If you’ve been following a keto diet plan and aren’t too thrilled about a low-carb Thanksgiving celebration, we’re here to tell you that your holiday feast can still be both mouthwatering and indulgent. Since a keto diet is high in fat, (and let’s be honest, fat tastes amazing!), there are so many specialized keto Thanksgiving recipes that will make you forget all about those troublesome carbs.
Plus, there are plenty of low-carb, keto Thanksgiving sides (stuffing, desserts and more), that will totally blow you away in the taste department. If you still want to indulge during this holiday meal without trading in an amazing state of ketosis, fret not!
Read on for a complete guide to pulling off a keto Thanksgiving dinner so scrumptious, your whole family will soon be low-carb converts!
Keto Thanksgiving Basics
If you’ve been faithfully following a ketogenic dietary plan, you know the basics… like to get about 70-75% of your daily calories from fats; 20-25% from protein; and around 5-10% from carbs. This looks something like eating 30g or less of net carbs per day.
If you aren’t familiar with keto but you’re interested in getting started, check out this Keto Diet for Beginners Guide. In addition, you can get personalized metrics for keeping yourself in ketosis by using this free keto calculator tool to help you meet your goals.
Wherever you are on the keto spectrum, having more innovative, healthy keto recipes is always useful, especially for a typically carb-heavy holiday like Thanksgiving. But if you still can’t wrap your head around not being able to eat some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods, relax, because we’re here to tell you that you can!
Thanksgiving does not mean that turkey and butter are the only things on the menu – instead you can taste a variety of dishes, and even make your favorite keto-friendly pie (and eat it too)!
Keto Thanksgiving Menu (High-Fat Highlights)
Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for… So, what can you eat at a keto Thanksgiving feast anyway? The answer: everything! There isn’t one type of food you have to leave out, you just need to make them differently. Let’s go through some holiday favorites so you can be well-prepared…
1. Keto Turkey
The main dish of many Thanksgiving meals is of course the turkey… and you don’t have to worry much about this one when following a keto diet. The most important thing to remember is to stay away from fried turkey recipes or others that use a lot of breading – which will be too high in carbs.
In addition, remember that whereas turkey is a great source of protein, fat should still be the highlight of your keto meal. Therefore, choose dark cuts of meat which will have more fat, and look for a Thanksgiving turkey recipe that uses a healthy oil or grass-fed butter for basting, to keep your healthy fat count nice and high.
2. Keto Stuffing
© Photo by Make It Grateful
Now we’re talking! If right now you’re thinking, “Is keto Thanksgiving stuffing actually a thing?”, the answer is yes! The truth is, with minimal effort, you can actually recreate some of your favorite Turkey Day side dishes – which will be very close to the real thing. In fact, you may not even be able to tell they contain low-to-no carbs!
The secret to pulling off the best keto Thanksgiving stuffing is to start with one of your favorite keto bread recipes. Or, buy an already-made version featuring low-carb substitutes like almond, coconut or cauliflower flour.
Next, add your favorite healthy, fresh local ingredients like leeks, celery, and sage – and make sure it includes lots of healthy fats like butter or oil. Check out this recipe for amazing keto stuffing, along with more keto Thanksgiving sides.
3. Keto Mashed “Potatoes”
© Photo by Wholesome Yum
Now, before you get too excited, slow down a bit. We aren’t talking about actual mashed potatoes, because of course potatoes are too high in carbs. But, we promise you that the low-carb substitute is so good, this dish may become one of your favorite keto Thanksgiving sides!
So, what is the secret ingredient? Cauliflower! Before you throw up your hands in disgust, realize that (when mashed with delicious high-fat additions like butter and cream cheese), this veggie becomes a truly decadent, nutrient-packed treat. And, you can actually mash it up so smooth that it resembles actual mashed potatoes.
