6 Plant-Based Thanksgiving Main Dishes so Your Vegetarian Guests Can Eat More Than Sides

Photo: A Virtual Vegan
If you or someone you’re thankful for eats a  plant-based diet, you’re all too familiar with the conundrum of having to stick to side dishes during Thanksgiving when the only entrée option is something like, oh, I don't know... turkey.

After all, sides are more likely to be vegan or vegetarian. But a meal consisting solely of cornbread, sweet potatoes and roasted veggies isn’t exactly nutritionally balanced. And this Thanksgiving, you want your plant-based pals to have their protein and eat it, too—or at least leave your feast feeling satisfied with a main dish for vegetarian Thanksgiving.

What to make as a main dish for vegetarian Thanksgiving

mushroom stroganoff
Photo: Chocolate Covered Katie

1. High-Protein Mushroom Stroganoff

Chocolate Covered Katie’s culinary prowess may lie in all things dessert, but consider this hearty vegan main as proof she can work wonders with veggies, too. Using firm-silky tofu instead of beef for protein, as well as crisp green beans for crunch, you might want to double up on the recipe in the (very real) chance your guests ask for seconds.

Photo: Getty Images/Mariha-kitchen

2. Pumpkin and Sage Risotto

Treat your guests to a main they only dreamed of ordering at that trendy restaurant that just opened up but is booked for the next, like, three months. One Ingredient Chef’s plant-based risotto packs cozy fall flavors that’ll warm you up from the inside out like a knitted sweater. Daya mozzarella-style shreds optional, but highly encouraged.

maple lentil loaf
Photo: Cotter Crunch

3. Vegan Cranberry Maple Lentil Loaf

Who needs meatloaf when this produce-filled loaf sounds—and looks—a whole lot more appetizing? Cotter Crunch’s take on holiday mains features lentils, sautéed veggies, gluten-free oats, and cranberries (gotta have that sweetness!), all baked into one flavorful bite. The somewhat-secret ingredient holding it all together? Chia seeds.

main dish for vegetarian thanksgiving
Photo: Oh She Glows

4. Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls with Cranberry-Pear Sauce

Foods in bite-sized formats are a lot more fun to eat because you get to pop them into your mouth without keeping real track of how much you’re eating (hello, popcorn, my old friend). With a holiday main dish as nutritious and delicious as Oh She Glows’ lentil balls, you’re seriously going to want to load up.

portobello pot roast
Photo: A Virtual Vegan

5. Vegan Portobello Pot Roast

Skip the processed meat alternatives and opt for A Virtual Vegan’s Portobello pot roast soaking in red wine and broth, and surrounded by quartered carrots, potatoes and celery. Like its cauliflower counterpart, the dish’s aromatic herbs reveal the veggie’s best qualities.

main dish for vegetarian thanksgiving
Photo: Getty Images/bhofack2

6. Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

From rice to steaks, there’s really nothing cauliflower can’t do. While Flour and Spice’s recipe consists entirely of the cruciferous veggie itself and some turmeric, ginger, and peppercorns for pizzazz, its texture when roasted mimics that of something more substantial and decadent, making it great as plant-based main with room for extra helpings.

And for dessert:

Originally published November 22, 2019. Updated November 10, 2020.
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