Thanksgiving Favorites Made Dairy Free


Food allergies can make navigating through the holiday season very difficult.

dairy free

I know this first hand because my 5 year old little boy has an allergy to dairy. The smallest amount of dairy can cause anaphylaxis shock. It’s scary to say the least. Last year, I wrote a post for SMB about ways our family navigates through the holidays with a food allergy. This year, I’d like to share a few recipes for what could be argued as the top favorite dishes on the table during the holidays.  

First up, mashed potatoes because, duh, ya gotta have ’em.

What’s weird, though, is that my son, the boy with the dairy allergy, doesn’t like mashed potatoes. Whatever. Mashed potatoes are supposed to be creamy and rich and decadent and fluffy. So how is all that supposed to happen without heavy cream and butter? Trust me when I say that these mashed potatoes will satisfy on all accounts.  

It’s important to start off with Yukon Gold potatoes. They have a smoother, creamier texture than a russet has to offer. Peel and cut into quarters and put them in the Instant Pot with about a half cup of chicken broth and a sprinkle of salt, set to manual for 5 minutes and allow for a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and quick release the rest of the pressure. (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, please be sure to snag one on Black Friday or Cyber Monday and just boil your potatoes with enough broth to cover the tots until they are soft. If you boiled the potatoes, remove and reserve some of the liquid.)

Everybody mash their potatoes in the pot. Add a scoop of dairy free butter (I prefer Earth Balance) and a dollop of the secret ingredient…Trader Joe’s Garlic Spread. It’s so creamy and garlicky good. Add more broth if you need to make it smoother. Add more DF butter if you need it to be creamier. Add more Garlic Spread if you need it to be more flavorful. Add more salt if your heart desires it. One little tip I learned from a chef friend is to not over-whip potatoes as they will become “gluey.”  

The other key essential to Thanksgiving is the pumpkin pie.

Finding the right DF recipe for pumpkin pie took a lot of trial & error, but I’m happy to share that this pie is better than Grandma’s and/or Costco’s. The only “problem” I have found is that they pie isn’t very big, so I have to make several. First world problems, man. 

The key to a good pie is to have a good crust. If you have a great crust recipe, please use that. I use a pre-made pie crust and I get it, you guessed it, from Trader Joe’s. Here are the ingredients:  

  • Pie crust  
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree (not the pumpkin pie filling) 
  • 2/3 C sugar 
  • 1 ¼ tsp cinnamon 
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice  
  • ½ tsp salt  
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten 
  • ¾ C canned coconut milk (full fat, but not the coconut cream), shake well before opening. 

Preheat oven to 375. Line a 9-inch pie plate with your crust. For filling, combine pumpkin puree, sugar, pie spice, and salt in a bowl. Stir to incorporate, add eggs, and stir until well combined. Gradually add coconut milk and mix until well combined. Pour filling into pastry. Bake for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Refrigerate within 2 hours.

Serve pie with So Delicious brand coconut whipped cream (found in freezer section of Sprouts or Whole Foods and sometimes Safeway), or make your own by following this recipe from the Pioneer Woman. You could also serve it up with non-dairy ice cream. Whatever your topping of choice happens to be, definitely sprinkle with a bit of ground nutmeg. Even if you’re not dairy-free, I highly recommend trying this recipe out. It’s so delicious and I promise, you will not be overwhelmed by the flavor of coconut.  

Other Thanksgiving favorites 

When it comes to making other Thanksgiving Day favorites, such as stuffing (or do you call it dressing?) and gravy, substituting conventional, dairy milk and butter for dairy free alternatives, such as Earth Balance butter and soy milk is the name of the game. Whisk flour into the drippings of the cooked bird, along with a little soy milk to make a delicious gravy. There’s even a recipe for a super easy to make, vegan condensed cream of mushroom soup, which I use to make green bean casserole. It tastes delicious!  

Dairy free seems to be a fairly popular by choice lifestyle and is becoming more common by necessity. Replicating favorite meals to be dairy free is not only easy, but also delicious. As for my son, he’s really good about knowing what is safe for him to eat and what isn’t. We want for him to feel as normal as possible and so with experimenting, substituting, or omitting ingredients altogether, we are able to keep our holiday meals & treats not only yummy, but also dairy free.  

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  1. Great read. Always helpful to a) be reminded that some people may be dealing with food allergies at holiday gatherings and b) that there are delicious alternatives that can be served! Thanks for sharing.


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