The holiday season is upon us, so that means it’s time to get cookin’! Please enjoy this round up of over 20 crowd-pleasing vegan and vegetarian holiday recipes – broken down into appetizers, salads, main dishes, and desserts. Even better, most of the recipe and ideas on this list are quite simple to make! I don’t mind going all out with a complex recipe here and there, but it’s definitely nice to keep it fuss-free at times – especially if you’re preparing several dishes at once.
For the record: it is 100% possible to have a fully satisfying holiday meal without turkey, ham, or other meat. (I’d beg to argue it’s even more satisfying without!) It’s been over 15 years since we’ve had turkey, but every year we still make huge holiday feasts – with more than enough food to fill up on, and using recipes that everyone at the table loves!
Many of the featured vegetarian holiday recipes are from yours truly, and we included a handful of vegan Thanksgiving recipes from our favorite plant-based food bloggers too. Yet these ideas aren’t just for Thanksgiving! We enjoy many of these soul-warming goodies all fall and winter long.
A note for friends and family
Perhaps you’re not plant-based yourself, but want to add a few vegan or vegetarian holiday recipes to your table to make family and friends with diverse diets feel welcome. Thank you! I greatly applaud and appreciate your effort, and I’m positive they will too!
If that is the case, remember that vegetarian means “hold the meat”, including beef, fish, pork, chicken or meat byproducts like chicken broth, bone broth or fish sauce. On the other hand, vegan means no animal products whatsoever – so avoid meat along with eggs, cheese, butter, or other dairy. Some strict vegans also steer clear of honey, so when in doubt, simply ask your company in advance of their dietary restrictions or preferences.
Also keep in mind that it is usually very easy to “veganize” your favorite family recipes with simple swaps! For example, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth in your stuffing (and cook it in a separate pan, not inside a turkey). Or, use vegan butter and coconut milk instead of butter and cream in your pumpkin pie. Here is one popular egg replacement product.
Vegan and Vegetarian Holiday Appetizers & Snacks
Finger food, anyone? This herb and garlic smashed potatoes recipe is loaded with flavor, simple earthy ingredients, and are the perfect make-ahead appetizer for any occasion. Enjoy these delectable garlicly spuds with cheese, vegan cheese, or sans cheese.
2) Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed shrooms are a fantastic veg-friendly appetizer. Aaron makes them for us often, but we haven’t documented our recipe yet (sorry!) In the meantime, try this recipe from Feel Good Foodie. She stuffs her’s full of chickpeas, walnuts, spices, and optional cheese – so they’re packed with plenty of protein, flavor, and texture.
3) Fresh Vegetable Platter with Dips
You can’t go wrong with a good veggie platter. Cut up some carrots, celery, bell pepper, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower florets, snap peas, or other seasonal favorites to enjoy alongside a tasty dip or spread. Ranch, onion dip, hummus… One of my favorites is our healthy yogurt dipping sauce with dill, garlic and lemon (best made several hours or a day in advance) or this green hummus recipe.
Beware… these roasted mixed nuts are highly-addictive! They’re the perfect balance of savory, mildly sweet and salty. The recipe is easy to make, and you can use any variety or combination of nuts. You can even spice things up with a little chili powder if you’re feeling spry!
….or a rustic loaf of sourdough bread. Who doesn’t love fresh bread? Put out a basket of delicious homemade sourdough to enjoy on its own, or to nosh on with dips, spreads, or classic olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Clearly this one can be part of your main meal as well. See our simple sourdough focaccia recipe here, or our basic no-knead sourdough bread loaf tutorial here. You can easily incorporate your favorite seasonal toppings or add-ins to both recipes, such as rosemary, walnuts, cranberries, olives, and more.
6) Cheese Board or Pickle Plate
Taking our suggestion for a veggie platter one step further… create a beautiful display of your favorite vegan or vegetarian snacks charcuterie-style, just hold the meat! This has become our new holiday tradition over the past few years, loading up with olives, pickles, nuts, spreads, homemade sourdough crackers, seasonal fruit and veggies.
7) Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples & Dates
If y’all haven’t yet discovered the drool-worthy recipes from Minimalist Baker, you’re missing out! This fall-inspired salad is no different, described as a “quick, fresh and versatile salad… that is a delicious combination of savory, sweet, crunchy and tart”.
8) Butternut Squash and Quinoa Salad
From All Things Healthy, this hearty salad is loaded with fresh fall ingredients like butternut squash, apples, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, and shaved Brussels sprouts. The addition of quinoa and bright and creamy apple cider vinaigrette dressing makes it especially satisfying.
9) Kale Salad with Pomegranate and Persimmons
Personally, I’m not much of a recipe-follower when it comes to salads. We are more of a “throw together what we have” kind of household. One year for Thanksgiving, we made a really simple but delicious seasonal salad inspired by what we had on hand between the garden and recent trip to the farmer’s market: massaged kale and arugula topped with pomegranate, sliced Fuyu persimmons, radishes and sprouted pumpkin seeds, served with a drizzle of olive oil and thick aged balsamic vinegar. Other seasonal topping ideas include apples, figs, pecans, dried cranberries. A sprinkle of feta cheese would be tasty too!
Hint: be sure to use Fuyu persimmons for fresh eating or salads, not Hachiya baking persimmons!
Delicious Vegan and Vegetarian Thanksgiving Main Course Recipes
I’d like to introduce you to your new favorite festive dish! Well, it’s one of our top-favorite vegetarian holiday recipes, and one that everyone else seems to rave about too. This double-decker layered sweet potato (or yams), apple, walnut and fresh cranberry bake is bursting with nutrients and satisfying flavors. It is much healthier than most holiday yam dishes, low in added sugar but naturally sweet, and brings a beautiful pop of color to the table. It’s also simple to make. We often prep it the day before baking, reducing the day-of holiday chaos! Find the recipe here.
11) Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
This one is no-brainer, am I right? Mashed potatoes are easy to make vegan. Simply use vegan butter and unsweetened milk substitutes in the mix. Yet gravy can be a little more difficult… If you’re looking for an easy and flavorful vegan or vegetarian gravy recipe, you have got to try Aaron’s mushroom gravy! It is absolutely delicious, rich, and creamy. We love it over spuds as well as roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans, or stuffing. It’s easy to customize and make thick, chunky, or smooth – and even folks who don’t like mushrooms enjoy it! Check out the reviews if you don’t believe me.
12) Vegan Lentil Meatloaf
Looking to add more protein to your plant-based holiday feast? Then look no further than this scrumptious vegan meatloaf recipe from Sweet Potato Soul. Made with lentils, walnuts, mushrooms, and plenty of seasonings, it comes in hot with texture and flavor – without the need for imitation meat products!
Truth: I never liked cranberry sauce until we started making our own. Now I’m obsessed. I bet you’ll also love our bright and flavorful homemade cranberry sauce! The recipe is quick and easy to make, and strikes the perfect balance between tart and sweet. We eat it all winter long – not just for the holidays! It’s fantastic with plain yogurt and granola for breakfast, over sourdough pancakes, in place of chutney with cheese and crackers, or even on top of vanilla ice cream.
14) Vegan Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing
This stuffing from Plant Based RD looks downright delectable. The recipe is classically simple, and brings together all the right flavors of fall with ample apples, pecans, cranberries, garlic and herbs. You could even take things up a notch and use homemade sourdough bread in this vegan holiday recipe too!
Give Brussels sprouts a chance! This roasted Brussels sprouts recipe transforms them into delicious sweet and savory morsels, tender on the inside and lightly crisped on the outside. Not to mention the garlic chunks, fresh herbs, a drizzle of honey, pop of bright and tangy balsamic vinegar, and optional parmesan cheese on top… Drool! Yet if you really can’t get behind Brussels, you can follow this recipe to roast a variety of other veggies – like carrots, beets, mushrooms, radishes and more.
16) Pan-Fried Green Beans with Shaved Almonds and Soy Sauce
Because they’re so quick and easy to make, I haven’t written up a “recipe” for these amazing green beans yet – but we make them every holiday! Simply trim off the stem end of your green beans, and decide if you want to keep them full length or cut in half. Then add them to a hot skillet or cast iron wok with a little olive oil, coconut oil or butter plus a small splash of soy sauce or tamari. Pan-sear them until the green beans are just fork-tender but still have plenty of good crunch to offer. Top with shaved almonds or crispy fried onions.
