Diabetes-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes from Virta

Published on 
June 18, 2024
November 18, 2023
Virta Health
Virta Health
Virta Health

What can people with diabetes eat for Thanksgiving? Our round-up of the best diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving dinner, side dishes and dessert recipes.

Thanksgiving is all about carb-loading... or is it? Not if you trust you place your trust in our guide of diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving recipes. Including recipes for diabetes-friendly side dishes, a no-fuss turkey, and a diabetes-friendly Thanksgiving dessert, here's a Thanksgiving menu that aligns with maintaining your metabolic health, courtesy of Virta.

If you have diabetes, there's still nothing to fear from this lovely roast turkey.

Easy, No-Fuss Turkey

Prep Time: ~20 minutes

Total Time: ~4 hours

Nutritional Info:

  • Serving Size: 4 ounces
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Protein: 28 grams
  • Fat: 23 grams
  • Calories: 319

Makes sixteen servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Turkey (12-20 pounds)
  • 1 Onion (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 Lemon (quartered)
  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 garlic cloves, minces
  • 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons, fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons, fresh sage, chopped

‍Instructions:

  1. If the turkey is frozen, thaw it in the fridge, 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. 
  2. Remove the thawed turkey from the fridge 1 hour before roasting, to let it come to room temperature.
  3. Adjust your oven rack so the turkey will sit in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Make the herb butter by combining the butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and chopped herbs. 
  5. Remove turkey from packaging and remove the neck and giblets from the inside the cavities of the bird. Pat the turkey very dry with paper towels.
  6. Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff it with the quartered lemon and onion.
  7. Use your fingers to loosen and lift the skin above the breasts (on the top of the turkey) and smooth a few tablespoons of the herb butter underneath.
  8. Tuck the wings of the turkey underneath the turkey and set the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.
  9. Microwave the remaining herb butter mixture for 30 seconds (it doesn’t need to be completely melted--just really softened). Use a basting brush to brush the remaining herb butter all over the outside of the turkey, legs and wings. Place any left over inside the turkey cavity. 
  10.  Roast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 13-15 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature (inserted on middle of thigh and breast) reaches about 165 degrees. 
  11. Check the turkey about halfway through cooking, and once the skin gets golden brown, cover the top of the turkey with tinfoil, to protect the breast meat from overcooking. Alternately, you could start cooking the turkey with it tented in foil, then during the last hour or so of cooking you can take the foil off to let the turkey brown.
  12. Allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.


There are no carbs to worry about in this cheddar and sausage stuffing.

Cheddar and Sausage Stuffing

Prep Time: ~30 minutes

Total Time: ~70 minutes

Nutritional Info:

  • Serving Size: ¾ cup
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams
  • Protein: 13 grams
  • Fat: 29 grams
  • Calories: 330

Makes sixteen servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 skillet bread with cheese (prepared separately) 
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry sage or 1 tablespoon fresh, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the skillet bread 1-2 days in advance and cut into cubes. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Spread bread on a large baking sheet and bake 2 to 3 hours to dry out and crisp up. Let sit overnight to continue the drying process.
  3. Cook sausage in a heated skillet, breaking up pieces until just cooked through, about 6 minutes.
  4. Drain sausage and place in a large bowl.
  5. Add celery, onion, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper to skillet and saute until tender. Add to sausage.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9 glass baking dish.
  7. Combine bread and sausage mixture. Add chicken broth and stir to combine.
  8. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with cream and pour over bread/sausage mixture. Stir until well combined and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes, uncovered, until the top is browned.
This deliciously savory gravy recipe uses porcini mushrooms instead of flour as a thickener.

No Flour Gravy

Prep Time: ~30 minutes

Total Time: ~50 minutes

Nutritional Info:

  • Serving Size: ¼ cup
  • Carbohydrates: 4 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Calories: 96

Makes six servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • ½ cup water

‍Instructions:

  1. Soak mushrooms in ½ cup water for about 30 minutes. While the mushrooms are soaking, chop the onion and garlic and zest the lemon.
  2. In a hot pan, melt the butter and cook the onion and garlic until translucent.
  3. Add sage (or herb of choice) and lemon zest to the pan and continue to cook until the onions are golden.
  4. Add chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan along with the soaked mushrooms (do not drain, add the water too!).
  5. Add vinegar and mustard and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer until mixture is reduced by half.
  6. Add cream and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Blend with an immersion blender or stand blender until smooth.
Mashed cauliflower is just as tasty as mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, and way more keto-friendly.

