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Find the best vegan Thanksgiving recipes from vegan stuffing to vegan turkey alternatives to plan the ultimate plant-based feast.

Elizabeth Laseter
October 11, 2017

Planning a vegan Thanksgiving menu can sound like a difficult task, especially when meat, butter, eggs, and cheese are off-limits. Whether you avoid animal products for health, ethical, or environmental reasons, cooking a vegan Thanksgiving dinner should be anything but restrictive—after all, “delicious” doesn't have to mean a blanket of cheese or shower of bacon. With a little outside-the-box thinking, a vegan Thanksgiving menu can easily become a nutritious spread of fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Whether you’re making vegan cornbread or vegan stuffing, the absence of carnivorous ingredients can also mean big savings in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Also, stocking your kitchen with the right vegan fats, stocks, plant-based milks, and more, can help give many recipes easy vegan makeovers. Our vegan Thanksgiving menu gives you the best vegan Thanksgiving recipes from healthy vegan Thanksgiving turkey alternatives to umami-packed vegan mushroom gravy. 

See More: Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu Recipes and Ideas

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Vegan Appetizers

A generous array of vegan appetizers is the perfect way to welcome Thanksgiving dinner guests into your home. Stick to simple recipes that are as satisfying as they are nutritious—hummus, bean dip, vegetable crudité platters, and toasted nuts are all certified crowd pleasers.

VIEW GALLERY: Vegan Appetizer Recipes

Black Bean Dip: This flavorful dip starts with dried black beans, which pack a richer, fuller flavor than canned black beans. They do take a while to cook, but it’s well worth the extra effort. To make this recipe fully vegan, simply omit the cheese that’s sprinkled over top the dip. Find packaged plantain chips at grocery stores such as Whole Foods.

Get the Recipe: Master Dried Beans

Sesame-Soy Nut and Pretzel Mix: Crunchy, salty snacks you can grab by the handful are often high in sodium and fat. Our lightened version ensures guilt-free munching while packing in plenty of flavor, thanks to toasted sesame oil, fragrant spices, and spicy-sweet wasabi peas.

Citrus, Fennel, and Rosemary Olives: Addictive, briny, and delicious, a colorful array of olives makes an elegant and easy snack for peckish Thanksgiving guests. Show off the diverse flavor profile of olives from Kalamata to Picholine by mixing them with fresh herbs, lemon rind, and garlic.

Chestnut Hummus: Whether it's a traditional recipe or clever riff, hummus is a perfect snack for vegans that can be dressed up in countless ways. This clever take adds hearty chestnuts to chickpeas and tahini for a fall-inspired snack. Serve with raw veggies and pita chips. 

Mini Avocado Toasts with Pumpkin Seeds: A smear of fresh avocado, elevated with a sprinkling of sea salt, over a slice of crusty baguette is guaranteed to hold guests over until the main feast. Toasted pumpkin seeds lend pleasing crunch and autumn flavors.

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Vegan Side Dishes

Most of us can agree that Thanksgiving is all about the sides, whether you’re vegan or not. Below, find delicious (and nutritious) vegan Thanksgiving side dishes from crisp, leafy greens to sweet and nutty winter squash. You’ll also find healthy vegan twists on traditional dishes like macaroni and cheese and Thanksgiving gravy.

VIEW GALLERY: Vegan Side Dish Recipes

Crunchy Greens with Radish: A crisp salad loaded with vibrant colors and textures makes a perfect light side that helps balance heavier dishes. Here, we pile fresh romaine lettuce leaves high with quick-pickled shallots, ruby red pomegranate arils, and crunchy watermelon radishes.

Sage Roasted Carrots and Turnips: Aromatic sage elevates mildly sweet carrots and peppery baby turnips in this easy vegan Thanksgiving side dish. Take this recipe a step further by drizzling homemade tahini sauce or even Thanksgiving cranberry sauce over top.

Simple Blistered Broccolini: Trim the broccolini ahead of time, but don’t cook it until the last minute. A short blitz underneath the broiler cooks this broccoli-relative quickly and gives the florets a crispy char. For a pretty presentation, arrange on a decorative oval platter with fresh lemon wedges.

Roasted Kabocha and Kale Salad: Full of vibrant colors and textures, this is the ultimate autumn salad. Elevate tender, roasted kabocha squash, a type of Japanese pumpkin that tastes like sweet potato, by tossing it with a tangy-sweet vinaigrette, dried cranberries, and leafy lacinato kale. 

Pasta with Chickpea Sauce: This simple vegan pasta sauce packs all the comfort and creaminess of macaroni and cheese but it’s much higher in nutrition. A puree of vegetables and chickpeas thickens and flavors the addictively nutty sauce. In addition to fresh herbs, try topping with homemade breadcrumbs for crunch.

Vegan Gravy: Flour thickens this umami-packed vegan gravy, which marries mushrooms with soy sauce for rich and hearty flavors. Try spooning over vegan mashed potatoes or Tofurky holiday roast.

Roasted Cranberries and Grapes with Rosemary: Fill of vibrant textures and flavors, this easy cranberry sauce is a refreshing break from tradition. Broil the cranberries and black grapes until softened and slightly blistered to coax out an intensified, roasty sweetness.

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Vegan Stuffing

When searching for the best vegan stuffing recipe, look for one full of hearty whole grains, meaty mushrooms, and other flavor-packed vegan ingredients. Finding a stuffing recipe with bread can be tough, as many rely on butter to boost flavor and eggs to bind ingredients together.

