45 Delicious Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

Want to host a plant-based Thanksgiving dinner? Find 45 helpful recipe ideas, from appetizers to main courses to side dishes!

a group of people sitting around a table with a feast

I look forward to Thanksgiving every single year, and I’m always daydreaming about the menu of healthy Thanksgiving ideas that my family serves up weeks before the holiday happens.

Until a few years ago, my parents host a big, 30-something-person holiday dinner. We’d been doing this with the same five or six families since I was in kindergarten.

Now, my husband and I host Thanksgiving, and it’s so fun to come up with a plant-based Thanksgiving menu!

Whether you’ve recently switched to a plant-based diet or are a veteran plant-based eater, planning a plant-based holiday menu can feel overwhelming.

Take the stress out of planning your plant-based Thanksgiving with this ultimate list of 21 delicious plant-based recipes for your Thanksgiving feast.

Here, you’ll find a round-up of tasty plant-based recipes plus expert tips for building a plant-based Thanksgiving menu everyone will love. Everyone will love these plant-based Thanksgiving meal ideas.

How to create a plant-based Thanksgiving menu

A plant-based diet often falls into one of three categories: vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian.

If you’re following a vegan diet, avoiding all animal products is a must. However, if you’re a vegetarian, you can incorporate some animal products like dairy and eggs.

The most flexible approach to plant-based eating is the flexitarian diet, which allows for animal products while still focusing on mostly plants.

The variations to a plant-based diet make a difference in how you approach your Thanksgiving menu.

No matter if you’re planning for yourself, a family member, or friend who follows a plant based diet, it’s a good idea to have a clear understanding of what foods need to be avoided so you can have a balance of plant-based dishes.

blank menu on a textured surface surround by tomatoes and garlic cloves

Here are five tips for planning a crowd-pleasing plant-based Thanksgiving menu:

1. Know your plant-based proteins, and plan to offer at least one protein-rich dish. This means incorporating plants like lentils, beans, tempeh, tofu, peas, or other protein-rich sources into a main dish.

2. Add healthy fats. Upping the healthy fat sources in your plant-based Thanksgiving dishes can help make them more filling and satisfying.

Add fats from nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils. Or sprinkle in cheeses and fish if dairy and/or seafood are welcome in your plant-based eating plan.

3. Make your plant-based dishes feel special. Sure, steamed veggies are plant based, but they may not be the best holiday dish. Transform simple recipes by adding something out of the ordinary.

Consider adding a sweet glaze made from a seasonal fruit, or top your favorite veggie dish with roasted chestnuts or another ingredient that’s unique to the season.

4. Make your favorite dishes plant based. While you can’t exactly replace a turkey for a plant-based Thanksgiving dinner, you can transform many traditional holiday dishes into plant-based offerings.

Swap dairy with plant-based alternatives and replace the umami flavors of meat with options like mushrooms, nuts, or smoky spices.

Remember, eating a plant-based diet doesn’t have to mean missing out on your favorite recipes, especially those that define the holiday season.

5. Introduce new flavors and ingredients. While it’s important to keep traditional flavors and recipes on the table after a change to your diet, a holiday meal is also a great time to incorporate new ingredients and flavors.

Use this opportunity to branch out and try something new. You never know, your plant-based Thanksgiving meal may become a crowd favorite made again and again.

If you need plant-based Thanksgiving recipe ideas, I have you covered with these 45 recipes from fellow registered dietitians.

Appetizers

When choosing the best appetizer for your plant-based Thanksgiving, you want to stick to something light enough to keep your crowd interested in the main course to come while also being satisfying enough to curb their hunger.

I love hearty dips paired with fresh vegetables because they’re packed with flavor but aren’t too filling.

