The holidays are always a tricky time when you’re following a specific diet. No matter if it’s because of a food allergy, current health issues or because you follow a vegan lifestyle, dinner parties suddenly feel like walking on eggshells. To help all the plant-based munchers and health-conscious folks out, we created this guide to the best healthy and vegan Thanksgiving recipes.
Not only did we set a couple of days aside to go on the hunt for the most delicious vegan side dishes, mains and desserts that you can serve on Thanksgiving — we also made sure to choose something for everyone! You have your easy one bowl dishes, gluten-free sides, semi-fancy pies for dessert – and, of course, pumpkin-everything.
In general, we like recipes that are on the low fat side, and we personally cook oil-free at home. But such festivities are the time to treat yourself! Most of the following suggestions are still healthy-ish, often easy to make and bring out all of the holiday vibes.
Thanksgiving is usually an occasion to get together and celebrate everything you’re thankful for over a nice meal… but things are often not that easy.
We understand that this can be a stressful time – there are people to be impressed, food to be prepared and minds to be challenged on plant-based eating. This year, you might have a roadmap for that.
Let’s give an insight on surviving the holidays as a vegan!
How To Have Vegan Thanksgiving
If you’re a new vegan and are unsure how to handle this time of year, we have a few tips for you. Similarly, if you’re the dinner host and have a vegan over for Thanksgiving, fear not – there are many delicious options you can prepare and make everyone happy.
First of all, talk with your guests or host about dietary preferences. Almost everyone has them these days, so it’s not a very unusual thing to do.
As a vegan, you can suggest bringing some delicious food to share with everyone so the party host doesn’t have to deal with the pressure of being able to whip up a great vegan dinner for you. That way, you can let others experience first hand how tasty “that vegan stuff” can be!
Another idea is to share easy and delicious vegan recipe ideas with whoever is hosting the party if they want to put some plant-based food on the table.
When navigating typical food that’s being served on Thanksgiving, there are certain foods to look out for when following a vegan diet.
That’s quite a handful in the beginning, right? Luckily, you still got many staples like vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits.
Many classic side dishes that are served on Thanksgiving are either already vegan or can easily be made vegan to be more inclusive. Swap the butter for margarine or oil, use plant-based milk instead of dairy milk and make sure to cook with vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
You will find some of these classic Thanksgiving dishes as a tasty plant-based version in our list below.
Instead of serving a beautiful bird for dinner, you can make it a “Thanksliving” and provide a hearty lentil loaf, butternut roast, veggie pies or a mushroom wellington as a stunning main meal.
And after trying our vegan dessert options, nobody will miss animal products anymore!
Now, we’re happy to share with you our lovingly hand-selected list of the best vegan Thanksgiving recipes from our favorite plant-based bloggers around the web. Enjoy!
Healthy Thanksgiving Appetizer
Delicious ways to start off the feast from traditional appetizers like cheese (but made from nuts) to eggplant rolls and a nice variety of sweet and savory plant-based dips. Some can also double up as side dishes later in the game.
Cozy Spiced Pumpkin Hummus
Getting all things pumpkin on the table is a must on Thanksgiving, right? This flavorful and protein-packed pumpkin hummus with a hint of fennel and coriander is the perfect appetizer and a delight for more than just health-conscious folks. Very creamy and easy to make oil-free!
Colorful Vegan Dip Trio
Step up your dipping game! These colorful vegan dips make every holiday meal a real stunner. Here, you’ve got the choice between a purple sweet potato white bean dip, a simple herbed yogurt and a raspberry cheesy cheesecake dip – covering all flavors from tangy to sweet and herby.
Easy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip
Creamy, rich and cheesy goodness that will win everyone’s hearts! This dip shows that you don’t need any dairy for a classic artichoke dip, featuring cashews, vegan parmesan cheese and a good amount of vegetables. Very flavorful and irresistible!
