Make 2018 the Best Low-Carb Thanksgiving Ever

Mega Low-Carb Guide for a Terrific Thanksgiving Feast
Tips, tricks, and Keto-friendly recipes
to make 2016 your best Thanksgiving yet!

[This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to buy something by using one of those links, I might receive a small financial compensation, at no cost to you.]

You don't need carbs to make your Thanksgiving holiday extra special and memorable this year. You can still avoid cravings and temptation by combining a proper mindset with a few colorful decorations, fun activities, and traditional holiday foods.

Simply de-carb your favorites by following the recipes and instructions below.

Celebrations and food go hand in hand. Whether it's a:
  • graduation party
  • special anniversary
  • birthday
  • or holiday
There always seems to be plenty of carby desserts, potatoes, pastry, and chocolate goodies around to try and coax you into going off plan.

Over the centuries, human nature has turned a vital fuel source into a culturally-endorsed feast of gluttony, but if you keep your wits about you and stay mindful of your aims and true desires, you can still make a low-carb diet work, even in difficult circumstances.

All you need are these tips, tricks, and keto-friendly recipes to help you make 2018 the best low-carb Thanksgiving ever. With the right attitude, focus, and purpose, you can make the holiday fun and memorable, even without the carbs.

Pinterest Image; Turkey breast roasted

Start Your Low-Carb Holiday with the Proper Mindset

It's time to check up on your mindset.

With Thanksgiving only two weeks out, where are your thoughts, feelings, and attitude today about the coming holiday?

Where are your thoughts, feelings, and attitude really hanging out?
  • Do you still feel attracted to carbs?
  • Are you missing the pleasure that carbs used to provide?
  • Are you focusing on what you can't have?
  • Do you feel deprived and mistreated?
Maybe, you're worried about what might happen if you cheat or you feel insecure about cooking an acceptable low-carb Thanksgiving Dinner.

Whatever your feelings and attitude are, right now, it's best to get on top of what your inner critic and emotional voices are telling you, so you won't have to white knuckle your way through the Thanksgiving holiday.

Demon Cartoon Talking to an Angel
Your thoughts and feelings are like voices
that lie to you. Don't trust them!

Here's the truth:

Most of the time, those thoughts and feelings are lying.

They are based on things you have experienced in the past or something you've been told by someone else, such as marketing or what you read online.

And yeah. That even includes this blog.

If you watch your thoughts and attitude, rarely are they based on what is in your best interest to believe and do.

Most of the time, thoughts and feelings result from feeling victimized, or they are the beliefs and standards set up for you by others.

When you see a Thanksgiving table filled with lots of carby foods, what do you do?
  • Do you feel strongly attracted to those high-carb foods?
  • Or do you feel indifferent?
Do you see the foods that make you feel energetic and vital, while ignoring everything else on the table that doesn't bring health and well being?

Or do you zero in on all of the foods you can't have because Atkins or Eades said they will make you fat?

Oddly enough, your attraction to food isn't really about the food.

While low-carb diets are definitely restrictive, the longing for carbs is actually about what you think carby food will do for you.

If the food on the table held no value, you wouldn't give it a passing thought. But it does hold value for you, so that is what you need to take a closer look at.

Woman Holding a Full Plate of Thanksgiving Foods
If you're worried about Thanksgiving Dinner
you need to take a closer look at why.

People who succeed on low-carb diets:

Have ditched their dieting mindset.

Since their focus is on making each Thanksgiving holiday the best holiday ever, they have adopted an attitude that doesn't allow them to embrace things that are not to their benefit.

They see food as vital for life, but since they have made low carb their lifestyle, rather than a temporary fix, they have a select list of foods they find valuable to eat because those foods help them fulfill their purpose.

For them, the pay-off of eating low carb isn't weight loss on the scale or returning to the weight they weighed in high school.
The pay-off is doing what is in their own best interest to do.

They know that pigging out on:
  • carby desserts
  • wheat-bread stuffing
  • sugary cranberry sauce
  • homemade dinner rolls
doesn't make them feel good, and those foods come with a bucket-load of painful consequences that they are not willing to pay. While everyone doesn't experience pain from eating higher carb foods, the bottom line is this:

Your thoughts are not your friend.

If they were, your thoughts and feelings would want you to do what's best for you. They don't.

