting dairy-free dessert.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Avocado Mousse:

Rich and creamy, this dairy-free chocolate mousse is made with avocado and dairy-free chocolate chips.

Dairy-Free Mixed Berry Sorbet:

A refreshing dairy-free sorbet made with mixed berries offers a light and fruity dairy-free dessert.

Low-Carb Thanksgiving Menu

baked stuffed mushrooms topped with cheese

Low-Carb Thanksgiving Appetizers

Low-Carb Stuffed Mushrooms:

These bite-sized delights are filled with a mixture of cream cheese, herbs, and sausage, all while staying low-carb.

Low-Carb Deviled Eggs:

Classic deviled eggs are low-carb and make for an excellent appetizer with various creative toppings like bacon bits or smoked paprika.

Low-Carb Zucchini Fritters:

These crispy fritters are made with grated zucchini, cheese, and almond flour, perfect for a low-carb starter.

Cucumber & Smoked Salmon Bites:

Top cucumber slices with a spread of cream cheese (or a dairy-free alternative) and a slice of smoked salmon. Garnish with fresh dill or capers for an elegant and low-carb option.

Homemade mashed cauliflower with butter and parsley close-up on a plate. Horizontal top view

Low-Carb Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Low-Carb Cauliflower Mash:

Creamy mashed cauliflower seasoned with herbs and garlic makes a satisfying and low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.

Low-Carb Green Bean Casserole:

A low-carb version of the classic dish made with fresh green beans, mushrooms, and a low-carb creamy sauce.

Low-Carb Brussels Sprouts with Bacon:

Roasted Brussels sprouts combined with crispy bacon provide a flavorful low-carb side dish.

Low-Carb Garlic Parmesan Asparagus:

Tender asparagus spears roasted with garlic and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese offer a savory low-carb side.

Salmon. Pieces of grilled fish on a black stone background. Recipe. Seafood. Free space for text.

Low-Carb Thanksgiving Entrees

Low-Carb Turkey with Herb Butter:

A succulent roasted turkey with a flavorful herb butter rub makes for a delicious and low-carb centerpiece.

Low-Carb Grilled Salmon:

Grilled salmon seasoned with herbs and lemon is a healthy and low-carb entree option.

Low-Carb Stuffed Bell Peppers:

Bell peppers filled with a low-carb mixture of ground turkey, cauliflower rice, and tomatoes provide a satisfying main course.

Low-Carb Vegetarian Stir-Fry:

A veggie-loaded stir-fry with tofu or tempeh in a low-carb sauce serves as a lighter, low-carb entree option.

Slice of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream, overhead table scene on a white wood background

Low-Carb Thanksgiving Desserts

Low-Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake:

Creamy and spiced pumpkin cheesecake with a low-carb almond flour crust offers a delectable, low-carb dessert.

Low-Carb Pecan Pie Bars:

These pecan pie bars are made with a low-carb almond flour crust and a sugar-free pecan filling.

Low-Carb Chocolate Avocado Truffles:

Rich and indulgent chocolate truffles made with avocado and sweetened with a low-carb sweetener.

Low-Carb Chia Seed Pudding:

Wholesome and customizable, this Chia Seed Pudding offers a creamy and nutritious treat perfect for breakfast or dessert


Thanksgiving is a time for unity and gratitude, and with the diverse dietary preferences of your guests in mind, you can create a memorable feast that everyone can enjoy. Whether it's a vegetarian delight, a vegan feast, a gluten-free spread, a dairy-free indulgence, or a low-carb marvel, these alternative Thanksgiving menus open the door to a world of flavors and creativity.

Remember, the heart of Thanksgiving lies in the warmth of gathering and the love shared around the table. By accommodating various dietary needs and tastes, you ensure that all your guests can partake in the joy of this cherished holiday. So, as you prepare your Thanksgiving menu, embrace the opportunity to cater to everyone's palate and make this Thanksgiving a truly inclusive and delightful celebration.

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