Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner
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Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez
Don't feel like you're missing out with a meat-free holiday. It's totally easy (and delicious) to have a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. Start the party with tasty little appetizers and follow it with a plant-based meal that will leave guests raving for weeks. Veggie-packed sides, tender rolls, impressive main dishes, and delectable desserts all make a scrumptious spread. Start the evening with Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds and end on a sweet note with Chai Carrot Pie.
Veggie-centric meals highlight the best of the season's flavors. This vegetarian menu is no exception, with everything from sweet potato casserole to stuffed butternut squashes. Even the most dedicated of meat eaters will enjoy these plant-based dishes.
These Spinach-Artichoke Bites save 167 calories, 3.6g sat fat, and 393mg sodium per serving over traditional spinach-artichoke dip. Frozen artichoke hearts contain no added salt, unlike the canned variety, which may contain more than 300mg per half cup.
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkinseeds
Hulled pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) are packed with protein, iron, heart healthy fats, and fiber. This spiced up version makes a delicious snack that delivers a slight sweetness with a subtle kick thanks to the chipotle chili powder and red pepper. For even more kick, add an extra 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper. Not just for snacks, these toasty seeds are delicious over yogurt, tossed into salads, sprinkled over whole grains (bonus crunch!), or stirred into your favorite homemade granola mix. Make a double batch and store in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days; these seeds are so good you'll never want to run out!
Honey Whole-Wheat Pull-Apart Rolls
These light and tender whole-grain rolls are everything we love about holiday breads: warm, nutty, and just barely sweetened with honey. Bake these light and tender whole-grain rolls ahead and freeze up to 1 month, or make the dough ahead and bake on the day: Punch down the risen dough to form a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 8 hours or overnight. Return to a bowl and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours before shaping.
Sweet Potato Casserole With Crunchy Oat Topping
This classic casserole often straddles the line between side and dessert (indeed, we've enjoyed the leftovers both ways). We dial down the sugar to steer the dish back to savory territory, and add a crunchy oat and nut topper for texture. A final drizzle of maple syrup just before serving gives the casserole a lovely sheen. While we call for a ricer in our master mashed potatoes, a potato masher is perfectly acceptable here since the spuds will be bound with an egg, topped, and baked. Chopped almonds or walnuts would be a delicious sub for the pecans.
Skillet Green Bean Casserole
We've shortened (and lightened) this holiday classic by bringing everything together in one pan and using the stovetop and broiler rather than baking.
Black Pepper and Herb Mashed Potatoes
Buttermilk adds an extra layer of creaminess to these herb-infused potatoes flecked with parsley, tarragon, and chives.
Acorn Squash with Pomegranate and Kale Tabbouleh
This is a fun dish to "carve" at the table, as each person gets one wedge to enjoy as a side dish. For an entrée take, give each person half a squash.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts
For a bit of showmanship, bring the whole cauliflower to the table, and then "carve" and dress with the vinaigrette, pomegranate arils, pine nuts, and parsley.
Double-Crust Apple Pie
A double crust seals in the apples' natural juices as the pie bakes for full-on apple flavor. Tossing the apples with apple juice keeps them from browning as you peel and slice them, and it adds a boost of apple flavor.
Spiced Apple-Cranberry Sauce
A trio of warm spices takes this holiday staple out of candy-sweet territory and into the world of robust holiday condiments. The sauce is delicious to top off your holiday protein for the rest of the season. Apples counter the tartness of the cranberries and help the sauce thicken. No fine dice on the apples here; the rustic chunky look of the two fruits is what makes the sauce beautiful and enticing. If you’re feeling extra generous, double the batch and spoon into small jars for guests to take home.
Chocolate-Swirled Pumpkin Bundt
The earliest ways of preparing pumpkin were savory, but sweetened recipes, like the first pumpkin pies—baked in the pumpkin shell rather than in a pie crust. We've come a long way since then. In this recipe, we mix pumpkin with bittersweet chocolate for a flavor that is decidedly fall and perfect for seasonal entertaining. (We think it's great for breakfast too!)
