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What Do Vegetarians Eat on Thanksgiving? 12 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes to Choose From

Wondering what vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving? Is it hard to imagine Turkey Day without turkey, or gravy, or butter? These dietitian nutritionists are here to inspire you with their plant-based autumn recipes.

Appetizer: Cranberry Jalapeno Hummus

Cranberries pack a potent nutrient punch—and they’re traditional! Sharon Palmer, aka the Plant Powered Dietitian, recommends this tasty appetizer. Tartness and sweetness from the cranberries, mated with spicy jalapeño, results in a healthy dipper for your vegetable crudités or crackers. Fiber-packed, compliments of the chickpeas, and full of healthy fats from tahini and olive oil. Winner!

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Appetizer: Turkey Veggie Plate

Get the kids involved with this adorable fresh veggie tray in the shape of a turkey. What could be cuter? Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, states that her family aims to have healthy appetizers on Turkey Day. “A couple of years ago, we started the tradition of making a turkey out of vegetables. This allows vegetarian me to get a turkey on Thanksgiving—and allows our guest to fill up on fiber-rich vegetables, shares Gorin. Here are some other veggie platter ideas.


Appetizer: Crispy Potatoes with Pumpkin Hummus

Going veggie means you can indulge in a few more taters, especially if they’re pumped up with some health benefit-loaded pumpkin. This elegant, simple and healthy hors d’oeuvre comes courtesy of chef Catherine Brown, CDM/CFPP: Crispy slabs of roasted potatoes make the perfect plate for vibrant pumpkin hummus drizzled with brown butter sage. Hummus with a pumpkin twist is innovative and nutritious.


Side: Oat Cranberry Pilaf

For a whole grain unique combo with tart cranberries, try this cranberry oat pilaf with pistachios from Sharon Palmer. Not only is this side dish vegan, it’s rich in fiber and healthy fats, with a burst of holiday flavor from the cranberry.

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Side: Fresh Cranberry Sauce

How about a fresh cranberry sauce ready in a matter of minutes? Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD created a traditional side with fresh cranberries, fresh mint, and fresh tangerines. Best part—fresh seasonal cranberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants.


Side: Vegan Autumn Salad

One of the most versatile, elegant and delicious autumn salads you’ve ever tasted, and it features figs, a food notorious for it’s libido-boosting powers. No fresh figs on hand? No problem! Grilled apples, pears or persimmons work just as well. You’ll find this amazing recipe by Chef Catherine Brown on her website. Figs provide a fun twist to this salad with a boost of potassium, as well.


Main Event: Mushroom Spinach Tofu Pie

If the turkey isn’t the star of the table, what does a vegetarian serve as the main dish? Hearty mushrooms combined with creamy tofu and vitamin-rich spinach are your answer. A vegan fancy quiche-like pie from Sharon Palmer will satisfy your family as a protein-filled main event.

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Main Event: Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sage Lentils

One of fall’s main cancer-fighting foods, squash is in season. Sharon Palmer created this stylish presentation of vitamin A rich acorn squash stuffed with freekeh, an ancient grain, and lentils, a super-high protein pulse. Balanced enough for a complete meal, yet beautiful for a special Thanksgiving entrée.


Dessert: Hemp Pecan Pie

If you haven’t experimented with hemp in your recipes, this is the perfect dessert for your holiday table. Traditional pecan pie meets its dairy and gluten-free cousin, without gloopy corn syrup. Sweetness comes from maple syrup and pureed dates. Hemp provides a boost of magnesium, iron and vitamin E. Your family will love this innovation from Kara Lydon, RD, RYT.


Dessert: Cinnamon Apple Crumble

Awesome on a latte or a pie, cinnamon has some other surprising tricks up its sleeve. Spicy cinnamon mixed with sweet apples makes a cozy, warm, fruit-centric vegan dessert. Your house will smell divine! Sharon Palmer’s dish contains only one tablespoon of sugar, so you can truly taste the apples and spices.


Dessert: REAL Pumpkin Pie

Nothing says Thanksgiving like pumpkin pie. But, trust me, nothing says vegetarian Thanksgiving better than one made with a real pumpkin. Roasting the squash in the crockpot is super easy, and after trying this pie with fresh pumpkin you’ll never use the canned version again. Naturally rich in fiber and vitamin A, too!


Dessert: Cranberry Orange Tart

Oranges come into their own this time of year, and they’re packed with antioxidants. So throw them in a tart: The crunchy crust of this beautiful tart is walnuts and corn flakes. The creamy orange filling is a just sweet enough protein-packed, egg-thickened yogurt. The crowning cranberries make it fresh, seasonal, and pretty. Planning and keeping things in order is soul food for me. This recipe meets those needs because no special ingredients or techniques are required. Judy Barbe, RD, the mastermind behind this recipe, uses it for holiday brunch and breakfast, too.

Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD
Jennifer is a doctoral-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with nearly 25 years of experience. For the majority of her career she has focused on health care, disease prevention, and nutrition education for a range of ages—from middle school to graduate school students. In private practice, Dr. Bowers is involved in freelance writing and extracurricular nutrition clubs for children. When not working, she enjoys swimming, running, hiking, biking, camping, cooking, and reading.

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