15 Vegan Side Dishes for a Classic Thanksgiving
I was inspired to write this post when my nursing instructor was telling the class how he got invited to a Friendsgiving. He loves his friends and has no problem getting together for a big meal... except they're vegan.
He asked, “What the heck am I going to eat at a vegan Thanksgiving?”
To some, trying to make a vegan side dish for Thanksgiving might be incredibly daunting, and for others, it just seems like common sense –Why would anyone NOT eat vegan at Thanksgiving?
But for me, I love to make Thanksgiving classics with a slight twist to make them dairy free or vegan. I see no reason anyone should have to sacrifice taste and quality simply to ‘veganize’ foods. With small substitutions, almost any dish can be vegan at your Thanksgiving table this fall. Some sides are ALREADY Vegan, but you simply might not have realized it!
Vegetables are always welcome at any holiday event. For Thanksgiving, cooked vegetables are usually preferred over their raw versions. Bring any of these easy veggies to your vegan Friendsgiving, just be sure to substitute non-dairy butter—like Country Crock Original—if you like the taste of butter added.
· Steamed carrots
· Green beans
· Green peas
· Brussel sprouts (baked or steamed)
Yes, the kind Grandma makes. Fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes are a must have for any Thanksgiving table.
Basically, make mashed potatoes the same as you would normally, but substitute non-dairy milk and non-dairy butter. I prefer coconut milk and Country Crock Original.
If you’re a college girl without much knowledge on Grandma’s potatoes, it’s really simple. Cut up and boil white potatoes. Once soft, drain and mash with a potato masher (is this the technical name?). Add coconut milk and Country Crock until the consistency is just how you like it. Add salt and pepper.
Macaroni and Cheese
Yep, you read that right. Homemade mac ‘n cheese is one of my favorite foods of all time, not just on the holidays. Baked in the oven, the edges get chewy and crispy but the center noodles stay soft.
Normally, you would combine cooked macaroni noodles, milk, egg, and cheese in a dish and bake in the oven. However to veganize this dish, replace milk with non-dairy milk, substitute non-dairy cheese for the cow’s cheese, and just forget the egg. I prefer almond milk and Daiya cheddar cheese. You can’t taste any difference between the two!
This is seriously the easiest side dish and it tastes so fall-ish. Cut the ends, poke holes in it with a fork, and microwave! Scoop out the meaty part and season with brown sugar!
Butternut Squash Pasta
If you’re weary of the mac ‘n cheese, this is the choice for you. It doesn’t quite taste like mac ‘n cheese, but it’s not quite like pumpkin either. It’s a fall tasting pasta dish (is fall a flavor?) that is the perfect addition to your table. I tried the recipe from Cookie and Kate, but I used macaroni noodles instead of linguini. It was so good though, I can’t give it enough credit!
Rolls are usually already vegan, but double check by reading the ingredients. Stay away from rolls that are pre-buttered or seasoned. Just get the plain ones and add non-dairy butter!
Broccoli and Rice Casserole
My favorite casserole for Thanksgiving is broccoli, cheese and rice casserole. Substitute the cheese for non-dairy cheese, like Daiya, and it tastes the same—so delicious.
Sweet potato casserole
Another classic casserole is sweet potato casserole, or sweet potato soufflé. Replace the milk with non-dairy milk and enjoy. Marshmallows, pecans, and brown sugar and other toppings are all vegan already!
Apple or Pecan pie
Most apple and pecan pies are already vegan, but double check all your labels if you choose to buy them pre-made. Prepackaging and freezing tends to add strange ingredients to foods!
Are bourbon balls a Thanksgiving dessert or Christmas dessert? We make them so often now, I don't remember. These are a little tricky. Substitute non-dairy milk for the cow's milk and use Country Crock Original in place of the butter. However, this makes them really runny, so you'll have to compensate by adding more confectioner's sugar or less bourbon. Coat them in dairy-free dark chocolate chips, like the Enjoy Life brand. Since the dark chocolate isn't as sweet, the taste of bourbon is actually stronger (and who would disapprove of that?)
Most dishes can substitute non-dairy items for the original dairy ingredients. The taste stays very similar and you can enjoy with a clear conscience—or simply to attend your friend’s vegan Thanksgiving.
Read all the ingredients list on every food you buy. Some brands have hidden dairy in them, like Country Crock Light. Country Crock Original does NOT have milk in it, however the light version DOES. (Why? I don’t know.)
Same goes with the non-dairy cheese. Daiya is dairy-free, but if you read the ingredients on other non-dairy cheeses, they DO have milk, like the GoVeggie brand. The technicalterm ‘non-dairy’ refers to lactose free (But when I say non-dairy in these Friendsgiving dishes, I mean NO dairy whatsoever. The corporations are trying to mess with you and it’s really rude!) So certain “non-dairy” foods at the store actually have milk in them. It’s really annoying. Just read your food labels!
It doesn’t matter which kind of non-dairy milk you use (again, when I say it I mean NO dairy whatsoever). Almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, etc. It all depends on your preference and what you think tastes best in each dish. If you were to buy one, I’d choose almond milk, but my mom would probably say coconut milk.
If your dish has egg in it, you can either forget it or substitute it. In the macaroni and cheese, we tried both with an egg and without it, and the one without the egg was actually creamier and I preferred it! Although if you’re baking breads or desserts, I suggest substituting the egg. You can use Flax-egg (Flaxseed + water), a banana, or applesauce.
Do you eat vegan at your Thanksgiving get-together? Or are you interested in trying it this November? Be sure to include these side dishes to achieve that classic taste of the fall.
What other vegan dishes do you eat over the holidays? Comment below and be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest updates and blog posts.