Chai Carrot Pie
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez
Staple spice-rack spices create all the depth of classic chai tea in this luscious, carrot-packed, whole-grain dessert. It's a cross between a play on pumpkin pie and carrot cake: The texture and flavor are reminiscent of the former, and the layers--cream cheese mixture on the bottom, spiced carrot filling on top--are inspired by the latter. To get a big head start, you can make and freeze the crust up to a week ahead. A combination of butter and shortening in the crust is ideal--butter for its rich flavor, and shortening to create a flaky texture. We recommend Earth Balance shortening (found with the other shortenings in large supermarkets or health-focused stores) because, unlike most other shortenings, it contains no trans fats.
A Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu
Published: Nov 25, 2019 · Modified: May 11, 2021 by Kiersten · This post may contain affiliate links.
I hope you've enjoyed the week of vegetarian Thanksgiving posts that I put together with Rikki! I've gotten so used to working on my own as a blogger that it's nice to collaborate with someone else once in a while and see my food through another photographer's eyes (or camera lens). And Rikki isn't just an amazing photographer, but she's also a great friend and mentor who totally gets my food, so I can't imagine working with anyone else. I'm totally thrilled with how all of her photos turned out in these vegetarian recipes for a vegetarian thanksgiving menu!
Here's our complete menu with vegetarian recipes for thanksgiving main course:
Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash Rings
Roasted acorn squash rings stuffed with quinoa, apples, cranberries, sage, and cheddar. A main dish for vegetarians that also works as a side dish for everyone else!
Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Vanilla-scented sweet potatoes lightly sweetened with maple syrup and topped with candied pecans. The perfect alternative to the typical marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole.
Rosemary Roasted Carrots
Heirloom carrots make this simple Thanksgiving side dish a showstopper.
Green Beans & Caramelized Shallots
Tender roasted green beans are topped with caramelized shallots.
Wild Mushroom Gravy
Don't forget the gravy! This Wild Mushroom Gravy is the perfect accompaniment to your favorite mashed potato recipe.
Gluten-Free Stuffing with Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Mushrooms
This is my favorite recipe from our Thanksgiving line-up. I'm usually not a big stuffing fan, but between the Whole Grain bread and fresh veggies, this was the best gluten free stuffing–no, the best stuffing, period–I've ever had.
Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce
The secret ingredient in this cranberry sauce is ginger ale! Don't be too intimidated to make your own cranberry sauce--it couldn't be easier.
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise
Make the creme anglaise a day in advance and let the bread pudding cook while you eat dinner and this dessert is completely stress-free. And since it's made in the slow cooker, it frees up space in the oven too!
I hope through my recipes and Rikki's stunning photography, we've been able to show you that a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner doesn't have to be about sacrifice or bland food or sad meat substitutes. As I like to say, when the food you're eating is good, you focus on what's on your plate, not what's missing from it! Thanksgiving is about gratitude, family, and friends—not turkey.
I won't be posting any new recipes next week, but I will be putting together a round-up of other vegetarian main dishes for Thanksgiving on Monday and I'll be back with What I Ate This Week on Friday. I'm taking some time off next week, so if I'm a little slow with emails or comment replies, that's why.
1. Thanksgiving Cranberry Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are the perfect vegetarian Thanksgiving starter, because they work equally well as a finger food for your guests to nibble on as they mingle before the feast, or as a sit-down appetizer served at the table. In this version, a mini-dollop of cranberry sauce with ground mustard and rubbed sage seasoned eggs adds a festive Thanksgiving twist, making this starter creamy, savory and sweet &ndash score!
30 Best Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes That Go Way Beyond Just Tofurkey
You'll forget all about the turkey with these easy vegetarian recipes.
Planning a meatless Thanksgiving dinner this year? Though your usual holiday classics &mdash like turkey and gravy &mdash may be off-limits, there's no need to fear: There are plenty of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes that make for just as satisfying of a feast, from delicious Thanksgiving side dishes to filling entrees, appetizers and more. Whether you're cooking up an entire meatless course or planning just one or two veggie-forward dishes to add to your holiday spread, these easy vegetarian recipes will please all vegetarians and carnivores alike (after all, who says Thanksgiving has to be all about the turkey?).
With these healthy yet filling dishes, you'll fall into a well-deserved food coma just like everyone else at the table. That's because these recipes &mdash which include essential holiday dishes like stuffing and casseroles &mdash are packed with hearty ingredients like beans, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and much more. Prepare for savory and sweet dishes that will even make your meat-loving relatives forget about the main dish &mdash and if you have an even more restrictive diet, make sure to check out our favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes, too.