Gingered Cranberry Chutney
If you’re looking for a more fruity dip, this fresh and easy chutney will be perfect! It combines the sweetness of raisins with the slight tartness of cranberries and is infused with warming Indian spices. This chutney works great with veggies, grains and especially cornbread (see below). Not only is it incredibly delicious, but it’s also healthy and low in fat!
Oil-Free Olive Crackers
Now, you probably need something for these delicious vegan dips. If you don’t want to buy plant-based crackers at the store, here’s a way to make them at home and even skip the added oil! They call for just a bit of garlic, thyme, salt and pepper along with the chickpea and spelt flour so as to not overpower the flavors of the dips you want to serve them with.
Cranberry Rosemary Nut Cheese
Oh yes, we’re going there. Nutty plant-based cheese that is insanely delicious and actually very healthy, made with really basic ingredients! This cranberry and rosemary-covered roll of goodness looks absolutely fantastic on any platter and will definitely surprise a few of your guests.
Eggplant Rolls with Walnuts
Three ingredients, some artfully chosen spices and less than an hour of time is all it takes for these walnut-stuffed eggplant rolls. This healthy vegan appetizer is completely oil-free and sugar-free and can be served with some colorful and festive pomegranate seeds.
Tasty Spiced Snacking Nuts
Completing our list of vegan Thanksgiving appetizers, we chose to include something basic yet underestimated: spiced snacking nuts! This plant-based staple isn’t just useful to have on hand during the stressful holiday season, it’s also a lovely addition to plant-based cheeses, crackers and dips you might serve.
Vegan Side Dishes for Thanksgiving
These vegan Thanksgiving side dishes cover everything from roasted veggies to soups, salads and pies. We’d understand if it’s too difficult to choose from these options – you can just prepare a couple of them instead of one large main meal so everyone can try all the different flavors. Plus, they are great to bring to someone else’s house, too!
Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Raising Glaze
This classic and almost always “accidentally vegan” Thanksgiving side should definitely not be skipped this year! Seared and roasted Brussels sprouts that are drizzled with an irresistible yet simple balsamic-raisin glaze will probably win over even the more picky eaters.
Festive Kale Salad with Roasted Squash
This salad means business: maple glazed pecans, roasted delicate squash and seasoned croutons. Every bite is packed with flavor! You’ve got candied pecans, homemade spicy croutons and a lemony vinaigrette on top of the roasted squash and cranberries. This must be one of the most epic vegan Thanksgiving sides!
Festive Falafel with Cranberry Pear Dip
Let’s spice things up a little bit and get some falafel on the table! Granted, this might be a rather unusual choice but it’s pretty much always a hit. Combined with a festive cranberry-pear dip, this plant protein-rich side dish can totally rock the holiday theme.
Maple Roasted Carrots & Cranberries
In case you weren’t planning on some roasted veggies as a vegan side dish for Thanksgiving, we hope this easy and vibrant recipe will make you reconsider. A touch of sweetness from the maple syrup along with some orange zest, harissa spice and garlic makes this a fantastic combination everyone at the table will appreciate.
Fluffy Gluten-Free Vegan Cornbread
Something that cannot be missed at Thanksgiving is cornbread! Our simple and gluten-free vegan cornbread recipe can be enjoyed sweet or savory and should definitely be served almost straight out of the oven – the moist inside and crunchy top make for a comforting holiday meal addition that you can use to dip, spread or snack. Completely oil-free and sugar-free but definitely not taste-free!
Garlic Chickpea Soup
Cozy, creamy, flavorful – soups are always a hit during cold days. Serve this roasted garlic and chickpea soup with greens of your choice as an easy vegan side where nobody will be missing any animal products. It’s hearty and flavorful, great with some sourdough bread or roasted veggies. Make it ahead of time as a large batch and freeze for an upcoming quick dinner!