Classic Mashed Cauliflower

Prep Time: ~5 minutes

Total Time: ~20 minutes

Nutritional Info:

  • Carbohydrates: 11 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Calories: 109

Makes four servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ cup of full fat sour cream

‍Instructions:

  1. Using a large, very sharp knife, slice up the cauliflower into large chunks, making sure you remove as much of the stem as possible. (Tip: You can save the stems and dip in ranch dressing if you like.)
  2. Throw the cauliflower chunks into a big pot and fill with water, just until all the cauliflower chunks are submerged.
  3. Cover and bring to a boil (should take 5-7 minutes to get to a nice rolling boil) and then let it cook for another 5 minutes. Throw some salt in during the cooking process, or 1-2 bouillon cubes could work as well. 
  4. Take it off the heat and drain out ALL the water. This is key to prevent watery mashed cauliflower!
  5. Put the pot back on the stove, turn to low, and mix in the sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Using an immersion blender, pulse everything right inside the pot to your desired creaminess. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could transfer to a food processor to blend it until creamy. 
  7. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, and serve with any savory dish!
Love it or hate it, it's not Thanksgiving without this holiday staple.

Green Bean Casserole

Prep Time: ~10 minutes

Total Time: ~60 minutes

Nutritional Info:

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Carbohydrates: 10 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Fat: 24 grams
  • Calories: 300

Makes six servings.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces frozen green beans
  • 1 four ounce can mushrooms, drained
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded

‍Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat butter in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion, celery and mushrooms until soft and slightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a greased 1½ quart casserole or 8×8 baking dish.
  4. Bake uncovered, 30 minutes or until nicely browned and bubbly.
If you like mac and cheese on Thanksgiving, substitute this Virta-approved cauliflower "mac" instead. It's just as delicious!

Cauliflower “Mac” and Cheese

Prep Time: ~30 minutes

Total Time: ~50 minutes

Nutritional Info:

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Fat: 27 grams
  • Calories: 300

Makes twelve servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 2 cups heavy (or whipping) cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoons garlic powder

‍Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray, butter, or oil.
  3. Wash and remove the florets from the stem of the cauliflower.
  4. If using fresh cauliflower: boil the cauliflower florets until they soften, but are still somewhat crisp. Remove from water, drain well, and then chop into smaller pieces.
  5. If using frozen cauliflower: follow package instructions for microwave cooking.
  6. Place cooked cauliflower into a large baking dish.
  7. Pour the cream into a large saucepan, and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the cream cheese to the saucepan, and then whisk to combine the contents to a smooth consistency.
  9. Add 6 oz of the shredded cheese to the saucepan, continuing to stir until the cheese melts completely.
  10. Slowly add in the remaining 6 oz of cheese, along with the onions, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until all contents are well-mixed.
  11. Remove the cheesy mixture from heat and pour over the cauliflower.
  12. Stir to combine, and then bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Can't eat sugar or carbs this Thanksgiving? This pecan pie recipe is just as delicious, while being incredibly diabetes-friendly.

Diabetes-Friendly Pecan Pie

Prep Time: ~60 minutes

Total Time: ~120 minutes

Nutritional Info:

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Carbohydrates: 15 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Fat: 29 grams
  • Calories: 300

Makes twelve servings.

Ingredients:

For crust:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup cold butter
  • ¼ cup Xylitol or Virta-friendly alternative sweetener
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon

For low carb “Corn syrup”:

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon liquid Stevia
  • ¼ teaspoon butter extract
  • ¼ teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon Xanthan gum

For filling:

  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted and brought to room temperature
  • ¼ cup Xylitol or Virta-friendly alternative sweetener
  • ½ teaspoon of maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups pecans

‍Instructions:

  1. Make the crust: Combine almond flour, coconut flour, xylitol, and salt in a food processor.
  2. Cut butter into chunks and add to the food processor. Pulse until butter is incorporated.
  3. Add egg and run the food processor until a dough is formed.
  4. Form dough into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Once cool, press firmly into a 9” pie round, forming dough all the way up the sides of the pan. 
  6. Make the syrup:  Combine water and almond milk and microwave for 2 minutes.
  7. Add stevia, whisk, and microwave for additional 30 seconds.
  8. Add extracts, whisk.
  9. Sprinkle xanthan gum on top while continuously whisking mixture, until clumps are gone and mixture is thickened.
  10. Let cool to room temp.
  11. Make the filling: Combine eggs, salt, and butter in a food processor and run until combined.
  12. Add syrup mixture, maple extract, and vanilla and run until combined and smooth.
  13. Make the pie: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  14. Pour 1 cup of pecans into the filling and stir with a spoon to combine.
  15. Pour filling into pie crust, make sure not to overfill.
  16. Top with remaining ½ cup pecans.
  17. Cover edges of crust with foil (to prevent burning).
  18. Bake for 40-45 minutes until set.

The Takeaway

Need other ideas for diabetes-friendly recipes to bring to Thanksgiving? We've got plenty more where these came from! Living a healthy metabolic lifestyle doesn’t have to mean turning your back on holidays like Thanksgiving. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and want to live a healthier lifestyle, Virta Health may be able to help. By making healthy lifestyle changes in a medical setting with supportive resources like 1:1 virtual coaching, you can regain control of your health and feel like yourself again. See if you’re eligible for Virta Health here.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any advice relating to your health. View full disclaimer

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