15 Vegan Thanksgiving Sides That’ll Make You the Star of Every Holiday Potluck

Let’s be honest, side dishes are the true stars of Thanksgiving. I load my plate up with mashed potatoes, green beans, and (two or three) dinner rolls. Every year, without fail. Thanksgiving is undoubtedly an indulgent meal, but it doesn’t have to be unhealthy. When my older sister first had to make dietary changes, we had two separate Thanksgiving buffets: one that was gluten-free and vegan and another that was traditional. However, after lots of research and recipe tasting, we’ve landed on a menu with vegan Thanksgiving sides that the whole family drools over.

15 Vegan Thanksgiving Sides Everyone Will Love

This list is full of both classic and creative recipes for all of your favorite Thanksgiving sides that no one will even know are vegan. Because between potlucks, Friendsgiving celebrations, and all the many gatherings you’ll host and attend this season, you’re bound to encounter a friend or family member who will appreciate creamy mashed potatoes (sans the cream).  And here’s my hot take: they might even be better than the real deal.

Roasted Honeynut Squash with Hot Honey, Pecans, and Rosemary

Why We Love It: If you’re going for ‘wow’ factor in both presentation and taste, you have to make this side dish. Teeny and cute honeynut squash spends a little time in the oven getting caramelized and crisp. Layered on your favorite platter with radicchio, pecans, garlic, and honey (sub maple syrup to make it vegan), this recipe is my new Thanksgiving fave. Note: the recipe includes goat cheese, but you’re welcome to sub in a dairy-free option or skip it entirely.

Hero Ingredient: I have a thing for squash, and honeynut is my new favorite. Seriously, have you ever seen anything cuter? And they’re not just pretty to look at. As Camille notes, “Deep orange in color and slightly reminiscent of a mini butternut, the honeynut squash is packed with sweetness, nuttiness, and an undeniable charm that elevates any dish.” Now doesn’t that sound totally delish?

Honey Roasted Carrots With Spicy Citrus, Sage & Pepitas

Why We Love It: Even if you aren’t a cooked carrot fan, this recipe might win you over with its secret sauce. It has the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness, and spice finished with fresh sage that gives it major autumn vibes. You can’t say you don’t like cooked carrots until you try this recipe. 

Hero Ingredient: The pan sauce, because it can be added to any fall veggie in your fridge. 

Harvest Kale Salad

Why We Love It: Both fall and winter’s best ingredients shine in this side salad. It’s made with a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette, and it might just be your new favorite Thanksgiving item. Served as a side or an appetizer, everyone can enjoy this recipe. Just be sure to ditch the brie or swap in a dairy-free alternative to keep it vegan.

Hero Ingredient: It’s a toss-up between the pear and pepitas, but I’ll go with the former—because during the colder months, it’s my favorite fruit.

Sweet & Sour Cider-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Dates & Pecans

Why We Love It: Instead of leaning on her typical method of roasting halved sprouts until crispy, Camille shreds these into thin little ruffly bites, then does a hard sear in a cast-iron skillet to get the perfect char. A quick toss in a sweet vinegar sauce with a secret ingredient (apple cider!) and a sprinkle of toasted pecans, dates, and chili flakes, and voilá. You have a killer vegan Thanksgiving side.

Hero Ingredient: Apple cider gives this dish major fall feels. 

Make-Ahead Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Why We Love It: You had me at make-ahead, but vegan too? Incredible. If you’re hosting the feast this holiday, these mashed potatoes are a must-make for your meal. With all of the craziness involved in cooking on Thanksgiving day, you’ll be grateful for the extra stovetop space these taters free up.

Hero Ingredient: Rosemary is the flavor-packed star of this vegan show. I love the aromatic, peppery taste the herb imparts.

Roasted Delicata Squash

Why We Love It: Like some of the other sides in this roundup, you’ll want to drop the crumbled feta and sub in maple syrup for honey to make it vegan. But beyond that, this no-fuss recipe comes together with ease and so much deliciousness. Delicata squash is seriously underrated, and it’s a fave this season as it requires zero peeling on your part. (I can’t say the same for butternut squash.) Key spices like cumin, coriander, and red chili powder help this recipe stand out, and thyme ties it all together beautifully. Points for gorgeous presentation, too.

Hero Ingredient: All the herbs, please. Cilantro, mint, and parsley are the trifecta of fresh flavor.

Vegan Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Why We Love It: Do you have mac and cheese at Thanksgiving? My family doesn’t, but this recipe makes me wish we did. I could seriously eat it every day. The dish comes together in 20 minutes and is made with an easy thick and velvety vegan cauliflower cheese sauce poured over macaroni noodles (which can easily be subbed for gluten-free pasta). 

Hero Ingredient: Cauliflower is a chameleon. 