Chopped Winter Salad with Pumpkin Seed Dressing
Colorful winter salads round out every menu and can be customized to your personal liking! This one comes with roasted sweet potato, red cabbage, kale, carrots, raisins and a creamy oil-free pumpkin seed garlic dressing. Crunchy goodness that can be served with soups, bread or stuffed squash! You can add any root vegetables and toppings you like to it, too.
Festive Lentil Hand Pies
Filled with a savory mix of lentils, mushrooms, walnuts and red wine, these vegan hand pies are perfect for serving at festive occasions. The flaky layers of puff pastry make them so scrumptious and without much effort, they are a pretty fancy addition to your roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts and pumpkin dishes.
Easy Vegan Stovetop Stuffing
Just because it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean you can’t go for easy 30-minute recipes! This oil-free stovetop stuffing is made from simple pantry staples and works great with some mashed potatoes and roasted veg. It’s also totally customizable, so you can add cubed butternut squash, chopped apples or Brussels sprouts into the pot as well!
Roasted Carrot and Lentil Soup
Two ingredients that instantly make a fall recipe so hearty and warming are turmeric and red lentils. This cozy soup combines both of them with roasted carrots, warming spices and creamy coconut milk! The hint of balsamic vinegar is fantastic, too. A great gluten-free and oil-free side everyone will devour.
Tempeh Sausage Stuffing Balls
Get creative with your side dishes this year! These tempeh stuffing balls are very easy to make and offer authentic holiday flavors using fresh sage and chestnuts. You can even add some cranberries! Just mix all ingredients in a processor, roll into balls and bake for half an hour before serving with your other sides.
Mashed Mushroom and Kale Cauliflower
Not to talk down on regular mashed potatoes (which we totally love), but have you ever tried mashed cauliflower? A simple and delicious way to offer more vegetables in the form of a comforting side dish, these flavorful mashed cauliflower crowns offer pretty much the same texture as potatoes would. You can add in some sautéed kale, garlic, mushroom and onion mixture as suggested in this recipe or omit if you’re dealing with picky eaters.
Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner
These main dishes cover classics such as Shepherd’s pie or veggie pot pies while adding a vegan twist on the traditional meatloaf (which we make with lentils instead) or a whole butternut squash roast! You’ll also find some more unusual fall recipes like a pumpkin mac and cheese bake or winter chili here. And if you just plan on having a humble dinner by yourself or with your partner, we added some festive and easy Thanksgiving bowl options.
Tempeh Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner
If this year’s holidays call for more convenience in the kitchen, look no further! This roasted veggie and tempeh dish requires minimal prep, one mixing bowl and a single sheet pan. You’ve got roasted carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and leeks together with savory crumbled tempeh! All the goodness you could want during fall, marinated in a maple-soy glaze.
Sweet Potato Chickpea Bowl
Bowls are always a win in our books – easily customizable, bursting with nutrients and flavor and they always looks so pretty. This healthy Thanksgiving dinner idea features roasted sweet potato and chickpeas on a bed of fresh greens and comes with a dollop of homemade sun-dried tomatoe hummus. Perfect meal for two and many of the components can even be prepped ahead of time!
Healthy Lentil Shepherd’s Pies
This classic fall dish needs a place on your Thanksgiving table! A savory and flavorful lentil shepherd’s pie loaded with legumes and veggies cooked in red wine, topped with creamy mashed potatoes and baked to perfection in just 15 minutes. This satisfying and low-fat option (the oil in the recipe can be omitted if wished) can be made ahead of time and stores well in the fridge.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Garlicy Beans
We had such a hard time choosing the best stuffed squash recipe for this Thanksgiving dinner recommendation – this one made the cut because of its minimal prep time, simplicity and room for customization. Choose your preferred legumes and leafy greens, sauté them while the squash is roasting in the oven (try sautéing with some vegetable broth or even wine for more flavor and to make the dish oil-free), then put everything together in just 5 minutes.
