Thanksgiving is a time to get together with friends, family, and loved ones to appreciate what you have — and food is a huge part of the celebrations. While turkey may be the centerpiece of many Thanksgiving tables, there's a growing movement to embrace a more compassionate, sustainable approach to the holiday. Enter the world of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes, offering a delectable alternative to the classic meat-centric spread.
Whether you're a dedicated vegetarian, entertaining plant-based guests, or simply seeking to diversify your Thanksgiving menu, this article will guide you through a delightful array of the best vegetarian recipes to elevate your Thanksgiving feast. Vegetarian Thanksgiving doesn't mean sacrificing flavor or tradition. Quite the opposite, in fact — it's an opportunity to explore the array of seasonal produce that's available at this time of year. From hearty mains that rival the juiciest turkey to inventive side dishes that steal the spotlight, we'll cover a variety of recipes that cater to all tastes and preferences.
So, maybe you've been surprised by a vegetarian or vegan showing up for Thanksgiving, or perhaps you just want to try something new. Whatever your reason for wanting meat-free options, here are 23 of the best vegetarian recipes for your Thanksgiving meal. You can thank us for the inspiration at the table.
Savory Mashed Butternut Squash
If you're looking for a classic side dish for your Thanksgiving table, this mashed squash recipe is ideal. Roasted butternut squash is expertly blended with savory ingredients like garlic, salt, and pepper. The result is a velvety, luscious puree that boasts a perfect balance of sweetness and umami.
This dish not only complements traditional Thanksgiving spreads but can elevate any dinner table year-round. If you're cooking for a vegan, you can use a dairy-free butter alternative and vegan creamer or cashew cream instead of heavy cream. This recipe proves all you need are simple, wholesome ingredients.
Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have been a staple of the American Thanksgiving table for generations. They hold a special place in the holiday's history and evoke a sense of nostalgia and tradition for many families. The naturally sweet yet slightly earthy flavor pairs exceptionally well with the savory and rich dishes typically served on Thanksgiving. This sweet-savory balance complements the main course.
To make this dish, you simply boil chunks of sweet potato and mash them with ingredients such as butter, half-and-half, and maple syrup. However, it's easy to make vegan with dairy-free butter and milk.
Honey Glazed Carrots
If you're looking for something sweet and nutritious to use as a Thanksgiving side, these honey glazed carrots are ideal. Thanksgiving meals are often rich and savory, so honey glazed carrots provide a welcome contrast with their sweetness.
Since they're oven-roasted, this also helps bring out their natural sweet notes. The honey glaze just adds to the experience, while the chopped parsley brings some contrasting freshness. Cooking for a vegan? Switch out the honey for maple syrup or a vegan honey alternative.
Recipe: Honey Glazed Carrots Recipe
Cornbread has deep historical roots in American cuisine, so what better side to have as part of your Thanksgiving spread? Its crumbly, slightly sweet, nutty taste contrasts beautifully with the rich, savory dishes typically served on this holiday.
Cornbread is relatively simple to make, which is particularly helpful on a day when the kitchen is often a hub of activity. And this recipe is even easier than many — you use a corn muffin mix and a can of creamed corn to bring it together with very little effort.
Recipe: Easy Cornbread Recipe
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts can be divisive, but even haters might be brought around with these roasted Brussels. The process of roasting brings out the natural sweetness of their flavor — no more over-boiled sulphuric flavor or unpleasant sogginess.
They're super easy to make, too. You just half the sprouts and then roast them with oil, salt, and pepper. Add in a little maple syrup for additional sweetness, and you have a delightful Thanksgiving side dish. What's great is that this dish is totally plant-based with no adaptation, so it's great for any vegans coming to dinner.
Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts Recipe
Creamy Homestyle Mac And Cheese
Mac and cheese is a beloved comfort food that appeals to a wide range of tastes and ages. Its familiarity makes it a comforting addition to the Thanksgiving table, ensuring that even the pickiest eaters can enjoy a satisfying meal. It can also serve as a substantial main course for vegetarians, offering a protein-rich, cheesy, and indulgent dish that can stand alongside the traditional Thanksgiving sides.
To make this dish, whip up a standard cheese sauce, starting with a roux of butter and flour, before adding milk, cream, and cheese. Add cooked pasta to this and bake. Make it plant-based with vegan butter, milk, and cheese alternatives.
