Go green with these 10 plant-based Thanksgiving recipes

By Stacker

November 21, 2023
Serving plant-based meals during a holiday so focused on turkey may seem far-fetched, but with the prime produce the autumn season offers—and a turkey shortage pushing prices up as much as 73% from 2021—it’s the perfect time to add more plants to the table.

Butternut squash, apples, pumpkins, cranberries—all these antioxidant-rich plants are worthy alternatives to your usual meat-based sides and mains and deserve to be front and center on your table this year.

From tasty mains to sides and even your favorite fall desserts, Thistle compiled a list of 10 plant-based recipes that everyone at the Thanksgiving table will enjoy.

Not having a turkey to carve into can be a strange experience if you’re used to serving the bird. But if you want a main dish showstopper to focus on—without compromising your goals to keep things plant-based this year—alternatives such as Tofurkey, Gardein’s Vegan Turk’y Roast, Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Stuffed Roast, or many homemade plant-based options are tasty options to replace the usual poultry. Or if you’re not keen on having a main dish this year, serve a big feast with all the Thanksgiving sides and dessert you love.

Continue reading for some Thanksgiving dinner-planning inspiration.


A butternut squash cut in half and open-faced filled with rice.

Lunov Mykola // Shutterstock


Rice-stuffed butternut squash

Whether you’re on the hunt for a vegetarian main dish or a tasty side, this rice-stuffed butternut squash will work well on your Thanksgiving table. This recipe makes two servings. Each serving includes half a butternut squash filled with familiar tastes you love on Thanksgiving, like walnuts and dried cranberries. The sweetness of the butternut squash (with a touch of coconut sugar), along with the savory wild rice, will satisfy guests with any dietary restriction.


A plate with stuffed tofu turkey surrounded by vegetables.

Jay Ondreicka // Shutterstock


Stuffed turkey-less roast

Made with tofu, mushrooms, soy milk, and chickpeas, this tasty stuffed ‘no turkey’ roast is a gorgeous main if you want to keep Thanksgiving plant-based this year. The stuffing is made with a simple bag of apple and sage stuffing, and the entire roast is wrapped in homemade plant-based bacon. This plant-based main makes eight servings and will be ready in under three hours. Although this roast will certainly take some work, once you slice it into the final product, the smells and the taste will make all that hard work worth it.


A white bowl of stuffing with celery and sage on top.

Brent Hofacker // Shutterstock


Vegan sage sausage stuffing

If you’ve always loved grandma’s sausage-based stuffing but want to fill your plate with only plants this year, this vegan sage sausage stuffing is the perfect alternative. This recipe makes some simple swaps with vegan butter and sausage but keeps all the usual stuffing essentials—like celery, onions, carrots, garlic, and of course, bread. This side dish makes six servings, so if you’re serving an even larger crowd, double the recipe.


A white dutch oven dish of baked mac and cheese with a gray and white towel.

Luca Melo // Shutterstock


Pumpkin mac and ‘cheese’

Not only does pumpkin puree boost the nutritional value of this dish (boosting your fiber and vitamin A intake), but it also makes for the creamiest sauce in your mac and cheese. This vegan pumpkin mac and cheese bake relies on pumpkin, nutritional yeast, and nondairy milk to give this dish that creamy texture you know and love from a baked mac. Topped with breadcrumbs and baked for 45 minutes, this recipe will make four hearty servings—or six or eight smaller spoonfuls. However, if you are feeding some diehard mac and cheese lovers, you may want to consider doubling—or tripling—the batch.


A piece of vegan shepherd's pie on a vintage blue plate.



Vegan shepherd’s pie

This vegan shepherd’s pie makes for another easy plant-based main to swap out the turkey—and it only takes an hour. This shepherd’s pie has lentils for a filling protein boost that will leave you feeling satisfied, topped with homemade mashed potatoes made with vegan butter. This recipe makes six servings, making it a great alternative to offer if you have vegetarian or vegan guests joining your Thanksgiving festivities. If you plan to make this dish the main event, multiply the recipe accordingly.


A white baking dish of green bean casserole on a table.

MSPhotographic // Shutterstock


Green bean casserole

What’s a Thanksgiving spread with a classic green bean casserole? This vegan take on the classic dish has you making a roux with flour, vegan butter, and vegetable broth to give this casserole that creamy texture while skipping the dairy. But don’t worry, this recipe does not skimp on those crispy fried onions. Note that this vegan green bean casserole only serves four.


A small crock dish of vegetable and bean cassoulet on a burlap placemat.

ArtCookStudio // Shutterstock


White bean cassoulet

Another savory and filling plant-based main dish your guests will love is this vegan cassoulet. Made with mushrooms and beans, baked in a flavorful tomato sauce, and topped with a breadcrumb finish, this casserole only needs 20 to 25 minutes to bake, freeing up your oven space for all those other tasty sides (and desserts) you plan on making. This recipe already makes for 10 servings, likely making it one of the easiest main dishes you could throw together.


A gooey apple upside down cake on a white and orange towel with silver servingware.



Apple upside down cake

Apple pie may be a usual go-to dessert on Thanksgiving, but why not take it up a notch? This vegan apple cake bakes upside down, with beautifully displayed apple slices at the bottom. Once finished, the cake is released from the pan onto a plate and is immediately ready for serving. This pairs perfectly with a plant-based vanilla ice cream or a homemade plant-based caramel sauce.


A simple piece of white cheesecake with berries.


Easy baked cheesecake

You can enjoy cheesecake on a plant-based diet thanks to this recipe. This vegan easy baked cheesecake is made with a mixture of cashews, coconut cream, and vegan cream cheese to give it that creamy texture we all know and love. Plus, it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and naturally sweetened. This cheesecake makes eight slices and can be served with any fruit toppings you desire.


Two slices of pumpkin pie with tiny pumpkins in the background.



Pumpkin pie

As your Thanksgiving feast comes to a close, there’s nothing like finishing up your evening with a decaf cup of coffee and a slice of pumpkin pie. This vegan pumpkin pie keeps things simple, swapping out the usual can of milk with a can of coconut cream, mixed with all the familiar spicy seasonings, and baked in a vegan pie crust. You can even top your slices with massive dollops of vegan whipped cream—is there any other way to eat a piece of pie on Thanksgiving?

This story originally appeared on Thistle and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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