Hearty Vegan Lentil Loaf
We’re excited to present the perfect centerpiece for your “Thanksliving” table! Staying true to the compassionate message around this holiday, why not swap the beautiful animals for a much healthier, easier and cheaper version of a meatloaf? Each serving of this lentil loaf offers 19 grams of plant-strong protein, 10 grams of fiber, double the omega-3 that you need for the whole day – and a whole lot of savory, chewy, flavorful goodness.
Spicy Roasted Carrot Salad
This beauty doubles as an easy weeknight dinner and a stunning festive meal addition! Put together in 30 minutes total, it features a good amount of lentils, leafy greens of choice, roasted carrots and a creamy tahini-balsamic vinaigrette. Sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, it’s a healthy and satisfying dinner option during fall and winter.
Festive Butternut Roast
This beautiful main dish is a perfect example of a meatless roast and centerpiece of the table. No worries, you can prepare it 1-2 days ahead of time, store in the fridge and simply heat it up for 15 minutes before serving the roast! Still simple enough in our books. The lentil-cranberry-spinach filling is incredibly satisfying and offers the right balance between sweet and savory.
Vegan Thanksgiving Power Bowl
Are you looking for a versatile and healthy vegan Thanksgiving meal in just one bowl? This recipe has got you covered. It’s the perfect mix of all the things that are so good about fall and winter – lentils, rice, carrots, sweet potatoes and some cranberry sauce. Humble last-minute dinner that’s still festive!
Winter Vegetable Pasta with Pumpkin Pesto
Who says pasta isn’t a holiday dish? This creamy goodness can make any cold day a bit brighter and it’s a delicious addition to any Thanksgiving menu. All the best fall components, from pumpkin to mushrooms, kale, turmeric and ginger have a place in this winter vegetable pasta. Topped with an oil-free homemade pumpkin seed pesto, it’s really something different!
Veggie Pot Pies with Crispy Potatoes
A delicious twist on traditional pot pies, this recipe calls for crispy potatoes as a topping – combining the delicious savory filling of veggie pot pies with the crispiness of scalloped potatoes. This outrageously delicious composition is a wholesome and satisfying Thanksgiving dinner option featuring lots of nutrient-dense components like vegetables or legumes.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Salad
Looking to add some more fresh food to your festive menu? This filling winter salad can be put together in 30 minutes, offers lots of texture and comes with a sweet orange vinaigrette. The delicious and colorful components include shaved Brussels sprouts, cooked quinoa, dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.
Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Bake
Offering a healthy and festive twist on traditional baked Mac and Cheese dishes, this vegan pumpkin version is so rich and satisfying you won’t believe there’s not a single animal product in it! Perfect for kids in particular, the familiar creamy base mainly consists of butternut squash, cashews and nutritional yeast – disguised veggies and whole foods even during the holidays. Oh, and you really don’t want to skip the crumble topping!
Winter Bean and Pumpkin Chili
Another easy one pot meal, this nourishing pumpkin chili isn’t just exploding with color and flavor, it’s also high in beneficial nutrients and so comforting. Easily made oil-free, you can add your favorite legumes alongside the butternut squash, mushrooms and kale. With a hint of both cinnamon and cayenne, it offers a nice mix of warming, hot and spicy flavors!
Sweet Potato Tofu Satay Pizza
This grain-free and colorful winter pizza might be an uncommon choice for a Thanksgiving dinner but perhaps you’re feeling a bit adventurous this year. Naturally gluten-free and oil-free, we love that it’s made with only healthy whole food ingredients! Perfect for all types of dietary preferences and still a very satisfying comfort meal.
Easy Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas
Let’s round this wonderful vegan feast up with some delicious Thanksgiving dessert options. We’re positive that even devout non-vegans will love these! No matter if you’re looking for an impressive and more fancy recipe or just want a quick and healthy option, we’re covering all the different routes here.
Gluten-Free Apple Crumble
This classic fall recipe is a must during the holidays! Made with Granny Smith apples and warming spices, the filling is warm, soft and gooey – and not at all overpowered by the delicious gluten-free crunchy oat topping. Serve it with some coconut ice cream or vegan vanilla ice cream!
