Skip to main content
Thrive On

Build Your Holiday Menu with Kidney-Friendly Holiday Recipes

Holidays are joyful celebrations full of festive gatherings and delicious shared meals. But if you or a loved one are living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), it can be intimidating to think about enjoying holiday meals that fit into a kidney-friendly diet. If you love festive foods all year long, there are ways to make holiday recipes kidney-friendly so you can enjoy the fun of get-togethers without compromising your healthy lifestyle.

Plan ahead for holiday meals

  • Eat a high protein breakfast. This helps control your hunger and portion sizes at holiday meals.  
  • Be mindful of your fluid intake during holiday gatherings and meals. These fluid tips can help you stay feeling your best.
  • When attending a social gathering, bring a dish to share that will be healthy for you and tasty for everyone.
  • Plan your holiday meal using kidney-friendly recipes. Use the recipe links below to help you make your shopping list.

Shopping for your kidney-friendly holiday meal

  • Choose apple cider instead of eggnog to keep your beverage choice kidney-friendly.
  • When grocery shopping, look for a fresh turkey. Frozen turkeys may be high in sodium and phosphates. If you see the letters “phos” in the ingredient list, beware! That means phosphates are added. Look for a turkey with no added phosphates.
  • Cranberries are a great choice for a lower potassium fruit, and they make a colorful addition to your holiday meal. Consider making cranberry sauce from scratch rather than buying it canned.
  • Use a non-dairy whipped topping or aerosol whipped cream instead of ice cream to make your dessert festive. Non-dairy whipped toppings may contain phosphate additives; if you see the letters “phos” on the ingredient list, look for another brand without phosphate additives. 
  • Select fresh ingredients when possible. For example: Fresh or frozen green beans are better than canned. If you prefer canned, choose no added salt or a low sodium version. 
  • Purchase the ingredients to make your dressing or stuffing yourself! Boxed dressing and stuffing mixes are easy to prepare, but contain high levels of sodium and phosphorous.

Kidney-friendly holiday meal preparation

  • Make your own gravy using drippings from the turkey. It will give you more control over the amount of sodium than if you were to use pre-made gravy from a mix or jar. You can’t beat the taste of a fresh, homemade turkey gravy!
  • Double boil potatoes and other root vegetables to reduce potassium and make them a healthier choice.
  • Reduce or cut out the salt from any recipe to make it more kidney-friendly. Start by cutting the amount in half.

8 kidney-friendly holiday recipes to consider

Cooking your own main dishes and sides around the holidays can help you stay in control of your food choices. It can also help you avoid added sodium or preservatives that might not fit into your kidney-friendly diet. Before your next holiday get-together, consider some of these kidney-friendly holiday recipes.
  1. Slow-Cooked Cranberry Pork Roast

    Brown sugar, cinnamon, and cranberries give this hearty meal a sweet, festive flavor profile.

  2. Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

    This savory cauliflower puree boasts a fabulous flavor and acts as the perfect low-carb substitute for mashed potatoes.

  3. White Turkey Chili

    Enjoy this hearty chili throughout the holiday season for a flavorful and nutritious meal.

  4. Glazed Mini Carrots

    Everyone will love this simple but decadent take on a classic holiday side dish.

  5. Creamy Chicken Potpie

    The flaky, crispy crust on this chicken potpie will delight your guests and satisfy your kidney-friendly diet.

  6. Mini Pecan Pies

    Sweet treats are on the menu with these petite pies that pack a ton of flavor.

  7. Sweet Cornbread Muffins with Citrus Honey Butter

    Don’t forget yummy sides when planning your holiday meals. These sweet muffins are a great addition to any holiday gathering.

  8. Festive Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

    Grab your favorite holiday-themed cookie cutters to make these yummy cookies look as good as they taste.

Kidney friendly recipes
Find your new favorite recipe

Kidney-friendly cooking just got tastier! Get big-and-bold flavorful recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and desserts on a kidney diet.

Get recipes
Get your free kidney-friendly cookbooks
Get your free cookbooks

Looking for cooking inspiration? Find delicious, kidney-friendly recipes in our downloadable cookbook collection.

Sign up now
Looking for even more kidney-friendly holiday recipe ideas?
Download our cookbooks

5 tips for a kidney-friendly holiday gathering

Now that you have ideas on what kidney-friendly recipes to try for your next get-together, learn some tips for handling holiday gatherings.

  1. Communicate with your host.
    If you’re visiting loved ones, let them know in advance what your diet looks like to help them prepare. Pro tip: Offer to bring your own kidney-friendly dishes to help your host plan the meal.
  2. Choose a smaller plate.
    Using a smaller plate can help you control your portion sizes so you don’t overindulge. Fill your plate with kidney-friendly foods first.
  3. Start your meal with protein.
    If your diet calls for high protein, start with that, as protein can satisfy your hunger. There are many great protein choices such as turkey, chicken, fish, pork, or beef.
  4. Pick the right sweet treat.
    Be mindful of what you pick for dessert and your portion size. Think of fresh fruit pies and cobblers that may have fewer processed ingredients.
  5. Take your phosphate binders, if prescribed.
    If you need phosphate binders to absorb added phosphorus from your food, be sure to take them with your meal to help keep your levels controlled.

Enjoy your holiday with kidney-friendly recipes

The holidays are a time for celebration! Skip worrying about indulgent foods at this year’s gatherings. Instead, talk to your dietitian. They can help you make a plan to feel your best and enjoy the festivities with some kidney-friendly holiday recipes.