Apples and winter squashes in Thanksgiving cornucopia with candles

How to Plan the Best Plant-Based Thanksgiving Dinner: with 20 Recipes

Thank you for sharing!

Wondering what to serve for a plant-based Thanksgiving? I have rounded up lots of ideas to help you plan your menu whether you’re cooking for vegans, vegetarians, or just anyone who wants to add more healthy plant foods to their diets. Whether you are planning to cook for a crowd, a small family meal, or yourself, it is easy to enjoy lots of delicious fall plant foods for the holiday. Please enjoy checking out these recipes from other registered dietitian nutritionists, other bloggers, and my site.

(This post contains affiliate links that won’t change your price but provide me with a small commission. All opinions are my own.)

Appetizers

I like to serve a garden salad (see the pumpkin vinaigrette dressing for a fall twist), and here are fall soups, a lentil salad, and an easy layered hummus dip also.

15-Bean Vegetable Soup
Flavorful and filling – try this spicy soup to warm up on a cold day! Enjoy the textures of barley, veggies, and beans in this comforting bowl. Lots of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates from beans and vegetables, with little fat.
Check out this recipe
white bowl of 15 bean vegetable soup with spoon and thyme sprig
Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup
This Spiced Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup is a delightful bowl of goodness! It is healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare – from itsnotcomplicatedrecipes.com
Check out this recipe
Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup
Easy 3-Ingredient Creamy Broccoli Soup
Rich and nutritious soup: delicious for fall and winter meals. From Toby Amidor MS, RD, CDN, FAND
Check out this recipe
Easy 3-Ingredient Creamy Broccoli Soup
Tasty Lentil and Walnut Stuffed Zucchini Cups – Melissa Traub
Delight your guests with these vegan lentil and walnut zucchini cups stuffed with mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, and seasonings.
Check out this recipe
Tasty Lentil and Walnut Stuffed Zucchini Cups - Melissa Traub
Kale Quinoa Salad with Lentils
Quinoa salad with lentils and kale is fresh, crisp, healthy and so delicious. With a variety of veggies,garlic lemon dressing, topped with cranberries and almond slices. A filling salad that you will most certainly love! From Roxana Begum PhD, RD
Check out this recipe
Kale Quinoa Salad with Lentils
Vegan Hummus Layered Dip
This easy snack elevates hummus to a new level with fresh, crunch veggies and Mediterranean flavors! You can increase the serving size for appetizers for a crowd, too!
Check out this recipe
vegan hummus layered dip on plate with crackers, red pepper strips, celery sticks, and carrot sticks.
Pumpkin Vinaigrette Salad Dressing – Melissa Traub
Tangy and addictive! Easy salad dressing for the autumn or anytime.
Check out this recipe
Pumpkin Vinaigrette Salad Dressing - Melissa Traub

Thanksgiving Main Courses

Here are some great main course ideas so no one will miss the turkey. What makes for the perfect entree on Thanksgiving? You can just enjoy lots of vegetable side dishes, but there is nothing like stuffed vegetables like squash, mushrooms, or peppers for something satisfying:

Savory Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe with Wild Rice – Fad Free Nutrition Blog
Need a vegan main dish option for Thanksgiving? Look no further!. This Savory Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe is full of nutrients, flavors, and colors. From Melissa E. Nieves, LND, RD, MPH
Check out this recipe
Savory Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe with Wild Rice - Fad Free Nutrition Blog
Stuffed Peppers with Butternut Squash and Quinoa
Italian-style vegan stuffed peppers with butternut squash, Great Northern beans, quinoa, and herbs. A great meal for holidays and entertaining. Or, make a batch for a family meal or meal prep. This recipe freezes well too.
Check out this recipe
stuffed-peppers-with-butternut-squash-and-quinoa in a white baking dish topped with chopped parsley and basil leaves
Honeynut Squash Stuffed with Mushrooms, Chickpeas, Pistachios & Cranberries
Hearty and flavorful vegetable side dish or main course for vegans and vegetarians at your table – Liz Weiss RD
Check out this recipe
Honeynut Squash Stuffed with Mushrooms, Chickpeas, Pistachios & Cranberries

Side Dishes

Here are some recipes for healthier versions of Thanksgiving sides. Find even more on this new post: 18 Favorite Vegan, Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes.

Other great options are baked sweet potatoes or oven-roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Another terrific thing to include is some freshly baked whole-grain rolls. I am thinking about making sweet potato rolls this year.

If you like stuffing, try making a vegan cornbread, adding cooked celery and onions, vegetable broth, cranberries, and pecans. This article from Prevention shows the favorite side dish in each state.

My favorite stuffing from my childhood was my grandmother’s Pennsylvania Dutch potato filling: which is basically bread stuffing mixed into mashed potatoes and baked. This could be made plant-based by just substituting with plant-based butter and using plain soy or oat milk instead of dairy milk.