Carrot Cake with Cashew Frosting
An easy way to get more whole plant-based foods (even vegetables!) on your plate during festive occasions is by baking irresistible creations with them. This healthy vegan carrot cake is both moist and crumbly, offers essential fats while being oil-free and low in sugar. The creamy wholesome cashew frosting is a must but feel free to freestyle with optional add-ons such as raisins or walnuts.
Pumpkin Pie Parfaits
For a little twist on the standard pumpkin pies, we thought we should share these little parfaits. They are made of only 10 ingredients which include pumpkin butter, coconut whipped cream, and cinnamon-maple granola and pecans! If you’re short on time, just use store-bought granola and get these beautiful treats on the table anyway.
Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Truffles
These little creamy and fluffy balls full of delicious fall flavor only require 6 ingredients and are made in 20 minutes. Naturally gluten-free and sugar-free, they are a healthy yet really satisfying treat after a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. These truffles are even oil-free and best stored in the fridge or freezer before serving them.
Upside-Down Pecan Praline Pumpkin Cake
We’re taking pumpkin cakes to the next level with this rich pecan praline version! It’s an incredibly aromatic Thanksgiving dessert that just oozes with deliciousness. The texture on the bottom of the cake with the pecans peeking through is just too beautiful not to show off – so the cake is flipped upside down! It’s also gluten-free and relatively low in added sugar.
Spiced Apple Pie Waffles
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and drizzled with apple-infused maple syrup. What is not to love? Served with coconut ice cream that melts slowly over the warm spiced waffles, we think this great treat isn’t just suitable for breakfast during winter but can totally be served as a Thanksgiving dessert.
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
Even if this tasty vegan pumpkin cheesecake may look very fancy (which it does), it actually requires no more than 10 minutes of hands-on preparation. It’s very dense and nourishing compared to sugar-filled and refined food-heavy desserts and a perfectly healthy treat during the holidays! Since the recipe is vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free, you’ll probably make every guest happy serving it.
Granola Stuffed Baked Apples
This dessert is just about as autumn-y as it gets! Stuffed with some healthy granola and perhaps even a piece or two of chocolate, these baked apples offer a fruity taste and moist texture along with a nice crunch. Overall, the combination of the fruit and chocolate together with the granola filling makes for a perfectly satisfying Thanksgiving dessert.
Pumpkin Date Caramels
Making fall treats healthier with these pretty and delicious vegan pumpkin caramels is easier than you think! With the creamy caramel-y center and chocolate coating, you wouldn’t think they are actually wholesome and oil-free as well as sugar-free. Sweetened with dates and featuring some pumpkin, these caramels can really up your health game, even during the holidays.
Easy Vegan Pumpkin Muffins
Are you in for a wholesome and no-fuss recipe that can be used not just for a Thanksgiving dessert but also as a snack or even breakfast? Look no further. Served warm and slathered with almond butter, these muffins make for a very enjoyable and secretly healthy treat. No oil, a little sugar and done in under 30 minutes!
Glazed Pecan Sweet Potato Rounds
In the spirit of all the orange foods, we had to feature this genius yet so simple dessert option. You could also serve these glazed pecan sweet potato rounds as a Thanksgiving side dish, but we thought why not skip some of the sugar-rich treats for this wholesome root veggie version? The oil-free roasted sweet potatoes offer a creamy center which goes along perfectly with the crunchy pecan topping.
Spiced & Sugared Cranberries
If you’d like to stay on the fruity side for dessert, you can make these little red candies. Not only are they both sweet and tart, but they are also so easy to make – and add some sparkling fun to the holiday table. The cinnamon and anise-infused syrup definitely adds to the festive experience!
We hope you liked our hand-picked selection of delicious recipes! What are your favorite healthy vegan Thanksgiving dishes? Are you going to try any of the ones we suggested this year? And how are you dealing with family gatherings in general? Let us know in the comments below.