Menu for a Vegan Thanksgiving

Vegan Thanksgiving MenuAfter writing last week’s Friday Mail Day post on how to transition to a meatless Thanksgiving, the time was right to post some vegan menu options for your Thanksgiving spread.  (The comments on that post have been so interesting.  I hope that you’ll head over there and chime in if you haven’t already!)  This is an updated version of my post from last year, and it includes dishes that I’ve made over the years on that fourth Thursday of November.  Some of the recipes are my own and others come from some of my favorite cookbooks.


Bacon wrapped cashew cheese stuffed dates

When guests arrive and you’re completing the finishing touches, setting the table, and filling water glasses, sate their appetites with a few appetizers.  Some of my favorites are Olive & Artichoke Pâté with crusty bread and carrot sticks for dipping, Loaded Potato Slices with Cashew Cream and Bacony Bits for a warm and indulgent alternative to the standard mashed potatoes, and Seitan Bacon Wrapped Dates.  They can be prepped ahead of time, just requiring a light frying before serving.

Salads & Sides:

Southwestern Corn & Black Bean SaladWhile Thanksgiving is known for being a meal of excess, some vegetable-rich sides and salads balance everything out.  Options include two different kinds of kale salad and Roasted Delicata Squash and Persimmon Salad with Caramelized Onions.  If you’re traveling for the holidays, this Corn & Black Bean Salad does well in a Pyrex container on the road, and in fact, the flavors only develop and improve as it marinates.

For warm options, crispy cabbage or sautéed collard greens add some green to an otherwise beige meal.

Looking for cranberry sauce? My favorite is the Traditional Cranberry Sauce from Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.  (She offers the option of adding balsamic vinegar, which I definitely recommend.  It gives balance and makes a wonderful combination of tangy, sweet, and sour.)

Mashed potatoes come together easily by boiling medium-sized chunks of russet potatoes in boiling water for 15-20 minutes until easily pierced with a fork.  Mash with an immersion blender until smooth.  Add non-dairy milk as necessary, and finish with a spoonful of non-dairy butter and/or salt and pepper.  For extra oomph, stir in caramelized onions or freshly chopped chives.


Homestyle split pea soup 2At our large family Thanksgiving, people are there all day – first for the main meal, then for a big flag football match, and finally for another meal of leftovers before sitting down to a game of Celebrity or Apples to Apples.  If your guests will be lingering, having a pot of soup on the ready is a convenient way to keep everyone well fed and happy.

I am partial to Double Lentil Mushroom Barley, Hickory Cheddar Cauliflower, Homestyle Split Pea, and Melted Snowman Soup for the kid in all of us! 

Main courses:

polenta stacksFor the main course, there are a ridiculous amount of options!  Impress your guests with Popcorn-Crusted Polenta with Cashew Cream and Barbecue-glazed Butternut Squash.  It’s an eye-catching entrée that feels like fall.  To cut down a step, use jarred barbecue sauce instead of homemade and/or leave out encrusting the polenta in popcorn.  Just cut the hardened polenta into the shape of circles and head directly to an oiled skillet to fry on each side for 3-5 minutes.  Stack with cashew cream and roasted butternut squash in a barbecue sauce glaze, and you’re good to go.

If the kitchen is packed with people vying for the oven, you can take the cooking outside to the grill with Thanksgiving Kebabs in a lemony marinade.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for big extended family gatherings (where tofu-phobes may be likely), if your gathering includes other vegan-minded folks, baked tofu can make a tasty centerpiece.  My favorites are Baked Lemon Rosemary Tofu and Pumpkin-seed Crusted Tofu with Cranberry Relish from Vegan with a Vengeance.

If seitan is calling your name, I’m partial to the Chicken-style Seitan Roast from Vegan Diner paired with the Creamy Sage & Pepper Gravy also from the book.  As a bonus, the seitan freezes beautifully.  You can make it far in advance and just put it in the refrigerator the day before to thaw.  I dare say that it makes the seitan even more moist and delicious. The gravy is creamy, flavorful, and my absolute favorite when gravy is essential.

In past years, for the main course I’ve made Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon.  They have a wonderful chewiness and the flavors of lemon & thyme.  They aren’t too heavy, and they fit along nicely with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Not just for Thanksgiving, I enjoy chickpea cutlets all year around.  I’ve served them many times to non-vegans, and they’re always a hit.

