The Best Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes for a Meatless Holiday Meal
How to Make a Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner
About 6 percent of American adults identify as vegan and eschew all meat products—including poultry, eggs, dairy, and honey, according to a 2017 food trends survey. And while many who follow this eating lifestyle don't have huge problems sticking to it during their day-to-day, we have to wonder: What about the holidays? What do vegans eat for Thanksgiving?
Answer: A lot, all of which can be totally delicious. So if you have a vegan visitor this holiday season, don't worry about your meal being boring or bland. Below are the best vegan Thanksgiving recipes, from appetizers and entrées to to-die-for desserts. (BTW, here's what you need to know about vegan eating.)
Harvest Salad with Baby Kale and Pumpkin Bread Croutons
The best vegan Thanksgiving recipes pack in so much fall flavor, you won't even realize they're completely plant-based. Take this colorful kale salad: In addition to the slightly sweet pumpkin bread croutons, the simple starter showcases seasonal staples such as apples, cranberries, and maple syrup.
Caribbean Sweet Potato Soup
Pumpkin soup may get all the attention when drumming up vegan Thanksgiving recipes, but don't forget about sweet potato. A 2016 study linked eating sweet potato to better weight maintenance and a lower risk of gaining belly fat. Give it a swirl at your vegan Thanksgiving dinner with this creamy, comforting version that gets its name from the addition of classic Caribbean flavors, including coconut milk, ginger, jalapeño, and curry.
15-Minute Cranberry Sauce
No Thanksgiving meal feels complete without cranberries. And thankfully, most cranberry sauce recipes are naturally free of meat products. That said, a few could contain thickeners like gelatin (typically derived from ligaments, collagen, and tendons of animals), so be sure to read the label carefully or go the DIY route with this recipe. To keep the calories in check, balance out the tart berries with monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar—the former is significantly sweeter, so you won't have to use nearly as much. (More: I Followed a Vegan Diet for a Week and Discovered a New Appreciation for These Foods)
Roasted Garlic Potato Bites
Vegan Porcini Mushroom Gravy
Nearly every gravy recipe starts with pan drippings—the fat that remains after a meaty roast cooks. Since that's obviously not vegan-friendly, here's another solution: porcini and cremini mushrooms. They're paired with tamari and garlic to develop a gluten-free, umami-rich sauce that's thickened with arrowroot powder—a plant-derived starch—so you can ladle a thick, creamy gravy any guest would be happy to eat. (Related: 5 Easy Vegan Recipes You Can Make with 5 Ingredients or Less)
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
Vegan Thanksgiving recipes can't rely on canned condensed soups, but that doesn't mean rich dishes like green bean casserole are off-limits. This clever side is made with fresh green beans, a vegetable broth, and an almond milk sauce that's completely homemade—yes, even the crunchy onion topping! It's an easy dish, too: It only takes 45 minutes to make from start to finish.
Olive Oil Spice Cupcakes with Bourbon Persimmon Frosting
Cheers to Maker's Mark, as it's one of the few vegan bourbons on the market. Add a splash to the persimmon frosting for a warm, autumnal touch. A combo of almond, coconut, and tapioca flours in the cupcake batter make this vegan Thanksgiving dessert fitting for gluten-free eaters, too. (Check out even more gluten-free Thanksgiving recipes everyone will love.)
Vegan Coffee Pecan Pie Bars
Feel a food coma coming on? Finish your holiday meal with a buzzy dessert like these espresso-spiked pecan pie bars. Dates, coconut oil, and maple syrup replace the butter and refined sugar-laden corn syrup in this "pie" recipe.
Easiest Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
You'll go nuts for this I-can't-believe-it's-vegan cheesecake. Featuring a dairy-free pecan cookie crust and a creamy cashew and pumpkin filling, this is one easy vegan Thanksgiving recipe that will disappear long before the plain ol' pumpkin pie.