Going meatless this year? My vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes will help you make your holiday feast the best ever. Whether you’re a vegetarian, cooking for a vegetarian, or feel like going meatless this year, you’re sure to find something everyone will love.
Best Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes
I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 30 years now, and believe me when I say I love making vegetarian Thanksgiving! There are so many amazing vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes to choose from that you’ll feel overwhelmed, in a good way, by the possibilities.
You can make a bunch of vegetarian casseroles, choose a more sophisticated entree like portabello mushroom or roasted cauliflower “steaks”, or pick up a package of puff pastry and bake flaky, buttery little wellingtons filled with caramelized onions. The key to vegetarian Thanksgiving is to have fun with it, and to treat yourself to all the gorgeous flavors of fall.
I’ve put together my best tips and tricks for cooking vegetarian Thanksgiving below. Read on for how to make the best vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes this year for you and yours.
What to Eat on Thanksgiving if You’re Vegetarian?
If you’re new to vegetarian Thanksgiving, take heart. You certainly won’t be deprived of delicious dishes during the Thanksgiving feast even if you don’t eat the turkey. So, what does a vegetarian eat on Thanksgiving? The answer is, all the vegetables you can! Showcase fall vegetables like fennel, squash, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and more. Lean on fresh herbs for extra flavor. And don’t forget a savory sprinkle of cheese when needed.
From roasted acorn squash stuffed with wild rice and pecans to a savory sweet potato casserole, you can make the most of seasonal produce by tucking it into every corner of your vegetarian Thanksgiving menu. Try folding a flaky galette pastry dough around sauteed mushrooms spiked with fresh thyme, or make a butternut squash souffle to serve as the centerpiece of your feast. Rely on good-quality ingredients and go homemade when you can (make an easy loaf of crusty, no-knead bread to serve with salted butter and your guests will sing your praises).
Let your favorite vegetables shine, and don’t be afraid to include your favorite preparations even if they seem too ordinary for a holiday. You can dress up a head of roasted cauliflower by cutting it into steaks. After they’ve gotten nice and caramelized in the oven, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar, a little flaky salt, and a handful of pomegranate seeds. A dish like this is elegant, satisfying, and totally vegetarian.
How Do You Host a Vegetarian Thanksgiving?
Oh, this one’s easy! Just don’t make a turkey! Just kidding (although isn’t that basically the gist of it?). The main idea behind vegetarian Thanksgiving is: Enjoy your vegetables. Play up the fresh flavors of your ingredients. And, never apologize for not having a turkey.
Also remember: there are no rules. If you feel like making a big vegetable lasagna for your main vegetarian dish, go for it. If you want to cook a completely vegan feast, go right ahead. Or, if you want to make all of the traditional sides like green beans, sweet potatoes, mashies, or whatever else you like and skip a “main” altogether, you can absolutely do this. This is a meal to celebrate fall’s bounty and the start of the holiday season. Do what feels right.
My approach has always been to focus on simple, seasonal, flavor-forward vegetable dishes. I’ve found that the most successful and enjoyable holiday meals result from not overthinking it — if you have a good variety of vegetable dishes, anchored by a nice vegetarian main your table will not so much groan as exhale in pleasure. Then, invite your friends and family over to dig in.
Tips for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving
I’ve included a list of some of my helpful Thanksgiving links below. You can click the links below to read my previously published articles, along with recipes, about how to host a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner:
- Plant-based Thanksgiving dishes, the Press Democrat: Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes that will Delight Traditionalists and Vegans, 2018
- My gluten-free Thanksgiving e-book: Gather, Recipes for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving, 2015. These are not specifically vegetarian recipes but … are, except for the gluten-free roast turkey recipe.
- Healthier Thanksgiving, NPR: Thanksgiving with a Lighter Touch, 2010
- Vegetarian Thanksgiving, NPR: A Vegetarian Thanksgiving, 2008
- Pumpkin Main Dishes, NPR: The Many Faces of the Great Pumpkin, 2008
What to Serve for Vegetarian Thanksgiving
I’ve included my favorite recipes below. Many of these posts are “old school’ and need to be re-formatted and updated, but please know I continue to make these recipes often even if they are not prettified to modern blog standards!
Also see the links above which contain recipes I developed specifically for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving. A lovely bonus is that many happen to be gluten-free as well.
Rounded-Up Recipes Posts
- Appetizers: Starting Off – Try phyllo parcels and sweet potato dip along with a cheese board to set out some enticing nibbles pre-feast.
- Vegetable Side Dishes – This post contains a lot of solid, vegetable-heavy vegetarian side dish recipes including a vegan cornbread and various soups.
- Vegetarian Main Dishes / One Whole Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu – You’ll find a stellar recipe for a sweet potato gratin plus a thoughtful, vegetable-focused Thanksgiving menu outlined with recipes in this post.
- Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Desserts – A compilation of my favorite desserts for Thanksgiving, from a maple pumpkin pie to a gluten-free chocolate layer cake.
Individual Helpful Recipe Posts
- Gluten-Free Cornbread – I always make a pan (sometimes I double the recipe) of this simple and always reliable gluten-free cornbread recipe to serve at Thanksgiving dinner.
- Butternut Squash Soup – You can start off Thanksgiving dinner with steaming bowls of velvety butternut squash soup. I could argue that the soup and cornbread alone would make for a perfectly satisfying Thanksgiving meal.
- Vegetarian Gravy – Easy, savory, and totally vegetarian gravy that will please meat and non-meat eaters alike.
- Sweet Potato Biscuits – Serve these biscuits warm with plenty of butter.
- Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese – Go for it and make a cheesy, decadent, and super delicious butternut squash-infused mac and cheese casserole for your vegetarian main.
- Sweet Potato and Chard Lasagna – I used to make this wonderful recipe all year round. It’s the perfect hearty vegetarian Thanksgiving main.
- Coconut Quinoa with Broccoli and Cauliflower – This is a lighter main dish that is pretty and super flavorful. Throw in some dried cranberries for a festive touch.
- Gluten-Free Asparagus Quiche – This would make a lovely centerpiece for your vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner. Make a big salad, green beans, and roasted sweet potatoes to go alongside.
- And for fun, here’s a piece I wrote a million (or almost 20!!!!) years and lifetimes ago for the San Francisco Chronicle for my small-space living column. I forgot all about this one. I hosted quite a few boisterous Thanksgiving dinners in my little DC apartment – A Small Apartment Thanksgiving with All the Fixings.