Sesame Sweet Potatoes with Green Onions
Sesame sweet potatoes are an easy side dish with an Asian flair. A different flavor profile than the typical Thanksgiving ones: vegan and gluten-free.
Check out this recipe
sesame sweet potatoes on white plate
Roasted Sweet Potato & Banana Casserole | To Taste
This roasted sweet potato & banana casserole uses the natural sweetness of bananas; it’s a healthier version of a sweet potato casserole! by Chef Vahista Ussery, MS, MBA, RDN
Check out this recipe
Roasted Sweet Potato & Banana Casserole | To Taste
Simple Orange Cinnamon Acorn Squash Rings
A tasty and easy side dish for everyday healthy eating or special occasions
Check out this recipe
3 rings of acorn squash on blue plate
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Pomegranate
Roasted brussels sprouts are nothing new, but Brussels topped with pistachios and pomegranate arils take them to another level! by Kaitlin Williams Eckstein MPH, RD, LD From Rebecca Bitzer RD and Assoc.
Check out this recipe
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Pomegranate
Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables
Earthy root vegetables are roasted until crispy, then tossed with diced apples and pecans for the perfect side dish. From Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
Check out this recipe
Balsamic Roasted Root Vegetables
Wild Rice, Cranberry, and Collard Greens Stuffing – Chelsey Amer
For a warm vegan stuffing full of aromatic flavors your entire Thanksgiving table will enjoy, try this Wild Rice, Cranberry, and Collard Greens Stuffing. From Chelsey Amer RD
Check out this recipe
Wild Rice, Cranberry, and Collard Greens Stuffing - Chelsey Amer
Cranberry Apple Orange Sauce
This crowd-pleasing cranberry sauce is packed with the flavors of apple, orange juice and zest, lemon zest, and cinnamon, and sweetened with maple syrup. By Alena Kharlamenko, MS, RD
Check out this recipe
Cranberry Apple Orange Sauce
stuffed honeynut squash, roasted root vegetables, pumpkin sweet potato soup, and acorn squash - 20 plant-based thanksgiving recipes

Desserts

Homemade Pumpkin Pies | Easy and Healthy Recipes| Desi-licious RD
Homemade pumpkin pies at their best. No gluten, no dairy, and no-bake! A creamy pumpkin-cashew filling with a rich nutty-date crust, these are the perfect dessert choice this Fall. Think you don’t have time to pull off a pie, these are done in under 30 minutes. From Shahzadi Devje CDE MSc
Check out this recipe
Homemade Pumpkin Pies | Easy and Healthy Recipes| Desi-licious RD

You can make this dessert in a slow cooker or Instant Pot, which is very helpful if you need oven space.

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp – Gluten-free and Vegan
Soft apples with warm spices and a crumbly, crispy topping – just the right dessert for a cool fall evening. Easy to make in the slow cooker and fill your home with a delicious aroma. Gluten free, vegan, and with little added fat or sugar.
Check out this recipe
white dish of apple crisp topped with vegan vanilla ice cream next to green apple
Vegan Peanut Butter Brownies for the Instant Pot
Fudgy, moist brownie made easily in the Instant Pot – plus lower in added sugar and saturated fat compared to mant recipes. Perfect tasty dessert or snack especially when it is too hot to bake.
Check out this recipe
vegan peanut butter brownies on white plate with peanuts and chocolate chips

Plant-Based Thanksgiving Planning and Cooking Strategy

These are my tips to have a less stressful Thanksgiving day. This does not mean that I have everything done before guests arrive: in fact, quite the contrary. I thrive on a little pressure and like to take some time that morning to get out for a walk!

About 2 weeks ahead of time: write out a rough draft of your menu. Check over the recipes for ingredients and make a shopping list. This is a good time to read the recipes and print them out if they are online.

One week ahead of time: buy non-perishable foods. A convenient suggestion I recommend is Thrive Market. There you can find staples to help you cook these recipes like chickpeas, lentils, wild rice, nuts, pumpkin, and spices: all organic and shipped to your home. It’s a great time saver and they have a low-price guarantee too! Please learn more from this link:

A few days ahead: organize dining room: decide on your tablecloth, napkins, dishes, silverware, any place cards, table decor, and your centerpiece.

1 – 2 days ahead of time: buy perishable foods. Finalize menu. I usually make adjustments based on which vegetables look good at the store or farmers’ market. if you have time, prepare a dish or two.

Set out serving dishes. Make a post-it note for each food you will serve. Place a post-it note in each dish and include a serving utensil. This helps me so much!

Write out a schedule for yourself for Thanksgiving day cooking. If you are making a turkey, of course carefully check your cooking time and plan to get up early enough. Then you need to see how you will cook everything else. Using other appliances like a slow cooker, electric skillet, or pressure cooker can help.

Many people recommend not cooking new recipes for company. I disagree. I think it’s fun and exciting to try new recipes on a holiday. However, as sometimes things are unexpected, it’s not a bad idea to include some recipes you have made before too.

15 Best Vegan Side Dishes for Grilled or Baked Tofu

I hope these recipes help you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving!

Keep up to date with seasonal recipes from my free new monthly newsletter.

Which of these plant-based Thanksgiving recipes do you plan to try? Please let me know in the comments below:

Originally published 11/8/20. Updated 11/4/21.

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