I wanted to share with you my meal plan for Vegan Thanksgiving. And not just that but my shopping list and the order in which I cook everything too. This is an important day and I’ve spent years trying to get the formula right and I want to share that formula with you.
So, let’s get started.
First, you should know this: I bring an entire Vegan Thanksgiving Feast to my family dinner. Most of my family is not anything with a “V” — vegan, vegetarian, or virgo. I don’t know why but we’ve got no birthdays to celebrate in August/September. Go figure!
Of course, Shawn, Adee and I are vegan and I want us to have a day of deliciousness! And I deliver, let me tell you! You will look at this meal plan and the first thing you may think is, “this is too much food for three people.”
I like to make enough for us to have leftovers because we love this meal SO much! In addition, I’m happy for the rest of my non-V family to try vegan dishes. I think it’s helpful for them to know that you can enjoy stuffing without animal products.
Vegan Thanksgiving Meal Plan
Let’s start with the meal plan. Here is what is on my vegan meal plan:
- Main entree (we rotate between Tofurkey and Field Roast)
- Vegan Seven Layer Salad
- Garlic-infused Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
- Easy Vegan Dinner Rolls
- Vegan Stuffing
- Some veggie side dish, like Brussels Sprouts
- Pie #1: Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Pie #2: Vegan Pecan Pie
- Dessert #3: Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake.
That’s it. This can amount to a lot of cooking, but I do two things to make this very do-able:
- If there’s a way to make a recipe as flavorful as possible with minimal steps, I do that. For example, my easy vegan stuffing is, well, very easy!
- I have learned over the years what I can make ahead without sacrificing flavor.
I learned a lot of #2 from my mom. She would not like #1 at all, because she (used to) makes everything from scratch. My mom has a hard time standing for long periods of time these days so she’s not so much into everything being scratch any more.
Here’s my reasoning for finding ways to make things easier without sacrificing taste. Yes, my mom would make everything from scratch, including the cornbread that went into the stuffing. The problem was, by the time dinner was served, she was usually pretty cranky.
Sorry mom! It’s the trouble with having kids, they rat on you.
She was just so stressed out about everything being perfect and I would have preferred to actually enjoy the meal with her. So, I’ve decided that these two tips above make for an absolutely delicious vegan Thanksgiving dinner without sacrificing my sanity. That’s important.
Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes
These are the photos and links to the recipes I have on the site right now. I have one coming soon for vegan gravy. It can really make a difference to have a good vegan gravy!
We rotate between using Field Roast and Tofurkey for our Thanksgiving Dinner. We love them both and find them a perfect addition to our dinner table. If you’re new to veganism, don’t expect Tofurkey to taste just like turkey. It doesn’t. However, it has a place on our plate and we enjoy it both on Thanksgiving day and for leftovers afterwards too. If you’d like an alternative, my Vegan Cranberry Holiday Lentil Loaf is infused with stuffing flavors and is quite delicious!
I like to serve several vegan sides on Thanksgiving. It’s the side dishes where the fun’s at! Here are my favorites:
I make our mashed potatoes with the peels on because it’s easier and, you know, there’s nutrition in them there peels! If you want to make these vegan mashed potatoes, you’ll want to have some plain (not vanilla-flavored) plant-based milk on hand. You can use whatever milk suits you, like almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, etc.
One of the stars of our vegan Thanksgiving dinner is this vegan seven layer salad. I’m from Missouri, and the seven layer salad is something most of us in the midwest look forward to each year. I took my mom’s recipe and veganized it. This salad is well worth it and it’s delicious to the last bite!
OK. This is one of those areas where I wouldn’t necessarily HAVE to make these vegan dinner rolls. Because someone usually brings bread and about 50% of the time, I’ll discover that they’re accidentally vegan. However, if we show up and the dinner rolls are not vegan, it’s very disappointing. I mean, very. having the perfect, yeasty dinner rolls is part of what makes Thanksgiving so special!
These easy vegan dinner rolls are, well, easy, but they don’t sacrifice flavor! I also have a sweet potato dinner rolls recipe that’s pretty tasty too!
The stuffing is another one of those iconic side dishes that is a must for your vegan Thanksgiving dinner buffet. I discovered a way to make this vegan and oh, so simple. It’s much easier than my mom’s recipe which required making homemade cornbread too. I use a store-bought stuffing mix that just happens to be vegan.
You can make these easy vegan stuffing recipe with only a few ingredients, many of which you can find at your local grocery store!
Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts
I could go on all day about the desserts I COULD make for Thanksgiving. For example, there’s my Vegan Carrot Cake which is not only delicious, it’s beautiful too! There’s also my decadent Vegan Chocolate Sheet Cake. It’s so rich and chocolatey, and covered in pecans, it’s perfect for Thanksgiving. Of course, there’s also my Vegan Sprinkle Cookies which makes a delicious addition to any dessert table!
And my Vegan Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls are ALWAYS a hit!
However, these are my tried and true favorite desserts to make for our Vegan Thanksgiving meal.
The pumpkin pie is a must-have dessert for Thanksgiving and I love these vegan recipe because it’s so easy to make. I use a cookie crumb crust which really sets it apart!
You can serve this ultimate vegan pumpkin pie to vegans and non-vegans alike. It’s loved by all!
I have perfected the vegan pumpkin pie recipe through a process of trial and error. I might have even scored highly on the error side of things! But sometimes it takes a little failure to get things right and this recipe is worth every wrong one I made. This is another veganized version from my moms’ recipe and it’s a favorite! Look at those pecans!
