Here Are 4 Tips for a Safe and Delicious Gluten-Free Thanksgiving from Blogger Nicole Hunn (Plus a Breadstick Recipe!)

Do you need to go gluten-free this Thanksgiving? Popular blogger Nicole Hunn is here to help. Check out her 4 Tips for a Safe and Delicious Gluten-Free Thanksgiving below. From her new book, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, she also shares a breadstick recipe she swears is as good as The Olive Garden’s!

“As the mom of a gluten-free kid, I know stress can come as its own special side dish to family get-togethers and holidays. Double it when you’re talking about Thanksgiving, or as I like to call it, The Food Olympics. But whether you’re hosting your own Thanksgiving this year or you’ll be a guest in someone else’s home, you can (and should!) expect great gluten-free food for your gluten-free kid, with all the trimmings! In fact, since we moms of kids with food intolerances and allergies tend to think about food more than the average person, our allergy-friendly food should be the envy of the table. I can help you with that! Beyond the food, I recommend you stay away from religion and politics at the dinner table, and the holiday should go off without a hitch.

Before I share with you a gluten-free bread recipe from my new book, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, here are a Four Tips for a Safe and Delicious Gluten-Free Holiday for yourself and those you love:

1. If you’re hosting the holiday, guests feel uncomfortable showing up empty-handed. Since I keep an entirely gluten-free household, I ask guests to bring wine or fruit. I tell them that this is going to be the most stress-free holiday that they’ve ever had, since they don’t have to lift a finger.

2. Second, if you’re a guest in someone else’s home, don’t expect them to cater to your and your family’s dietary needs. In fact, I much prefer it when they don’t, since then I am free of any worry that their kind attempts to help will end up making my son sick. Did they chop up those vegetables on the same cutting board they use for regular bread? Did they bake those muffins in their regular muffin tin, the one they used the day before to bake regular cupcakes? Instead, I offer to bring as many sides as the hosts will allow. Then, I just serve my son his meal first before everyone else digs in. Otherwise, I basically cater a whole meal for my gluten-free son and bring it, already warm, in an insulated cooler. That’s why I prefer to host. It’s easier! But we do what we have to do for our kids.

3. Make a fabulous dessert. They’ll always remember you for it.

4. Finally, pick a part of the holiday meal that is typically filled with gluten, like breadsticks or rolls, and knock one out of the park with an amazing gluten-free version. Like these Soft Olive Garden-Style Garlic Butter Breadsticks, from my new Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Cookbook:

Soft Olive Garden–Style Garlic Butter Breadsticks

Makes 12 breadsticks

Bread Dough

4 1/4 cups (595 g) Gluten-Free Bread Flour (recipe included below), plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons (6 g) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (24 g) sugar
2 teaspoons (12 g) kosher salt
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (about 95°F)
Garlic butter
3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic salt

First make the bread dough. Place the flour, yeast and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, and use a handheld whisk to combine well. Add the salt, and whisk to combine. Add the butter and water, and mix on low speed with the dough hook until combined. Raise the mixer speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough will be quite sticky, but should be smooth and stretchy. Spray a silicone spatula lightly with cooking oil spray, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smoother. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. With each piece, follow the tips below for shaping:

Hoagies (covering the remaining pieces of dough with a moist tea towel so that they don’t dry out), elongating each breadstick to about 8 inches long.

Place the breadsticks about 2 inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet, and dust with flour. Once all the breadsticks are shaped, cover the baking sheet with oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free location to rise until the breadsticks are nearly doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours). About 25 minutes before the dough has finished rising, remove the plastic, preheat your oven to 375°F.

Once the breadsticks have finished rising, place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and immediately turn down the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 5 minutes. While the breadsticks are baking, melt the butter for the garlic butter in a small, microwave-safe bowl, then mix in the garlic salt. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush each breadstick generously with the garlic butter. Return the breadsticks to the oven and continue to bake until they are lightly golden brown all over (about another 5 minutes). Remove the breadsticks from the oven and brush again with garlic butter. Serve immediately.

*Gluten-Free Bread Flour

Makes 1 cup (140 g) flour

100 grams (about 11 1/2 tablespoons) all-purpose gluten-free flour (see below) (71%)**
25 grams (about 5 tablespoons) unflavored whey protein isolate (18%)
15 grams (about 5 teaspoons) Expandex modified tapioca starch (11%)

**For the all-purpose gluten-free flour in Gluten-Free Bread Flour, you can use either the High-Quality All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour (below) or the Make-It-Simpler All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour (below that). For this recipe, the High-Quality All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour is best. It is a copycat recipe for Better Batter gluten free flour, so that commercially-available gluten-free flour blend will also work well.

High-Quality All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour

Makes 1 cup (140 g) flour

42 grams (about 1/4 cup) superfine brown rice flour (30%)
42 grams (about 1/4 cup) superfine white rice flour (30%)
21 grams (about 2 1/3 tablespoons) tapioca starch (15%)
21 grams (about 2 1/3 tablespoons) potato starch (15%)
7 grams (about 1 3/4 teaspoons) potato flour (5%)
4 grams (about 2 teaspoons) xanthan gum (3%)
3 grams (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) pure powdered pectin (2%)

***General Shaping Tips

-On a well-floured surface, pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. For the breadsticks, the dough should be elongated to about 12 inches long. For a hoagie roll, the rectangle should be about 5 inches long.

-Fold the rectangle along the length from bottom and top, each fold halfway up the width of the rectangle. Fold the now smaller rectangle in half, each side just folded over one another.

-Roll the dough back and forth on the lightly floured surface to seal the edges and to elongate it slightly until the dough is nearly 16 inches long for baguettes, and about 7 inches long for hoagie rolls. For breadsticks, the dough should be approx. 8 inches long.”

From the book Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread: Biscuits, Bagels, Buns and More by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2013. 

About Nicole Hunn, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread: Nicole Hunn is the personality behind the popular blog, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, and the author of the book Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, featured in the New York Times, MSN Money,,, and the Dr. Steve Show. Her unique timesaving recipes take advantage of readily available gluten-free ingredients and kitchen shortcuts. Created with the busy family in mind, Hunn shares her secrets to getting a complete meal, including bread, on the table in no time flat—all without breaking the bank.  She lives with her husband and three children in Westchester County, New York.  For more information and recipes, please visit



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