Whether this is your first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner or one of many you have already hosted, you will make a favorable and memorable impression if the holiday menu includes palate-pleasing dishes made especially with guests with food allergies in mind.

Here are some tips to make Thanksgiving dinner enjoyable for all of your guests–with and without food allergies.

Get Informed Ahead of Time

The topic of food allergies rarely comes up at a holiday dinner. Unless a guest mentions he has a food allergy in advance, you may be surprised if a guest has an allergic reaction after eating food you have prepared. You can prevent the latter by finding out who has a food allergy before you plan the dinner menu.

Make a list of those guests with food allergies and the type of food allergies they have. Take the list with you when you go shopping for your holiday meal. Read all the labels on everything you buy to avoid buying any foods containing allergens.

Make Some Dishes “Allergen-Free”

You can modify your holiday recipes to accommodate special dietary needs. It is a great idea to try some recipes you can make with “safe” ingredients. Here are some suggestions:

  • For mashed potatoes, use almond, oat, rice or soy milk instead of heavy cream and non-diary butter substitute instead of butter. You could also opt to make seasoned roasted potatoes instead of mashed potatoes.
  • If green bean casserole is on the menu, fry the onions using use brown or rice flour instead of white flours. Your gluten-intolerant guests will be most appreciative.
  • Instead of using the gravy packet that comes with turkeys, make your own gravy using ingredients you know are safe for your guests.
  • Make your stuffing with wheat-free bread.
  • Try some new recipes for holiday desserts that can be made without eggs, diary, wheat or nuts and are just as delicious.

Additional Tips

Use different colored serving utensils, cookware or baking dishes to identify those dishes that contain allergens (or the dishes without allergens).

Another thing your guests will appreciate is knowing what is in each dish at the start of the meal. It is not necessary to name every single ingredient. You can casually mention that the mashed potatoes were prepared without butter or diary, or the vegetables were prepared without animal products.

Be considerate of guests with food allergies, and take no food allergy lightly. Even the tiniest taste of your famous mouthwatering chocolate-peanut butter cake may turn your Thanksgiving dinner into a serious medical drama.