Feast away with everything you need for a perfect vegan Thanksgiving dinner.
Feast away with everything you need for a perfect vegan Thanksgiving dinner. / Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Vegan Thanksgiving 101

Feast away with a perfect vegan Thanksgiving dinner. From DIYs, recipe hacks and tricks, to the best plant-based roasts around. Here's everything you need to know.

On the last Thursday in November, millions will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. The national holiday is centuries-old, dating back to celebrating the bounty of the harvest season. Today, Thanksgiving has become a social holiday—a time to give thanks with our friends and family or for giving back to the community. For millions, turkey will be at the center of the table. But many are swapping the tradition for a vegan Thanksgiving.

A vegan roast makes Thanksgiving dinner prep easy.

Vegan Thanksgiving Roasts

It’s completely valid to have a vegan Thanksgiving without a centerpiece. In fact, a lot of people will say that the holiday is really all about the sides (oh, and friends and family). But, there are options for those looking for a more traditional dinner.

1. Tofurky

The iconic Tofurky roast has been the centerpiece of many Thanksgiving tables since its debut in 1997. The ham-shaped roast features a spring seitan-and-tofu outer filled with a festive wild rice stuffing.

You can follow the instructions on the box, or turn to the internet for tips and tricks on cooking a Tofurky Roast. Nancy Olah, the author of the blog Fool a Carnivore, bastes hers with vegan broth as it cooks in a clay pot with carrots and potatoes. The bloggers behind I Love Vegan arrange their Tofurky in a roasting pan with vegetables and a savory sauce, then cover it in tinfoil before it goes in the oven.

2. Gardein

Vegan meat brands Gardein has two options for Thanksgiving. The Holiday Roast, made from soy and wheat protein and filled with a cranberry-wild rice stuffing, serves up to eight people. The Savory Stuffed Turk’y, which comes in a bag like Gardein’s other meat-free options, is good if you’re having a smaller celebration. Both come with vegan gravy.

3. Field Roast

Field Roast offers three types of vegan holiday roasts. Its signature Celebration Roast is a two-pound roast rubbed with sage, garlic, and lemon juice and a traditional bread stuffing made with onion, cranberry, and butternut squash. It also comes with an earthy porcini mushroom gravy. There’s also the half Celebration Roast for one or two people, filled with stuffing made from Field Roast grain meat, granny smith apples, butternut squash, and mushrooms. Field Roast also makes the Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute, a hazelnut-infused grain meat roast wrapped in flaky puff pastry and stuffed with field roast sausage, candied ginger, cranberries, and ginger.

4. Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s has a cult following with good reason. The popular grocery store chain celebrated in online groups for its budget-friendly options. For the past few years, Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast With Gravy has been part of the grocery store’s holiday assortment. It features a wild rice stuffing core surrounded by soy protein and grain meat coated with a crisp herb breading.

5. Homemade Vegan Holiday Roast

While there are plenty of convenient options for vegan roasts, you can also try your hand at making your own. This meat-free stuffed roast is made from a blend of seitan and white beans and features a kabocha, mushroom, and everything bagel-spiced stuffing.

Get the recipe here.

6. The Vegducken

Move over, turducken. Vegan blogger and cookbook author Lauren Toyota’s “franken-veg” entrée features a whole, roasted butternut squash wrapped around zucchini, eggplant, and a classic holiday stuffing.

Get the recipe here.

Who could resist something covered in mashed potatoes? | Pickled Plum

7. Vegan Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

A meatless shepherd’s pie filled with lentils, mushrooms, vegetables, and herbs covered with a layer of dairy-free mashed potatoes that brown up in the oven. Need we say more?

Get the recipe here.

Vegan Sides

What should you bring for sides? Here are some ideas for what vegan dishes to bring to Thanksgiving.

1. Vegan Stuffing

This vegan stuffing features bread, leeks, and Honeycrisp apples cooked in the oven with an herb-infused broth. According to its creator Lisa Le, you can even kick it up a notch with vegan sausage or fresh herbs.

Get the recipe here.

2. Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits

Of course, you need biscuits to mop up all that gravy. With no eggs, milk, or butter, these cheesy, fluffy, dairy-free biscuits belong on your Thanksgiving table.

Get the recipe here.

3. Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Nobody will believe these creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are actually dairy-free.

Get the recipe here.

4. Vegan Green Bean Casserole

This vegan green bean casserole is a classic that will have everyone coming back for seconds.

Get the recipe here.

5. Vegan Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is a classic that nobody should miss out on. This dairy-free version features a butternut squash-based cheese sauce, topped with Brussels sprouts.

Get the recipe here.

Don’t forget the vegan marshmallows. | Connoisseurus Veg

6. Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

Topped with gooey vegan marshmallows and crunchy pecans, this sweet potato casserole is the next best thing to dessert—but make sure you save room for pumpkin pie.

Get the recipe here.

Making the Perfect Gravy

Traditional gravy is made from the fat drippings that fall into the pan while the turkey roasts in the oven, thickened with flour or corn starch. The science (or art) of making vegan gravy is more or less the same. Plant-based recipe developer Jolinda Hackett breaks down the art of making vegan gravy on the Spruce Eats.

To make vegan gravy, you’ll need dairy-free butter, flour, garlic salt, cornstarch, soy sauce, and broth (Hackett lists vegetable, but there’s also a vegan chicken or beef broth and mushroom broth). You can also add nutritional yeast, a popular ingredient for making dairy-free cheese sauce, and actual mushrooms, which would boost the gravy’s umami flavor.

Hackett notes that just like with traditional gravy, timing is everything. Stay close to the stove-top, and stir constantly to prevent lumps. Listen to your intuition and add more liquid as you see fit, keeping in mind that your vegan gravy will thicken as it cools. Get the recipe here.

Several brands offer pre-made vegan gravy, including Simply Organic, Imagine Foods, and  BOU.

What About Dessert?

Remember to bring pie! These vegan Thanksgiving desserts will have everyone looking to grab a slice before dinner.

1. Vegan Pumpkin Pie

You’ll want to accompany this vegan pumpkin pie with a big dollop of dairy-free whipped cream.

Get the recipe here.

End Thanksgiving on a sweet note. | Namely Marley

2. Vegan Pecan Pie

Crunchy, sweet, and infused with a dash of rum, this vegan pecan pie is the perfect dessert.

Get the recipe here.

3. Vegan Apple Pie

It’s still apple pie season. This vegan, gluten-free apple pie from restaurateur Matthew Kenney is an autumn staple. It features spiced nuts and apples in a rice flour-based pastry dough, served with a scoop of homemade dairy-free ice cream.

Get the recipe here.

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