Health & Wellness

38 Vegan-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes [Impress Any Critic]

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Whether you’re a new vegan or an old pro at the plant-based lifestyle, Thanksgiving can still be difficult — especially if you’re cooking for other people who are decidedly not vegan. Ensure everyone has a great time at the Thanksgiving table this year with this roundup of 38 delicious vegan Thanksgiving recipes.

The Star Attraction

Everyone knows that the turkey is the Thanksgiving star. Love it, hate it, feel totally apathetic towards it, turkey will likely end up on your table regardless. Some families get around the turkey Thanksgiving feast prerequisite by opting for a ham, but that’s still not preferable if you’re vegan.

Luckily, you have a few options when it comes to replacing your turkey and swapping it out with something vegan-friendly.

The Tofurky

The Tofurky roast is a mainstay when it comes to vegetarian and vegan holiday celebrations. Since about 1995, this meat-free main is a favorite for a reason.

When you order your Tofurky roast, you get a tofu-based “turkey” that’s stuffed with traditional rice and bread stuffing. Just like a regular turkey, you have to thaw and roast the Tofurky for several hours, and you can make a baste to go along with it, with a little bit of broth herbs and red wine.

But beyond the roast and stuffing, the brand also includes a few extras in your purchase, like gravy (just microwave before eating) and even a cheesecake, so you have something delicious for dessert.

Just note, if you’re also watching your gluten or soy consumption, the Tofurky has lots of both, so it isn’t ideal for those who are gluten or soy-sensitive.

If you’re not entirely vegan, you can find similar vegetarian turkey roasts from brands such as Gardein and Quorn.

Related: Best Protein-Packed Vegetarian Foods + Recipes 

Total Turkey Replacements

But who said that you have to go completely traditional in order to have a tasty Thanksgiving meal? If you don’t really care for turkey anyway, there’s no reason to try to trick your tastebuds into believing you’re eating something similar with a meat-free version. Instead, go with something totally different and start your own vegan Thanksgiving dinner traditions, with a new main course.

A few savory entrees that are cozy and comforting and that go well with many of the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts?

Try this butternut squash with cranberry and quinoa stuffing. You get the delicious, seasonal flavor of butternut squash, along with the required Thanksgiving cranberries and stuffing. It’s also a lovely option if you have diners in your midst who don’t do gluten.

If you’re really in the mood to do the whole roasting thing, you could give this whole roasted cauliflower a go. A little spicy, it comes together with minimal ingredients — literally just the whole head of cauliflower and then a whole bevy of spices. Then, all you have to do is roast and serve for an impressive-looking main dish that your guests will love, vegan or no.

(If cauliflower isn’t your thing, you can do a similar roast with a cabbage.)

If you want to try something equally impressive, but you don’t necessarily want to develop mad pastry skills between now and Thanksgiving, you could also try this mushroom wellington, which uses pre-made, store-bought puff pastry.

Vegan Thanksgiving Appetizers

Once you have the main entree decided, you can move on to all the little accompaniments. But don’t think you can throw together some green bean casserole and mashed potatoes and call it a day: appetizers, side dishes, breads, salads, desserts and more await.

When it comes to Thanksgiving appetizers, if you have a non-vegan family, they’ll likely expect some pretty non-vegan standards: meat and cheese trays, dips, etc. Show them the fun party foods that vegans already know and love (beyond a mere veggie tray).

For example, you can go with some easy vegan cheese or this vegan fondue (which is frankly delicious at any time of year, so consider keeping the recipe on hand to use for any dinner party). And while your guests are dipping, go ahead and slide them some fresh guac, too (yes, even on Thanksgiving; the added pumpkin seeds make it seasonal). Vegan spinach dip is also an option.

If you want to do something a little fancy, try these vegan potato, pepper and olive phyllo cups. The one-bite treats look impressive, but require minimal skill or work.

Another one-bite treat that will impress your guests? Vegan stuffed mushrooms.

Vegan Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Tofurkey next to a bowl of green beans

Now for the sides. After all, you will need something to serve up alongside your delicious turkey alternative.

Your normal green bean casserole comes with a creamy sauce, but you can still enjoy that same level of savory creaminess without opting for animal products. With a little vegan sour cream and almond milk, you can pull together a vegan green bean casserole that’s sure to please and is made with one skillet. We’re all about fewer Thanksgiving dishes to wash.

Some sort of potato dish is required, whether your family prefers mashed, au gratin or casseroled. Vegan mashed potatoes come together simply enough, with vegan butter and milk. If you want to do a cheesy casserole, though, you might try this cheesy potato broccoli casserole, which combines a selection of your favorite Thanksgiving flavors into one dish.

Some families prefer a rice dish to stuffing on Thanksgiving. If your family is among them, wild rice is easy enough to cook up, but you can add a little extra flavor with this wild rice with wild mushroom dish.

Of course, you can find lots of vegan stuffing options, including this one, for stuffing from scratch. For more fun, though, combine your stuffing and mashed potatoes into one delicious dish: stuffing muffins. The stuffing provides the base; the mashed potatoes provide the topping, and delicious vegan gravy covers it all.

Speaking of gravy, you’ll likely need a vegan recipe for that, too.

Salads are one of the Thanksgiving side dishes that should be easiest for vegans to put together, but if you need a little inspiration or help, you might want to try this brussels sprout salad, squash and spinach salad or fall slaw.