1. Thanksgiving Veggie Tray from my own kitchen
Are you looking for a creative, Thanksgiving-themed veggie tray? I have you covered with two creative and fun veggie trays that will be a perfect addition to your table.
Try the recipe
a tray of vegetables arranged in a pattern that looks like a turkey
2. Smoky Butternut Squash Hummus by Everyday Homemade
Thickened with chickpeas and spiced with cayenne pepper, this butternut squash hummus has a spicy kick that pairs well with crisp veggies.
Try the recipe
2. Smoky Butternut Squash Hummus by Everyday Homemade
3. Roasted Red Pepper Greek Yogurt Dip from my own kitchen
This dip is rich and flavorful making it a perfect pairing for your favorite veggie tray. Be sure to check out my Thanksgiving veggie tray ideas!
Try the recipe
roasted red pepper dip in a white bowl
4. Pistachio and Wild Blueberry No-Bake Brie from my own kitchen
If you and your guests eat dairy, this is a most-delicious appetizer!
Try the recipe
5. Goat Cheese Crostini with Pan-Roasted Grapes from my own kitchen
This grape and goat cheese crostini is filled with antioxidants and no added sugar. Plus, it whips up in just 15 minutes––no time at all!
Try the recipe
grape and goat cheese crostini
6. Roasted Chickpea Snack Mix from my own kitchen
Ready for a roasted chickpea snack mix? This tasty and crunchy snack combo features roasted chickpeas, baked flatbread, and sundried tomatoes.
Try the recipe
chickpea snack mix
7. Sweet Potato Flatbread Pizza with Cauliflower from my own kitchen
Looking for a delicious sweet potato flatbread recipe? This flatbread loaded with cauliflower is an easy, tasty vegetarian meal.
Try the recipe
sweet potato flatbread
8. Endive and Mandarin Orange Goat Cheese Appetizer from my own kitchen
Get your next party started with these ready-in-minutes endive boats. This mandarin orange recipe also works great as an afternoon snack.
Try the recipe
Endive with Goat Cheese, Mandarin Orange & Mint Recipe

Main courses

Plant-based Thanksgiving dinner main courses should have a few things in common.

Firstly, they can’t be an afterthought. If you’re making a mix of meat and plant-based mains, be sure to give just as much attention to your plant-based options as you do your meat options.

Secondly, they should be satisfying. This means offering a balance of carbs, fat, and protein to deliver a filling course even meat eaters will love.

Check out a few of my favorite mains for a plant-based Thanksgiving.

9. Vegan Mac and Cheese without Cashews from my own kitchen
This recipe could double as a side instead of a main, but it’s so good that I think it deserves the spotlight. Unlike many vegan pasta recipes that use nuts as a base for vegan cheese, this recipe is nut-free and features nutritional yeast, dairy-free cheese, and coconut milk.
Try the recipe
close up of vegan mac and cheese in a casserole dish with spoons
10. Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash by Kelly Jones Nutrition
This recipe features a fall favorite, acorn squash, and is stuffed with protein-packed tempeh. Plus, it will feel extra special and like a holiday dish thanks to the addition of crunchy pistachios.
Try the recipe
vegan stuffed acorn squash
11. Vegan Lentil Loaf Recipe (Walnut and Mushroom) by Lettuce Veg Out
If you love meatloaf but are now following a plant-based diet, this vegan lentil loaf is an excellent swap. Walnuts and mushrooms give it an umami flavor, while lentils offer lots of protein for a final dish that’s hearty and satisfying.
Try the recipe
12. Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells by Eat with Me RD
These protein-rich stuffed shells use tofu in place of ricotta and have a rich and creamy cashew sauce to top it off.
Try the recipe
13. Pesto Spaghetti Squash from my own kitchen
Who doesn’t love pasta? If you’re looking for a lighter take on a traditional pasta dish, try this spaghetti squash with pesto. It’s packed with flavor and topped with crunchy pine nuts. This recipe also works as a side dish.
Try the recipe
A bowl of spaghetti squash
14. Hearty Veggie Seitan Pot Pie by Eat with Me RD
Who doesn’t love pot pie? This vegan take on a traditional favorite uses a mix of veggies and seitan plus a chickpea flour crust. The best part? You can sub any veggies you have on hand. This main dish would be great for Thanksgiving leftovers, too!
Try the recipe
veggie seitan pot pie

Side dishes

Side dishes are arguably the most important part of a meal because they add flavor, color, and variety. I recommend adding multiple sides to your Thanksgiving table so guests can experience the many flavors of the season.