Sourdough + cornbread = quadruple yum. Please enjoy our golden sourdough cornbread recipe. True to sourdough form, it’s healthier for you than regular (not fermented) bread, and a delectable combination of moist, fluffy, crumbly, a tiny bit gritty, and ever-so-slightly sweet. Vegan and gluten-free variations included.
18) Slow Cooker Seitan Roast
This centerpiece-worthy seitan roast recipe from Vegan Yack Attack is for those of you that aren’t down with a “sides only” type of holiday meal, and are craving a satisfying meat substitute dish at your table. Made in a slow cooker, it also gives you some downtime (and free oven space) to work on prepping your other vegetarian holiday recipes in the meantime.
Our Indian-inspired vegetarian biryani stuffed winter squash is hearty, healthy, and bursting with savory flavors. The dried cranberries (or cherries) also offer the perfect hint of sweetness. The recipe is easy to customize with a variety of hard squash types and stuffing veggies, or make fully vegan!
20) Soups Or Chili
Many folks I know like to keep it extra simple around the holidays, especially for more intimate gatherings. On a cold cozy night, nothing sounds better than a soul-warming bowl of soup, easy side salad, and some fresh bread to dip it in! If that sounds up your alley, check out our vegan soup recipes: creamy potato leek, roasted tomato basil, roasted butternut squash and sage soup, no-chicken noodle soup, or sweet potato and carrot soup. Or, try this vegan roasted sugar pie pumpkin 3-bean chili.
Do you still have room for dessert?
Vegan Holiday Dessert Recipes
Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake
Here is a fantastic recipe for a creamy, luxurious vegan pumpkin pie – brought to you by my dear friend Timothy (aka, the Mississippi Vegan). It’s complete with a homemade graham cracker and oat crust, plenty of fall spices, and not too much added sugar.
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Before you go about making pumpkin pie or other pumpkin goodies, come learn how to make your own homemade pumpkin puree here. It’s easy to do, and so much more fresh and flavorful than the canned stuff! You can definitely make this ahead of time since it’s freezer-friendly too.
Healthy Pumpkin Pie
This spin on a classic pumpkin pie recipe from All the Healthy Things is dairy-free, and can easily be made gluten-free by adding her pie filling to whatever crust you prefer. Sweetened with maple syrup, the recipe is also a bit kinder to your body since maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than sugar.
Apple Pear Crisp
Not feeling the pumpkin love? Then you definitely should try this apple pear crisp from my girl Jackie (Vegan Yack Attack). Truth be told, I’ve always been more of a “team apple” girl over pumpkin pie myself. The recipe is loaded with satisfying cinnamon-y vibes with a buttery, crunchy crisp top. Even more, it’s both vegan and gluten-free to boot!
Pecan Pie Bars
Where are all the pecan fans at? Aaron is a huge pecan-lover, and these vegan, gluten-free, paleo Pecan Pie Bars from the lovely miss Bakerita look right up his alley! I’m not usually into pecan desserts but she had me at “crispy coconut flour shortbread crust”, and the fact that they aren’t cloyingly sweet like many pecan goodies can be. They also get killer reviews!
Spiced & Salted Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
Here is another crowd-pleasing alternative to pie! Our drool-worthy spiced sourdough chocolate cookies offer a festive holiday flair – with a dash of cinnamon snickerdoodle love, a hint of warm gingerbread spice, and flaky sea salt on top. Fermented dough (via the sourdough starter) also reduces the glycemic load of flour, making them a wee bit more healthy than your average cookie too.
And that concludes our round up of highly-satisfying vegan and vegetarian holiday recipes!
Who needs meat?! As you can hopefully see, there is MORE than enough variety and plant-based deliciousness to fill up on. And this is just a small taste of all the veg-friendly dishes that are out there to explore! Do you have any other tasty vegan or vegetarian holiday recipes to share? Or, did you find a new favorite from this list? I‘d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, so please drop them in the comments below! Thank you so much for tuning in. Happiest of holidays to you and yours. Cheers!