Thoughts tell you what?
  • That you are deprived?
  • That you're a victim?
  • That your body is mistreating you?
  • That you're missing out on something vital?
Why are you feeling deprived?

Woman Happily Lost in Her Thoughts of Getting Things
Most of our thoughts are simply fantasy
and dreams.

Because you can't eat:
  • pumpkin pie
  • turkey stuffing
  • sticky cranberry sauce
  • and real mashed potatoes?
What did that pumpkin pie, turkey stuffing, and those dinner rolls ever DO for you?

Isn't mindless eating and overeating carby foods what got you fat in the first place?

Successful low carb requires you to firmly make up your mind, with strong feeling, and then manifest the strength to carry out that decision.

That's what a responsible adult does.

They make up their mind, and then they do it. There is no wavering.

If you allow yourself to be carried away by every urge that arises from the lower mind, without questioning that urge and making sure it's to your advantage to obey it, you'll find yourself stuck in a very vicious cycle where your emotions or thoughts are in control of your feelings and behavior instead of YOU.

Find Pleasure in Thanksgiving Decorations and Activities

Food is only part of the Thanksgiving festivities.

Whether you're hosting your own Thanksgiving dinner for 12 or looking for keto-friendly recipes that you can make and take with you to share with family or friends, you can decide to get your pleasure from non-food activities instead of holding a pity party about all those missing carbs.

When you are caught in the net of apathy and resentment, you have no power to do anything, so the best you can hope for is a listening ear. However, even if you do have someone that is willing to listen to your sniffles, you can't complain and plan a great Thanksgiving dinner at the same time.

So pull yourself up and let's put some fun and excitement back into your life instead.


By looking at fun Thanksgiving decorations and activities that don't involve food.

One of the things I remember most about Thanksgiving when growing up wasn't the food. It was going to our relative's house for dinner and seeing all of the fancy tables they had set up. Those tables were scattered all throughout the living room and dining room.

Yes, I have a HUGE family.

But that's not the point. The point is that I don't even remember what foods we ate for Thanksgiving. I honestly don't. When growing up food didn't have that type of impact on me. Food was just food.

What I remember about all of the Thanksgiving holidays is the lengthy tables that filled the living room and dining room. I remember the:
  • fancy fabric tablecloths
  • cloth napkins
  • real silverware
  • attractive center pieces
And the little name tags that told us where to sit.

No matter how elaborate or simple your low-carb spread will be, your low-carb dinner will be more attractive, fun, and memorable with a festive holiday tablecloth.

Place settings and decorative tables is what impressed me the most about Thanksgiving as a child, rather than the food, because those tables were not something that I was able to experience every day.

Those tables permanently set the mood and association in my mind that comes back each time the holiday draws near. Those holiday tables were special to me, so that's what I remember.

My relatives were well off financially, so the place settings were not cute and adorable like these Give Thanks Tapestry Placemats available at Amazon:
They were much more sophisticated than that, but I do remember how the name tags were often fun and unexpected. While simple place cards with a fall theme would look just as nice as a turkey cutout name tag specifically designed for Thanksgiving.
You might also get a kick out of letting your personality do something out of the ordinary like setting up mini chalk boards with your guest's names instead of official Thanksgiving cards.

It can also be fun to design your own name tags using an online photo editor like PicMonkey or Canva and then attaching your personalized design to card stock. Thanksgiving stickers, funny sayings attached to toothpicks, or Thanksgiving activity sheets and tablecloths can also make your meal memorable for your guests.

If you want to take your Thanksgiving to the next level, you could also surprise your guests with these Thanksgiving Leftover Containers that I found at Amazon.

Colorful drinking straws, pumpkin confetti crackers, or cute turkey Thanksgiving plates with matching napkins and cups can help you better coordinate the look of your holiday table, as well as make it easier to clean up the mess once everyone goes home.

Check out these cute Turkey Thanksgiving Plates.

You don't have to put a lot of effort into making dozens of fancy low-carb foods to make your Thanksgiving dinner the best holiday ever if you let your decorations and tableware make the memories for you.

A traditional low-carb Thanksgiving dinner will feel more special if you surround your guests with fun and unexpected surprises.

Why a Simple Thanksgiving Menu for Low Carbers?