Stove-Top Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
Herbed Wild Rice & Quinoa Stuffing
12 Fresh Homemade Pasta Recipes
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American Thanksgiving dinner, with its traditional turkey as the main course, can be difficult for vegetarians. Here are some ideas to mix and match for your vegetarian Thanksgiving menu, from appetizers to dessert.
Or fall salad, if you prefer. A colorful and flavorful salad to enjoy when the weather changes and the leaves begin to fall.
Cheese plates can be simple or elaborate, with dozens of different cheeses or just a few. There’s no one right way to make a vegan cheese plate, but these guidelines can help you put together a cheese plate you and your guests will never forget.
An extremely rich and filling vegetarian chowder.
A platter of crudités typically consists of one or more types of raw vegetables served with one or more dips. These can be served as an appetizer, at a buffet, in place of a salad – the sky is the limit. Here are some ideas for interesting crudité platters.
French Onion Soup
Traditional French onion soup is made with beef broth, but this vegan version is just as flavorful.
A quick and easy recipe for a favorite cold-weather food.
This spicy soup is a good recipe to use up all of that pumpkin left over from Halloween.
This is a very simple but lovely dish. Kids will especially like making their own salad by picking their favorite items.
Just a handful of ingredients and an hour of roasting make the most flavorful squash soup you can imagine.
Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder
Sweet potato chowder with corn, peppers, and caramelized onions is a real cold weather treat.
Wild Rice and Cranberry Soup
An elegant soup made of wild rice and cranberries laced with sherry.
There’s nothing quite like buttermilk biscuits hot out of the oven.
Hot cornbread is absolutely delicious topped with cream cheese.
I find that the nicest meals are always nicer with some bread in my hand, preferably warm from the oven. We don’t have a nice bakery nearby, so I have to make my own rolls, and this is the simplest recipe I’ve found.
Recipe for popovers, perhaps the simplest and quickest way to enjoy fresh bread hot from the oven.
Lasagna is basically a casserole made with layers of flat noodles, vegetables, cheese, and sometimes meat. There are a million variations on lasagna here are some vegetarian favorites.
Incredibly flavorful meatloaf-style dish made with mushrooms, rice, and lentils.
The perfect recipe to enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs it can be served half a dozen different ways.
Seitan and onions roasted in balsamic vinegar make a quick recipe for a hearty and delicious cold-weather dish.
This vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe is a simple yet delicious lambless version of the real thing.
A classic vegetarian recipe from Greece: rich and delicious spinach-cheese pie.
Serve these bell peppers stuffed with tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and couscous alongside a green salad for a simple, filling meal.
Impressive and delicious yet fairly easy to make, perfect for a special occasion.
Sweet Potato Gratin
Sweet potatoes layered with black beans, rice, and spinach make a hearty, healthy main course.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love gratins – there’s something about the cheese/bread crumb layer on top that appeals to just about everyone. If this sounds like you, try this tasty way to use up some leftover vegetables.
Wheat Meat and Potatoes
The ultimate in hearty, down-home cooking: (wheat) meat and potatoes.
Winter Squash Risotto
Risotto isn’t difficult to make, but it does require a lot of standing at the stove, stirring away. The end result, however, is delicious and a wonderful comfort food.
What would Thanksgiving dinner be without this sweet-tart, jelly-like sauce?
Mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. They’re quick and easy and the soft texture makes me feel like a kid. They’re also a great base for all kinds of variations like garlic mashed potatoes and herby mashed potatoes.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Looking for a tasty alternative to regular mashed potatoes? Try mashed sweet potatoes (aka yams).
Rich, thick mushroom gravy with tons of umami.
Potato Pumpkin Pie
Adding potatoes and corn turns pumpkin pie into an innovative, savory side dish!
Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto
Baked pumpkin almost melts into this quinoa risotto for an easy, unusual side dish.
Red Cabbage with Apples
Red cabbage topped with sautéed apples makes a simple but flavorful side dish.
Red Cabbage with Cranberries
A sweet-and-sour side dish that will brighten your table at Thanksgiving or any time of the year.
Roasted Winter Squash
An easy-to-prepare, delicate sweet-and-sour squash dish.
