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It may sound like a herculean task but a keto Thanksgiving can be done and done well, leaving your hard-earned state of ketosis unharmed. Here are some of the best tips and low-carb recipes for a keto Thanksgiving.
Have I lost you already? No? Okay, good. Hear me out on this.
I promise we’re not here to take the fun out of Thanksgiving. Quite the opposite, in fact. For some out there, indulging in a little holiday cheer doesn’t necessarily mean nullifying all the focus, self-control, and money (CrossFit, I’m looking at you) you expended to keep in relative health/shape all year. A ketogenic diet is low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein, so it lends at least two-thirds of itself to the enjoyment of traditional holiday food—and the carbs are fairly easily dealt with thanks to clever substitutions.
To that end, we’ve rounded up the best keto-friendly Thanksgiving recipes and tips to please even the fiercest carb-ivores among us during this great fall feast—so you can join in the fanfare without giving away the farm.
The ketogenic or keto diet has been on a tear as of late, and claims Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, and Melissa McCarthy among loyalists. One reason for its popularity is that keto—when done properly—can include ingredients and items often associated with indulgence and excess, like whipped cream and BACON! I’m winning you back, aren’t I?
The keto diet works off the premise that when carb intake is minimized (although not eliminated completely) the “semi-starved” body activates “ketogenesis” or the production of ketones into your bloodstream. These little fellas are made in the liver and serve as an alternate form of energy that would lay dormant otherwise. The keto experts also ask that you limit protein intake just a bit, leaving lots and lots of room for delicious fats.
Related Reading: The Best Turkey Delivery Options for Thanksgiving
I’ll concede that some of Thanksgiving’s undeniable charm hinges on those crave-worthy carbohydrates, but with a little thought and creativity, you can pull off a wildly indulgent keto Thanksgiving, sans having to be hot air-ballooned out of the living room.
Keto Thanksgiving Recipes
To simplify matters, turkey is a mostly keto friendly food as long as you don’t do anything crazy like bread and fry the thing. So use your favorite recipe or consult one of Chowhound’s, like our Easy Roasted Turkey or our Buffalo Turkey (above).
Keto Mashed ‘Potatoes’
This one hurts a little and we’d best rip it off like a Band-Aid: Mashed potatoes are a must, but you’re on keto, so they are off the table (at least metaphorically speaking).
Can you have just a little bite? The answer is no, but fear not: Cauliflower exists to save us from ourselves—and even better, keto allows for lots of fatty dairy like whole milk ricotta and butter to help soften the blow.
If you’re already a keto guy or gal, you’re probably familiar with the way cauliflower can magically mimic starch. In my experience, the most important thing is getting your cooked cauliflower as dry as possible before moving on to the next step. Squeezing and dabbing (not this kind) helps, but don’t underestimate the infinite power of time. Leave the cauliflower wrapped in towels for a few hours. While we’re at it, this a great candidate to make or prep the night before. Get our Creamy Mashed Cauliflower recipe, or try this Keto Cauliflower Mash with Ricotta and Roasted Garlic.
Related Reading: The Three Best Cauliflower Snacks That Slay Our 3:00 PM Cravings
Gravy, glorious gravy, is mostly keto-friendly by nature, and we can all thank a higher power of our choosing for that! A traditional gravy recipe does call for some flour but it’s minimal and you can cut the 1/3 of a cup called for here down to 1/4 cup and not notice a major difference. If you’re not willing to let even a trace of flour cross your lips, you can try keto gravy with xanthan gum or one with gelatin, or this keto gravy recipe that relies on egg yolk, pureed onion, and butter or coconut oil to thicken the mixture just enough.
Keto Rolls and Stuffing
As beloved as mashed potatoes are, that other starchy staple, stuffing, holds just as dear a spot in our Turkey Day hearts. The good news is that there are loads of keto-friendly premade bread—and also from-scratch recipes—to use as a base. Get a Keto Fathead Rolls recipe to serve as-is or to make Keto-Friendly Stuffing.
Related Reading: Can You Eat Keto at Fast Food Restaurants?
Keto Broccoli Cheese Casserole
A battle rages in the pantheon of keto-friendly foods. Bacon or cheese? Cheese or bacon? The furious debates mirror some on Capitol Hill, but this divine recipe reaches across the aisle to incorporate BOTH in a keto-tastic Thanksgiving side dish celebration of two of the diet plan’s biggest stars. Consider adding a fresh grind of nutmeg, a bestie of any béchamel. Get the Keto Broccoli Casserole recipe. (Who needs green bean casserole?)
Keto Cranberry Sauce
Even homemade cranberry sauce is loaded with sugar, which means it’s a keto no-no, but if you can’t bear a beige Thanksgiving plate without the relief of that sweet-tart, red relish, you can make a version with a keto-approved sweetener instead. Try this Keto Cranberry Sauce recipe with erythritol.
Keto Jalapeño Poppers
Appetizers are a must to distract your guests while you’re busy finishing up the cooking. They’re also a great way to incorporate more bacon into the menu, as in these keto-friendly bacon jalapeño poppers. Another bonus of the keto diet is that low-carb foods don’t fill you up as quickly as carb-heavy dishes do, so you’re more likely to enjoy ALL the courses without feeling the trademark Thanksgiving bloat. Get the Keto Jalapeño Poppers recipe.
Related Reading: How to Make the Best Keto Chili
Keto Pumpkin Pie & Keto Pecan Pie
For dessert, the keto eaters out there will have to make a concession or two. Conventional pie crusts and flour-based cakes and cookies should be avoided, but there are low-carb versions to be found online. Take this Keto Pumpkin Pie recipe for instance. It eschews refined sugar and uses an almond flour crust to cut the carbs. Even normally super-sugary pecan pie can be keto-fied: Try this Keto Pecan Pie recipe for proof.
Keto-Friendly Hazelnut Truffles
Or you can simply replace traditional baked desserts with higher fat, lower carb alternatives like these keto hazelnut truffles. I bring these—or a version of them—to almost every holiday party I attend, and they always steal the show. Their one-bite size makes it easy to taste without overdoing it, which people appreciate. Get the Keto Truffles recipe.
Related Reading: 8 Low-Carb Desserts
And if you want that little extra help, you may want to get “The Easy 5-Ingredient Ketogenic Diet Cookbook: Low-Carb, High-Fat Recipes for Busy People on the Keto Diet“—a best seller that will make your daily cooking a breeze.