Healthy Delicious Paleo Thanksgiving Sides That Everyone Will Love
Food,  Meals & Planning,  Recipes,  Special Diets

Healthy Delicious Paleo Thanksgiving Sides That Everyone Will Love

Are you looking for paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free – maybe even nut-free or vegan – Thanksgiving side dishes that everyone will love? It can be hard to find – and even harder to make – healthy delicious paleo Thanksgiving sides that everyone will love. In this post, I’m sharing my favorite, easy paleo side dishes for Thanksgiving. Some are even nut-free or vegan, too!

Traditional Thanksgiving sides are delicious but can result in “food coma” or “tummy ache.” Plus, many side dishes are “off the table” for some guests, because they contain food allergens (dairy, nuts) and gluten.

Are you (or someone you know) on a gluten-free or paleo diet? I’ll bet almost all of us can answer “yes” to that question! In recent years, we have been invited to and hosted Thanksgiving dinners where one or more guests were either gluten-free or following a paleo (or even Whole30) diet.

Remember: By definition, paleo recipes are also gluten-free and dairy-free. So, paleo dishes work for multiple special diets. Yay!

Turkeys are naturally gluten-free and paleo, so the bird is A-OK. However, when it comes to side dishes and desserts … well, we have to get a little creative. In this post, I’ll share some recipes – from appetizer to dessert – that we love and make year after year. They all keep have the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving, yet are gluten-free and paleo-friendly.

Healthy Delicious Paleo Sides for Thanksgiving

Working from the beginning to the end of the meal, here are paleo and gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes I love:

  1. Pumpkin Cashew Hummus – also vegan
  2. Colorful Tossed Salad – nut-free and vegan variations
  3. Eggplant and Wild Mushroom Stuffing – nut-free, vegan variation
  4. Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese” – nut free, vegan variation
  5. Crustless Pumpkin Custard – nut-free

Pumpkin Cashew Hummus

Gluten-free * Dairy-free * Paleo * Vegan

Yes, you can enjoy hummus again while being low carb and grain free! This paleo pumpkin hummus is one of my favorite appetizer recipes for a Fall or Winter potluck and a healthy dip for veggies and crackers.

This delicious paleo pumpkin hummus recipe:

  • Uses cashews instead of chickpeas, which gives is a decadently smooth texture.
  • Tastes a lot like traditional hummus and has all the flavors of Fall in every bite!
  • It’s vegan, gluten-free, and even Whole30-friendly.
pumpkin cashew hummus
If you like pumpkin, you’ll love this paleo vegan pumpkin hummus!

Show-Stopping Tossed Salad

Gluten-free * Dairy-free * Paleo * Vegan * Nut-free options

OK, I’ve never heard someone say, “I can’t wait to devour the salad on Thanksgiving!”, but still, a salad is an important part of the meal. Something has to counterbalance the deliciously dense meal, right?

My “Salad Slam” post has many options for throwing together a beautiful and delicious salad that will actually get eaten, along with the stuffing and pie.

Salads add color, fiber, and antioxidants to your Thanksgiving plate.

Eggplant and Wild Mushroom Stuffing

Gluten-free * Dairy-free * Paleo * Nut-Free

If you’re like me, you cannot imagine Thanksgiving without stuffing. This Eggplant and Wild Mushroom stuffing as all the traditional flavors with none of the gluten. All the textures and yumminess come vegetables, bacon, and herbs.

This amazing savory stuffing:

  • Uses eggplant and mushrooms as the “flavor absorbers” instead of bread, giving a very moist stuffing packed with flavor from the bacon and herbs.
  • Can be baked in the bird or as a stand alone dish.
  • Is also nut-free! (If you’ve tried searching for a paleo stuffing that is also nut-free, you know how hard they are to find!)

Note that the recipe only gives instructions for baking inside the bird (which I hate doing). If you want to prepare the stuffing outside the bird, do the following:

  1. At the beginning of the recipe, preheat your oven to 350’F (if it’s not already going 😀 ).
  2. After sauteeing all the vegetables (after step 7), mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and then transfer to a 9×13″ roasting pan.
  3. Cover and bake for an hour, uncovering during the last 10 minutes if you want a crispier top.

For a vegan variation, simply omit the bacon and swap in your favorite plant-based fat or oil for the butter. If I’m doing this vegan variation, I double the fat and add a bit more salt to increase the flavor.

Eggplant and Mushroom Stuffing

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Gluten-free * Dairy-free * Paleo * Nut-Free * Vegan Option

Confession: I don’t like mashed or riced cauliflower, so there is no mashed cauliflower recipe here to sub in for mashed potatoes. However, if you’re avoiding potatoes, this Cauliflower Mac and Cheese recipe is an excellent stand-in and gravy transporter.

I found a cauliflower and cheese recipe and modified it to make it easier, because, honestly, I was afraid my family would not like it. One of us (not me) has an aversion to coconut milk and can detect it like a Bloodhound. My fears were put to rest when we all loved this easy, 30-minute Cauliflower Mac and Cheese! Smart substitutions make this dish creamy and comforting – we did not miss the pasta or cheese!

  • Coconut milk + nutritional yeast instead of cheese
  • Cauliflower instead of macaroni or pasta
Cauliflower Mac and cheese with sausage
As you can see, I added sausage too. 😋

Crustless Pumpkin Pie Custard

Gluten-free * Dairy-free * Paleo * Nut-Free

Pumpkin pie is a necessary part of Thanksgiving dinner; however, traditional pumpkin pie has a wheat crust and evaporated or condensed milk in the custard. That’s a no-go for paleo, celiac, or dairy-sensitive folks. I’ve tried several paleo pumpkin pie recipes, and I always find the gluten-free (usually nut-based) crust to be the weak link – it has a funky texture or taste, and it’s way more effort than it’s worth.

That’s why I’m sharing this crustless, Pumpkin Pie recipe. I like skipping the crust entirely and focusing on making a delicious, pumpkin pie custard. If you like the texture variation of a crust, I recommend adding chopped (even candied) nuts on top.

Compared to traditional pumpkin pie:

Crustless Pumpkin CustardTraditional Pumpkin Pie
Total Fat (g)612
Total Carbs (g)1339
Sugars (g)1026
Crustless Pumpkin Pie Custard | Paleo Nut-free
Add some whipped coconut cream if you like.


I hope that you now have plenty of ideas for healthy delicious paleo Thanksgiving side dishes for your holiday meal this year! To recap, here are the specific recipes we covered: 

  1. Appetizer – Pumpkin Hummus
  2. Green Salad – tips on how to throw together an awesome salad
  3. Stuffing – Eggplant and Wild Mushroom Stuffing
  4. Warm, comforting side – Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
  5. Dessert – Pumpkin Pie Custard

With these recipes in hand, you can have a healthy and delicious Thanksgiving spread that meets all the dietary needs of anyone on your guest list. I hope that you found these ideas helpful! Please share your thoughts, questions, and even pictures in the comments below or on social media.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Healthy Delicious Paleo Thanksgiving Sides That Everyone Will Love