There’s a link to the recipe here, but the baking directions aren’t included.  I always bake them, and I use half the amount of oil listed with no adverse effects.  To bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly oil each side of the cutlets, and bake at 375 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes, flip the cutlets, and then bake for 8-10 more until golden brown.

Last year I made the Festive Chickpea Tart from Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan.  As a big plus, you can make two tarts and freeze one for the Christmas holidays.  The tarts freeze and thaw beautifully.

Frozen Main Courses:

Gardein Savory Stuffed TurkyLooking for something convenient for the main course?  There are a plethora of options! My favorite is the Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute from Field Roast.  (After the holidays are over, I always try to pick one up when they’re on sale, because they are so delicious.) The roast is made with their flavorful grain meat and stuffed with Field Roast sausages, cranberries, and apples.  It’s then wrapped in a puff pastry.  Anything wrapped in puff pastry is a winner in my book.  This roast ranges from $18-26 depending on location.

For an intimate dinner for two or if you’ll be taking your vegan entree to a non-vegan Thanksgiving, the Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y (shown above) comes two to a pack along with two packets of gravy.  It is a toothsome dish filled with stuffing and cranberries; although, the gravy is a bit on the watery side.  I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite option of the bunch, but it’s still pretty good and the least expensive.  Gardein also has a larger Holiday Roast that serves 8.

Other options: The quintessential Tofurky roast and the Turkey-less Stuffed Roast from Trader Joe’s, which is only about ten bucks.

What vegan items will be gracing your table this year?


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  1. says

    Oh man all that Thanksgiving food looks so good! At my Gram’s after our early dinner we would take a hike to the “time tunnel” with all the younger kids then back for leftovers and a couple games of Scat (aka 31) or dictionary! I have always wanted to try the Gardein Stuffed Turky’ and just did a quick search and theycarry them at a local target- super excited.

    Thanks for the great round up Cadry!

    • says

      Your holiday at your Gram’s sounds like so much fun! Dare I ask, what is the “time tunnel”?

      They sell Gardein Stuffed Turk’y and several other items from Gardein at our local Target too. It’s also the cheapest place in the area to buy Gardein by a couple of dollars, and they regularly put it on sale. I think it’s very cool that vegan specialty items are becoming more commonplace, even in large chains. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it!

  2. says

    My family dinners seem more complicated these days because of picky children who require plain food, and adults who like exotic spicy food. I was thinking of trying Dreena’s chickpea tart this year with a quinoa crust from Dynise Balcavag’s pie book. The picky one likes chickpeas. Plus ten thousand sides, of course.

    BTW, we’ve started watching Dr. Who — we’re up to episode 4.

    • says

      I can see how those two requirements would be hard to maneuver – both spicy and also bland! :)

      I highly recommend Dreena’s chickpea tart. Her recipes are regularly featured at my Thanksgiving, and the tart is definitely something I’ll be making again. I like it that it can be made way ahead of time and frozen, so that you’re free on the holiday to work on the sides that wouldn’t fair as well being made in advance.

      Truth be told, I used a pre-made crust from the frozen section of the grocery store for the tart. I’ve purchased gluten-free pie crusts in the past as well, and I thought they were just fine. That’s probably what I would do if I had any gluten-free guests.

      I’m excited you’ve started watching Dr. Who! (I love it that people always share with me when they start watching it.) Are you enjoying it?

      • says

        Dr. Who is the funniest combination of creepy and funny. You just never know when something hilarious will happen. I loved when Rose went back home after her first trip with the Dr. He told her they’d been gone 12 hours when it was actually 12 months.

    • says

      I’m sorry, but I had to chime in because I saw you mention Dr. Who! Are you watching the reboot? Welcome to the world of the TARDIS, friend! 😀 You are on my favorite Doctor. David Tenant is so dreamy!

  3. Shell says

    Hi Cad. I never know what to take to my in-laws for Thanksgiving…and it is complicated by the fact that we have to fly that morning to get there. This post helped me start my planning process a little earier this year. Great suggestions!

