14 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes to Try This Year

14 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes to Try This Year

It’s no secret that veganism has become more and more mainstream. According to the Alliance for ScienceIn 2022, about 10% of Americans surveyed considered themselves vegan. This is quite a big leap, considering that nearly a decade ago veganism was considered a kind of radical diet reserved for select fanatics. With the number of vegans growing, chances are you or someone at your table is choosing to cut out animal products this holiday season. Fortunately, there are more options available today than in years past.

But if Vox advised in 2014: Put down the tofurkey. As the article clearly points out, the holiday turkey tofu version often disappoints; it’s soft, chewy and nothing like the traditional dish. Rightly argued by Vox, you don’t necessarily need meat alternatives for a good plant-based holiday. Thanksgiving is a meal-oriented holiday, and as the feast revolves around the bird, there is a universe of sides falling into its orbit.

While these tend to be more vegetarian-friendly, there are plenty of easy vegan sides that can be whipped up without too much hassle. Side dishes are a great way to provide options for everyone at the table, regardless of their diet.

1. Roasted Corn Salsa

Long a staple at the Thanksgiving table, roasted corn salsa is a reimagining of a crop native to America. The dish takes a total of about 20 minutes to cook and prepare, but increases tenfold in flavor. The core of the recipe lies in baking the corn for about 10 minutes, which gives the dish a distinct smoky taste. Typical of all good salsas, this recipe includes tomatoes, red onion, and garlic cloves. Meanwhile, the salsa’s fresh lime juice and chopped jalapeño act as a delicious cleanser for the palate.

Recipe: Roasted Corn Salsa

2. Tostones

Tostones are a treat native to the Caribbean. Made from deep fried green plantains, they are deliciously crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. With a slightly starchy taste, they taste a bit like hash browns. They are usually fried in a neutral oil, such as avocado oil, and seasoned well with garlic powder and smoked paprika. To properly prepare them, they are baked in two rounds and flattened in between to form an almost circular shape. For those trying a lighter take on the meal, opt to bake the tostones instead.

Recipe: Baked Tostones

3. Buffalo cauliflower

While buffalo wings may be more of a game day treat, buffalo cauliflower is a vegan take on an American favorite. The real trick to this recipe is getting the right shape: the cauliflower needs to be cut into florets to take on a “buffalo chicken” shape. Almond flour provides the batter, and spices like paprika help create the buffalo sauce seasoning that defines the dish. These “wings” take about 35 minutes to bake properly. As with any good chicken wings, you’ll want to serve these piping hot.

Recipe: Buffalo Cauliflower

4. Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet potatoes are a common Thanksgiving to-go and often grace the table in the form of the ubiquitous marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole. Sweet potato wedges can provide a nice variety, and grilling them adds a new texture to the table. Essential to the success of the recipe is that the wedges are well cooked before grilling, giving the wedges a crispy outside and a smooth inside. The recipe suggests placing the wedges directly on the grill as this gives the wedges the perfect charred texture and smoky flavor.

Recipe: Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

5. Three Bean Salad Recipe

This three bean salad adds a bright pop of color to the table with the rich green of the green beans and the deep red of the kidney beans. Chickpeas are the third bean in this three bean recipe and solidify the hardiness of the dish. This particular recipe uses a little apple cider to add a refreshing, tart twist, and a drizzle of olive oil rounds out the dish. The recipe can be whipped up easily in about five minutes and makes for a great side in no time.

Recipe: Salad with three beans

6. Coleslaw

Cabbage is a good product with a bad reputation. While some may turn a blind eye to it, it’s better to take another look. For example, a coleslaw can make for a hearty, filling, and seasonal salad that completes a holiday meal. This particular dish combines Napa cabbage with red cabbage and adds cilantro and peanuts to add flavors and textures to the salad. But the real flavor is the peanut butter and soy sauce-based dressing. This is as filling as it is delicious.

Recipe: coleslaw

7. Creamy Pumpkin Soup

This brilliant pumpkin soup is such an unmistakable orange that it is sure to warm you up before it even touches your lips. Coconut milk adds a creamy element to the soup, while also lightening the otherwise thick bowl. Miso paste, ginger, curry and smoked paprika add a symphony of flavor to the otherwise evenly sweet soup. Pair it with Thanksgiving buns and you’ve got yourself a nice, tasty, seasonal hit.

Recipe: creamy pumpkinsoup

8. Caponata

Caponata is an autumn dream. The side features eggplant accompanied by tomatoes, celery, and bell pepper. The recipe revolves around sautéing the eggplant to give it that heavenly creamy texture that defines the vegetable. The dish has a slight sheen, which is the proverbial icing on the cake. Although it takes about an hour to prepare and cook, the recipe notes that the more time left to sit, the better. The flavors mature like a fine wine, and this side can be comfortably made ahead of the big meal.

Recipe: caponata

9. Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

While Shepherd’s pie is an English delight, there’s no reason it can’t be incorporated into an American tradition. The shepherd’s pie is not quite like a pie as you would normally understand it. It has no crust and is topped with mashed potatoes instead. Though usually made with a lamb (hence shepherd), the vegan variety is no less filling with its lentil base and chickpea base which is then loaded with assorted vegetables. This is really a side dish that feels (and fills) like a main course.

Recipe: Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

10. Vegan pulled pork

From the grill to the table, this is a meal worth bringing in. Pulled pork can surprisingly be adapted into a vegan dish due to jackfruit. The fruit is both completely neutral in taste and has a chewy texture, making for a great meat substitute. Of course, like tofu, the fruit’s soft base makes it perfect for seasoning the meatiest dishes. Cooking the fruit with herbs, and once baked, re-baking the dish in barbecue sauce are essential to give it that barbecue flavor.

Recipe: Vegan Pulled Pork

11. Borscht

Borscht is a soup that comes from Ukraine. In the United States, it is mostly beet-based, which gives it an attractive bright pink to red color. The soup balances between sweet and sour, partly due to the vinegar, sugar and vegetables used to make it. Potatoes can be used as a meat substitute and will be just as firm in nature. The trick to balancing the soup just right is to simmer the cabbage in the same pan as the potatoes, just as the potatoes are cooked.

Recipe: borscht

12. Vegetarian mushroom goulash in one jar

There’s no need to rely on turkey for a good old Thanksgiving food coma; this one-pot mushroom goulash does the same. The pot mixed with mushrooms, carrots, potatoes and cabbage are as nutritious as they are filling. The recipe notes that flavor is the cornerstone of goulash. So the recipe says that you should take the step of making sauce very seriously and not be afraid of the amount of paprika that is in the recipe; it is what gives the goulash its authentic taste.

Recipe: Mushroom goulash in one pot

13. Mushroom risotto

Mushroom risotto is a prized dish of Italian cuisine. While it may seem intimidating, with a little information and instruction, it can also be made at home. Risotto is a creamy dish and a vegetable butter will work to give the risotto its iconic texture without the dairy. Miso paste and nutritional yeast flakes add a certain umami to the dish. But be careful – risotto is a cooking method that notoriously needs a lot of attention to get great results. Be sure to set aside enough time for it.

Recipe: Mushroom risotto

14. Grilled bok choy

Like many vegetables, grilling or roasting brings out the best in bok choy. To add to the vegetable, the recipe calls for a coating made from soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic. The recipe also recommends closing the grill until the bok choy chars around the edges, about 3 minutes or so. Once properly grilled, this dish leaves something original for vegetables to cut into. This recipe can be prepared and cooked in less than 15 minutes, but should be served immediately.

Recipe: Grilled Bok Choy