Thanksgiving dinner is a chance for families to come together, celebrate everything we’re thankful for, and enjoy a food coma-inducing meal. For many families, Thanksgiving turkey takes center stage at the table, but what if you or some of your guests are vegetarian? Luckily, there are countless dishes you can make to create a complete vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. Read on to discover meatless appetizers, entrées, and side dishes. With these 20 recipes, you’re bound to find something that everyone will love.
Nothing says fall like the sweet and savory flavors of seasonal fruits and vegetables, so the appetizer recipes below call for pumpkins, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, apples, and cranberries. Include a few of them in your Thanksgiving dinner menu for a truly festive meal!
Vegetarian Butternut Squash Soup
Soups are often made with chicken or beef broth. For this vegetarian version, simply swap it out for a homemade or store-bought vegetable broth. Combine onions, garlic, celery, carrots, butternut squash, an apple, and spices in a pot of vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and let simmer for about 25 minutes. Then, purée with an immersion blender and stir in a bit of heavy cream (or coconut cream to make it vegan). With its vibrant color, a hint of sweet apple, and warm spices, it’s the perfect starter to your Thanksgiving dinner.
Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip
If dairy is part of your diet, you simply must try this baked spinach and artichoke dip. It’s a deliciously creamy, warm, and cheesy dip that goes perfectly with toasted baguette slices, pumpernickel bread, or crackers. Plus, it’s so easy to make! Simply mix together fresh spinach, canned artichoke hearts, fresh garlic, sour cream, cream cheese, Parmesan, and mozzarella. Spread the mixture into a casserole dish, sprinkle some more mozzarella on top, and bake for about 30 minutes. It’s one of the best appetizers to serve to company—your guests won’t be able to step away!
Autumn Crisp Apple Sweet Potato Salad
This salad brings together all the best flavors of fall harvest season. It features roasted sweet potatoes with a hint of cinnamon, crisp red apples, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. To make the dressing, mix together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Toss everything with fresh arugula or baby kale and sprinkle on some feta cheese for a bit of creaminess, or omit it for a completely vegan salad.
How can we add a seasonal touch to regular hummus? Make it with pumpkin purée, of course! This delicious recipe comes together in just 10 minutes. In a food processor, combine canned or cooked chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, pumpkin purée, salt, and a bit of cold water or aquafaba. Spoon the hummus into a bowl, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and garnish with paprika, cilantro, and toasted pine nuts. Serve with pita bread, crackers, or veggies.
Cranberry Brie Bites
This appetizer looks like it belongs on a serving tray at a fancy gala, but it’s actually ridiculously easy to make at home. To save time, you can use store-bought crescent dough or puff pastry. Simply cut squares of dough and push them into a mini muffin tin. Top each square with a piece of brie, a spoonful of cranberry sauce, and a sprig of rosemary. Bake for about 15 minutes until the dough puffs up and turns golden brown. Serve while the brie is still warm and gooey.
Vegetarian Thanksgiving Entrées
Who says that turkey has to be the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving dinner? There are plenty of other delicious entrées you can serve. Below are just a few ideas, including meatless turkey alternatives, vegetable pies, and other protein-rich vegetarian options.
Tofu Turkey (“Tofurkey”)
While you can purchase a ready-to-roast vegan turkey substitute, nothing beats this homemade version, free from preservatives and processed ingredients. At the base of it is seitan—a vegan meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Combined with tofu, water, and seasonings, the gluten helps create a dough, which when cooked, has a texture and flavor very similar to meat. This recipe even includes a unique way of twisting the dough, which helps the “tofurkey” meat shred just the real thing.
This recipe is similar to Tofurkey, but this seitan is made with chickpeas instead of tofu. Both are great sources of protein, and which one you choose depends solely on personal preference. This seitan is also steamed, rather than roasted, so its texture is a bit chewier.
Smoky Southern-Style Meatless Meatloaf
You don’t need meat to create hearty and filling comfort food. This vegan meatless meatloaf is made with chickpeas and black beans, so it’s chock full of plant proteins. It’s also just as moist, tender, and flavorful as the real thing (the liquid smoke gives it an irresistible smoky flavor). To make meatless meatloaf, combine purée chickpeas and black beans with ground oats, cornmeal, liquid smoke, aquafaba, sautéed onions, vegetable broth, and spices. Top with barbeque sauce and bake in a bread pan.
Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash
Why stuff a turkey when you can stuff squash? Acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash are all great candidates for this dish. You can get creative with the filling, too. This particular recipe calls for quinoa, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, green onion, parsley, and loads of cheese. The crunchy filling perfectly complements the smooth velvety texture of the squash. Not to mention, quinoa is a complete source of protein, so you can feel good about serving this as the main dish.
