Vegan Thanksgiving Menu & Recipes
Thanksgiving is appreciated as a holiday that reunites families. It is a time we spend together in this fast living, overwhelming life that keeps us apart more than it should. And like any good pretext, we can fill a table with a feast of homemade goodies to share with good company. If you’ve recently adopted a plant-based diet or have been vegan for some time and you’ve invited non-vegan family members, don’t stress too much because we’ve got your back. With a little forward planning and creative ideas, the holiday can turn into good memories with delicious food. And of course, the most popular Thanksgiving dishes are already plant-based: yams, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and so on.
The best ideas about plant-based meals are based on ingredients you’ve never used before, exploring new flavors, and after eating your fill, you won’t feel heavy, you’ll feel full of energy.
Time saving preps
We’ve found some time-saving ideas from Nutritionstudies.org, where you can find a lot of trusted and very useful plant-based information for vegans to be and veterans alike. And now some tips and tricks:
Make a plan
Create your menu and compile a grocery list of everything you need to buy.
You can make desserts, sauces, gravies, and stuffing ahead of time. In fact, the flavors of the stuffing and pies will only infuse and improve. Then, all you have to do on the festive day is to take them out, reheat and serve.
Prep your veggies
Chop, slice or dice your vegetables the day before so you have them on hand on the big day.
Make your own broth
Save your vegetable scraps and simmer up your own vegetable stock with leftovers veggies. To make it, just place approximately 4 or 5 cups of vegetable scraps in a 4-quart stockpot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for around 45 – 55 minutes. Perfect to use as a gravy base, to sauté veggies, and more.
Vegan Thanksgiving Turkey Replacement Options
Don’t worry about the traditional centerpiece of the table because you can find a tasty replacement in Tofurky, a successful mock meat that will satisfy any picky guests. Most popular producers of vegan meat substitutes have came up with highly-appreciated options that are not only aesthetically appealing and chewy but are easy to use. When cooking, they absorb other flavors well, just like real meat, so you can add your favored spices. Depending on the brand you purchase, it can have a loaf or bird-like shape and be made from soy or wheat gluten. Always buy Tofurky made from certified organic soy beans and don’t forget to thaw it in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before cooking. Or why not make it yourself at home?
For a homemade Tofurky, you need 4 or 5 firm tofu packages, drained and crumbled. Mix them together with nutritional yeast, chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, sage or basil, and dried Italian herbs, maple syrup, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce then season with salt and pepper to taste. Put three quarters of the mixture in a colander to form a basket shape, fill it with previously prepared stuffing, and then seal the whole thing with the quarter you put aside. Every 20 minutes while cooking, baste the dome-shaped Tofurky with a sauce of soy sauce, maple syrup, virgin olive oil, miso paste, and Dijon mustard. Cook for about 1 hour, then take it out and garnish with cranberries and serve with your favorite side dishes.
Vegans that prefer more whole-food meals might want to go for roasted cauliflower to replace the turkey. Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that can be used for a variety of recipes. The one I suggest has only 5 ingredients. It starts with a flavor-packed marinade that infuses the white bouquet vegetable with spices through oil and maple syrup. If you can’t find a shawarma spice blend, use smoked paprika. Also, harissa paste can be substituted with cayenne, but be careful with the amount because it’s really hot so make sure to taste it as you go. Use a cast-iron skillet and be sure not to overbake it. Everyone will love the whole cauliflower perfect roast centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table.
Vegan Thanksgiving Appetizers
Cornbread is so easy and tasty and should not be missed from the Thanksgiving table because it completes soups, helps mop up gravies or can be eaten just as it is. So simple, yet it sounds so appealing that I’m going to try this one myself, asap. The recipe requires ground flax seeds, non-dairy milk, unbleached all-purpose flour, cornmeal, and of course water and sea salt, some baking powder and apple sauce to sweeten. The water gives the ground flax seeds a consistency of egg white. The rule of mixing is first the dry ingredients aside wheat ones follows. After all is well blended, pop it in a preheated oven for 20 or 25 minutes.