Roasting a perfect turkey takes a bit of work, even without the stuffing, so I have rarely gone out of my way to create a huge Thanksgiving feast. I did do that once, shortly after most of the kids had moved out, but I didn't find the abundance of food worth the effort it took to make it all.

I spent several hours preparing the food and carefully laying it out on the dining room table.

The kids took one glance at that Thanksgiving spread, filled their plates with their favorite foods, scarfed it down in 20 minutes, and then were off and running to spend the day with dad and their paint guns.

They didn't even load up their plates with seconds.

Food was never all that important to my kids. Yes, they wanted to eat their favorite foods for Thanksgiving, but I didn't have to spend hours in the kitchen to do that for them.

What I learned that day:

A super large holiday spread offers so many different items to choose from, that there is little room to actually enjoy your low-carb favorites.

After that strange and un-fulfilling day with the kids, I have never cooked a large Thanksgiving Dinner ever again. I have always gone for a more simplistic style.

Easy Low-Carb Thanksgiving Menu (Serves 12)

The following low-carb Atkins menu reflects that simple style, but also includes some of our favorite foods.

I normally cook for 2 to 4 people on Thanksgiving, so I don't actually make all of this food, but the menu and low-carb recipes in the following section are designed to serve a crowd of 12 people.
  • Jalapeno, bacon, and olive dip
  • Cheese crackers or pork rinds
  • Roasted turkey with lots of crispy skin
  • Low-carb turkey gravy
  • Lettuce salad with homemade salad dressing
  • Green bean casserole
  • Sugar-free cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin cheesecake
If you're cooking for a smaller crowd, I would either cut the recipes in half or serve fewer dishes.

For example:

You don't have to serve both a vegetable and a salad. You could choose one or the other. The appetizer is also optional. Another possibility is to swap out the turkey for a couple of game hens sliced in half, and roasted, or a whole chicken instead of making a full-sized turkey. You could also serve ham or even a nice, juicy roast beef.

Keto-Friendly Recipes to Make 2016 the Best Low-Carb Thanksgiving Ever

Induction-Friendly Homemade Dip and Cheese Crackers

For two of us, I never ever make an appetizer. Hubby traditionally snacks on his huge canister of nuts or nibbles on a few grapes while the turkey is cooking.

But if you're on Atkins Induction and are hosting dinner or you want something special to take with you to a family gathering, you can't go wrong with a tasty homemade dip and Induction-Friendly Cheese Crackers.

For the dip:

Follow the directions in this article about Superbowl favorites, and season the dip with minced:
  • jalapeno
  • red onion (or green onion for lower carbs)
  • black or green olives
  • crumbled bacon bits
Make sure you make the dip a couple of days ahead, so it has plenty of time for the flavors to blend.

If you are rushed for time, you can always serve the dip with a simple bag of pork rinds, and sturdy potato chips for those who are not doing low carb, but homemade cheese crackers are quick and easy to make.

Crackers Made with Pepper Jack Cheese and Jalapenoes
Make Jalapeno Cheese Crackers
and Skip the Dip

For simple cheese crackers:

If you're feeding 12:

Take 12 slices of real American cheese and cut the cheese into 9 squares per slice (3 x 3). Line a paper plate with parchment paper, trimmed to fit. A little bit of overhand will make it easier to do.

Place the 9 squares of cheese on the parchment, about an inch or so apart, and then nuke the cheese for about a minute or so. Let the crackers cool, to make them easier to handle. They will puff up, fall, and become crisp as they cool. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Store them in an air tight container, to keep them crunchy, and they can be made on the same day you make the dip.

Perfectly Roasted Turkey

How to Make a Holiday Turkey with Crispy Skin
Love Crispy Turkey Skin? Get the Recipe!

To get a perfectly roasted turkey with lots of crispy skin, follow this recipe for making the best Thanksgiving turkey ever.

Low-Carb Turkey Gravy for Phase 2 (Includes Alternative for Induction)

Gluten-Free Gravy is Lower in Carbs than Regular Gravy
Gravy can be made with cornstarch
or Xanthan Gum instead of flour

Real turkey gravy will only set you back about 3 carbs for 1/4 cup of gravy, when made with all-purpose flour, but it's also easy to trim those carbs if you need to.