Pro tip: Add in some topper ingredients to make your mashed cauliflower extra special… like some shredded cheese of your choice, chopped chives, or fresh herbs like rosemary, parsley or thyme. Or, make this ultra-creamy garlic mashed cauliflower.
4. Keto Gravy
© Photo by Delish
We know what you’re thinking… How could you possibly enjoy turkey or mashed potatoes without a keto-friendly gravy recipe?! Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to discuss! Believe it or not, you don’t need flour to make your gravy finger-licking good. And if you do like a thicker gravy, you can always add in a keto-approved thickener, like xanthan gum, to give it that extra texture.
What other ingredients go in a keto Thanksgiving recipe for gravy? Don’t forget the butter (or another healthy fat like coconut oil), to keep it satisfying and keto-friendly. And besides that, keep it simple… use pan drippings from the turkey, garlic or garlic powder, salt and pepper, and some wine or Worcestershire sauce. You can follow this recipe for keto gravy that’s fast and effortless!
5. Keto Mac and Cheese
© Photo by Delish
Your kids will be happy you decided to bring a keto-friendly side dish of mac and cheese into the mix (and it’s so rich and indulgent, they probably won’t miss the “mac” part of it)! To help you get past the hump of not being able to eat most types of pasta, we turn again to our faithful carb substitute, cauliflower.
Add-ins such as cheddar cheese, heavy cream and cream cheese combined with butter and oil make the dish even richer than traditional mac and cheese recipes – so you’ll actually feel like you’re indulging, (while still sticking to your diet)! Top the entire dish off with some bacon or crumbled pork rinds, for a high-fat “treat yourself” recipe your non-keto friends will want to steal!
Get this keto mac & cheese recipe here.
6. Keto Pumpkin Pie
© Photo by Gimmie Delicious
Finally, no keto Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without a decadent keto dessert, and probably the most popular holiday favorite is pumpkin pie. If you didn’t think dessert was even possible on a keto diet, think again! You can do it easily with popular sugar substitutes (like the sugar alcohol, Erythritol). Unlike sugar, Erythritol is zero-calorie and zero-carb and doesn’t impact your blood sugar levels.
For the additional ingredients, choose pumpkin puree (which is canned pure pumpkin), NOT the canned pumpkin pie mix, which sits next to it on store shelves – and is full of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Finally, for an exciting twist on traditional pumpkin pie, the butter, cream cheese, eggs and almond flour or ground walnuts in this keto pumpkin cheesecake make it a step above the rest.
Additional Keto Thanksgiving Tips for Success
Now that you have your main keto Thanksgiving dinner dishes figured out, lay back, relax, and enjoy the day. In addition, keep in mind these final two tips for success, to ensure you have your best turkey dinner yet!
1. Don’t forget the veggies
Whether they’re on your plate, like in this mouthwatering bacon-wrapped green beans recipe, or in your glass, like in one of these premium meal replacement shake smoothie recipes – don’t leave out veggies on Thanksgiving. It’s so easy to forget, but having the extra nutrients and fiber will keep your metabolism buzzing, and ensure your controlling your appetite so you don’t start reaching for unhealthy, sugary foods.
2. Drink wisely
You may think it goes without staying, but make sure you stay hydrated on Thanksgiving. On a day where food is around most of the time, you may be tempted to overeat when your body is really craving water -- so keep some healthy hydration near you at all times.
In addition, when you aren’t drinking water, make wise choices… like an herbal detox tea after your Thanksgiving meal to help yourself digest and remove bloat. Something like this will also help to naturally energize you when all you feel like doing is falling asleep! Pro tip: Add in 1-2 tablespoons of keto-friendly MCT Oil to satisfy, energize and keep you in ketosis.
As for alcohol, try to avoid it so you can save your carbs for the actual foods, but if you really must indulge, this long-time keto-goer and researcher extraordinaire says a glass of red wine won’t mess with your state of ketosis! So go ahead… enjoy time eating and drinking your favorite holiday delights with family and friends… Cheers to an amazing keto Thanksgiving!