When you’re on the keto diet, holidays can seem daunting. But whether it’s appetizers, entrees, dessert, or even alcohol, low-carb options don’t have to be boring. Yep! You can still enjoy a delectable meal because keto Thanksgiving recipes are here to save the day.
It may seem like you’ll only be able to eat the Thanksgiving turkey, since many seemingly low-carb dishes like green bean casserole or gravy are made with flour, which adds too many carbs for the keto diet. But! Make a few side dishes (or keto dessert) at home to take with you—or go all out and host a keto Thanksgiving of your own. You can make all the traditional dishes, but with keto-compliant ingredients, says Los Angeles-area dietitian Sarah Jadin, RD. “There’s a substitute for everything."
A few general tips for making your Thanksgiving keto-friendly: Swap out mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower, nix adding any flour to thicken recipes like green bean casserole or creamed spinach, and load up on the low-carb veggies like Brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash, and mushrooms.
Oh, and a word on booze: Jadin says if you do opt for an alcoholic drink, go for a pure distilled spirit (plain vodka, for instance) mixed with a splash of club soda or tonic. A dry wine is another option. Just stick to a glass or two—max. “Alcohol tends to affect people on a keto diet sooner and harder compared to people eating a general diet,” she says.
And don’t forget to actually enjoy the holiday, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a Sparta, New Jersey-based registered dietitian and author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet. “You may need to adjust your meal plan and goals slightly to accommodate company and travel, so aim for progress, not perfection, and consider your meal plan as a lifestyle, not a crash diet to go on and off,” she explains. “Try to shift the focus away from food only and more onto family time, conversations, and enjoying activities with those you love.”
Keto Diet 101
The ketogenic diet (AKA keto) is an eating pattern that includes high amounts of fat, low to moderate amounts of protein, and very little carbohydrates, says Palinski-Wade. “It involves consuming a very low amount of carbohydrates and replacing them with fat to help your body burn fat for energy,” she explains. “It’s typically rich in foods like butter, cheese, eggs, meat, nuts, oils, seafood, seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and only low-sugar fruits, such as avocado.”
The goal of the keto diet is to reach ketosis, or the state your body enters when it doesn’t have enough carbs for your cells to use as energy. This typically occurs about two to seven days into the diet, when you then start making ketones, or organic compounds your body uses in place of the missing carbs. From there, your bod also starts burning fat for more energy.
Foods To Minimize On The Keto Diet
When following a keto diet, you should avoid or limit the following foods, according to Palinski-Wade:
Refined carbohydrates: bread, pasta, rice, chips, crackers, and pretzels
Added sugars and sweeteners: honey, table sugar, jellies, jams, and syrups
Sugar-sweetened beverages and alcohol: soda, juice, beer, mixed drinks, and sweet wine
High-sugar fruits: bananas, grapes, oranges, mangos, and cherries
Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beets, and squash
Risks Of The Keto Diet
The keto diet is a restrictive eating pattern that can come with potential risks and side effects, says Palinski-Wade. “When you first start the keto diet, you may experience flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea, as your body adjusts to the low-carb, high-fat diet,” she explains. Cutting back on whole food groups can also contribute to fiber deficiencies which may cause constipation, she adds. Plus, a lack of carbohydrates can lead to fatigue, fuzzy thinking, drops in blood sugar, and mood swings, notes Palinski-Wade.
People with a history of disordered eating patterns should be cautious when considering a restrictive diet like keto, since the strict rules may trigger unhealthy tendencies, which can have a negative effect on health over the short and long term, says Palinski-Wade. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid the keto diet since it may not provide enough nutrients for the baby, she adds.
If you have chronic health conditions, you should *always* speak to your physician before trying a keto diet, stresses Palinski-Wade. In particular, people with diabetes who are on medication to lower blood sugar run the risk of hypoglycemia (when your blood sugar is lower than standard range) when on a keto diet, she explains. Bottom line? Always speak to a physician or registered dietitian before making any dietary changes.
How To Grocery Shop For Thanksgiving On The Keto Diet
Good news: Many traditional Thanksgiving foods actually fit the keto-approved list, like turkey and low-carb vegetables including leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower, says Palinski-Wade. You can also incorporate substitutions to reduce carbs and increase healthy fats in a variety of dishes such as using almond and coconut flour for breading, gravies, and crusts, she adds.