An appetizer that fits every occasion and wins over even the pickiest of eaters is a well-made falafel. Try this recipe offered by Michael Rantissi, who advises: take your time. The chickpeas and broad beans must soak overnight, and you should change the water at least twice. After draining them, whiz together in a food processor with coriander, parsley, onion, chili, and garlic until they acquire a grainy texture. The mixture will be just enough to form 20 patties. Deep-fry the patties in rice brain oil , and make sure you use the bread cube test to check the oil is hot enough or the patties will break up when cooking. Just drop a cube of bread into the oil and if it turns golden in 20 seconds, then it’s ready to fry the delicious falafel.
A good falafel companion is hummus and the recipe we found doesn’t require tahini as it uses acorn squash as a substitute. Talk about an over dose of protein! So you can stop all your non-vegan family members’ worries about poor protein intake, too. Back to the fall-inspired snack, the acorn squash adds flavor and creaminess to the classic hummus. First, cook the squash in the oven – drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika to give it that extra yumminess. Don’t forget the sea salt and pepper. It should be tender enough to pierce with a fork by the time you’re done with the rest of the ingredients – chickpeas, garlic clove, lemon juice, olive oil, garam masala, smoked paprika, salt and pepper blended in a food processor. After the squash has cooled, add it to the blender to get the hummus smooth and creamy. And for a finishing touch, sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top.
Vegan Beetroot Burger
Being such a crowd pleaser, a burger recipe is a must and our choice is the vegan beetroot burger that we found on the cover of the EU Publications cook book Great Food from Green Cities. That vegetable stock you made earlier will come in handy now because you need it to make the beetroot burger. (And many recipes that features it will follow as it adds more flavor). Simmer the barley in the stock while you peel and chop the beetroot onion and garlic. Lentils and barley then come to the party and join all the ingredients in a bowl to meet and mingle with the oatmeal into a not too dry dough. Now it’s time for some salt’n’pepper. Put it aside to rest for 30 minutes before breaking it into burgers and cooking for 5 minutes on each side. Serve with your favorite toppings on a whole grain bun with sautéed mushrooms, sliced red onion, arugula, pickles, cucumbers or avocado and homemade cashew cheese.
Vegan Thanksgiving Main Dish
Here is a savory meatloaf without the meat but with lots of healthy ingredients and, personally, I love sun dried tomatoes in a recipe! Red lentils and chickpeas are the main protein sources and the garlic, leeks, onions, sun dried tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots bring in the flavors and vitamins. Sage and rosemary complete the flavors alongside ground smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Hazelnuts, almonds, and miso paste will enrich the mixture while the flax seed and buckwheat flour will bind everything together. Here are the exact ingredients and instructions so let us know how it turned out.
For those with nuts allergies, here is a Vegan Meatloaf without them:
The Latin word “calderia”, from which chowder traces his roots, means a place for warming things, which explains why we often feel the need for a hot and hearty chowder. This rich and buttery vegan corn chowder is so inviting. The golden potatoes and coconut milk give it a creamy texture while smoked paprika, mustard powder, and thyme elevates the flavors. Turmeric is responsible for the beautiful yellow color and makes a very healthy choice as it has been used for thousands of years in Indian medicine. Be sure to have some pre-made vegetable broth and frozen sweetcorn at your disposal before you start cooking.
Here is the full recipe for the rich corn chowder:
Gluten Free Lasagna
Because vegans love diversity they will appreciate this savory gluten free lasagna. A lot of cultures have mid-season festivals to give thanks for the crops, and this Italian dish can be easily included in the feast. The roots of “lasagna” trace back to the Ancient Greek word “Laganon”, which refers to the first known form of pasta and the method of layering pasta and sauces. It was only later that the dish we all know and love got its Italian ingredients. This time the gluten free substitute is zucchini, which adds flavoring to the awesome tofu herb ricotta. Layers of your favorite red pasta sauce, zucchini, creamy tofu ricotta and red lentils for added texture and protein, making it a hearty lasagna that comes together quickly, exactly what you need to save time in the kitchen and for a decorative table piece.