Here are a few of my favorites for a plant-based Thanksgiving menu:

15. Lentil Apple Salad from my own kitchen
This is a perfect fall recipe for your plant-based Thanksgiving table. It features hearty lentils, alongside sweet apples, cranberries, and crunchy pecans.
Try the recipe
16. Healthy Grape Honey Brussels Sprouts from my own kitchen
Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite fall veggies. When made with the sweetness of honey and grape juice, these Brussels sprouts are sure to please even the most picky meat eaters at the table.
Try the recipe
honey brussels sprouts with grape juice
17. Roasted Beets and Carrot Salad by Haute and Healthy Living
Beets, carrots, kale, and pumpkin seeds plus a maple dressing come together to make a colorful salad for your plant-based Thanksgiving table.
Try the recipe
roasted beet and carrot salad
18. Creamy Carrot and Cauliflower Soup from my own kitchen
Soup isn’t always the first thing to come to mind for the Thanksgiving table, but this one is a perfect choice thanks to its warming spices and seasonal vegetables.
Try the recipe
A bowl of orange carrot soup with a spoon
19. Maple Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels, & Cranberries by Kelly Jones Nutrition
Featuring three of the best seasonal ingredients, this butternut squash dish is both delicious and nutrient dense.
Try the recipe
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries
20. Easy Pomegranate Squash from my own kitchen
Butternut squash is a fall favorite, but this recipe has an unexpected twist: pomegranate juice! Simply toss the ingredients together, and roast. It’s a great, easy side when you have multiple other recipes to focus on for the big holiday.
Try the recipe
roasted butternut squash with pomegranate vinaigrette
21. Lentil Walnut Stuffing by Kelly Jones Nutrition
It’s not Thanksgiving without the stuffing. Try this take on traditional stuffing that includes walnuts and protein-rich lentils.
Try the recipe
22. Pumpkin Crescent Rolls from Anne Dunaway Teh, RD, and Lesley Baradel, RD, at My Menu Pal
Pumpkin crescent rolls. Need we say more?
Try the recipe
23. Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup from Jessica Levinson, RD
Here's another delicious soup option.
Try the recipe
24. Orange Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes from Amanda Hernandez, RD, at The Nutritionist Reviews
Here's another delicious Brussels sprouts option, this one combined with sweet potatoes.
Try the recipe
25. Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic from Jessica Cording, RD
This recipe from Jessica Cording, RD, author of The Little Book of Game Changers, combines leafy greens with butternut squash and garlic.
Check out this recipe
26. Healthy Mashed Potatoes with Rosemary and Goat Cheese from EA Stewart, RD, at Spicy RD Nutrition
Who can say no to healthier mashed potatoes?
Try the recipe
Cinnamon Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Kelli Shallal, RD, author of Make Ahead High Protein Breakfast Recipes
Cinnamon naturally sweetens these sweet potatoes from Kelli Shallal, RD, author of Make Ahead High Protein Breakfast Recipes.
Try the recipe
27. Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine and Vinegar from Marie Dittmer, RD, at Healthy Ideas Place
What's Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce?
Try the recipe
28. Cheesy Corn Casserole from Anne Dunaway Teh and Lesley Baradel
If your guests eat cheese, they'll love this corn casserole.
Try the recipe
29. Mashed Sweet Potatoes from Jennifer Lynn-Pullman, RD, at Nourished Simply
If you need an easy last-minute recipe to add to your plant-based Thanksgiving dinner, here you go!
Try the recipe
30. Creamy Buttermilk Mashed Cauliflower from Kelli Shallal
Here's a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes.
Try the recipe
31. Citrus Glazed Carrots from Angela Grassi, RD, author of The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook
These sweet carrots from Angela Grassi, RD, author of The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook, are sweet without being decadent.
Try the recipe
32. Green Beans with Pecans, Cranberries, and Parmesan from Karman Meyer, RD, author of Eat to Sleep
These green beans from Karman Meyer, RD, author of Eat to Sleep, are a lighter alternative to traditional green bean casseroles.
Try the recipe
33. Fall Farro Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Maple Apple Cider Dressing from Chelsey Amer
Who says you can't have salad at a plant-based Thanksgiving dinner?
Try the recipe
34. Maple Balsamic Roasted Winter Vegetables from Marie Dittmer
This simple roasted veggies recipe is very easy to make.
Try the recipe