A simple, traditional gravy that vegans, meat eaters, and everyone in between will love.
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Make the most of the sweet potatoes available in winter – these stuffed sweet potatoes are sweet and buttery.
Stuffing doesn’t have to be cooked inside a turkey – this vegan bread stuffing with apples and walnuts is delicious baked as a casserole.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate autumn than with a homemade apple pie.
A sweet-tart bread that is equally good for dessert, tea, or breakfast.
Cranberry sauce usually has pride of place at the Thanksgiving table, but here’s another taste way to enjoy sweet-tart cranberries.
The richest and most delicious pecan pie you’ll ever taste.
Pumpkin Cheesecake (Vegan)
A sweet, creamy blend of pumpkin, tofu, cashews, and banana, topped with candied pecans.
This "no-fault" pumpkin pie is the perfect end to Thanksgiving dinner.
Sweet Potato Pie
This lovely pie is sweet but not too sweet, so you can eat it as a Thanksgiving side dish or dessert.
Meals with a mixed group of vegetarians and non-vegetarians can require a lot of extra effort from the cook. However, you can save a lot of work by making similar dishes for both groups – a vegetarian version and a meat version. Here are some vegetarian recipes that lend themselves easily to meat additions.
Dealing with Vegetarians
If you’re not a vegetarian, the thought of cooking for or eating with someone who is may seem rather daunting. In fact, it’s really not that difficult, if you follow a few simple guidelines and use common sense.
Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes
Serve a meal made just for veggie-lovers this Thanksgiving with these six meat-free recipes:
- Appetizer: Toasted Walnuts with Tart Cherries and Rosemary
- Side Dish: Chopped Green Bean Salad with Manchego
- Side Dish: Hasselback Potatoes with Seasoned Bread Crumbs
- Side Dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples, Cherries, and Pecans
- Main Dish: Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
- Dessert: Pumpkin Spice Latte Pie
Learn more about each of these delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes below.
13 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes for a Meat-Free Holiday
At the center of every Thanksgiving celebration is a delicious roasted turkey however, vegetarian and vegan guests deserve a main course that is just as impressive and indulgent. These vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes will satisfy everyone at the table. While many Thanksgiving side dishes are vegetarian, such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, and buttermilk biscuits, we feel strongly that everyone should have a something special they can eat for their main course.
These meatless recipes are far more satisfying than tofurky. Take our Cauliflower, Red Onion, and Chestnut Tart, for example. The tart dough is made with ground hazelnuts, which add a nutty flavor that takes this crust to the next level. For the ultimate comfort food, make the Honeynut Squash, Leek, and Brie Gratin pictured here. Looking for something especially impressive? With its vivid colors and varied textures, this autumnal Acorn Squash with Mixed-Grain Stuffing should do the trick. Make the filling up to three days in advance to save time on the day of Thanksgiving.
We're including a few unique vegetarian and vegan side dish recipes for Thanksgiving here as well. If you or a guest refrain from eating traditional Southern collard greens because of the inclusion of pork, we have a solution. Our vegetarian collard greens use the rind from Parmesan cheese to achieve the same savory, salty flavor that ham or bacon brings. Here's another delicious idea: Creamed-Spinach Gratin. It's simple, and luxurious&mdashdon't even get us started on that golden brown, crunchy panko topping. Be sure to make room on your plate for second helpings.
No matter which dish you make, vegetarians guests will rejoice over these meatless Thanksgiving recipes made just for them.
Vegetarian Thanksgiving Desserts
Many desserts are vegetarian, but we’ll take this opportunity to plug some of our readers favorite dessert recipes anyway. David Tanis’s cranberry curd tart is jaw-droppingly beautiful, an Instagram-worthy crowd favorite that’s also gluten-free. (Pro tip: The secret to achieving that ruby red color every time is puréeing the cooked cranberries in a blender or food processor, then straining the curd at least once through a fine-mesh sieve.) If you think there’s no such thing as a dessert that isn’t chocolate, we have three words for you: pecan pie truffles. For traditionalists, our apple pie, pumpkin pie (we have a vegan pumpkin pie) and pecan pie are tried-and-true. Just add ice cream or whipped cream, or both.
[Thanksgiving will be different this year. Here are hundreds of our best Thanksgiving recipes from NYT Cooking to help.]