Vegan Shepperd’s Pie
Vegan Shepperd’s Pie seems to have originated as a way for folks to make use of leftovers, in order to avoid waste, both of food and money. This vegan version calls for veggies, chickpea, fresh herbs, herbed sweet mashed potatoes and, last but not least, a crusty garlic top. The author has come up with the great idea of making individual servings of this delicious comfort food, baked in several ramekins. Mash the potatoes with vegan butter (or oil if you can’t find a good vegan butter) and thyme and then cook the savory chickpea veggie filling, starting by crisping the cumin and coriander seeds in a hot oiled pan. Continue by browning the onions and garlic, add the chopped carrots, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and celery and let them cook for 3 minutes before adding the chickpeas in water, black pepper, cayenne, soy sauce, and celery seeds. Now some minimal architectural skills come into play for assembling the dishes. Fill the ramekins 2/3 full with the chickpea veggie mixture, then layer the sweet potato mash and sprinkle on top the garlic crust made from breadcrumbs, minced garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast, rosemary and thyme. To finish, put it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Vegan Thanksgiving stuffing and sauces
Pumpkin Bread and Tempeh Stuffing
If you haven’t tried tempeh, you need to make this autumn-inspired bread stuffing because tempeh is so versatile and once you get a taste for it, you’ll get so creative whenever you need to whip up something fast to enjoy. Vegan Richa’s recipe features a pre-made pumpkin bread, but you can use any kind you like instead. Cut the bread into cubes, toast them, and set aside. The tempeh and onions are browning nicely, now for the peppers, celery, mushrooms and any favorite seasonal vegetable. The mixture will be enriched with spices and aromatic herbs, and the delicious gravy will be made of tomatoes, water, maple syrup, and nutritional yeast. Bread cubes will join at the end to soak up all the flavors.
Port Wine Mushroom Gravy
Here is the ultimate gravy recipe to amaze your family and elevate your side dishes. The richness of mushrooms and subtle sweetness of Port wine complement each other so well, plus it’s gluten and oil free. You’ll save time with this one as you simply simmer the cremini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme and rice flour in a vegetable stock and Port wine for under 30 minutes.
Due to their abundance, it is believed that the pilgrims and American Indians would have eaten them at the first Thanksgiving. Cranberries are one of only three commercially grown fruits native to the United States and the natives used them as a food source, to dye fabric, and as medicine. Cranberry sauce was first mentioned in the 1796 cookbook American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, where the roast turkey recipe calls for
“boiled onions and cranberry-sauce,”according to The Washington Post.
Sweet and fresh with a tad of spice, it can be done in 15 minutes. Put the zest and juice of one orange, ½ cup of water, 1 bag of cranberries, and a teaspoon of cinnamon in a medium pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens. Before serving, refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Perfect for making a day before and storing in the fridge.
Vegan Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Cranberry Kale Pilaf
Take brown rice, add cranberries and kale and you’ll have an antioxidant-bursting pilaf beautifully colored and perfectly balanced. Kale has more nutritional value than spinach, being a good source of calcium, vitamin C and iron among others, and pairs well with the delicious red superfood cranberries. This side dish is super-fast to make. Keep in mind that the featured recipe yields 2 servings so multiply the ingredients because everyone will want a bite of this delicious cranberry kale pilaf. It features in The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook by Victoria Moran and JL Fields.
(featured in this cookbook on amazon)
Green Bean Casserole
Created in 1955, green bean casserole is a popular side dish for Thanksgiving dinners in the U.S. and consists of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French-fried onions. Just as creamy as the original, this vegan green bean casserole is a healthier version and also suitable for the lactose intolerant. The secret of this dish is the creamy mushroom sauce made with soaked cashews blended together in unsweetened almond milk. Another method that makes it different is tossing the onions in the oven with the whole grain breadcrumbs and flour and baking until nice and crispy.
