Vegetarians at a family Thanksgiving dinner are accustomed to getting the stink eye, the exasperated sigh, and the classic, “I think these mashed potatoes are meat-free… oh wait, it's made with chicken stock.” On a day that emphasizes indulgence to the point of a bellyache, those who choose to avoid meat are often the odd ones out. But instead of complaining, they slap a smile on their faces and fill up on not-so-satisfying green bean casserole, dinner roles, and pumpkin pie.
Not so this year. Here are 33 of our favorite vegetarian main dishes that are far from boring, tasteless, or the dreaded Tofurkey.
The classic chicken pot pie goes vegetarian and seasonal in this spotlight-stealing dish. Instead of meat, roasted pumpkin, carrots, celery, and kale take center stage. White kidney beans give the dish some protein too. Make the crust a tiny bit healthier by opting for whole-wheat flour and going easy on the Parmesan cheese.
This tasty risotto uses olive oil and vegetable broth to achieve a rich consistency. With an entire butternut squash, this baked dish is an easy way to get your veggies on Thanksgiving Day. Skip the grated Parm to make this meal totally vegan.
Gorgonzola, eggplant, garlic, and Parm transform these giant 'shrooms into a rich, filling meal. Just swap in some dairy-free cheese if you're trying to make a vegan version.
Eating a burger on Thanksgiving—sacrilege or genius? We say the latter. This all-veggie patty is made from black beans, bell peppers, onions, and spices with some of your favorite Thanksgiving sides on top. It’s just like a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, only on a bun.
This beautiful, healthy tart will definitely upstage the turkey on your Thanksgiving table. Sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, Swiss chard, and feta cheese hit their stride when tucked into a whole-wheat and teff crust (if teff isn't in your pantry, just use regular flour).
These golden rings of squash look like mini suns filled with a seasonal quinoa mixture. Perfect for a chilly late-fall dinner, right? With cranberry, sage, apple, maple syrup, and apple, the quinoa filling hits all of the season's high notes.
Like a pot pie, this dish is made from layers of pastry wrapped around a tasty filling. Since pastry is, by definition, made from tons of butter, lighten up the filling by using part- or all-skim ricotta and going easy on the butter and olive oil.
Who said Thanksgiving dinner had to be a meat and potatoes affair? This creative, Italian-inspired dish is a good example of why stepping out of your comfort zone can be smart (and delicious).
Squash is a vegetarian staple, and this version stuffs in one of our Thanksgiving favorites: cranberries. With just five ingredients, this is something you can whip up quickly, even if it's not actually Thanksgiving.
Set a sophisticated tone on Thanksgiving Day with this veggie-loaded tart. Colorful carrots, red onions, sweet potatoes, romanesca, mushrooms, and kale come together to make a dish as healthy as it is beautiful. With a crust made of chickpea and almond flour, this tart is ideal for gluten-free eaters.
Those who are serious about getting their veggies on Thanksgiving should bookmark this fresh stew recipe. Combine onion, carrot, celery, portobello mushrooms, white mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, peas, and parsley to make this hearty soup.
Put veggies front and center with this rustic vegetable tart. Colorful carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, and shallots provide plenty of flavor, while the goat cheese crumbles give this dish a salty, rich finish. Experiment with a whole-wheat crust to add some fiber into the mix.
Chickpeas and sweet potatoes are some of our favorite staples— even for those of us who aren't vegetarian. This recipe uses the awesome chickpea + sweet potato combo to makes these adorable Thanksgiving wraps.
With a lentil and veggie mix instead of ground beef as its base, this shepherd’s pie is primed for a healthy makeover. This version is vegan, but if you're a cheese-eating vegetarian, we suggest sprinkling some goat cheese on top for an added boost in flavor.
For a side dish that’s filling enough to serve as a main course, look no further. Protein-rich quinoa and hazelnuts provide protein and fat, while sweet potatoes and apples lend this dish fiber and lots of fall flavor.
