Vegan Holiday Food

Vegan holiday food is actually some of the easiest and tastiest food you can make (or buy). Below are recipes for holiday winter squash, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Cranberry sauce, green beans, salads, sweet potatoes…all the other favorites are already vegan, or so close you won’t need a recipe (Annie’s Goddess dressing instead of the tired old ranch dressing, green beans cooked in veg stock instead of chicken stock, etc).

The main dish is the big question. Tofurky? Field Roast? A big stuffed squash? That’s up to you and your personal tastes. My favorite Thanksgiving involved a six hour hike up a snowy mountain, followed by a feast of latkes (potato pancakes) with apple sauce and vegan sour cream. 3 carefully-chosen people and 7 dogs who were not actually carefully-chosen, being rescues, but they were well-loved. That holiday was so easy, and so fun—none of the stress, misery, heart attacks and animal suffering I was used to—that it set the tone and I haven’t celebrated a “traditional” Thanksgiving since.

If you’re celebrating with a crowd, try to arrange one of each centerpiece foods (Tofurky, Field Roast, stuffed pumpkin). Have a taste test and then you’ll know what you like in the future.

Plan ahead–read through these recipes and check out for a huge new Thanksgiving food feature.  Don’t wait until the week before the holiday–the more you plan, the more you’ll enjoy this holiday of delicious food, friends and family!

Holiday Winter Squash
Mashed Potatoes
Cashew Gravy
Cornbread and Pecan Stuffing
Pumpkin Patch “Cheesecake”

Holiday Winter Squash

Bake an acorn or kobocha squash, whole, at 350 degrees until very tender (about 30 minutes).  Let cool, then cut open.

Discard the seeds and scoop out the flesh into a casserole dish.

Top with chopped, roasted and salted pecans and a drizzle of Earth Balance.

Reheat in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Couldn’t be easier!

Mashed Potatoes

Serves 6 hungry people. The garlic does not leave a strong garlic flavor—it sweetens and mellows as it cooks with the potatoes. It lends more of a natural creaminess than anything (cooked garlic is soft and mashes into a nice creamy paste). Cooking it with the potatoes saves time, as opposed to roasting it separately and then adding it.

2 and 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, or red creamers (about 12 mid-sized potatoes)

1 full head of garlic, peeled but not chopped (about 10 whole cloves)
¼ cup extra virgin oil
¼ cup unsweetened soy milk
1 Tb salt

  • Chop the potatoes and put in a large pot. Cover with water.
  • Add the whole garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes and garlic are both very soft.
  • Drain well. The less moisture left in the potatoes and garlic, the fluffier they will be.
  • Add the oil, milk, and salt. Mash well. BE CAREFUL: If you over-mix mashers, you end up with glue. Really. Do not mix in the food processor. I almost got fired for doing that—fall of 1990, Amelio’s Restaurant on Powell. Anyone remember that restaurant? Using a masher by hand is best, but you can use a Kitchenaid if you’re careful.
  • You can replace the oil with vegetable stock. You can add more oil, milk or stock if you need, and more salt. You can add chopped fresh herbs. You can use half regular potatoes and half yams.


2/3 cup raw cashews

¼ cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup arrowroot powder (cornstarch will also work)
1 Tb miso
3 and ½ cups water
2 Tb tamari or soy sauce
½ onion, peeled
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped

1 tsp sage (optional)

  • Soak the cashews in the water for one hour.
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend very well
  • Pour into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring often, until it comes to a boil. Let simmer for 5 minutes and then taste it. You can adjust it by adding:
    *water if it’s too thick
    *arrowroot slurry if it’s too thin (stir 1 Tb arrowroot into ¼ COLD water, then add to gravy)

    *more tamari if you want a stronger flavor or darker color

Cornbread and Pecan Stuffing

This is not for the faint of heart. By that I mean—this is not a light and delicate dish. You can make it with vegetable stock instead of Earth Balance if you eat McDougall (if you omit Earth Balance, increase the veg stock to 2 cups total), and it comes out great. But I am giving you the non-McDougall version because I assume (hope) that you will be sharing this with meat-eaters. It’s very rich and filling. It’s one of those dishes that make me wonder why people are so obsessed with “main dishes.” This has all the calories, protein, and holiday flavor and fat you need (for several weeks). Add some green veg or salad and you’ve got a fabulous meal. A stuffing recipe that will truly stuff you.

