What could be better than your nearest and dearest friends, festive cocktails, and good food for an easy holiday with no obligations? Here are some ideas for Friendsgiving with appetizers, soups, and main courses with side dish recommendations.
Over the years Friendsgiving has really exploded. The chance to come together with pals in a way that is casual, unique, and fun really appeals.
While routine is hard-wired into Thanksgiving, with friends it’s less rigid. Just sit back and enjoy the best of the season.
After you’ve set the date, decide in a group text what everyone will bring, so that you don’t double up on items. With a little pre-planning you’ll get the most variety of dishes with the least amount of overlap.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas for Friendsgiving that will take you from cocktails to entrées!
Make a signature cocktail
Before guests arrive, prepare beer, wine, and cocktail ingredients. While it isn’t essential, a signature cocktail sets the tone of a gathering.
Cranberry mimosas are my go-to option. They’re easy to make with cranberry juice, sparkling wine, and a few fresh cranberries at the bottom of the glass.
Nothing says holidays like vegan eggnog. This luxuriously rich drink is made extra velvety by way of raw cashews.
Drink it on its own or add a splash of hard liquor. (Although it isn’t standard, vodka is my preferred option here!)
More cocktail ideas:
Vegan cheeseboard & appetizers
An appetizer that’s easy to prep ahead of time is a vegan cheeseboard or charcuterie. Have it waiting and ready for noshing when guests arrive.
Highlight colorful vegetables with a rainbow fruit and veggie platter.
Or make it a fall-themed cheeseboard with seasonal items like:
- Roasted delicata squash
- Candied pecans
- Cranberry salsa with cream cheese, apple chutney
- Roasted chestnuts
- Non-dairy cheeses
- Vegan deli meats or pepperoni
- Olive tapenade
- Quick pickled jalapeños
- Pickled red onions
Or start with a warm appetizer!
Here are a few of my favorites for autumnal gatherings:
- Vegan poutine (above)
- Fried vegan shrimp
- Warmed olives
- Fried artichoke hearts
- Fried almond cheese balls
- Fried olives stuffed with vegan feta cheese
Warm up with a filling soup
With appetites whetted, a warm soup keeps well on the stove and makes a delicious placeholder between starters and mains.
Some hearty soups that work well for the season include:
Eye-catching main course options
While a full holiday roast is often the standard choice for Thanksgiving, when it comes to Friendsgiving why not branch out? Anything that feels dinner party-worthy will do the trick.
Consider these entrée ideas for Friendsgiving:
Seitan piccata takes only 25 minutes to make. However, that lemon caper sauce screams fancy.
Fried vegan chicken drumsticks
If you were the person who always chose the drumstick in your non-vegan life, re-live it in a compassionate version with a vegan fried chicken drumstick.
Thanks to rice paper, it even has “skin” underneath that crispy, fried exterior.
Pot pie feels endlessly cozy & just right for chilly weather. It includes carrots, onions, celery, and peas in a creamy cashew sauce.
If it’s warm where you live, why not grill out?
Enjoy all of the flavors of your holiday favorites in Thanksgiving skewers. There’s chicken seitan, stuffing, and even sweet potatoes with marshmallows – all in deconstructed form.
Air fryer stuffed peppers
Air fryer stuffed peppers skew away from the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving with oregano and basil. However, they still check the box on being star of the show on a dinner plate.
They’re filled with sausage, rice, onions, and garlic in a tomato sauce.
Vegan risotto takes a little bit of babying, but the results are totally worth it.
Arborio rice absorbs the flavors of broth, rosemary, and thyme. It’s dotted with mushrooms & seitan sausage. Then it’s finished with a velvety & full-bodied cashew cream.
For a gluten-free option, simply leave out the seitan. Or replace it with Beyond Meat sausage or white beans.
Vegan arancini never fails to impress! It may be the most ingenious use of leftovers ever.
Cold risotto is formed into a ball and covered with bread crumbs. Then the balls are baked or air fried until crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
A delicious variation is to leave the seitan out of the risotto. Then put a vegan meatball in the center of the arancini.
(Break a thawed Gardein meatball in half. It’s just the right size, and stretches the bag that much further.)
For a gluten-free option, leave out the seitan and use gluten free bread crumbs.
Vegan crab cakes
Although they aren’t tricky to make, vegan crab cakes just feel fancy.
The artichoke heart and chickpea cakes are seasoned with Old Bay and finished in a breadcrumb coating. Serve with lemon dill aioli.
I recommend frying vegan crab cakes for optimum results. However, they can also be baked or air fried.
Plus, they freeze well, if you’d like to make them well ahead of your get-together!
Don’t forget the leftovers
Put aside some reusable containers (or ask your guests to bring some along). That way everyone can take home a taste of each thing. And no one is left trying to eat their way through half a casserole.
Plus, it extends the deliciousness of the day!
Content and photos updated November 16, 2021. Originally published November 20, 2017.