Vegan Stuffing and Green Beans on a plate

Cooking your first plant-based Thanksgiving meal? Or, hosting vegans at dinner for the first time? I’ve got you! These are some of my favourite plant-based and vegan thanksgiving recipes, from a gluten free stuffing to my favourite vegan holiday mains — and of course, plenty of pumpkin recipes too.

Right. It’s Thanksgiving soon (ACK!). And you I need to figure this situation out. Whether you’re cooking an elaborate feast or a simpler meal for two, there are so many ways you can approach a holiday meal. To be honest, I think that the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is the side dishes and that’s always been my focus. But if you’re cooking, you call the shots! For example, my hearty kale and pecan stuffing also kind of works as a main, with maybe some green beans on the side for a simpler yet still super satisfying meal.

green beans and stuffing on a white plate

Some thoughts on a ‘healthy’ holiday feast

As a plant-based dietitian, you might think that this post is going to be a treatise on how to ‘survive’ the holidays in a healthy way. And it’s true that my favourite part of Thanksgiving is all the fancy vegetable sides we make — because I’m not going to Hasselbeck a squash on a Tuesday, you know?

But just because I really like making ‘healthy’ holiday dishes doesn’t mean that you have to stress about whether your holiday feast meal is healthy enough. In fact, it doesn’t have to be healthy at all. I know that might seem weird for a dietitian to say…but really, how healthy you are isn’t based on a handful of feast meals scattered throughout the year. It’s determined by what you do the other 358 or so days.

Pattern matters more than plate. Remember that, always.

If you like eating ‘healthy’ things on Thanksgiving, don’t let anyone throw shade. (No, you’re not on a ‘Diet’…you just like it that way.) But if you want to eat all of the sugar-fat-white flour on Thanksgiving, you go right ahead and don’t think for a single second it’s not okay. Okay??

The most important thing is that you are eating what you truly want and what makes you feel good. Because restrictive mindsets around food actually make it harder to be healthy and not the other way around.

All My Fave Plant-based Thanksgiving Recipes

Non-diet disclaimer done and dusted, this is my round up of all things Thanksgiving, plant-based and yes, pumpkin. Throw on some tunes, have a glass of wine and plan your grocery list…or better yet, go potluck style and assign a dish to each guest.

Remember, it’s the togetherness that matters, not playing the perfect host. Gather your family or friends, dim the lights, and keep the drinks flowing. And have fun! Life is hard enough right now. We all need a bit of togetherness and joy.

First things first, make these pumpkin pie energy balls to have enough nourishment to keep your host game tight!

Vegan Thanksgiving Starters and Snacks

I usually offer some light bar snacks before the meal so people don’t fill up too much before the main event. Upgrade your usual bar mix with my Za’atar-roasted almonds…you will NOT be sorry. Or try for some roasted chickpeas for an easy snack with some crunch! If you like more filling appetizers or starters, I’ve got a few of those here too.

almonds, dates and spices on parchment paper

Za’atar Spiced Roasted Almonds with Medjool Dates

5 from 10 ratings
These addictively spiced almonds get just a hint of sweetness from dates. Easy to make, perfect for entertaining or everyday snacking, it's a major upgrade on plain nuts.
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First Course Soups

Pumpkin Miso Soup

4 from 3 ratings
Want to jump on that PSL bandwagon but looking for something a bit more savoury? This Pumpkin Miso Soup is perfect for sweater weather!
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Plant-based Thanksgiving Salads + Side Dishes

You’re going to need side dishes. I’ve got two different ways to do side dishes, a roasted vegetable ‘stuffing’ and a more traditional one too. I also love a salad or two, which takes the pressure off of oven time as it can be made ahead. Looking to really wow folks? I’ve got an indulgent Kale Gratin that I will make for every holiday meal until I die. No joke.

Vegan Side Dishes

Dishing up warm vegan kale stuffing

Vegan Stuffing with Kale and Pecan

Flavourful and easy to make, this vegan stuffing with kale and pecan is sure to become a holiday favourite.
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Vegan Thanksgiving Salads

pear and kale salad with creamy tahini dressing on plates with a fork

Winter Pear and Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing

5 from 4 ratings
This decadent and satisfying vegan winter kale salad, filled with sweet cranberries and pear, has a creamy miso tahini dressing that will have you wanting more.
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Plant-based Thanksgiving Mains

What to serve as a main? I’m not gonna lie…I still really like a Tofurkey (nostalgia wins!) but I’ve recently upgraded to the Very Good Butcher Roast Beast. For something impressive, the Mushroom Wellington from my friend Tori’s book Fraiche Food Full Hearts (disclosure: affiliate link!) is amazing.

Looking for something non-traditional but super cozy? Try the options below!

Homemade Vegan Pot Pie Recipe

5 from 3 ratings
This easy vegan pot pie recipe has it all: rich gravy, plenty of vegetables, plant-based protein from creamy white beans and a super easy pot pie crust made from chickpea flour. It takes a wee bit of time with the baking but it's 100% worth it (and you can chill out while it bakes!).
Get the recipe

Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts

Upgrade your usual pumpkin pie with my luscious, cashew-based spiced pumpkin tart. If you’re up for some extra credit, after the dishes and before you go to bed, prep my Pumpkin Chia Pudding for a healthy breakfast you don’t have to think twice about the next day. Or put in just a hair more effort and make my Pumpkin Oats instead.

For more delish vegan desserts to fill those bellies with, follow the list below!

Vegan Pumpkin Tart. Recipe by Desiree Nielsen. Photo by Melissa Quantz

Spiced Pumpkin Tart with Oat Crust

5 from 1 rating
Super silk, rich and decadent. What more can you ask for a pumpkin dish?
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sunchoke soup in bowl with spoon and pesto

25+ Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes: Sunchoke Soup & More

This rich and creamy soup has a silky texture with plenty of flavour thanks to a bit of miso and a zingy cilantro pesto. Plus enjoy more vegan Thanksgiving recipes above!
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Ingredients

Soup

  • 1 pound sunchokes, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • ½ pound cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin on
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours
  • 1 tablespoon shiro (white) miso
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 quart low sodium vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Pesto

  • 1 cup cilantro, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup raw almonds
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of half a lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Equipment

  • High Speed Blender

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  • Place sunchokes, cauliflower and garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat.
  • Roast 25-30 minutes until cauliflower is golden at edges, watching carefully after 15 minutes so the garlic cloves don’t overcook. Take them out early if you need to.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the pesto: add cilantro, almonds, jalapeño, lemon juice, zest and salt to a food processor and pulse until it is finely chopped. Then drizzle in oil with processor running. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  • When vegetables are roasted, carefully squeeze garlic out of skins and add to a high-speed blender. Add cauliflower and sunchokes to blender with cashews and enough stock to cover and blend until smooth.
  • Pour soup mixture into a medium pot over medium low heat. Stir in remaining stock, miso, thyme and cumin. Warm and season to taste.
  • Divide soup among bowls and swirl in a spoonful of pesto.

Notes

The soup and pesto will keep well, separately, for 3-4 days in the fridge so they are easily made ahead!

I hope your holiday meal is filled with delicious bites, joyful playlists, and cozy chats around the table.

PS: If you make any of the above dishes and feel like sharing, don’t be afraid to drop a comment below, or take a photo and share with me on Instagram @desireenielsenrd — I can’t wait to see your beautiful creations!