Desserts

You can’t forget desserts! I’m sharing my favorite plant-based desserts for Thanksgiving so you can end your meal with a sweet treat.

35. Roasted Apples with Cinnamon from my own kitchen
Dessert doesn’t have to include chocolate to be deliciously sweet and satisfying. These cinnamon roasted apples are a seasonal sweet treat that’ll make the perfect end to your Thanksgiving feast.
Try the recipe
Close up of baked apples
36. Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates by No Food Rules
Choose from five variations of peanut butter stuffed dates, featuring unique ingredient combinations including goat cheese, bacon, coconut, and honey. These dates double as an appetizer or dessert!
Try the recipe
37. Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Dessert Cups from my own kitchen
If you’re a chocolate fan, these fruity dessert cups are exactly what you need. These are a mini dessert, which is perfect if you plan to have a variety of desserts to choose from.
Try the recipe
dark chocolate pomegranate cups
38. Superfood Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies from my own kitchen
These cookies are a healthier version of your favorite gingerbread snaps. Featuring hemp hearts and flaxseed, these cookies pack 3 grams of protein into a single serving.
Try the recipe
gingerbread cookies stacked on a plate
39. Nutty Apple Cake Lauren Harris-Pincus, RD, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club
This apple cake from Lauren Harris-Pincus, RD, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club, is filled with nuts, apples, and more.
Check out this recipe
40. Vegan Cranberry Ginger Quick Bread from Chelsey Amer, RD
This quickbread from Chelsey Amer, RD, author of The 28 Day Pescatarian Meal Plan & Cookbook can be placed in the bread basked or served as dessert!
Try the recipe
Vegan Cranberry Ginger Quick Bread
41. Avocado Chocolate Brownies from my own kitchen
These brownies are made with avocado and prunes!
Try the recipe
Gluten-Free Chocolate Avocado Brownies with Prunes & Walnuts
42. Orange Cranberry Tart from Judy Barbe
This tart is filled with delicious fruit!
Try the recipe
43. No-Bake Nutty Pumpkin Squares from Shahzadi Devje
No-bake dessert recipes make prepping Thanksgiving meal all that much easier.
Try the recipe
44. Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse from my own kitchen
Want a delicious plant-based dessert that’s chocolatey, creamy, and healthy? Enter vegan avocado chocolate mousse. All you need is six ingredients, and this vegan dessert is ready to enjoy in under 10 minutes!
Try the recipe
Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse
45. Pumpkin Spice Cake Roll from Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, co-authors of Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure
In lieu of pumpkin pie (or in addition to!), make this pumpkin roll from Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD, and Lyssie Lakatos, RD, co-authors of Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure.
Try the recipe

The bottom line

Following a plant-based diet throughout the holiday season may come with some challenges.

However, with a bit of planning and excitement to try new recipes, you can make your plant-based Thanksgiving dinner both delicious and memorable.

Remember to include your traditional favorites in your plant-based Thanksgiving menu, while also branching out to experience new flavors and recipes.

Sources

Want to host a plant-based Thanksgiving dinner? Find 21 helpful recipe ideas, from appetizers to main courses to side dishes!
Plant-Based Eating |

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