Planning a Vegan Thanksgiving Menu

Menu for a Vegan ThanksgivingSomehow it’s here again – Thanksgiving! This year we’ll be taking our food on the road to my large family Thanksgiving. My goal for this year is simplicity. I plan on making just three things. That’s enough to fill out a plate on its own, while knowing that at least one or two people at the gathering will have some things that are on-purpose or accidentally vegan. (My sister-in-law usually brings a terrific cranberry sauce, and my mom makes the best mashed potatoes using Earth Balance instead of animal-based butter.)

Even if I’m not able to hit all of my Thanksgiving-favorites, I remind myself that I can make any of the other dishes on another day of the year. There’s no reason that one plate has to fit every Thankgiving favorite ever created.

Whether you’ll be keeping your holiday small or going all out, here are some options for my North American readers celebrating Thanksgiving one week from today!


As people wander in with their dishes or warm something that they made at home, it’s nice to have a few nibblies for sating the appetite until dinner begins.

Some of my favorite appetizers are hot and gooey Spinach & Artichoke Dip with tortilla chips, Olive & Artichoke Pâté with crusty bread and carrot sticks for dipping, Loaded Potato Slices with Cashew Cream and Bacony Bits, and Seitan Bacon Wrapped Dates. They can be prepped ahead of time, just requiring a light frying before serving.

Salads & Sides:

I could happily make a meal of salads & sides at Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving salad options include Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Baked Tofu and Roasted Delicata Squash and Persimmon Salad with Caramelized Onions.

Mashed Potatoes & Seitan GravyFor warm options, there’s mashed potatoes with seitan bacon gravy, Roasted Brussels Sproutssautéed broccolini and kale, crispy cabbage, or garlicky collard greens.

Kristy from Keepin’ It Kind just posted this recipe for green bean casserole with onion rings that’s calling my name. There’s also a recipe for green bean casserole in Vegan Casseroles that looks fabulous. Will I have to make green bean casserole twice this month? Signs point to yes.

My favorite cranberry sauce 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.)


At our family Thanksgiving, we break up the day with a big outdoor flag football game. Since the temperatures are forecasted to be in the thirties that day, something warming afterwards would be welcome. 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, Homestyle Split Pea, and Melted Snowman Soup. This year I’ve also fallen for the Cream of Tomato Soup with roasted Italian chickpea croutons from The Oh She Glows Cookbook.  For something new, Roasted Garlic & Delicata Squash Soup from Bobbie at The Vegan Crew sounds like everything I love but in a bowl.

Main courses:

For the main course, there are a seemingly endless array of options. This will be my tenth meatless Thanksgiving, and over the years I’ve had all kinds of different main courses.

For something sliceable and homey that’s delicious with gravy, I’m partial to the Chicken-style Seitan Roast from Vegan Diner.  The seitan can be made ahead of time, as it freezes beautifully.  Just put it in the refrigerator the day before to thaw.  I dare say that freezing it makes the seitan even more moist and delicious.

In the past I’ve also 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.

Another tasty option is 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.

Other favorites are Baked Lemon Rosemary Tofu and Pumpkin-seed Crusted Tofu with Cranberry Relish from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Frozen Main Courses:

This year I’m thinking about opting for one of the prepared and frozen main courses. They are easy, tasty, and so handy for a traveling Thanksgiving. We can just heat and eat.

I haven’t tried every frozen holiday entrée out there, but my favorite thus far is the Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute from Field Roast.  (After the holidays are over, I try to pick one up when they’re on sale to save for an easy dinner gathering later in the winter.) 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. This roast ranges from $18-26 depending on location.

Another option since there will only be two vegans at our Thanksgiving table is the Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y. It comes with come two roasts and gravy.  It is a toothsome dish filled with stuffing and cranberries; although, the gravy is a bit on the watery side. Gardein also has a larger Holiday Roast, which I’ve never tried, that serves 8.


Cherry PieFor dessert, David is planning on making one of his cherry pies using recipes from Vegan Pie in the Sky. It’s delicious with a generous scoop of homemade Pistachio Ice cream from Sarah at My Darling Vegan.

Chocolate Chip Double DoozieI’m also tempted to make a batch of Double Doozies. Any excuse, right?

What vegan items will be gracing your table this year?

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Boozy Black Bean & Rice Bowls

Boozy Black Bean & Rice BowlWhile I love a fancy, dress-up dinner just as much as the next person, some foods are perfect in their simplicity. They’re not fussy or expensive. They don’t take long to prepare. Yet, they work together in such a way that you feel comforted from the inside out whenever you tuck into a bowl.

Boozy Black Bean & Rice BowlOne example for me is the pairing of black beans and rice. Not only is the combination friendly on the wallet, a big bowl of black beans and rice is nourishing, satisfying, and filling. Put them together with a dollop of guacamole and a side of fried plantains, and it becomes my “happy place” of dinners. (Don’t know how to make plantains? Check out these step by step instructions.)

Boozy Black Bean and Rice BowlFor this kind of dish, I like my beans to be a little on the stew-y side. I don’t want them overly soupy or liquidy, but they should have just enough moisture that they coat the plain rice alongside of them. To add some extra flavor and juiciness to the beans, I cook them in Mexican beer until the beer has reduced.  Then I serve them with a wedge of lime, so that diners can add a little squeeze of fresh lime juice to the rice and beans just before digging in to a bowl.  (It’s amazing how with a pop of flavor from lime juice, one needs significantly less salt in a dish.  Lime enhances and brightens the flavors around it all on its own.)

This dinner is weeknight friendly, hot and ready on the table in the time it takes to cook rice.

Boozy Black Bean & Rice Bowl

Boozy Black Bean & Rice Bowls

Serving Size: 2


    Brown Rice
  • 1 cup long grain Basmati brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Boozy Black Beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 15 ounce can) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup light colored Mexican beer like Corona or Pacifico
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Guacamole
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and removed from peel
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Plantains
  • 1 teaspoon oil (canola, vegetable, or coconut)
  • 1 plantain, cut in 1/2 inch pieces on a diagonal
  • Extras (optional)
  • Jalapeños, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, lime wedges


    For the rice
  1. Add rice and water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and cover.
  2. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, until the water has been fully absorbed. Turn off heat, lightly fluff the rice with a fork, and cover again for five minutes before serving.
  3. For the Boozy Black Beans
  4. In a medium-sized pot, bring oil to a medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté several minutes, until fragrant.
  5. Add black beans to the pan along with beer, cumin, ancho chili powder, and a pinch of salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Once it is simmering, turn the heat to low and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the beans have thickened.
  6. Remove from heat. Taste for salt and add more to taste, if necessary.
  7. For the guacamole
  8. In a glass mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients with a fork until mashed and fully combined.
  9. For the plantains
  10. Add oil to a small to medium-sized non-stick skillet. Bring to a medium-high heat. Add plantains to the skillet and cook on one side until brown. Flip the plantains and brown the other side for a minute or two.
  11. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking for about ten more minutes, flipping when necessary so that the plantains don't burn.
  12. Putting it together
  13. Add dollops of rice, beans, guacamole, and plantains to two serving bowls. Top with any extras you prefer. Add a lime wedge to each bowl and squeeze lime juice onto the beans and rice just before eating.


You may have extra rice left over.