When you're preparing for a holiday that's based around turkey, cooking appetizing dishes for the vegetarians on your guest list can be quite the challenge.
However, there are plenty of crowd-pleasing plant-based dishes that satisfy and add some festive flair to your table. We've got you covered with five delicious vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes — from appetizers to entrées to desserts — that will have both your meat-free and meat-loving friends and family going in for seconds.
1. Maple Spiced Cauliflower Roast With Pumpkin
If carving a Turkey isn't for you, try a cauliflower roast instead! Topped with a pumpkin-based gravy, this dish makes for an excellent turkey alternative for the vegetarians at the table. Although this decadent recipe does need quite a few ingredients, it only takes 16 minutes to prepare and definitely won't disappoint.
Let's be honest, after a big plate of food (and a dessert or two) no one is a stranger to the post-Thanksgiving digestive disruption. However, cauliflower may help ward off this unwelcome holiday side effect. Cauliflower is loaded with fiber (about 8 grams in this dish), a nutrient that will not only keep digestion regular but will also promote satiety by preventing your blood sugar from spiking, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
2. Vegetarian Skillet Stuffing
Thanksgiving just isn't complete without stuffing. And while the dish is traditionally prepared with chicken broth, this vegetarian recipe will satiate those stuffing cravings — no meat required. Although you won't need too many ingredients to prep this dish, it does need a little over an hour of cook time, so start this recipe earlier in the day.
This hearty side is prepared with whole-grain bread, making it a healthy alternative to typical stuffing made with sourdough or white bread. Whole grains are full of nutrients like fiber and iron but also contain some antioxidants you can't find in fruits or vegetables, according to the Whole Grains Council.
3. Thanksgiving-Inspired Ribollita
This Tuscan stew makes the perfect appetizer for your Thanksgiving feast. High in plant-based protein and low in fat, this recipe calls for a variety of fresh veggies, which will help keep your blood sugar low and provide you with an array of vitamins and nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Beans and legumes are a great source of cholesterol-free protein and fiber, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Beans are also high in potassium, which is especially helpful when you're eating a high-sodium Thanksgiving feast. While eating salty foods can raise blood pressure, potassium can help counteract these effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. Smoky Maple Sweet Potatoes
While we all love candied yams, these sweet potatoes are a great, lower sugar alternative. This comforting dish is prepared without oil yet maintains a rich flavor thanks to the seasonings. At only 87 calories per serving, this recipe will make the perfect carby side dish.
Plus, it boasts a host of health benefits. The starchy vegetable is high in carotenoids, like beta-cryptoxanthin, which is linked to lowering and combating inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
5. Tasty Sweet Potato Puff
Although we all love pumpkin pie, this sweet-potato-based treat will add a unique flavor to your dessert table. High in healthy fats and protein, this relatively low-calorie recipe needs about 50 minutes to prepare but will leave your home smelling like toasted pecan goodness.
Nuts are full of healthy, filling fats and protein, deeming them a great addition to your holiday recipes. Raw or roasted nuts, like pecans, may even help improve your artery and heart health by lowering harmful LDL cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, nuts are calorie-dense and this puff is still a dessert, so be mindful of your portion sizes.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fiber"
- Whole Grains Council: "Whole Grains 101"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vegetables and Fruits"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Meat or Beans: What Will You Have? Part ll: Beans"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "The Role of Potassium and Sodium in Your Diet"
- Arthritis Foundation: "Best Vegetables for Arthritis"
- Mayo Clinic: "Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health"