Another pro tip? Stock up on fresh avocado since the creamy fruit is a great way to stay on track with a low-carb diet while increasing your intake of good fats and beneficial nutrients, says Palinski-Wade. “Unlike most other fruits, avocado contains zero grams of naturally occurring sugar per serving, does not affect the glycemic response, and a serving of avocado contains four grams of carbohydrate with three grams of fiber which helps slow digestion and nutrient absorption,” she explains. “Avocado can be used in a variety of recipes, such as replacing butter in a 1:1 ratio with mashed avocado to boost the nutrition and fiber of a recipe while reducing saturated fat.” Plus, including avocado at your holiday meal may also help with appetite regulation, says Palinski-Wade.
Lastly, plan ahead. “Have snacks on hand to prevent excessive hunger and know the menu in advance when possible so you have a plan of action as to what you will eat, when, and where,” adds Palinski-Wade.
You didn't think you'd have to start from scratch, did you? Here are 40 keto Thanksgiving recipes to put on your menu.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Maple And Bacon
To complement your roasted turkey dinner, this keto sweet potato dish is perfect for Thanksgiving day. It really brings all the yummiest elements to your t-gives table: sweetness from maple syrup, salty goodness from chopped bacon, and savory edge from sliced red onion.
Per serving: 200 calories, 8 g fat, 18 g net carbs, and 4 g protein
Sausage and Butternut Squash Frittata
For a keto Thanksgiving recipe with a breakfast-style twist, try cooking this savory frittata with ingredients like sausage, sweet potatoes, red pepper, bacon fat, fresh herbs and more. Serve it with your main course or as a starter while the other courses finish cooking.
Per serving: 341 calories, 26 g fat, 4 g net carbs, and 16 g protein
Broccoli Salad with Bacon
Sure, Thanksgiving is all about mashed potatoes, stuffing, and turkey—but that doesn't mean you can't get your veggies in, too. This broccoli salad with bacon, red onion, walnuts, mayo, and more is the perfect way to add greens to your plate sitch this holiday.
Per serving: 353 calories, 29 g fat, 5 g net carbs, and 7 g protein
Coconut Flour Biscuits
There's legit nothing better than dipping steaming hot biscuits (with melted butter, of course) into your keto Thanksgiving gravy. These coconut flour biscuits make that delicious experience possible, even if you're following the keto diet this holiday season.
Per serving: 155 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g net carbs, and 5 g protein
Keto Charcuterie Board
TBH, every holiday occasion calls for a charcuterie board that guests can munch on before the main courses. This one includes yummy snacks like a mix of cheeses, salted nuts, salami, chorizo, strawberries, kiwi, cucumber slices, guacamole, salsa, pesto, and more.
Per serving: 191 calories, 16 g fat, 1 g net carbs, and 9 g protein
Keto Pumpkin Muffins With Cream Cheese Filling
The recipe name says it all. These are high in fat and low in carb, and even your kiddos will be licking their fingers after one of these for dessert. Are you drooling yet?
Per serving: 217.14 calories, 19.47 g fat, 3.56 g net carbs, and 7.65 g protein
Garlic And Bacon Brussels Sprouts
Now for your veggie side dish inspo. This flavorful blend of Brussels sprouts, bacon, and onions is a guaranteed success for the holidays, and totally keto-compliant.
Per serving: 254 calories, 17.08 g fat, 10.12 g net carbs, and 12.47 g protein
Turkey Dinner With Homemade Gravy
This turkey dish is a classic for Thanksgiving, but it will be at a hit for *any* special occasion. The turkey comes out with a lovely garlic-y flavor, and it pairs perfectly with bacon and Brussels on the side if you want to add some fat content to balance the protein.
Per serving (turkey and gravy together): 349 calories, 22.3 g fat, 3.3g net carbs, and 32 g protein
Dairy-Free Keto Chocolate Silk Pie
You didn't think we'd send you off to your feast without a chocolate option, right? This dairy-free pie will melt in your mouth—and your family will have no clue it's (gasp!) low-carb.
Per serving: 421 calories, 41.31 g fat, 6.6 g net carbs, and 8.7 g protein.
It isn’t Thanksgiving without some buttery cornbread, and this keto version uses only a handful of ingredients. It’s the definition of guilt-free indulgence.
Per serving: 220 calories, 20 g fat, 56 mg sodium, 3 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 8 g protein
Mashed Cauliflower With Parmesan Cheese And Truffle Oil
Truffle flavor at Thanksgiving? Heck yes. This dish completely levels up your traditional TG table with the unique and earthy aroma, yet still pairs perfectly with a basic protein like turkey. Oh, and it's beyond carb-conscious since you're swapping potatoes for cauliflower.