Need a little more vegan cheesiness among your side dishes? Go with a vegan mac n’ cheese that even non-vegans love, but give it a little extra health boost by stuffing it into a sweet potato.

Related: The History of Thanksgiving Football

Vegan Thanksgiving Bread

Bread is difficult to bake all on its own, vegan or not. But, you’ve got this.

Biscuits are a little easier to work with than traditional rolls, thanks to the lack of yeast. Try these vegan biscuits if your family prefers biscuits to dinner rolls. If your family does like the dinner rolls, though, there’s a vegan recipe for that as well.

Want something that’s even easier than biscuits? Cornbread is one of the easiest breads out there to make, vegan or not. It’s essentially a batter that you pour into a cast-iron skillet (or the cake pan of your choice) and then bake like a cake until done. There’s no rising or kneading needed. This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free.

Vegan Thanksgiving Breakfast

Are you hosting overnight guests for this Thanksgiving? Or maybe you want to feed the family something scrumptious in the morning to hold them over until the big Thanksgiving meal in the evening. If you’re looking for a vegan Thanksgiving breakfast recipe, we have a few to consider.

For savory, why not go with a sweet potato and kale breakfast hash, for a healthy option that also carries the flavors of the season?

For something sweet, treat the fam to vegan sticky buns or pumpkin pie oats.

Want something you can make ahead and not even worry about on the day of? Try these banana muffins.

Vegan Thanksgiving Drinks

Want to whip up something extra delicious for your Thanksgiving bar cart?

Skip the dairy-laden hot chocolate of your childhood and try this vegan pumpkin spice hot chocolate (and if you add a little booze, we won’t tell).

While whiskey sours are generally made with eggs, you can make your own vegan variations at home and impress your parents by making the traditional whiskey sour foam with aquafaba, aka chickpea juice. Similarly, you can make a vegan Baileys Irish Cream with a little bit of coconut milk and syrup, and no one will even notice the difference.

Vegan Thanksgiving Dessert

Beautiful apple pie with leaf shaped crust next to a bowl of apples

Ah, dessert! Some might say that it’s the very best part of Thanksgiving.

If you like to get creative when it comes to your dessert baking, start with this vegan pie dough as your base and then go from there. If you need a little more guidance, though, you can try this vegan pumpkin pie recipe.

If you don’t care for pumpkin pie, there are plenty of other pie options at your fingertips, like this apple pie, sweet potato pie or pecan pie.

If you want to skip the pie entirely and go with a different Thanksgiving dessert, we’ve got you covered with this vegan cheesecake, chocolate tart or spice cake.

Tips for Hosting a Vegan Thanksgiving

Whether you’re the vegan and you’re hosting Thanksgiving or hosting one some vegans at your traditional Thanksgiving, if you’re looking to make the holiday easier on everyone, there are a few ways to do so.

Set the right tone.

Thanksgiving (or any holiday) is not the right time to start questioning people’s lifestyle choices. If you’re the vegan and you have meat-eaters coming to your home, and they want to bring their own turkey, don’t sweat it. If you’re the meat eater and the vegan you’re hosting declines turkey or brings their own turkey alternative, go with it. Everyone will be happier if everyone approaches the holiday menu with flexibility and understanding.

Prep ahead.

Prepping ahead is a good rule of thumb for any meal you’re hosting, regardless of what kind or who’s coming. The further you can prep ahead and plan your menu, the more time you’ll have to make adjustments and to prepare accordingly (or to test and swap out recipes if you find that the great-looking vegan mac n’ cheese isn’t so great after all).

Take everyone’s likes and dislikes into consideration.

If hosting a mixed group of vegans and non-vegans, you want to ensure that everyone has something to love on the table. So, for example, if you know that your sister absolutely loathes cauliflower, you might not want to make a cauliflower roast the star of your vegan Thanksgiving spread (no matter how delish you think it is).

Similarly, offer a few varieties of everything — a few appetizers, a handful of side dishes, a couple of desserts, etc. — so that your guests are more likely to find something they enjoy. Remember, flexibility is key.

Look for store-bought options for less stress.

If all this cooking is making you seriously stress out, stop. There’s no need to make every little item on your menu from scratch just because that’s the way your mom or grandma did it.

The great thing about the plant-based lifestyle’s growing popularity is that store-bought options are more readily available. Look for vegan pies or baked goods in your grocery store, or even just vegan ice cream to go along with the pie. You may be able to find some appropriate vegan sides at the store as well. Check your favorite restaurants that offer Thanksgiving catering options; they may just offer a vegan turkey alternative.

Bring your non-vegan family members or friends into the kitchen.

If you have a family member (especially an older one) who’s particularly squeamish about vegan alternatives and deviations from the family’s traditional holiday recipes, invite them into the kitchen. Show them how you whip up that vegan cashew cheese or how you managed to make the green bean casserole creamy without the cream.

They may be more likely to try something unfamiliar or even adopt one of your vegan cooking tricks for their own use if they’re hands-on, or at least present, in the making.

A Happy Thanksgiving (Vegan or Otherwise)

However you end up celebrating Thanksgiving, and whatever is on your Thanksgiving menu, it’s important to keep a focus on what the holiday is really about. Yes, the food can be amazing, but even if you burn the Tofurky, an enjoyable, restful holiday with family and friends is still something to be thankful for.

You might also be interested in: Bloat No More – Top Tips to Reduce Bloat

Holly Riddle

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