If you're on Atkins Induction or a very low-carb diet, place your turkey drippings in a large frying pan, and add a pinch of Xanthan gum (available at Amazon or your local health food store) to thicken it up. You don't want to use too much, or the gravy will come out slimy. It's better to use too little than too much. Since vegetable gum is all fiber, it won't add to your carb count.

If you're doing Atkins 40 or your carbohydrate tolerance can handle the carbs, you can use standard cornstarch to thicken the gravy, like I do. This is one place where I have no guilt bending the Atkins rules:

All you have to do is count the cornstarch at 7 carbs per tablespoon.

Those 7 carbs are half the carbs of all-purpose flour because a tablespoon of cornstarch will thicken one cup of turkey drippings or broth, so you only need half as much.

If you are serving a crowd, you'll need to add some extra chicken or turkey broth to those drippings, to make the gravy go further, so you'll need to plan on using a bit more xanthan gum or cornstarch.

For example, if you add 2 cups of chicken broth to a cup of turkey drippings, you'll need 3 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken it up. At 12 servings, 1/4 cup each, that comes to 1.75 carbs per serving when using cornstarch, plus whatever carbs might be in the broth. 

Homemade broth is zero carb, while canned broths often contain a carb or two per serving.

For a creamy low-carb turkey gravy, you can add a little heavy cream, but make sure that you add those carbs to the total. Regardless of what the label says, heavy whipping cream is 6.6 carbs per cup, so 1/2 cup of cream will only raise the carb count to 2 carbs per serving.

If using the vegetable gum method, added cream gives you a gravy that's 1/2 carb each instead.

Lettuce Salad with Homemade Dressing

Salad is a low-carb staple, so if you plan on serving it for Thanksgiving, you'll want to dress it up. Our article on how to make a great low-carb salad reveals a special technique for dressing up those greens. At the link, you'll also find several keto-friendly recipes for classic salad dressings you can make yourself.

Induction-Friendly Green Bean Casserole

Traditionally, green bean casserole is made with cream of mushroom soup, which contains about 18 net carbs per can. Cream of celery is a bit lower, 15 net carbs, but it takes one can of soup per two cans of well-drained french-style green beans, which only feeds 4 to 6 people.

Even at 6 servings, the soup alone will cost you 5 net carbs.

You can make a tasty alternative to cream of mushroom soup by combining mayonnaise, sour cream, and grated cheese.


(For 12 servings)

1/2 cup minced onions
4 ounces minced mushrooms
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
4 cans french-style green beans
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper
8 ounces grated cheese

Saute onions, mushrooms, and garlic in butter until the onions just begin to brown. You want the onions to caramelize a bit, so don't rush this step. While the onions and mushrooms are cooking, drain green beans.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, seasoning salt, and seasoned pepper. Stir well. Fold in grated cheese. Add the sauteed vegetables and green beans, stirring just enough to mix together.

Place in a casserole dish that's large enough to hold the beans and bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, until the beans are nicely browned.

Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce for Phase 2

Super easy to make, this homemade cranberry sauce uses a 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries, about 2 cups of berries.

Toss the berries into a large saucepan with:

1 cup water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice or allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Season with your favorite sugar substitute (equal to about 1 cup sugar).

Bring the berries and water to a full boil, then lower the heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or so. Taste and add more sweetener, if necessary. You want the finished sauce to be a bit on the tart side because it will get sweeter as it cools.

Remove from the stove, and then chill overnight for the best flavor.

Phase 2 Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is an adaption of a basic cheesecake recipe someone gave me decades ago, but I tweaked it for Thanksgiving Dinner way back when I was doing Atkins in 1999. Normally, the recipe calls for 16 ounces of cream cheese, but for this version, you're going to use 8 ounces of cheese and 1 cup of mashed pumpkin.

Almond-Cinnamon Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the crust, combine:

1-1/2 cups almond flour
sugar substitute to equal ¼ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 egg white

Stir everything together and then press into an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and allow it to cool before adding the filling.

Cheesecake Filling:


1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
sugar substitute equal to 1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, with a heavy hand beater, beat the heavy cream until quite stiff, and then set aside.

In another mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin and mix until smooth. Stir in your favorite sugar substitute, cinnamon, pumpkin spices, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Gently fold in whipped cream and pile into your cooled almond pie crust. Chill well before serving.

This makes 12 small servings, which is probably all you'll need by the time everyone gets finished stuffing themselves with turkey and all the trimmings.