Almost every year since I’ve been on my own, I make a huge Thanksgiving dinner. 2018 was my first Thanksgiving dinner on keto and I wanted to make sure that it went perfectly. My Grandmother was from Texas and her Thanksgiving dinners were simply amazing. Sadly, they were absolutely loaded with carbs and sugar, you know, the stuff that tastes great! I want to keep the delicious flavor while making the meal keto-friendly.
Because I’ve had such success on keto I wanted to adapt her recipes where possible so that my family can enjoy the deliciousness that she passed down to me and I can indulge a bit without derailing my progress. I thought it would be neat to do a post with what I’m making from my Grandmother and how I will change it, what I will substitute instead, or if I’ll leave it alone. So here we go!
This one is delicious and keto-friendly without needing any substitutions or changes. It’s pretty straightforward. The turkey is stuffed with butter, herbs, garlic, onions, celery, and carrots in the cavity. Under the skin, I put pats of butter. I rain down salt and pepper on the skin that I have patted dry with a paper towel. Throw it in the oven and roast until done. It is always delicious!
This is one of my favorite dishes. Since I do not like cauliflower “mashed potatoes” I am not going to make a keto-friendly version. I’ve tried turnips and that didn’t work for me either. The texture of both of those is just not something that I enjoy. So, my family gets to enjoy mashed potatoes with lots of butter, heavy cream, and bit of sour cream. They are silky and indulgent, yumm!
If you can’t do without mashed potatoes of some type I recommend this recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef for cauliflower mashed potatoes. Of the ones I’ve tried it’s my favorite.
I love to take the giblets from the pouch out of the turkey, season them with salt and pepper, and cook them low and slow in some chicken broth and butter. Then I cut them into small pieces and take some of the fat and deliciousness from the bottom of the turkey roasting pan. Mix it all up with a bit of flour.
The liquid from cooking the giblets is stirred in until it’s perfectly smooth and starts to thicken. I then mix in the giblets and let them warm through. It’s a smooth, creamy delicious gravy to smother the mashed potatoes, turkey, and even stuffing.
I am going to change it a bit this year for everyone. Instead of using flour as a thickener, I am going to keep everything the same but stir in a bit of heavy whipping cream and just let it cook down until it’s thickened a bit. I am pretty excited about this gravy!
If you’d rather use a thickening agent you can use xanthan gum and here is a link from Leaf to a pretty yummy alternative to mine that uses it.
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Technically what I make for Thanksgiving is dressing because it’s not cooked inside the turkey but I grew up calling it stuffing so that’s what it is to me. It starts with heated butter that I use to saute small diced carrots, celery, and onion until they are tender. Then I use a bagged stuffing mix that is the same as what my grandmother shared with me. I make the stuffing according to the directions for a baked stuffing mixing in the veggies. It is delicious and easy.
Again, there isn’t really a way to make this keto friendly although I suppose you could try and use some keto bread as a substitute for the stuffing mix. I haven’t found one that I particularly enjoy. My plan for this is to simply make some delicious roasted brussels sprouts that I will share with everyone.
Green Bean Casserole
Green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk, cheddar cheese, and French-fried onions combine to make this delicious favorite. I will prepare this one the same way that I always do but I will also make some fresh garlic green beans for a keto friendly alternative.
However, the Low Carb Maven has a yummy looking keto alternative that you should check out.
Sweet Potato Casserole
My grandmother’s sweet potato recipe is a delicious puree of sweet potatoes, butter, nutmeg, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and evaporated milk topped with large marshmallows and baked. It is very sweet, almost a dessert. This is another recipe that I won’t be changing but it is a requirement for my family so maybe I’ll just take a little nibble!
The awesome folks over at Wholesome Yum have taken this traditional Thanksgiving dish and turned it into a yummy keto alternative. They use butternut squash and cauliflower as a sweet potato stand in. Give it a try if you really need to have sweet potatoes on your menu.
I LOVE cranberry sauce. It’s simple and easy but has such a yummy flavor. I love how the tartness cuts through the heavy flavors of the rest of your turkey dinner. It’s simply fresh cranberries heated in a saucepan with some sugar, a bit of water, and some citrus zest. I am allergic to oranges so I use lemon but orange is really the best. You cook it until the cranberries burst and are tender then add in a dash of salt and some pepper. Omgosh, simple and amazing!
I am going to keep my recipe the same but I am going to use a sugar-substitute, just make sure it’s a crystallized one to get the texture right.
A delicious homemade pumpkin pie topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream is the perfect ending to the meal. I am going to make sure that my family has this to enjoy but I am also going to have a delicious keto-friendly option as well.
Snacks and Nibbles
Throughout the day we always have trays of snacks. We usually make a French onion dip to eat with Ritz crackers, some dill dip with Hawaiian rolls, veggies, a relish tray, and various candies, cookies, and fudge. I’m planning on cutting down on some carbs this year.
I’ll still have French onion dip made with sour cream and use it for celery and broccoli as well as the Ritz. I’m not doing the dill dip with Hawaiian rolls but will have a pretty robust relish tray skipping the sugar loaded types of pickles. Finally, instead of candy and cookies we are doing summer sausage and cheddar cheese.
This is my game plan for Thanksgiving. I’m excited to see my family and to host them in my home where I can make sure that I have what I need to stay on track with my keto lifestyle. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner on keto might not be what I’m used to but I can’t wait.
Let me know on social media if you have awesome plans to adapt traditional foods to your way of eating, or if you avoid traditional all together and do something else.
After Thanksgiving Update
Thanksgiving has come and gone and I wanted to share how it went. I’m so happy with how the meal came together and everyone loved it. My family came down from Kansas and it was great seeing everyone. I got to cook with my mom and sister which was really nice. The best part is that everyone loved eating the keto friendly recipes.
Bill’s favorite holiday meal happens on St. Patrick’s Day. He shared some of his favorite dishes with you. His offerings aren’t keto-friendly but they are delicious so be sure to check them out too!