Per serving: 111.83 calories, 8.09 g fat, 2.77 g net carbs, 6.14 g protein
Keto Pumpkin Pie
A cinnamon crust and mousse-like filling gives you all your favorite components of pumpkin pie without the excess carbs and sugar. Keto maple syrup adds sweetness without totally derailing your diet.
Per serving: 134 calories, 10 g fat, 134 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 3 g protein
Keto Apple Pie
Zucchini in apple pie? Don’t knock it until you try it. This keto apple pie is healthy, with a flakey crust that’ll leave you doubling up on slices.
Per serving: 361 calories, 30 g fat (15 g sat), 56 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 6.5 g protein
Keto Pumpkin Roll
The ultimate grain-free treat, this pumpkin roll screams fall flavors. A delicately sweetened coffee filling provides a fun contrast, too.
Per serving: 207 calories, 18.08 g fat (8.18 g sat), 56 mg sodium, 5.17 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 5.87 g protein
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta
Pretty much everything is better with bacon...and yes, that includes this other version of Brussels sprouts.
Per serving: 87 calories, 4 g fat, 9.5 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3.5 g protein
Keto Cheese Soufflé
Making a soufflé sounds difficult, but this recipe is so much easier than you'd think. A slice of this cheesy goodness is cozy and comforting as part of your feast, yet a serving packs fewer than three net carbs.
Per serving: 265.03 calories, 22.37 g fat, 2.17 g net carbs, and 13.33 g protein
Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
Need an appetizer or side that looks fancy enough to knock the socks off your mother-in-law (but will only take you a few minutes to throw together)? You’re welcome.
Per serving: 50 calories, 2.5 g fat, 3.5 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 4 g protein
Grilled Artichokes With Miso Butter
For some families, artichokes are a must-have item at Thanksgiving dinner. This recipe—dripping in flavorful miso butter—will be a hit with keto dieters and non-dieters alike.
Per serving: 147 calories, 11 g fat, 9 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3 g protein
Rustic Apple Tart
This apple tart is made with just the basics, meaning it can be whipped up a few hours before Thanksgiving dinner and set aside to cool (or not, because we all know fall desserts are better served warm).
Per serving: 302 calories, 26 g fat, 7 g carbs, 7 g protein
Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Start dinner off on the right note with this simple but decadent appetizer loaded with bacon, roasted red peppers, and three different kinds of cheese.
Per serving: 43 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g protein
Butternut Squash Risotto
Cauliflower rice and mashed squash stand in for grains in this perfectly fall—and perfectly delicious—risotto recipe just begging to be included on your Thanksgiving table.
Per serving: 337 calories, 25 g fat, 9 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 8 g protein
Fresh Green Beans With Bacon, Mushrooms, And Herbs
Bacon makes everything taste better. Bacon on green beans with mushrooms, sage, and thyme is straight up next-level.
Per serving: 119 calories, 7 g fat, 11 g carbs, 6 g protein
Brined Bacon-Wrapped Turkey With Gravy
After this, you'll want to wrap your turkey in bacon every year.
Per serving: 728 calories, 38 g fat, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 87 g protein
Brown Butter Spaghetti Squash With Pine Nuts And Sage
No, Italian food (er, faux-Italian food) isn't necessarily a Thanksgiving staple, but with pine nuts and sage, it definitely deserves a place on the table.
Per serving: 305 calories, 26 g fat, 11 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein
Cranberry Corn Bread Muffins
Grab some of those cranberry extras from your cranberry sauce and add them to these quick and easy corn bread muffins.
Per serving: 102 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g carbs, 7 g protein
Keto Sausage Stuffing
This stuffing is made from low-carb cheesy skillet bread and sausage—and it's about to become a keto staple on every holiday menu.
Per serving: 311 calories, 26 g fat, 6 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 11 g protein
Lemon Brussels Sprouts
When you were a kid, Brussels sprouts were veggies that doubled as a punishment. Now, they’re a tasty savory side dish thanks to recipes like this one.
Per serving: 110 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g carbs, 3 g protein
Pumpkin Crumble Bars
Stevia gives these bars sweetness, while almond meal helps add a little crunch.
Per serving: 132 calories, 10 g fat, 5 g carbs, 3 g protein
Pumpkin Muffins With Cranberries And Pecans
Every Thanksgiving dinner needs a sweet side dish—and these pumpkin muffins with cranberries and pecans fit the bill.
Per serving: 237 calories, 21 g fat (10 g sat), 87 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 5 g protein
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