Classic Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Menu with Recipes Everyone Will Love


Everything you need for a delicious dairy-free Thanksgiving is here, online. But it’s organized like a book, to make it simple for you to find and follow. Click on what you need from the table of contents below, and just hit the back button if you want to come back to this dairy-free classic Thanksgiving menu. Each of the recipes on our site has a “print” button right below the recipe image. That will immediately pop up a nice clean printable PDF of the recipe with a small image and without any ads. We want to make your holiday feast as easy and seamless as possible!

Dairy-Free Classic Thanksgiving Menu - All the Recipes You Need to Keep Tasty Traditions Alive

The Classic Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Menu of Recipes





Let’s Talk Dairy-Free Turkey

Turkey is naturally dairy free, right? Fresh turkey is indeed, just turkey. But it’s very common for turkey processors to inject the turkey with a solution (for tenderness) or to season it in other ways. It might look like plain turkey, but check the ingredients before you buy. I’ve spotted “plain old turkeys” with milk in them on more than one occasion. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a simple, dairy-free turkey, but don’t assume the turkeys at your local store are prepared without any dairy.

If any ingredients look questionable or ambiguous, contact the manufacturer to find out their source. Turkey falls under USDA regulations, not the FDA, so allergen disclosure is voluntary.

Better Turkey Basting

Now that you have your dairy-free turkey, how are you going to keep it moist? It’s pretty common for people to coat turkeys with butter, but it’s far from required. You can buy a buttery spread or margarine to do the job, but the emulsifiers and thickeners in some brands could cause less than stellar results.

Instead, we recommend simply rubbing the turkey with oil and seasoning with spices. Canola oil and olive oil are commonly used. You can use any oil, but keep the smoke point in mind. You’ll want to choose oil with a smoke point that’s higher than the temperature you’ll be using to cook the turkey. Olive oil (regular or extra-light; not extra-virgin), avocado oil, rice bran oil, grapeseed oil, and most refined oils have smoke points of 400ºF or higher.

Alternatively, you can use stock, wine, or the turkey juices to baste. The goal is to keep the turkey moist, and butter is far from the only option.

Naturally Dairy-Free Turkey Recipes

  • Butterball’s Basic Roast Turkey – They are the turkey experts. For decades Butterball has run the THE turkey hotline, staffed with over 50 turkey cooking professionals. I think we can trust their classic recipe. You can fancy it up with salt, herbs, and spices, as desired.
  • Good Eats Roasted Turkey – This is Alton Brown’s famous recipe, which includes a brine for your turkey. If your turkey is already brined (and dairy-free!), you can skip the brine ingredients and steps.
  • Slow Roasted Turkey – This cooking technique isn’t for the faint of heart, but Sarah’s family swears by it. Her husband makes their turkey this way each Thanksgiving.
  • Sheet Pan Turkey Breast – For smaller feasts, a turkey breast is a great option. They are also more manageable and cook faster.
  • Vegan Turkey – If you want to accommodate plant-based requests, this sliceable “turkey” roll is a great option.

Ham it Up

Turkey might take center stage, but we’d be remiss not to include ham in this dairy-free classic Thanksgiving menu. Like turkey, ham can contain dairy in the ingredients. It isn’t common, but it happens. Nevertheless, don’t stress right away if you see “lactate” on the ingredient list. It’s very rarely derived from dairy. But if any ingredients look questionable or ambiguous, contact the manufacturer to find out their source. Also like turkey, ham falls under USDA regulations, not the FDA, so allergen disclosure is voluntary.

Some ham recipes do use butter, but it’s truly unnecessary. Ham shines with bold flavors and glazes, and really doesn’t need any added richness. So you can skip the added fat altogether.

Naturally Dairy-Free Ham Recipes

  • Pineapple-Glazed Ham – For many people, this is a traditional recipe for holiday ham.
  • Foolproof Ham 3 Ways – This wonderful recipe has three delicious seasoning options, all of which are dairy-free. Choose between Tangy Peach Mustard, Sweet & Spicy Jerk, and Smoky BBQ Maple.
  • Holiday City Ham – Alton Brown’s version of brown sugar-glazed ham uses mustard, a spritz of bourbon, and crushed ginger snaps (yes, most brands are dairy free!).

Dairy-Free Gravy for All

Butter and sometimes milk or cream are frequently used in gravy. Even the store-bought packet varieties often contain dairy. But it isn’t needed. Simple pan dripping and roux style gravies are naturally dairy-free. I’ve includes a staple selection of classic dairy-free gravy recipes below to cover the bases.

If you aren’t using pan drippings or homemade stock, then you will want to source dairy-free broth or stock to make your gravy. Several brands do contain dairy (yes, really!), but we do have a list of our favorite Dairy-Free Broth, Stock, and Bouillon Brands.

Naturally Dairy-Free Gravy Recipes

  • Roasted Turkey Gravy – Sarah’s father makes this special gravy for their dairy-free family. It uses a smoked turkey wing for flavor infusion instead of pan drippings.
  • Pan Dripping Gravy – Some recipes oddly add butter on top of pan drippings. It isn’t needed. This recipe is a classic step-by-step for making gravy from your turkey pan drippings.
  • Dairy-Free Gravy Mix – This packet copycat is versatile, easy, and a great mix to have on hand for gravy in an instant. It has just add water and heat instructions, and can be made vegan.
  • Easy Roux Gravy – Sarah relies on this simple recipe often. You don’t need any pan drippings, and it comes together in minutes. You can use turkey stock for more of a Thanksgiving spin, if desired.
  • Vegan Gravy – You can make the Easy Roux Gravy above with a vegetarian stock for vegan needs, or make this holiday-worthy brown gravy.

Looking for Another Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Recipe?

See our Big Gathering of Thanksgiving Recipes and our Great Dairy-Free Pie Recipe Round-Up for hundreds of additional dairy-free recipe ideas. You might also find our Dairy-Free Alcohol Guide helpful. Or leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help!

And For More Dairy-Free Guidance, Get Go Dairy Free!

Go Dairy Free - The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein-Free Living

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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