Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes and tips for throwing a marvelous meat-free feast
You can definitely serve a show-stopping meal without the bird!
This article was originally published September 29, 2017 and was updated September 26, 2019.
If you're hosting the Thanksgiving meal this year, or simply bringing a dish, and need to serve vegetarians at the table, you probably fall into one of two camps. Perhaps you're an old pro at this, and have your go-to meat-free recipes. Or, you're in a panic, and struggling to put together a single idea that does not revolve around turkey! You needn't worry, there are many delicious, hearty, ideas that take full advantage of the harvest and that are perfect for this particular celebration — the list of recipe ideas below proves it. It's just what you need even if you fall into the first camp; if you're stuck in a mushroom casserole rut, we've got some ideas sure to inspire you.
But first, if you're new to meat-free cooking, we've got some tips to help you ensure success this holiday.
Designing a satisfying vegetarian feast requires serving enough alternative proteins. Beans and rice or lentils and grains are just some examples; combined, they make up a complete protein. Choose dishes that are delicious and every bit as special as any meat dishes being served.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein and can be elegant too, (think quiche), just make sure they're a part of your guests' diet. Lacto-vegetarians don't eat eggs, so in that case skip a dessert like crème brûlée and most cakes, and make Spiced Pear and Apple Crisp instead.
Look out for ingredients that are not vegetarian-friendly, hidden in other ingredients! Remember that Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. If the recipe calls for broth or stock, make sure you reach for vegetable. Gelatin contains animal collagen, so consider this before making panna cotta, and swap it out for agar-agar, a vegan gelling agent that's derived from seaweed.
With those tips in mind, let's move on to the food. The feast below is flexible, so choose the number of dishes according to your party's size and tastes. Many of the dishes can be made ahead — cook it now and freeze for later. Break all the other prep down and do as much ahead of time as you can.
One last thing to do before you start, follow this very handy guide (if we do say so ourselves!) which will help you stay organized and feel like a Thanksgiving pro. Happy feasting everyone!
The main spread