Apple Walnut Salad

Why We Love It: This fall salad is so simple, but it’s the focus on minimal, flavorful ingredients that helps it shine. I love the peppery bite of arugula paired with crisp, thinly sliced apples. Drop the goat cheese to make it vegan, or make the most of my favorite dairy-free recipe that couldn’t be easier.

Hero Ingredient: As they say, an apple a day—and this salad is my favorite way to get my fill.

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Why We Love It: Soup might not be the most traditional Thanksgiving dish, but this vegan butternut squash soup pairs perfectly with the meal. It’s healthy, but it has so much flavor that you won’t even care. 

Hero Ingredient: Coconut milk makes this soup so comforting and creamy (without the cream).

Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecan Topping from Jessica in the Kitchen

Why We Love It: Instead of covering your sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, you have to try this recipe that tops the dish with chopped pecans and plenty of maple syrup. The nutty streusel-like topping makes the dish vegan but also adds a delicious flavor that perfectly complements the sweetness of the base. 

Hero Ingredient: The finished product of the crumble topping is good enough to eat by itself.

Simple Vegan Dinner Rolls from Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: Have no fear, vegan dinner rolls are here. And they are only seven ingredients and easy to make. Rolls are one of my favorite parts of the meal, so I truly believe that no one should have to turn them down. This is one of the vegan Thanksgiving sides that is a real show-stopper. 

Hero Ingredient: The vegan butter melts in your mouth.

The Best Vegan Cornbread from Rainbow Plant Life

Why We Love It: I’m a huge fan of cornbread in the fall. This simple vegan recipe requires only 20 minutes of prep and pairs perfectly with everything from Thanksgiving dinner to a warm bowl of chili. It’s also easily made gluten-free and refined sugar-free with just a few suggested swaps.

Hero Ingredient: What is cornbread without the yellow cornmeal?

Vegan Stuffing from Love & Lemons

Why We Love It: Stuffing is essential at my Thanksgiving table, and I’m obsessed with this vegan take. Onions, celery, and sautéed mushrooms fill it with so much savory flavor. And while other stuffing recipes lean a little on the beige side, this recipe features kale, dried cranberries, and plenty of sage on top for a picture-worthy presentation.

Hero Ingredient: Sage is non-negotiable in stuffing.

Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce

Why We Love It: Homemade cranberry sauce has never been easier. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, and delicious. The orange, cinnamon, and maple syrup give this classic Thanksgiving side a unique twist that your guests will love.

Hero Ingredient: The orange zest really is the best. 

Roasted Cauliflower & Parsnip Mash from Unbound Wellness

Why We Love It: My mom made this recipe for Thanksgiving last year, and it’s a new family favorite. The addition of parsnips to the classic mashed cauliflower gives it even more of the beloved potato flavor. It’s also paleo and Whole-30. Be sure to substitute ghee for olive oil or coconut oil to be 100% vegan. 

Hero Ingredient: Parsnips give it both the texture and flavor of potatoes. 

I Make This Vegan Butternut Squash Soup Whenever My Body Craves a Reset

After a season of indulgence (i.e., post-holiday, post-vacation, or just a restaurant bender), have you ever felt like you want to do a juice cleanse all day? Yeah, me neither, but I’ve certainly experienced many a time when my body has told me it needs a reset, and my digestive system needs a serious break. When that feeling strikes, I often head to the stove and put on a pot of this vegan butternut squash soup—and I frequently double the batch, so I have plenty of leftovers to last the whole week.

Why I Love This Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

When it comes to a “soup cleanse” situation, a comforting puréed vegan soup recipe is where it’s at. The blender’s already done the work for you, giving your digestive system the rest it needs. (Bonus points for all the added vitamins!) That said, I’m not about to eat a meager cup of puréed blandness for a single lunch, let alone lunch for a week. I need my soup packed with so much flavor that I’ll *almost* forget it’s healthy, too.

The perfect soup in question? My vegan butternut squash soup recipe. I use coconut milk for that satisfying richness and tons of warming spices to make this soup anything but boring. Trust me: it’s a real treat.

Steps for Making Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

1. Sautee the aromatics: It all starts with a fragrant base of aromatics to give our soup tons of flavor. Get out your big Dutch oven, warm a little olive oil in the bottom, then add chopped onion, minced garlic, and ginger.

2. Add your root vegetables: Add cubed butternut squash and any other root veggies you like. Carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or any winter squash is fair game. Stir it around, and when it starts to soften, add turmeric and salt, give it a stir, then add your broth, and crank up the heat. When it comes to a simmer, turn it down to medium-low, and let it all simmer away on the stove until your veggies are really soft and tender.