First, make the cornbread:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup plus 1 Tb water
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt

  • Heat the oven to 350.
  • In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  • Add the wet to the dry and mix as little as possible. Do not overmix. Just fold, gently, with a rubber spatula.
  • Pour into an oiled 9-inch cast iron skillet or 8-inch square baking pan or 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

NOTE: I would recommend making 2-3 times this recipe, and I would also recommend making it several days ahead of time to make your holiday cooking easier. It’s OK if it’s a little stale, in fact, that will make a better stuffing.

Stuffing (easily doubled or tripled):

1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bunch celery, trimmed and then diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tub of Earth Balance (that is not a typo)

1 recipe cornbread, above
1 loaf of your favorite bread, stale if possible, cut or torn into chunks
1 cup vegetable stock (or more!)
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 Tb dried sage
2 Tb fresh chopped parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup fresh, whole cranberries or 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional, and currants also work)

  • Melt the Earth Balance in a large stock pot. Saute the onion, celery and garlic until the onions are translucent. More of a sweat than a saute, really.
  • Turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. If it seems too dry, add more melted Earth Balance or veggie stock, or some of both. Yes, that is a lot of fat. You’ll know why when you taste it.
  • Stuff into a baked pumpkin, or individual delicate squashes, or a casserole dish. Do NOT stuff into a dead bird. Bake for a good 30 minutes at 350 degrees. You want the inside piping hot and a little soft, with the outside golden brown.
  • You may also add sauteed mushrooms, any kind, for extra flavor and richness.

Pumpkin Patch “Cheesecake”

This is my absolute favorite pumpkin pie recipe, and it’s also one of the easiest!

12 oz. firm Mori-Nu silken tofu
8 oz. nondairy cream cheese (try Tofutti brand)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 prepared vegan graham cracker crust

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Puree all the ingredients (except the pie crust) in a food processor. Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust and bake for 50 minutes.

Allow to cool for 30 minutes, cover with plastic wrap or the top of the pie container, and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Other Holiday Food Resources

– Here is a lovely spinach, roasted beet and orange salad [link]

– A stuffed pumpkin recipe [link]

– Enter “vegan + recipes + holiday” into google or your favorite search engine for countless other main dish recipes.

– Keep checking for more holiday food ideas.

– Try this Veggie Pate as a centerpiece Thanksgiving Loaf. It has all the seasonings and taste of Thanksgiving. YUM.

– You’ll find lots of vegan holiday desserts at Rainbow and Whole Foods (pumpkin pie, pecan pie, chocolate cake) etc.

– Make your holiday really special and order a gorgeous, scrumptious, home-made vegan ice cream cake from MaggieMudd in San Francisco.

– The original Millennium cookbook has a fabulous recipe on page 140: Pumpkins stuffed with sage polenta and seitan bourguignon. It’s nice served in smaller, individual pumpkins or delicate squashes. You can make it exactly as is, or save a step—skip the polenta and just do the bourguignon (a vegan version of the classic French red wine and beef stew). I’ve made this several times and it always gets rave reviews.

Remember: Olive oil or Earth Balance can replace the butter and the turkey fat drippings. Unsweetened soy milk replaces milk and cream. Vegetable stock replaces chicken, beef or veal stock. EnerG egg replacer replaces eggs. If you’re not sure, take a few minutes to search the internet and you’ll find what you’re looking for. There’s no shortage of vegan recipes, holiday or not, on the internet these days.

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  1. Larry says:

    Where in the Hayward, CA area can I go to buy Yukon Gold potatoes?

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