15 Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes

15 Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes

For years, hosting a plant-based Thanksgiving dinner meant two things: Time to pick up a Tofurky and wait for the declined invitations to come rolling in.

No more. You can make plant-based substitutes for carnivorous classics such as turkey and stuffing that are savory and hearty in their own right, without trying to replicate the flavor of meat. And going plant-based gives you a number of appealing, inventive options for delicious lighter side dishes and rich, satisfying desserts that are lower in sugar and fat. (It’s a great way to enjoy Thanksgiving without gaining weight.) Here are some of our favorites.

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Instead of Turkey, Try…

plant based thanksgiving- stuffed butternut squash

1. Stuffed butternut squash

“The key to a plant-based Thanksgiving is to ensure that the table isn’t just full of side dishes,” says Sarah Bond of Live Eat Learn. “Fortunately, you can make some gorgeous main dishes using vegetables. I love to make a stuffed butternut squash, which can be sliced up and served like you would a turkey.” You can make it in a sheet pan simultaneously with sides of potatoes and brussels sprouts.

Get the full recipe here.

2.  Pumpkin and lentil shepherd’s pie

Shepherd’s pie, a British holiday favorite, can be brick-heavy. But not the plant-based version from The Smiling Onion, in which cremini mushrooms and lentils stand in for ground beef.

Get the full recipe here.

 

3. Vegan Wellington

Beef Wellington — filet mignon coated with pate and wrapped in puff pastry — is about the meatiest dish imaginable.

Until Elizabeth Schuster, executive chef with Tenacious Eats in St. Louis, created this hearty plant-based version that swaps in mushroom duxelles and sauteed spinach. (And clean energy instead of a beef coma).

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Mushroom Duxelles Wellington

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms diced
  • 3 tsp vegan butter
  • 2 shallots fresh and minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme minced
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1 yellow onion small diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 stalk celery small diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups potato flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

Instructions

  1. To make crust, add all three flours and mix thoroughly, add salt and coconut oil. Knead dough until it feels smooth. Cover with plastic and bench-rest dough.

  2. In a medium sauté pan, add vegan butter on low heat until it melts. Add shallot and cook until opaque. Add mushrooms and fresh thyme. Toss ingredients until coated with vegan butter. Sauté till mixture is almost dry, then add sherry to the pan. Sauté on low until mixture is almost paste-like. Remove from heat and chill prior to adding to Wellington.

  3. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add onions, celery and carrots. Sauté till opaque and add spinach and garlic. Keep flame to medium and add dried sage. Sauté till moisture has evaporated from pan. Reserve and chill.

  4. Roll out dough on floured surface. Roll it into a rectangle-like piece. Spoon sautéed spinach mixture down the center of the dough leaving 3 inch perimeter. Spoon duxelles over spinach mixture. Left to right fold dough over the top and fold the other side over like a book fold.

  5. Flip Wellington onto greased roasting pan. Make 5 slits in dough for vent. Bake in 350-degree oven until crust is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Vegan Lentil Loaf

Carrie Forrest, M.B.A., M.P.H. in nutrition, creator of Clean Eating Kitchen, says she has the perfect loaf for a holiday main course or side. “This recipe is full of flavor and nutrition, plus it’s gluten free.”

Get the full recipe here.

 

5. Hearty Potato Lentil Stew

“I like to make this vegan lentil stew as a main dish instead of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner,” says Bree Sheree of Bree’s Vegan Life. “It’s not at all like turkey, and is very filling.”

Get the full recipe here.

 

Instead of Buttery Mashed Potatoes, Try…

sweet potatoes | plant based thanksgiving recipes

6. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to regular taters because they provide vitamin A, plus four grams of fiber and 24 grams of slow-burning complex carbs, which can help you feel full for longer. If you’re looking for that mashed potato consistency, you can stick a few sweet potatoes in the oven until they’re soft, and then mash ‘em up. You can even cook them in the microwave if you’re short on time! For a slightly different take, you can cut them up and cook them in a pan or, slice them up into fries.

