These vegan Thanksgiving recipes will please everyone at the table this holiday season. I've put together a list of everything you'll need for your turkey free Thanksliving dinner this year, including appetizers, salads, main dishes, sides, desserts, and drinks. They're all vegan, of course, and most are gluten free, too. Many of them are super easy to cook, so your holiday is stress-free!
One of the questions I get asked often is “what do vegans eat for Thanksgiving?” I guess it’s a reasonable question, since Thanksgiving typically revolves around eating turkeys, but since the original Thanksgiving was a celebration of the harvest, it makes sense to continue tradition of celebrating with vegetables.
When you think about the bounty of vegetables we have available to us, the question should really be “what don’t vegans eat for Thanksgiving?” There are so many delicious vegan Thanksgiving recipes, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one menu. In fact, thanks to my friends’ love of potlucks, I tend to celebrate Thanksgiving two or three times before November is over.
To help you plan your menu, I'm sharing more than 35 of my favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes.
The History of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving wasn’t always a day of eating one’s self into a food induced coma. It’s believed that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 between the colonists and the Wamponoag Indians. The early settlers were dying of starvation and the Native Americans showed them how to work the land. After the first corn harvest, the settlers had a celebratory feast with the Natives to thank them. It is not believed that turkey was eaten, but we will never know for sure. But what we do know is that the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the harvest a grain. Yes, it was all about vegetables.
Days of thanksgiving became a tradition for the early settlers, and in later years, many states adopted an annual Thanksgiving holiday. In 1827 magazine editor and writer Sarah Josepha Hale launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She wrote many stories romanticizing Thanksgiving. Many Thanksgiving “traditions” such as eating turkey and cranberry sauce actually came from Ms. Hale’s stories, not from history.
What do Vegans Eat For Thanksgiving?
One of the most common questions I get asked when people learn that I'm vegan is "What do you eat for Thanksgiving?" I find a little strange, because there is so much bounty in plant-food, but I guess if you were raised on the traditions that Sarah Josepha Hale created, it might be a little difficult to fathom Thanksgiving without the bird carcass on the table. Fortunately veganism is gaining popularity, and more people are giving thanks without taking the life of an animal.
Here is just a small sampling of some of the vegan Thanksgiving recipes I've enjoyed over the years.
My Favorite Recipes for a Vegan Thanksgiving
Vegan Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes
These stuffed mushrooms have been a mainstay on my Thanksgiving menu for many years, and they always seem to please my dinner guests. They’re so simple that I decided to skip them one year, much to the disappointment of everyone at the table. I haven’t made the same mistake again, though, and I continue to make them every year.
They may look complicated, but these little mini tarts are easy to make, and they're a great appetizer!
Stuffed mini pumpkins are super cute – and super yummy!
These little bites are the perfect appetizer to kick of your meal!
Vegan Thanksgiving Starter Recipes
Avoid filling up on some of those heavy, no-so-healthy foods by starting your meal off with this festive salad.
Drenched in Maple Mustard Dressing, this Brussel sprout salad is full of fall flavors and is the perfect companion for just about any seasonal meal.
This salad will add a splash of color to what is normally a very brown meal.
If you prefer beginning your meal with something warmer than salad, give this spicy squash soup a try.
Vegan Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes
Pour this gravy over your mashed potatoes, holiday roast, stuffing, and just about anything that could use a little use a little extra flavor.
This super easy cranberry sauce recipe comes together in just minutes, so you won’t have to spend too much time in the kitchen this holiday season.
I made this dish at an (omnivore) in-store Thanksgiving cooking demo a few years and people were blown away by it. One women told me that she hated kale but she’d gladly eat this every day, and another told me that she was lactose intolerant and couldn’t believe there was no cream in it. If you're serving this on Thanksgiving, you might want to double the recipe because it will disappear pretty quickly.
I know that a lot of people like to put festive ingredients such as cranberries and chestnuts in their stuffing, but I’m a big fan of the savory spinach and mushroom combo. I almost always “cheat” and use packaged stuffing mix.
If you're celebrating Thanksgiving gluten-free style this year, you can still enjoy stuffing. I've made a gluten-free version of my favorite spinach-mushroom stuffing using polenta instead of bread cubes.
Scrumptious rice from Back to the Cutting Boardby Christina Pirello is the perfect accompaniment to both a Thanksgiving feast and a Christmas dinner. It’s also a terrific side for just about any autumn or winter meal. It’s gluten-free and oil-free.
These sprouts are so easy to make that it's almost silly not to make them!
If there's no room in your oven to roast sprouts, this pan seared version is just as tasty – if not, more so!
These potatoes take very little time to make, and they make a delicious –and good looking! – side dish.
Move over, mashed potatoes, Vegan Scalloped Potatoes are a perfect side dish for holiday feasts!
Thinly sliced potatoes, kale, and dairy-free cheese sauce come together deliciously in this ultimate side dish.
Smashed potatoes are cooked twice, giving them an extra crunch. They're a terrific side for just about any meal!
If you prefer your potatoes mashed, you can't go wrong with this dish, which has lots of greens mixed in.
Green Bean Casserole is a Thanksgiving favorite, and it's a dish that doesn't take very long to prepare. Rather than use canned and frozen foods in this recipe, which is how it was originally created, I used fresh green beans, onions, and mushrooms along with cashew cream cashew cream and panko breadcrumbs.
This easy-to-make side dish will add a splash of color to the holiday table!
Because of this dish’s fall flavors, it’s a welcome addition to the holiday dinner table, but it’s perfect for weeknight meals as well.
Vegan Thanksgiving Main Dish Recipes
Baked Butternut Squash Steaks are a deliciously hearty main dish for your fall dinner plate.
If you prefer larger, heartier mushrooms to small ones, give these stuffed portobellos a go. They’re a great main dish option.
This recipe won best main dish in the Virtual Vegan Potluck a few years ago, and it is quite a tasty dish, if I do say so myself. Thanksgiving guests will be impressed with stuffed squash as the centerpiece on their plates.
I created a gluten-free version of my original stuffed squash recipe since I have so many friends who can't tolerate gluten. The beauty of stuffed squash is that you can use pretty much anything as the stuffing.
Stuffed with squash, mushrooms, kale, and garlic, this Vegetable Crescent Roll Ring will have everyone coming back for seconds!
If you feel like taking a non-traditional route and serving pasta for Thanksgiving this year, give this festive dish a try.
Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes
This very easy no-bake recipe can be made days or even weeks in advance and stored in the freezer until you're ready to serve it. Unless you tell them, your dinner guests will never guess that this sweet treat is made with cashews!
This is a very simple dessert that comes together quickly. Since it's light in nature, it can offset your heavy Thanksgiving meal.
Apples are in season this time of year, so it only makes sense to have them for Thanksgiving dessert. A crisp is easier to make than a pie, and I have to admit that I prefer it over pie too.
Harvest Pie from Sweet Vegan Treats by Hannah Kaminsky is a perfect treat for fall get togethers. Made with apple, sweet potato, cranberries, and walnuts, it’s the ultimate dessert for Thanksgiving dinner.
Vegan Thanksgiving Drink Recipes
Raise a glass and toast the holidays with Autumn Apple Cider Sangria!
If you'd prefer a non-alcoholic drink, this hot Mulled Apple Cider is for you!
So what do vegans eat for Thanksgiving? A lot! My vegan friends and I have an annual feast, where we usually have so much food that it doesn’t all fit on one plate.
Whatever it is you’re eating for Thanksgiving this year, don’t forget the original meaning of the holiday. Remember to take a few moments to be thankful.
Originally posted November 18, 2015. Updated November 17, 2021.