Creamed spinach is known for its luxurious, creamy texture and rich flavor, which complements the savory dishes typically found on Thanksgiving menus. Thanksgiving tables are often filled with hearty and indulgent dishes, and this creamed spinach walks the line between the two. It's nutritious yet rich with its creamy finish.
It's made by cooking fresh spinach with cream, garlic, onion, and nutmeg. This recipe calls for parmesan, but parmesan traditionally isn't vegetarian because it uses animal rennet in its production. So, use a vegetarian hard cheese instead or leave it out.
Recipe: Creamed Spinach Recipe
White Bean And Kale Soup
If you're looking for a vegetarian Thanksgiving starter, this white bean and kale soup is perfect. The combination of tender white beans and hearty kale creates a satisfying contrast in both flavor and texture. The creamy beans complement the slightly bitter kale. What's more, kale is in season during the fall, aligning perfectly with the autumnal theme of Thanksgiving.
To make it, you first fry up aromatics — onion, celery, carrots, and garlic — before adding kale, bean, potatoes, and vegetable broth and letting the soup simmer. Assuming you use a plant-based broth, this dish is naturally vegan.
Recipe: White Bean And Kale Soup Recipe
Butternut Squash Soup
Another excellent soup for your Thanksgiving feast is this butternut squash option. Squash is seasonal and autumnal, so it's a great way to get more fall flavors at the dinner table — plus, butternut squash's sweet flavor is a favorite with many.
To complement and contrast the sweetness of the butternut squash, you have Thai red curry paste to add a kick and coconut milk to add creaminess, sweetness, and more complexity of flavor. It all comes together to create something nicely balanced — and vegan if you use a plant-based vegetable or faux-chicken stock.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup Recipe
3-Bean Vegetarian Chili
Thanksgiving meals often include rich, indulgent dishes, and 3-bean chili provides a hearty, satisfying option that can serve as a main course for vegetarians and vegans. It offers a protein-packed alternative to traditional meat-based entrees. This dish is vegan as written, assuming you don't add the optional cheese and sour cream topping (although vegan alternatives are available).
It's a simple recipe containing tomato sauce, salsa, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, onions, garlic, and chili seasoning. It comes together quickly, which is great news on Thanksgiving.
Recipe: 3-Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe
Few ingredients feel as autumnal as squash, which is why it's perfect for Thanksgiving. Because of the small size of acorn squashes, you can make half a squash for each person, which looks substantial as either a main or a side.
This recipe involves roasting halved acorn squash along with brown sugar and butter. This adds to their natural sweetness. You could even add a pinch of cinnamon if you want to kick things up a notch. Use a non-dairy butter to make this dish vegan.
Recipe: Easy Acorn Squash Recipe
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Sweet potatoes are in season during the fall and are often associated with Thanksgiving, but rather than just mashing or roasting them, why not turn them into gnocchi? With its delicious sage butter sauce, this sweet potato gnocchi makes an indulgent vegetarian Thanksgiving dish that feels special and well thought out.
The gnocchi is surprisingly easy to make. Just cook whole sweet potatoes in the microwave to soften their flesh before mixing it with flour to form a dough. You then roll the dough into a rope and cut it into pieces to form gnocchi. You can make it vegan using a butter alternative and avoiding the cheese.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe
Traditional Mashed Potato
Vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike will be thrilled to see mashed potato on the table at Thanksgiving. This classic side goes with all sorts of mains, whether it's turkey, Tofurkey, or a cauliflower steak.
This recipe uses potatoes, milk, and butter — but you can easily replace the milk and butter with non-dairy alternatives to make it plant-based if you're serving a vegan this Thanksgiving. You can't go wrong with a traditional mashed potato like this one.
Recipe: Traditional Mashed Potato Recipe
20-Minute Stovetop Stuffing
Who doesn't want to see stuffing as part of their Thanksgiving spread? It's a classic dish for a reason — warm and comforting with subtle flavors and the satisfaction that comes from a big hit of carbs. This is a simple one, spiced with sage, onion, and celery.
It's simple to make, taking just 20 minutes and using the stovetop rather than needing to be baked in the oven. And you can easily make it vegan by using a dairy-free butter alternative (and making sure the stock you use is vegan).
Creamy Mushroom Risotto
Renowned for its rich, umami flavor, mushroom risotto brings depth and complexity to the Thanksgiving spread. Thanks to the carby richness from the rice, it's a substantial main for vegetarians, while anyone partaking in turkey can eat it as a side.