Get the recipes here.

 

Instead of Traditional Meaty Gravy, Try…

7. Vegan Mushroom Gravy

“I am a plant-based physician,” says Dana Simpler, M.D., a primary care practitioner at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, “and about five years ago I started making an alternative gravy in addition to the traditional gravy for our family Thanksgiving dinners — of which most of the people are not plant-based. It became so popular that it’s now the only gravy we serve, and I have to triple the recipe.”

Get the full recipe here.

 

Instead of Traditional Sausage Stuffing, Try…

vegan stuffing | plant based thanksgiving recipes

8. Slow Cooker Mushroom Stuffing

Made with fresh veggies and herbs, this vegan stuffing is as flavorful as it is healthy. It’s made with wholesome foods, unlike many store-bought stuffing, and the mushrooms give it a rich umami flavor and a hearty texture. People will barely notice there’s no meat inside!

Get the recipe here.

 

9. Cauliflower Stuffing

Cauliflower has had a moment over the past few years, becoming a popular substitute for starchy white pizza crust and mashed potatoes. It has a savory heft — not to mention low carbs and plenty of fiber — which makes it a great base for stuffing instead of bread.

Get the full recipe here.

 

For a Healthy Side Dish, Try…

plant based thanksgiving recipes - green bean casserole

10. Healthier Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole has been a holiday classic since the 1950s, when it was invented by a soup company to incorporate its factory-processed products. This healthier version uses all fresh ingredients and is just as creamy as its Eisenhower-era ancestor.

Get the full recipe here.

 

11. Butternut Squash Noodles

butternut squash noodles | plant based thanksgiving recipes

This dish is aromatic and light, making it the perfect complement to any other savory and heavy dishes you’ll be chowing down on this Thanksgiving. If you don’t already have one, treat yourself to an early holiday gift and get a spiralizer to ensure maximum noodle-ness from your squash. (We’re pretty sure that’s the technical term.)

Get the recipe here.

 

12. Roasted Brussels Sprouts

roasted brussels sprouts | plant based thanksgiving recipes

If you hated brussels sprouts growing up, this recipe might help you squash your childhood beef. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, these roasted brussels sprouts are healthy and versatile, pairing well with several kinds of dishes. Finish them with a drizzle of balsamic or sherry vinegar for extra flavoring to this already delicious side.

Get the recipe here.

 

For a Lighter, Plant-Based Dessert, Try…

pumpkin pie | plant based thanksgiving recipes

13. Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Top off your Thanksgiving Day meal with a slice of this vegan pumpkin pie. Instead of eggs, this recipe uses avocado to make the filling thick and creamy like a traditional pumpkin pie. To hold the filling in, this features an oat and wheat flour crust to ensure that each bite travels safely to your tummy.

Get the recipe here.

 

14. No-Bake Vegan Gingerbread Cookie Balls

vegan gingerbread cookie balls | plant based thanksgiving recipes

You don’t always need an oven to make a tasty dessert! These no-bake gingerbread cookie balls can go from your countertop to a serving plate in just 15 minutes. And instead of using refined sugar (found in many other gingerbread recipes), we use medjool dates, which provide natural sweetness and a nice, chewy texture.

Get the recipe here.

 

15. Mini Pecan Pies

mini pecan pies | plant based thanksgiving recipes

Appreciate the small things in life with these pecan pies that are miniature in size but big on flavor. By soaking chia seeds in water and blending them together with the other ingredients, you’ll get a sweet, gooey filling that’s key to a good pecan pie, but healthier! The recipe does call for butter, so use a kind that’s dairy-free for a delicious vegan Thanksgiving dessert.

Get the recipe here.

About

Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor who specializes in health, nutrition and lifestyle reporting. Follow him on Twitter.

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