Vegan Thanksgiving recipes: How to make turkey, gravy, and stuffing vegan

Few holidays are as centered around food as Thanksgiving. As a result, the uniquely American holiday can be a struggle for vegans who might not want to tuck into a turkey leg. Don't worry, though, we got you.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a drag for vegans, there are many options.
Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a drag for vegans, there are many options.  © Collage: Unsplash/Chelsea Shapouri/Stephanie Monfette/Brooke Lark

From the turkey to the ham, to the animal grease and butter used to make the mashed potato creamy and delicious, there are few things at Thanksgiving that don't require the death or exploitation of an animal.

Yet, vegans deserve a Thanksgiving feast as well, and it doesn't have to be difficult or bland.

With these great vegan Thanksgiving recipes, you'll be ripe and ready for a delicious and fun holiday with the whole family.

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Put away the simple salads, and get yourself some vegan turkey, great gravy, and a delicious pumpkin pie.

Let's dig in!

Making the perfect vegan Thanksgiving: Recipes

The first rule of making a vegan Thanksgiving good is to steer clear of the alternate meats. While there are a few decent products out there - the world of burger patties is getting particularly good - you're not going to get a real tasting turkey, nor a steak that truly bleeds (and you probably wouldn't want one). Instead, choose something genuinely good, genuinely delicious, and genuinely special.

So, what can you cook instead of a Thanksgiving turkey, how do you get the gravy right without the meat juices, what do you replace the butter with in the mashed potato? These vegan Thanksgiving recipes will keep you happy and well-fed.

You don't need to buy fake turkey, make some fresh falafel and make them look pretty.
You don't need to buy fake turkey, make some fresh falafel and make them look pretty.  © IMAGO/Pond5 Images

Vegan turkey recipe

Do you really want to eat weird, rubbery stuff that tastes vaguely salty, barely resembles turkey, and certainly doesn't taste like it? You probably don't, and you don't have to - even if you're vegan. What you want is a "protein" to form the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving feast, and there are a few options to consider.

Here are a few vegan roast turkey options for Thanksgiving:

  • Whole-roasted cauliflower: Salted and seasoned to perfection, a whole roasted cauliflower can be carved like a turkey. Pair it with some roasted pistachios and allow the vegan gravy to sing.
  • A giant falafel: Instead of making lots of small falafels, make one impressively large one and carve it like a turkey in the center of the table. Again, it's gravy time.
  • Lentil shepherd's pie: Not the best to pair with gravy, but a great option. Make it with vegetable stock and lentils instead of beef. Top with vegan mashed potato and melted vegan cheese.
  • Lentil moussaka: Follow our detailed moussaka recipe, and you will end up with an amazing and ridiculously delicious vegan Thanksgiving centerpiece.
  • Vegan burgers: Grill up some high-quality vegan burger patties and go to town with some fantastic vegan burgers - what's not to love?

Don't go trying to substitute the turkey with something that might look like turkey, but will make no one happy. Choose one of these options to fill the fam.

Vegan gravy recipe

Gravy can be just as delicious when vegan, you just need the know-how.
Gravy can be just as delicious when vegan, you just need the know-how.  © Unsplash/Matthias Oberholzer

Arguably the most important part of any Thanksgiving meal is, of course, the potatoes and the gravy.

Notably, the two should go together: that crispy roasted potato paired with a gravy that's rich and salty. When it comes to a vegan Thanksgiving, though, the gravy becomes all-the-more important - and trust us, you don't need any animal products to make a mean gravy.

Vegan gravy ingredients:

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  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Mustard
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ketchup
  • Red wine
  • Flour
  • Vegetable stock
  • Olive oil

Vegan gravy instructions:

Roast the vegetables in your oven until softened, seasoned with salt and olive oil. Take out of the oven and put it into a pot, pouring the oily juices in with it. Bring up the head and, once sizzling, add a cup of vegetable stock. Boil for about 30 minutes before putting a sieve over another big pot and tipping out the contents, separating the liquid gravy from the solid vegetables. Bring the liquid back up to the boil, add half a cup of red wine, a squirt of ketchup, seasoning, and boil for 5 more minutes. Thicken by whisking in flour.

Serve your vegan gravy with stuffing and roasted vegetables. It is the perfect thing to put on a mashed potato, pair with your vegan turkey, and dip bread in.

Vegan stuffing recipe

Stuffing is a must-have, even without the turkey.
Stuffing is a must-have, even without the turkey.  © Unsplash/Frank Zhang

You want to pair your Thanksgiving feast with some well-textured and delicious stuffing, that's animal product free.

The most important thing is to get a bit of a crunch and crumbles, and a bang of flavor that'll coat your pallet while remaining vegan.

Vegan stuffing ingredients:

  • Bread crumbs
  • Couscous
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Vegetable stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Vegan stuffing instructions:

Dry out your bread crumbs by putting them in a tray in the oven for 5–10 minutes. Having cooked your couscous and sautéd your veggies in olive oil, combine the two and mix thoroughly. Season and chuck it all in the oven for 10 minutes at 360°F to get them a bit crispy.

Enjoy your stuffing with whatever you want - it's an absolute must. Make more complex tasting alternatives that focus on citrus flavors, dates, or autumn spices.

Vegan pumpkin pie recipe

Pumpkin pie is an absolute must on Thanksgiving, and it's easy to make without the butter.
Pumpkin pie is an absolute must on Thanksgiving, and it's easy to make without the butter.  © Unsplash/Matthew Bornhorst

Our thorough pumpkin pie recipe is ripe and ready for anyone who is game enough to make their own.

We even detail how to make it vegan, full of veggies, sugar, and goodness, as there's nothing more important than the dessert that comes after the main Thanksgiving meal, and no option better than a fantastic pumpkin pie.

Don't worry, you don't need much time or energy to make homemade vegan pumpkin pie, just the right ingredients and recipe.

Vegan mashed potato recipe

The easiest vegan Thanksgiving must-have is some delicious mashed potato.
The easiest vegan Thanksgiving must-have is some delicious mashed potato.  © Unsplash/Wouter Supardi Salari

Mashed potatoes is one of the easiest things to make, but is all-too-often loaded with so much cream and butter that it's not only non-vegan, but ridiculously over the top.

You can make it just as creamy and just as delicious with a bit of talent and a few different ingredients. Let's get to it.

Vegan mashed potatoes ingredients:

  • Vegetable stock
  • Potatoes
  • Chives
  • Almond milk
  • Miso paste
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Vegan mashed potatoes instructions:

Bring some vegetable stock up to the boil and cook your peeled potatoes in it until soft and tender. Take them out of the stock and give them a good mash. Now, add about half a cup of almond milk, and a squirt of miso paste. Mix thoroughly and continue to mash until creamy. Season with salt and pepper and fold in chopped chives. Enjoy!

Pair your delicious vegan mashed potato with some of that gravy you made earlier - it'll be absolutely delicious, rich, and full of that umami flavor.

Thanksgiving food doesn't have to be bad if you're vegan

A pretty common view is that Thanksgiving is tough and challenging for vegans and vegetarians when it comes to food. While in many cases true - vegans with non-vegan families, for example, face some real challenges - it doesn't have to be. There are so many delicious foods, from great pumpkin pie to mashed potatoes, that don't have to include butter but can be just as creamy.

Don't despair, experiment a little bit, and use Thanksgiving as an excuse to try new things and take a chance. Cooking can be fun, and should be an enjoyable and joyful part of the Turkey Day experience.

Cover photo: Collage: Unsplash/Chelsea Shapouri/Stephanie Monfette/Brooke Lark

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