Since fall is mushroom season, this risotto feels appropriate for the holidays. Use other types of mushrooms — like king oyster or shiitake — to make it feel fancier. While this recipe calls for butter, it can easily be made vegan with a plant-based butter alternative — or simply a drizzle of olive oil. Just make sure you use vegan wine and stock.
Recipe: Creamy Mushroom Risotto Recipe
So cheesy and creamy, this casserole is one way to get everyone at the Thanksgiving table to eat their greens without complaining. The broccoli is undeniably nutritious, but it's indulgent enough that it feels Thanksgiving-worthy.
It's made using cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and broccoli, all mixed together in a casserole dish. It's then topped with crushed Ritz crackers before being baked in the oven to bubbly golden perfection.
Recipe: Broccoli Casserole Recipe
Black Bean Enchiladas
While they might not be the first thing that springs to mind when coming up with your Thanksgiving menu, black bean enchiladas are packed with flavor, thanks to the combination of seasoned black beans, spices, and a rich enchilada sauce. This is a veggie alternative that's just as hearty as traditional Thanksgiving dishes.
It uses ready-made enchilada sauce so that the whole recipe comes together quickly and easily. Given how busy Thanksgiving can be, this makes it an ideal dish for the holiday. To make it vegan, just switch out the dairy cheese for vegan cheese.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato casserole is a classic Thanksgiving dish for a reason. The creamy mashed sweet potatoes have a rich, sweet flavor that's a crowd-pleaser, appealing to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians at the Thanksgiving table.
The common marshmallow topping isn't vegetarian, but this recipe uses crushed pecans, which are gelatin-free and, in our opinion, an elevated alternative to marshmallows. While it does contain a significant amount of butter, anyone looking for a plant-based dish can simply use vegan butter instead.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
Since it can satisfy both vegetarians and non-vegetarians at the table, spinach lasagna is a versatile choice for a mixed crowd. Its savory and creamy layers of spinach, cheese, and pasta can be quite indulgent, making it feel like a special holiday treat. It's also colorful and looks great as part of a Thanksgiving spread.
By using ricotta cheese and store-bought red sauce, there's very little to do other than assemble the ingredients and bake them. This saves you time on a day that's traditionally fairly hard work for those cooking.
Recipe: Easy Spinach Lasagna Recipe
The rich, earthy flavors of pumpkin lend a warm and comforting taste to this pumpkin ravioli, making it a perfect fit for the cozy atmosphere of Thanksgiving. It might seem like making rav from scratch would be challenging, but this uses shortcuts to make it easier, utilizing ready-made wonton wrappers and canned pumpkin.
One thing to remember with this recipe is that parmesan cheese isn't actually vegetarian because it contains non-veggie rennet. So, replace the parmesan with a vegetarian hard cheese — or even a vegan cheese alternative if you want to make it a plant-based recipe.
Recipe: Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli Recipe
Eggplant parmesan has layers of eggplant slices, marinara sauce, and melted cheese. This creates a comforting, indulgent combination of flavors and textures, making it a substantial and flavorful addition to the Thanksgiving spread. It's something that will please veggies at the table, as well as meat-eaters.
Despite its name, this dish doesn't use parmesan, just mozzarella, so you don't need to worry about animal rennet. You can replace it with plant-based mozz and use aquafaba instead of eggs to make it vegan.
Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
Potatoes Au Gratin
Deliciously creamy and indulgent, you won't have any leftovers of these potatoes au gratin this Thanksgiving. If you're looking for an alternative to mashed, boiled, or roasted potatoes, it's worth trying.
It's essentially potatoes layered with cream and cheese before being baked in the oven until it's bubbly and golden. While it's very much not vegan, given the amount of cream, cheese, and butter in this recipe, it's possible to make it plant-based if you're catering to a vegan. Just use cashew cream, vegan cheese, and dairy-free butter.
Recipe: Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe
Air Fryer Cauliflower Steak
This cauliflower steak can act as a meat alternative for the vegetarian or vegan at your table. With an array of sides, it makes a tasty main course. And, since it's made in the air fryer, it frees up some extra oven space for all those other Thanksgiving dishes.
Thick slices of cauliflower are basted in a mix of olive oil, lime juice, smoked paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper before being cooked in the air fryer. However, you could use a different range of seasonings to better fit the flavor of your side dishes, such as sage and rosemary, for instance.
Read the original article on Mashed.