ArrowDownFill 1arrow-small-lineFill 1Cooking Light - EasyCooking Light - FastCooking Light - So GoodCooking Light - How-ToCooking Light - Staff FaveCooking Light Badge - Wow!GroupClose IconEmailEmpty Star IconLike Cooking Light on FacebookFull Star IconShapePage 1 Copy 3Page 1 Copy 2Grid IconHalf Star IconFollow Cooking Light on InstagramList IconMenu IconPrintSearch IconSpeech BubbleFollow Cooking Light on SnapchatFollow Cooking Light on TwitterWatch Cooking Light on YouTubeplay-iconWatch Cooking Light on Youtube

How Do I Cook Nut-Free at Thanksgiving?

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Allergies can be tricky to work around during the holidays, especially when family you don't see often comes to town. A nut allergy might not seem like a big deal during Thanksgiving, but when appetizers, stuffing, and pecan pie hit the table, it’s not safe for people with diagnosed nut allergies. A nut-free Thanksgiving menu is easy to plan and will please any crowd, keeping all nut-allergy fears at ease.

If a guest with a nut allergy is headed to your holiday table this year, you might be wondering how to keep them safe and everyone else pleased with the dinner menu. It's quite easy, actually. These tips for serving up a nut-free Thanksgiving can help:

  1. Alert others. Let everyone who is coming to the dinner know about the allergy. In the spirit of the holidays, guests will show up with appetizers and hostess gifts. Candied nuts or mixed nuts on a cheese plate might seem like the perfect touch, but for a person with a nut allergy, that might just be a sign it's time to go home. Let your guests know ahead of time so they too can prepare efficiently.
 No need to share names. Just be specific about the allergy, and ask everyone to kindly alter their menu plans. Try this nut-free Thanksgiving appetizer, Broiled Shrimp with Buttermilk Rémoulade.
  2. Read labels. If the allergy is severe, double check any pre-made items, especially candy, to make sure those foods were not made in a facility that processes nuts. If the nut allergy isn't that severe, this step may not be necessary. Be sure to ask the individual with the food allergy how sensitive they are.
  3. Make a second dish. If a beloved family recipe just won’t be the same without the sprinkled nuts, offer to make two versions. Label them clearly on the buffet with different serving utensils. 
Use different utensils to both prepare and serve the dish, too. Cross-contamination is a serious concern for individuals with a nut allergy.
  4. BYO nut-free dishes. If you aren’t the one hosting Thanksgiving but you (or your child) are the one with the allergy, make sure to contact the host beforehand to let him or her know about the severity of the allergy. Offer to bring alternatives that are safe for you to consume, use different serving utensils at the buffet, or bring a separate meal entirely. 
  5. Opt for nutty alternatives. Use safe alternatives for nuts that won’t change the recipe. Many people love pecan-topped sweet potatoes or slivered almonds sprinkled on top of sautéed green beans. You can still have all the traditional taste and flavor your family loves with these affordable and easy alternatives.:

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Nut-Free Thanksgiving Alternatives

  • Instead of pecans on the sweet potato casserole, try making a streusel topping. Mix flour, light brown sugar, cold butter, and old-fashioned rolled oats. You can also try nut-free granola. 
Try this sweet potato side without nuts, Sweet Potato Stacks with Sage Browned Butter.
  • Roast chickpeas in the oven for a crunchy bite on top of green beans or an addition to a salad. You can make them sweet or savory depending on the seasoning.

  • Stick to apple pie, pumpkin pie, and custard-based pies for dessert. You can try substituting puffed crispy rice cereal instead of pecans in favorite pecan pie recipe.

  • Use sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead of nuts in stuffings, casserole toppings, and salads.

These simple tricks and swaps should help you and your Thanksgiving dinner guests enjoy all your favorite dishes sans nuts. For the allergic guest in attendance, having a nut-free environment for this important holiday will be immensely appreciated—and much, much safer.