14 Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes

14 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.


Instead of Turkey, Try…

1. Stuffed butternut squash

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

pumpkin and lentil

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 lentil loaf

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.

4. Hearty potato lentil stew

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…

5. Sweet potatoes

sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are a great alternative to regular taters because they providevitamin 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…

6. Vegan mushroom gravy

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…

7. Slow cooker mushroom stuffing

slow cooker mushroom gravy

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.

8. Cauliflower stuffing

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…

9. Healthier green bean casserole

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.

10. Butternut squash noodles

butternut squash noodles

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.

11. Roasted brussels sprouts

roasted brussel sprouts

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…

12. Vegan pumpkin pie

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.

13. No-bake vegan gingerbread cookie balls

no bake cookies

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.

14. Mini pecan pies

mini pecan pies

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.


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