3. Blend it together: To the blender, we add our soup, along with coconut milk, honey, coconut aminos, and the juice of an orange—YUM. Blend it up until smooth, and remember that when you’re blending hot ingredients, you may have to do it in smaller batches so that your vegan butternut squash soup doesn’t explode all over your white shirt. (Like mine did during this shoot.)

Tips for the Best Butternut Squash Soup

Use the right milk: I like to use full-fat coconut milk for optimal richness. The low-fat versions are just too watery to satisfy, and the fat from the coconut milk is what will keep you from wanting to dip your spoon into a gallon of ice cream after dinner. (Okay, I could never promise that, but what I’m saying is, some fat is good.)

Serve with all the toppings: Like most comforting soup recipes, the presentation is all in the garnishes. I top this one with toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro leaves, and another drizzle of coconut milk. (Styling tip: hold your spoon really close to the soup when you drizzle so it doesn’t sink to the bottom.) Just before eating, give it a final taste, and add more salt or pepper if it needs more flavor. Then grab your spoon and devour.

Storage and Freezing Tips

Few things are better at leftovers than soup. Keep it in the fridge for up to a week, or transfer to a gallon-sized freezer bag, press out as much air as possible, and pop it in the freezer for up to two months. Thaw and rewarm on the stove whenever you need an Insta-cleanse. Day after Thanksgiving, we’re ready for you.

“Creamy” Vegan Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger & Coconut Milk

So nourishing, so healthy.


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This comforting vegan soup is made creamy with coconut milk. It’s healthy, delicious, and so satisfying.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 12-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small to medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Big pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 quarts broth
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (reserve a little for drizzling)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • Juice of one orange
  • Garnish: coconut milk, toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro leaves

  1. Get out your big Dutch oven, warm a little olive oil in the bottom, then add chopped onion, garlic, and ginger.
  2. When all of that is getting a little golden and caramelized (it just takes a couple of minutes of stirring around), add cubed butternut squash and carrot. Stir it around, and when it starts to soften after about 5 minutes, add turmeric and salt, give it a stir, then add your broth and crank up the heat.
  3. When it comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and let it all simmer away on the stove until your veggies are really soft and tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Transfer soup to a blender, along with coconut milk (reserve a little for garnish), honey, coconut aminos, and the juice of an orange. Blend until smooth. Remember that when you’re blending hot ingredients, you may have to do it in smaller batches to prevent explosions.
  5. Transfer to bowls, then top with toasted pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro leaves, and another drizzle of coconut milk.
  6. Just before eating, give it a final taste, and add more salt if it needs more flavor. Then grab your spoon and devour.

This post was originally published on September 15th, 2021, and has since been updated.

Summer’s Not Over—This Vegan Red Pepper Pasta with Charred Corn Proves It

PSA: Summer is still going strong. While my social feeds say otherwise (it’s PSL *everything* around these parts), there’s still end-of-summer produce to be devoured. Though I understand the cozy season frenzy and love a Gilmore Girls aesthetic, I’m far from ready to throw summer’s bounty to the sidelines just yet. Juicy tomatoes are still a perfect snack, sweet watermelon is my favorite salad staple, and I’m embracing an all-things-corn mentality this month. Thankfully, I have Laura Wright’s vegan red pepper pasta to fill my kitchen with the flavors of summer.

Laura Wright on Making Delicious Vegan Recipes

Laura, creator behind the celebrated food blog, The First Mess, was one of the first recipe creators I followed back in the day. Years later, she’s continued to be my go-to resource for flavor-forward, produce packed, and wildly delicious recipes.

I’ve made her tahini chocolate chunk cookies more times than I can count and her butternut minestrone is a fall staple. And while I myself am not vegan, Laura’s recipes have opened my kitchen in new and inspiring ways.

To help wrap up summer, Laura is sharing her vegan red pepper pasta recipe with us. Keep reading for her fool-proof tip to making food taste good, her less is more vegan cooking philosophy, and this stellar recipe that’ll make you want to hang onto summer for just a little longer.

How would you describe your cooking and food philosophy? How has it influenced recipes like this one?

My cooking and food philosophy is rooted in the natural goodness of seasonal, plant-based ingredients. I like to make dishes that are comforting, a bit familiar, but also nourishing with a little surprising twist here and there. I’m always trying to make veggies the star of the show whenever possible.

Lately, my cooking and recipes are also considered with the economies of time and effort. I used to love taking all the extra steps and adding all the things, but I’ve realized that you can still make dinner special with fewer dishes, fewer ingredients, and in less time. More with less!

How did you develop this recipe?

Roasted red peppers make a super creamy sauce base without having to use a ton of cashews, which is nice sometimes! I use them as a vegan “mac and cheese” style sauce base often. Knowing their potential, and also being in the thick of summer produce season, I wanted to create a veggie-loaded pasta with some other summer crops. I decided on charred corn, sautéed summer squash, and lots of fresh basil as my additional summery add-ins. I really just wanted a creamy-dreamy pasta that used up my farmer’s market goodies.

