Four Vegan Recipes To Perk Up Your Thanksgiving


Florian Riese

My family’s Thanksgiving spread from last year. This includes the Jamaican jerk tempeh, vegan mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie listed in this article.

Florian Riese

With Thanksgiving coming up, everyone is looking forward to that all-American spread: turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie — all that homemade food that fills you up for days. On the other hand, some people dread this holiday for the exact same reason many look forward to it. For vegans, Thanksgiving can be a difficult holiday (to say the least). Believe me, I’ve been dairy-free for five years, and it is not easy watching your relatives take advantage of that all-you-can-eat buffet of food while you are sitting in the corner with baby carrots. While this is a holiday for thanks and being grateful for all we have, eating enough to fill you for the next week is always a plus. So, to help those struggling vegans or people who just want to try out something new, here are four delicious vegan recipes to perk up your Thanksgiving!

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

Adapted from Lindsay Moore’s “Jamaican Jerk Tempeh” in “Delicious Living” magazine


  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 Scotch bonnet or jalapeño peppers, chopped
  • ⅔ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 pound plain tempeh


  1. Make the jerk marinade. In a food processor, combine scallions, onion, and peppers and puree into a paste.
  2. Continue adding the remaining ingredients aside from the tempeh, and blend until completely mixed. Set the marinade aside.
  3. Slice the tempeh in half horizontally, with the knife parallel to the cutting surface, to form two thinner cakes. Then cut it in half again crosswise to make four equally-sized patties.
  4. Soak each piece of tempeh in the jerk marinade and place on a hot grill.
  5. Cook until the tempeh is charred lightly on both sides, basting with marinade periodically.
  6. When fully cooked on both sides, soak the tempeh again in the jerk seasoning and serve.

This is a great replacement for turkey, ham, or any other meat you might have at your Thanksgiving celebration. It offers a great salty, savory flavor with a kick of spice that will make you forget all about the other meat you thought you were missing out on. The texture will take a bit of getting used to since it is made of beans, but the flavor makes up for it. Fair warning: if you don’t take spice well, this dish is decently hot, especially for young kids. If that’s not for you, consider decreasing the amount of jalapeño you put in!

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Adapted from Iosune’s “Vegan Mashed Potatoes” on “Simple Vegan Blog


  • 2 pounds of either Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or melted vegan butter
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ – ¾ cup unsweetened cashew milk


  1. Peel the potatoes or leave the skins on, then cut them into 1-inch cubes and transfer to a large pot full of cold water.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, then drain.
  3. Return the potatoes to the pot and cook over medium-high heat for about 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, to cook off some of the remaining steam in the potatoes. (This step is optional.)
  4. Mash the potatoes in the pot using a potato masher, fork, or an immersion blender.
  5. Add oil and stir with a spoon until well combined; add salt and stir again.
  6. Pour in the milk little by little until all of it is fully incorporated; more or less milk can be used depending on the type of consistency you’re looking for.
  7. Serve immediately with any topping you like, such as chopped chives, cheese, or black pepper.
  8. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 4–5 days or in the freezer for one month.

This dish is one of my absolute favorite holiday foods. They honestly taste like creamy potatoes made with real cream, if not creamier! In my family, my sister is in charge of making these potatoes and even she (someone who is not vegan or dairy free) has said they taste better than potatoes made with real milk and cream. Even though the changes made for these potatoes do not seem like a large difference compared to regularly-made creamy potatoes, the end result is worth it, especially for those who cannot or do not eat dairy products.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau in “The Joy Of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks’ Traditional Treats And Sinful Sweets


  • 16 pecan halves (optional)
  • 12 ounces silken tofu (firm)
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (this can be substituted for allspice)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare your pie crust; make homemade or leave store-bought frozen crust out to thaw completely. Place your crust in the pie pan.
  2. Spread pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes.  Set aside for garnish (optional).
  3. Make the filling: blend together tofu, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves in a food processor until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top with a spatula.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the outermost inch of the filling is set. It’s okay if the center is still soft. It will firm once out of the oven.
  6. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and top with the toasted pecans (if desired). Leave to cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge until set, 1 to 2 hours, and serve.

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite foods of all time, so when I went dairy free I’m not exaggerating when I say I was devastated after I learned milk is used in this pie. Then came a search for the best vegan pumpkin pie, and here it is! This pie has the same creamy texture we all know and love, and the pumpkin flavor is as fresh as ever. This recipe works with whatever pie crust you happen to have on hand, whether homemade or store bought. This pie will taste delicious either way!

Cashew Cream

Adapted from Angela Liddon’s “Cashew Cream” in “The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes To Glow From The Inside Out


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ½ to 1 cup water
  • ½ to 1 tablespoons maple syrup (this can be substituted for agave syrup or honey)


  1. Soak 1 cup of cashews in a large bowl with enough water to cover them. Then leave them to sit for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. After the soak, drain and rinse the cashews.
  3. Transfer the cashews to a blender with ½ to 1 cup water; the less water used, the thicker the cream will be.
  4. Blend on high speed until the cream is smooth.
  5. Add in the maple syrup (or chosen sweetener) to this mixture and blend at high speed again until fully combined. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Last but definitely not least, this cashew whipped cream is an amazing substitute for regular whipped cream, so you don’t have to give up that deliciously creamy dessert topping. While this recipe is not as sweet as whipped cream you would buy in a can, you can add your favorite sweeteners and flavors, such as maple syrup or vanilla extract, to make it just the way you like it. I would highly recommend eating this whipped cream alongside the vegan pumpkin pie listed above. They pair together very well and make for an amazing holiday treat!


The prospect of trying something vegan may be intimidating to many, but in reality it’s not so different when compared to a regular recipe. Yes, things will taste different as compared to the original non-vegan recipe, but if you keep your mind open to trying new things you might find yourself liking these dishes, even if you aren’t a vegan. Even by just attempting to make these dishes for your own celebration this holiday season, you will make your vegan friends and family’s days just knowing you thought about them. Everybody should be able to enjoy and fill up on amazing food this holiday season, despite any dietary restrictions or choices. Try these four vegan dishes for Thanksgiving or any time of the year to treat yourself and others to a delicious, as well as inclusive, meal!