Can you imagine this vegan pecan pie on your dessert table? You can even use my foolproof vegan pie crust recipe too!
There has to be something chocolate on my vegan dessert table, and this Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake is just the ticket. I only use Tofutti’s vegan cream cheese and I do think it makes a big difference. This one is a little more time-consuming than some, but it can (and should) be made the day before.
I have other vegan cheesecake recipes that I love. For example, there’s my most recent dairy-free vegan cheesecake that uses a very secret, and interesting ingredient! And then there’s my Vegan Oreo Cheesecake which is stunning to look at, let alone eat! In the end, this Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake is a go-to favorite for Thanksgiving because it’s loaded with chocolate and the addition of fresh raspberries gives it a touch of glamor too!
There is one thing I don’t make for Thanksgiving: Cranberry Sauce. My mom makes this and it’s vegan so I choose not to do double work. Besides, not everyone in my clan likes cranberry sauce so why go to the trouble.
Thanksgiving Dinner Strategy
As the cook, you need to strategize a little, otherwise you’ll end up like my mom (sorry, mom!) and be a little grumpy while everyone else is being Thankful! Cooking can be a lot of hard work (which is one of the reasons I love it so much…keeps me moving around!).
But it’s good to spread all that cooking around. Because if you spend all day cooking on Thanksgiving, you might end up too tired to even enjoy it. So, here’s my strategy for cooking Thanksgiving Dinner:
- Make the salad dressing for the seven layer salad. This lets the flavors grow stronger. Store it in a sealed mason jars.
- Prepare the vegan stuffing. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool, then cover and refrigerate.
- Prepare vegetable side dish, like Brussels sprouts, allow to cool, cover and refrigerate.
- Go ahead and make that vegan gravy, then cover and refrigerate.
- Make all the desserts, especially the cheesecake. That cheesecake needs a lot of time to cool down and it’s best served chilled, so making it the day ahead is perfect.
- Prepare veggie scramble for the seven layer salad
- Wash potatoes and trim off any ugly bits and then cut into small cubes. Add this to a large pan with water. Refrigerate. No need to cook these just yet, but this preparatory step will make things easier tomorrow.
- Add the layers of the seven layer salad into a serving dish, except for the veggie bacon and dressing. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate.
- Make veggie bacon, set aside to cool.
- Cook the Tofurkey or Field Roast according to package directions.
- Cook the potatoes according to the recipe and make mashed potatoes.
- About an hour before dinner:
- Place stuffing in the oven to reheat (to get the top crust crispy again)
- Add veggie bacon and dressing to the salad
- Set out some vegan butter so it’s soft to spread on heated rolls
- Begin setting the table with things like salt and pepper
- Set desserts out on a dessert table
- About 30 minutes before dinner:
- Heat up the gravy and place it in a gravy boat, or just leave it on very low heat on the stovetop
- Heat up dinner rolls
- Heat up Brussels Sprouts
- Transfer mashed potatoes to a serving dish
- Add placards to vegan dishes.
That just about sums up my strategy for making our vegan Thanksgiving meal. I’ve done this for years now and it works like a charm and keeps me sane. And everyone loves the results.
Regarding the placards, it’s completely optional. As much as I like people to try my vegan recipes, I also don’t want them wasting it if it’s not what they want. Sometimes it’s hard for people to tell if that seven layer salad is vegan or not. It looks the same. So I like to add little signs that lets people know what they’re getting.
Vegan Thanksgiving Shopping List
My shopping list for this Vegan Thanksgiving feast is below, but first, I want you to know that it relies on the following staples:
- Olive oil
- Garlic powder
- Dehydrated onions
- Agave nectar
- Nutritional Yeast Flakes
- Ground flaxseeds
- Plain plant-based milk (soy, almond, etc, just nothing vanilla flavored)
- Salt (I prefer sea salt but that’s up to you)
- All-purpose flour
- Whole wheat pastry flour
- Cocoa powder
- Corn syrup
- Brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
That’s a long list, I know, but it’s the kind of ingredients that I think are common in a vegan kitchen. Here’s the list of things that are less common, that I have on hand to make all the recipes above:
- Tofurkey or Field Roast (I find these mostly at health food stores, but sometimes in the health food section of my local grocery store)
- Extra Firm Tofu
- Silken Tofu
- Frozen Peas
- Vegan Cheddar Cheese (we prefer Daiya for this salad)
- Green onions
- Vegan Mayo (Just Mayo is perfect here)
- Veggie Bacon (I really like Benevolent Bacon available at most health food stores)
- 5 lb bag of Red Potatoes
- Vegan Butter (aka Earth Balance)
- Vegetable broth
- Pepperidge Farms Cornbread Stuffing Mix
- Yellow Onion
- Rapid Rise Yeast
- Brussels Sprouts
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Crisco (or coconut oil)
- Pumpkin Puree
- Corn Syrup
- Oreo Cookies (for cheesecake crust)
- Canned Coconut Cream (like the kind sold at Trader Joe’s or Sprouts)
- Tofutti Vegan Cream Cheese (plain) (at least 2 containers)
- Raw Cashews
- Reddi Whip Dairy-free Whipped Cream Topping (either coconut or almond)
- Dairy-free chocolate chips
This is my vegan Thanksgiving instructions. I hope this is helpful to you in making your holiday as delicious and vegan as possible!
Know I’m wishing you the very best of holiday wishes!