    • says

      Thanks, Shell! That must be really tough to fly on Thanksgiving and also to bring a dish. Do you cook at your in-laws’ house or try to fly with a dish that’s already made? If it’s the latter, I imagine flying with a Thanksgiving-worthy meal can’t be easy with the current TSA restrictions. If it’s the former, do they pick up ingredients for you, or do you go to the grocery store once you get there?

  4. says

    Great round-up Cadry, I forget how many great recipes you have. Our thanksgiving is over for this year but I’ll have to bookmark this page for next year. My only question is, what are you serving for dessert?

    • says

      Thanks, Megan! Somehow I’ve been blogging for 4 1/2 years, and I only have five dessert recipes on my blog! One for each year, I guess. Clearly, I’m not much of a dessert person. I like sweet things on occasion, but I’m much more drawn to salty, savory stuff. So David is the dessert-maker in our family. Lately he’s been making pies from Vegan Pie in the Sky. The olive oil crust in that book is especially good.

  5. says

    Dave’s family likes to eat out for Thanksgiving, so no cooking here. Some years I cook up a vegan feast for myself during the week-of, but I’m not sure there will be time this year. I like your idea about looking for that Field Roast frozen entree on special after the day! Maybe that’s where I’ll go on Black Friday, if I manage to leave the house. haha.

    • says

      That’s nice that you won’t have to do any cooking for Thanksgiving. Are there plenty of vegan options for you at the restaurant where you go with Dave’s family? I’m so excited this year to just show up at an all vegan restaurant and have a full Thanksgiving meal made for me!

      My grocery store didn’t start deeply discounting the Field Roast entree until after Christmas last year, but then I picked one up for about six bucks!! They last in the freezer for 12 months. Good luck!

  6. Mae says

    I wish I had a million dollars, and a bottomless pit for a stomach so I could just keep buying ingredients and trying recipes all day! All of your ideas sound amazing! As I said in a previous comment, I’ll be making mashed potato and stuffing raviolis with mushroom gravy as the main course, my french dressing green bean casserole, garlic parmesan rolls, and we still need to decide on a salad and desert. I don’t think I’ve ever been served a salad on Thanksgiving, but it seemed like the only thing missing from the meal. Shane and I also bought a Field Roast product (though I can’t remember which one it was!) and the smaller stuffed Tofurky, mainly for Shane…here I am making all of this food from scratch, and he wants something processed and frozen! Though, I am just grateful he’s not asking me to cook a turkey!

    • says

      That sounds like a wonderful spread, Mae! I know what you mean about wishing you had a bottomless pit for a stomach. Sometimes I go out for a meal so delicious that I wish I could just eat as much as I want that day and store it up for another day when I don’t feel like cooking or my cupboards are bare! If only! :)

      I hope that you and Shane have a terrific Thanksgiving!

  7. says

    Thank you for posting this…I need a little inspiration! T-day for me is always about the lentil and the chickpea…lentil soup and lentil loaf, chickpea cutlets and baked pasta dishes all have been much loved in the past. This year I need to bring an appetizer so your Olive & Artichoke Pâté with a big loaf of homemade bread sounds so superyumful…cheers!

    • says

      I approve! Lentils and chickpeas are always welcome on my dinner table too. Let me know if you try the olive and artichoke pate. It’s one of my favorites!

  8. flickingthevs says

    What a fabulous spread – I love Thanksgiving food posts even though I’ve never had a proper Thanksgiving! Is there anything you eat Thanksgiving that you couldn’t have for Christmas?

    • says

      Thanksgiving and Christmas foods are generally pretty similar. Anything a person serves at Thanksgiving could easily be served at Christmas as well.


  1. […] I know I’m bringing the sweet potato dish this year, but I also need to bring a vegan main course and probably some vegan gravy. And probably one more side dish. I’m lucky because Chris’s sister is also vegan and there are a few vegetarians on his side of the family so I know there might be a few other things we can eat. Some of you might not be so lucky and planning out your vegan meal this Thanksgiving might be a little stressful (trust me- I’ve been there!). My advice to you is to just hang in there and be strong- when it’s all over and you see how awesome it is to eat an entire vegan Thanksgiving meal, you’re going to be so glad you did all that work. You should definitely check out Cadry’s Kitchen’s  12 Tips For Surviving Your First Vegan Thanksgiving as well as some great vegan Thanksgiving menu ideas of her own! […]

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