See here the whole process and ingredients for the green bean casserole:
Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash
By adding cauliflower to your mashed potatoes, it helps to slow down sugar spikes as it has a very low Glycemic index and so is an ideal substitute for starchy carbs. Good carbs! This cauliflower sweet potato mash is a nutrition powerhouse with a flexible recipe. They both have the same iron content and while potatoes are high in Vitamin B, cauliflower is abundant in Calcium, and Vitamins C and K. It’s very easy to make and can be adapted according to your taste, switching from non-dairy milk to vegetable broth and, according to how sweet your tooth is, you can either steam or roast the cauliflower and sweet potatoes to bring out more sweetness. Seasoning can vary from onions and chili powder to nutmeg and cinnamon.
But if you want to leave the sweetness out of your mashed potatoes and are a garlic lover like myself, then this Center for Nutrition Studies recipe is the one for you. Boil red potatoes, mash them and add the water they boiled in for more creaminess and flavor. Mix in non-dairy milk and sautéed garlic cloves. Simple and divine!
Low in calories but high in many nutrients, these miniature cabbages are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Vegan healthy fatty acids, check!
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with white wine
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with white wine is another fast, simple but tasty side dish you can add to your menu without too much fuss. Just toss halved Brussel sprouts into a large bowl to bask in a sauce mixed from rosemary, black pepper, maple syrup, minced garlic cloves, Dijon mustard, pistachios, sea salt and a good Chardonnay, that you’re allowed to taste before just to ensure it’s good enough. It stays in the oven for no more than 20 minutes and pairs well with brown rice or quinoa.
Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts
A super easy and delicious dessert recipe is the Swedish interpretation of the classic Panna Cotta, a great way to finish your feast on a sweet note. It is also a great way to start any morning when eaten for breakfast. To make vegan panna cotta, soak the chia seeds in a lukewarm, non-dairy milk and add vanilla sugar to taste. I put vanilla soy milk in my daily coffee so this would work perfectly too. Transfer it into a dessert glass and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving with a tasty berry jam.
Cheesecake lovers gather round to learn about the most luscious vegan cheesecake with a heavenly and well-balanced combination of lemon-flavored layer base and pumpkin flavored upper. It all starts with the crunchy crust made from graham crackers or oatmeal cookies and continues with the “cheese” layer mixed from vegan cream cheese, silken tofu, sweetener, freshened up with lemon juice, given extra flavor with vanilla, and a creamy texture with cornstarch. Spiced pumpkin puree shines on the upper layer, full of autumn flavors.
Chocolate pumpkin pie
For many of us there is no dessert without chocolate. Be prepared for this silky-smooth chocolate and pumpkin spicy goodness that lies over a crunchy almond and flax meal crust. The richness of the chocolate cream comes from the coconut milk, which has a subtle aroma that blends in smoothly with dark chocolate and pumpkin puree. If you don’t feel like doing another pumpkin dish, you can switch to sweet potato puree. This can also be prepared one day ahead as it needs to cool in the fridge for at least an hour before serving so the flavors blend in better.
One of America’s favorite baked treats brownies simply can’t be absent from any family or friend gathering. With the consistency of a cake, only richer and denser, this decadent dessert is made in heaven and can’t get any better – actually, it can when it’s fudge style, the creamier version of the brownie. They were invented over a century ago at the request of Bertha Palmer, who wanted a dessert smaller than a piece of cake but retaining cake-like characteristics and that could be easily eaten for a boxed lunch. The chocolate sweet potato brownies have a fudge-like texture with a delectable caramel-tasting frosting, guilt free. The batter consists of Medjool dates, cocoa, mashed sweet potatoes, oat flour, a bit of vanilla and some leftover coffee. The caramel frosting takes its flavor from Medjool dates and ripe bananas. Before you tell me that dates are bomb calories, let me remind you that they were originally reserved exclusively for royalty and are known as “the king of fruits and the fruit of kings” plus the fiber content, vitamins and minerals make them rather an energy bomb.
Regardless of diet and lifestyle, healthy food will always be appreciated and a whole-food plant-based diet has plenty of delicious recipes, some of which you probably never thought would turn out to be our favorite. I’m sure you have some childhood recipes that you’re nostalgic about. But don’t worry because any recipe can be veganized with a taste that remarkably resembles the original one or is even better. As a former blue cheese fan, chocolate addict, and fudge nut, I promise you there are endless possibilities for satisfying your cravings. Happy Vegan Thanksgiving!