Italian for Thanksgiving? Yes, please. Mix things up with fresh, homemade ravioli filled with seasonal ingredients. Serve 'em with a bit of melted butter and a thin sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Who needs meat when you can eat rich, meaty portobello mushrooms instead? Stuffing them with celery, kale, onions, feta, and wild rice turns these veggies into a full-on meal.
Once again proving that burgers are a totally acceptable Thanksgiving fare, these quinoa-mushroom-zucchini patties will probably steal the show. Spread a little bit of cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes on top for some extra festive flair.
Spice things up at the dinner table by serving—gasp!—soup as a main dish. You can’t go wrong with this flavorful dish made with just six ingredients (and an optional garlic-kale-sesame topping!).
Indian flavors on the Thanksgiving table? It’s not as strange as it sounds, we promise. Stuff delicata squash with basmati rice, lentils, shredded coconut, raisins, sunflower seeds, and of course, fresh curry powder. It’s a little bit exotic, a little bit nontraditional, but definitely delicious.
Everyone’s favorite winter meal gets the royal treatment in this festive chili recipe. Instead of ground beef, this version uses chickpeas and black beans, as well as pumpkin purée and canned tomatoes. Don’t forget to serve with cornbread!
What happens when you cross a Chicago-style pizza with a vegetable quiche? You get a deep-dish, satisfying vegetable tart that’s impressive enough for Thanksgiving dinner. The healthy cauliflower, mushrooms, and thyme filling plays off the Parmesan-quinoa crust, creating a decadent, veggie-rich main dish.
If you thought oatmeal was just for breakfast, you are about to discover a whole new world. This savory recipe tops old-fashioned oats with mushrooms, greens, and chickpeas for a creative twist on your Thanksgiving dinner. You'll be the trendiest guest at the table.
Like olives and anchovies, tempeh seems to fit in the “hate it or love it” category. If you’re a fan, this richly flavored dish is ideal for the dinner table. This smoky-maple version combines potatoes, avocado, and spinach for a filling Thanksgiving salad.
Let soup take a starring role by serving this veggie dish as a main on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of turkey, this recipe features white beans, potatoes, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes.
Casserole doesn’t exactly scream “special occasion dinner,” but this one-bowl meal will make a convert out of any skeptic. Featuring zucchini, carrots, eggs, salsa, and cheese, this Tex-Mex inspired dish is basically a vehicle for vegetables.
This veggie-rich seasonal tart looks complicated (and impressive), but it’s pretty simple to whip together. Save yourself a step by spreading the topping (made of ground chickpeas, cranberries, spinach, sage, walnuts, rolled oats, tamari, and celery, among other ingredients) on a premade whole-wheat piecrust. Or go full DIY and make your own from scratch.
If the word “meatloaf” still brings to mind scary cafeteria mystery meat, it’s time to revisit the concept with this vegetarian version. Lots of veggies, spices, and nuts make this meat-free loaf positively healthful. Top with some grated cheese, because everything is better with cheese.
These roasted gourds loaded with pomegranates, quinoa, goat cheese, and nuts are bound to satisfy vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. The best part? It’s basically quinoa salad in an edible bowl, so there are fewer dishes to wash at the end of the night.
What happens when you combine an Italian classic with a Thanksgiving classic? You get these delicious, healthy, totally main course-worthy stuffed shells. Butternut squash adds moisture and flavor, so it’s possible to cut down on the cheese for a healthier dish.
This rustic quiche combines all the colors (and flavors) of fall. It’s a beautiful dish that will surely tempt every person at the table. Extra quiche makes for great breakfast leftovers too.
These super-easy eggplant balls are great with all your traditional sides or leftover with some pasta the next day. Just combine eggplant, garlic, shallots, bread crumbs, and a bunch of spices (that you definitely have in your kitchen) in a food processor, and you'll get a creative vegetarian dish.
A savory pie that combines beer, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms is the perfect melding of decadence and healthy food. As a Thanksgiving entrée, this dish is pretty simple and speedy, with just a few steps and minimal dishes to wash.
Originally posted November 2015. Updated October 2016.