Farro, Caramelized Onion, and Wild Mushroom Stuffing: This fragrant whole grain stuffing builds flavor in several stages—first we simmer the nutty grain in a porcini-infused broth and caramelized onions, then we add in white wine-sautéed shiitake mushrooms and fresh sage. If you don't have farro, you can substitute pearl barley.

Quinoa and Parsley Salad: This colorful grain salad pairs nutty quinoa with toasted pumpkin seeds, crunchy celery, sweet dried apricot, and mild green onion. Feel free to swap in ingredients you have on hand, whether it’s a different type of dried fruit or toasted nuts in place of pumpkin seeds.

Farro Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Red Onion, and Almonds: You can easily make this whole-grain stuffing recipe vegan by using vegetable stock in place of chicken stock. Make sure to cook the farro in a high-quality vegetable stock to impart tasty, aromatic flavors.

Wild Rice Dressing with Roasted Chestnuts and Cranberries: Roasted chestnuts, which have a starchy texture and mildly sweet flavor, make this wild rice stuffing a hearty side, while dried cranberries add a tangy-sweet flavor. To make it vegan, use vegetable broth and swap the unsalted butter for non-hydrogenated vegan butter such as Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread.

Photo: Hayley Sugg

Vegan Breads

Traditional Thanksgiving breads such as cornbread, biscuits, popovers, and quick breads are off-limits to vegans. While finding a butter- and egg-free vegan bread may seem tricky, there are luckily plenty of ways to bake breads using  plant-based ingredients. Below, we offer two winning vegan bread recipes perfect for your breadbasket.

Vegan Cornbread: We’ve struck gold with the perfect vegan cornbread recipe. Soul soothing, comforting, and delicious, you’d never know there’s not an ounce of butter. Using high-quality non-hydrogenated vegan butter such as Earth Balance that packs a clean buttery flavor and doesn’t separate when melted is the secret.

Herbed Breadsticks: Pizza dough contains only flour, salt, olive oil, and water, so it’s completely vegan-friendly. This versatile dough can easily be spun into tasty, crisp breadsticks. Here, we combine fresh herbs with homemade or store bought dough (whichever you prefer), then add a generous brush of olive oil before baking.

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Vegan Turkey

Don’t let a lack of turkey deter you from making a show-stopping main dish as the centerpiece of your table. From whole roasted cauliflower to stuffed squash, there are plenty of vegan turkey alternatives to be enjoyed on Thanksgiving.

VIEW GALLERY: Vegan Turkey Recipes

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate and Pine Nuts: Crispy whole roasted cauliflower makes for a dramatic table topper. This mild-flavored versatile veggie meshes well with a wide variety of flavors, so virtually any side will pair beautifully. For a pretty presentation, serve the cauliflower head at the table, then “carve” out slices for guests.

Jackfruit Potpie: Shredded jackfruit lends meaty texture while vegan-friendly puff pastry adds a crusty top to this crowd pleasing vegan twist on traditional chicken pot pie.   

Butternut Squash Crown Roast: Prepare yourself for some serious culinary ingenuity. Here, roasted butternut and acorn squash become a stunning vegan main dish that’s as delicious as it is eye-catching. A ring of tender, succulent squash bakes with vegan stuffing filling for the ultimate plant-based indulgence.  

Acorn Squash with Sage-Cranberry Rice Stuffing: Buttery-sweet acorn squash halves are perfect vessels for a multitude of savory fillings from whole grains to toasted nuts to fresh herbs. This recipe, which yields two squash halves, is perfect for a small group.

Tahini-Carrot Soup with Pistachios: A warming soup full of comforting fall flavors makes a mouthwatering focal point for your feast. In this complex, aromatic soup, we use tahini as a vegan substitute for heavy cream to add body to the base of pureed carrots and vegetable stock.

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Vegan Desserts

From flavorful fruit crisps to no-bake brownies there are plenty of tasty vegan recipes guaranteed to satisfy guests’ sweet tooth, no eggs or dairy products required.

VIEW GALLERY: Vegan Dessert Recipes

Cranberry-Almond Bark: Chocolate bark comes together in a flash and makes a lighter Thanksgiving sweet alongside coffee after a heavy meal. This recipe calls for dried cranberries and almonds, but you can add in any dried fruit and nut variety you prefer. Make sure the chocolate you use is fully vegan, such as Enjoy Life's Semi Sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks.

Apple, Pear, and Cranberry Crisp: Make this fall-inspired fruit crisp vegan by trading unsalted butter for non-hydrogenated vegan butter such as Earth Balance. This light and satisfying dessert also happens to be gluten-free, thanks to whole grain oats and brown rice flour in the topping.

No-Bake Vegan Brownies: These decadent, no-bake vegan brownies showcase the natural sweetness of Medjool dates. This guilt-free indulgence also packs healthy fats, protein, and fiber from a nutty trio of almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts.

Soft Serve Nice Cream: Coconut milk lends a creamy texture to this vegan and dairy-free “nice” cream, which uses frozen bananas as its base. Serve this refreshing treat alongside vegan brownies, a fruit crisp, or set up a vegan topping bar with toasted nuts, fresh seasonal fruit, vegan chocolate chips, and more.  

Chocolate Mousse: Silken tofu, a valuable ingredient in any vegan’s arsenal, can take the place of eggs or dairy in recipes by lending a creamy texture to sauces, smoothies, and soups. Here, we combine this mild-flavored, versatile ingredient with bittersweet chocolate for a luscious, protein-packed mousse. Top the dish with a dollop of So Delicious Cocowhip! to make the ultimate dessert.