KitchenAid mashed potatoes

One of the biggest misconceptions about vegetarian and vegan cooking in the kitchen is that you’ll have to give up your big, delicious holiday meals. This can be true at times, like when you’re going to big family dinners where the hosts aren’t comfortable making meat-free dishes. But on the whole, your vegetarian or vegan Thanksgiving dinner can be just as flavourful and delicious as any other Thanksgiving meal. (Plus, with no meat dishes, your grocery bill for dinner is likely to be lower!)

Here are a few great vegan and vegetarian recipe ideas to try this Thanksgiving. They’re awesome starter recipes whether you’re hosting your first fully-meat-free meal this year or you just want one vegan-friendly dish to bring to mom and dad’s.

Breville brussels sprouts

Vegan twists on delicious Thanksgiving classics

The classic vegan Thanksgiving dish is, of course, the tofurkey—but vegan food goes way beyond that! While you could make a delicious vegan turkey out of seitan or tofu (make sure you have a good blender in your kitchen to help you out), there are plenty of store-bought options that you can roast and cook at home, too.

I’m a big fan of using plant-based ground meat alternatives to make classic ground beef dishes like tourtière and shepherd’s pie as well. My favourite is Yves Veggie Ground Round. It has a tasty, meaty texture and it performs beautifully in meat-based recipes: Just swap it out and bam! You have a meat-free alternative ready to go. No other alternations to the recipe needed!

KitchenAid hand immersion blender

Egg substitutes for easy vegan alternatives

My brother in law is allergic to eggs, so many of our family’s favourite Thanksgiving dishes are what I like to think of as “vegan by accident.” We eat a low-meat diet in general, but we’re not vegan… On purpose. However, because we’re cooking without eggs, many of our recipes end up being vegan-friendly purely by accident. That includes sides like sweet potato casserole (try it with vegan marshmallow fluff on top for an easy upgrade that the kiddos will love) and desserts like pumpkin pie. Common egg substitutes include mashed banana, ground flax seed, silken tofu, sweetened condensed milk, and applesauce. We’ve made some awesome egg-free trifles and cakes over the years in our KitchenAid mixer, and my most recent egg-free love has been mochi waffles. My mom makes them in her waffle iron the morning after big family dinners like Thanksgiving, when we all stay over. She makes two batches; one with and one without egg. But here’s the thing: The vegan option flies off the table like lightning! There’s something about removing the egg that makes the waffles so delicious. Her regular mochi waffles are great, but the vegan ones are light, crispy, and chewy.

In general, I think egg-free recipes really shine when they hit that criteria. If it’s something that starts in a batter and ends up deliciously crisp with a chewy inside, you just know that the vegan alternative is going to be amazing.

Breville 4 slice toaster

My favourite already-vegetarian and already-vegan Thanksgiving dinner dishes

Thanksgiving is all about the turkey (at least, in my family), which can make it feel like a very meat-forward holiday. But here’s the thing: That turkey? It’s a trick. It get all the attention and makes you believe that Thanksgiving is all about the meat, when really it’s only one of many different dishes! There are a ton of Thanksgiving classics that are either vegetarian- or vegan-friendly as-is.

You don’t have to go full tofurkey to bring a vegan or veg-friendly dish to Thanksgiving dinner. Desserts like pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and chocolate tarts are already vegetarian. So are side dishes like roasted squash, corn casserole, and sweet potato casserole. The same applies for many vegetable-based soups and sauces, plus carb-forward dishes like hash browns and pasta. For a really easy veggie or vegan side dish, try simply roasting some vegetables in an air fryer with herbs, spices, and a touch of oil.

Vegan and vegetarian dishes can star in the show, too. Showier vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner recipe ideas include things like skillet pasta bakes, whole roasted cauliflowers, and stuffed mushrooms. One recipe that I’m looking forward to trying this Thanksgiving is truffle ricotta and mushroom lasagna roll-ups—they’re going to be so delicious with the fresh herbs I just started growing indoors.

It’s surprisingly easy to create mouthwatering Thanksgiving dishes that are vegan and vegetarian-friendly, so consider trying out a couple new recipes this year! Whether your whole meal will be meat-free or you’re just trying out a few new recipes so your veggie-forward family members have some tasty options to choose from, vegan and vegetarian recipes are a great way to try healthy new dishes.

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Rae Chen
Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at thenotice.net, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.

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