Portobello Steaks with Avocado Chimichurri
You’ve heard of portobello mushroom burgers, but have you tried using them to make steaks? The meaty texture of the mushroom makes it the perfect meat substitute, and letting it marinate in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, steak sauce, and seasonings ensures that every bite is rich and flavorful. This recipe also includes a zesty chimichurri sauce—a mixture of finely chopped herbs, garlic, oil, and vinegar. The addition of avocado adds an incredible buttery flavor and smooth texture to the entire dish.
Vegetarian Pot Pie
This dish is a meatless take on the classic chicken pot pie. It contains similar ingredients, but the chicken is replaced with white beans, making it high in protein and fiber. With frozen vegetables, mushrooms, and an irresistibly flaky pie crust, this pot pie is a comfort food that’s both hearty and healthy.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Yes, even cozy, heartwarming shepherd’s pie can be made without meat. Start by sauteéing shallots, mushrooms, and carrots in a large oven-safe pot. Next, make a gravy by adding flour, tomato paste, red wine, and vegetable broth. Stir in green peas, spread a layer of creamy mashed potatoes on top, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until they’re nice and brown.
Vegetarian Side Dishes
To complement your tasty entrée, try one of these vegetarian Thanksgiving side dishes. Other than gravy and stuffing (which often calls for chicken or beef broth), it’s not too difficult to avoid meat with these. Let’s start with the two options that require substitutes, and then look at a few other options that are loaded with fall harvest vegetables and festive flavors.
Vegan Mushroom Gravy
Gravy is the secret sauce that will take your Tofurkey or mashed potatoes to the next level. It’s typically made with turkey drippings and chicken broth, but you can easily make a vegetarian option that’s just as rich and savory. Start by sautéing shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and spices in a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle in some flour and stir in vegetable broth. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes—the flour will help thicken the mixture and you’ll be left with a deliciously velvety sauce.
Vegetarian Turkey Stuffing
Just because you don’t have a turkey to stuff, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy stuffing! Use it as a filling in your squash, or simply enjoy it on the side of your main dish. Start by sautéing onions, garlic, celery, and spices in a bit of vegan butter. In a large baking dish, combine the sautéd mixture with chunks of dry bread and cover everything with vegetable broth. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes and uncovered for another 20-30 to give it a golden crust.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are a must-have at any vegetarian Thanksgiving table. In this recipe, the basic dish is elevated with hints of roasted garlic, which tends to be less sharp than its fresh counterpart and gives off a caramelized sweetness. To roast garlic, slice off the top of the head, drizzle with olive oil, wrap it in foil, and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and into boiled potatoes as you’re puréeing them. Add butter and milk and season with salt and pepper.
Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecan Topping
Traditional sweet potato casserole is really dessert disguised as a side dish—it’s topped with toasted marshmallows and loaded with sugar. This vegan version is much healthier and lighter in calories. Start by boiling cubed sweet potatoes and mashing them with a bit of brown sugar, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, vegan butter, coconut oil, and cinnamon. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into a casserole dish and top with a mixture of pecans, melted vegan butter, almond flour, and maple syrup. Bake for 30 minutes and enjoy!
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
These twice baked sweet potatoes offer a unique combination of flavors that definitely deserves a place at your Thanksgiving dinner table. Start by baking the potatoes until they’re ready. Cut off the top quarter and scoop out the flesh. Sauté onions, celery, dried cherries (or cranberries), and kale before adding this mixture to the sweet potato flesh. Stir in a bit of Greek yogurt, spoon the mixture back into the empty potato skins, sprinkle on some feta cheese, and bake for just 5-8 minutes.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey
Roasted brussels sprouts are a staple at the holiday table because they’re so simple to make. Take the basic dish to the next level by tossing the brussels sprouts in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey. The extra coating will complement their natural flavor and add a touch of zesty sweetness.
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
This green bean casserole is a delectable balance of crunchy green beans and a thick creamy mushroom sauce. To make it, sauté onions and diced mushrooms in a bit of oil, sprinkle in some flour, add vegetable broth and coconut cream, and let the mixture thicken. Pour this sauce over cooked green beans in a casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes.
Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins
Cornbread has been served at Thanksgiving dinners for generations. Why not add a fun twist to the traditional recipe? First off, try making cornbread into muffins—they’re much easier to serve.You can also give them a more festive flavor and a moist consistency by adding pumpkin purée, sour cream, and buttermilk. The result is a deliciously light, slightly sweet cornbread muffin that will go perfectly alongside your favorite vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes.
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