What makes this recipe your go-to?

It really is a crowd pleaser! Nobody has any clue that this pasta is dairy-free. It’s also a pretty chill recipe to cook for guests that allows you to make some elements ahead of time. When I have people over for dinner, I want to spend time with them AND spoil them with good food. This one accomplishes both. I also find it easy enough to make for me and my partner on a weeknight with leftovers for lunch the next day.

Can you make this recipe with minimal tools?

This one comes together with one pot to sauté the sauce base and corn and to bring the whole dish together. You’ll need a separate pot for your pasta and your blender for the sauce.

What kitchen tool do you recommend for making this pasta?

I use my 10+ year old Vitamix to blend the sauce up to a silky smooth consistency. No other appliance gets as much play in my kitchen—totally worth the investment in my opinion! I use mine every day for smoothies, salad dressings, dips, soups, sauces, homemade nut milk, and more. In addition to the blender, I also swear by a Benriner Mandoline, Microplane, and good quality knives that feel nice in your hand.

What ingredients make this recipe special?

Fresh basil and seasonal summer corn are really key here. I don’t recommend making this one outside of the peak summer months when both items are in abundance. Miso and tamari are also important ingredients that add umami depth to the sauce—something I’m always looking to add to my vegan recipes.

Can we make any ingredient swaps in this recipe?

You can swap the cashews for soaked raw sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, or pine nuts. Any gluten-free pasta will work great in this recipe. If you’re allergic to soy, you can swap in chickpea miso and coconut aminos one-for-one.

What tricks have you learned in the kitchen that we should all know about?

Add acidic ingredients to your food always! With this recipe, we use lemon juice in the sauce to brighten it up. Adding citrus juice, vinegar, wine, or pickling liquid to your cooking wakes up and sparkles the existing flavors. Most of the time when you taste something and it seems flat (or it’s just missing something), you truly just need a bit of acid to get it to the finish line.

What advice would you share with someone who feels intimidated by vegan cooking?

I always recommend starting slow! Maybe try one vegan meal a day for a week to see how that feels. And then add more from there if it’s working for you! I also like to view vegan cooking as the addition of MORE foods, rather than a subtraction of certain foods. More vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds to explore!

If there’s a certain meal that you love and don’t want to go without, try searching for a vegan version online and playing around with it. It helps to have a solid five-meal rotation that can be remixed with seasonal ingredients or just based on your mood. If you really want to make the switch to eating vegan full-time, I recommend going slow and taking small steps. It’s not a race and you don’t have to aspire to some “perfect” conception of the lifestyle.

What is the best part of creating recipes to share for people to bring into their own homes?

I really am grateful that I get to do this as my work. When folks report back with success on a recipe that they made for non-vegan family and friends, it feels like my mission is accomplished. I hope that people can arrive at the idea that vegan cooking is beautiful, abundant, energizing, and enjoyable for everyone regardless of dietary proclivity. 

Which of your recipes should readers cook first?

My Ginger Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Stew is super popular, so I definitely recommend that. I’m also personally partial to my 30-Minute Lentil Bolognese and this Kale Power Salad.

You can find more of Laura’s recipes in her book, The First Mess Cookbook.


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This vegan red pepper pasta is super flavorful, and satisfying, and takes 30 minutes to make. This vegan main is easy to make gluten-free and perfect for summer with lots of charred corn and basil.

  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 medium yellow zucchini, chopped
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour and drained
  • 3 roasted red peppers, divided
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light miso
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock (or water)
  • 3/4 pound (340 grams) short pasta (I used cassarecce)
  • 2 cobs of corn
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic, and chili flakes and cook, stirring often, until soft and slightly translucent on the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Sauté and stir often until zucchini is soft on the edges–about another 4-5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the sautéed zucchini mixture to an upright blender. To the blender add the cashews, 2 of the roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, miso, lemon juice, Dijon, tamari, smoked paprika, and vegetable stock, plus a little bit of salt and pepper. Blend the mixture on high until smooth and creamy, about 1 full minute. Add more stock by the tablespoon if necessary to get a thick but pourable consistency. Set aside.

  3. Give the large sauté pan a wipe and place it back over high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Cut the kernels off of the corn cobs and toss the kernels into the skillet. Sauté the corn until there’s a bit of char on the edges and the corn is soft, about 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

  4. Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. Reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water.


    Slice the remaining roasted red pepper into strips. In the large skillet with the corn, also add the roasted red pepper strips, cooked pasta, red pepper sauce, and chopped basil. Set the heat to medium. Add splashes of pasta cooking water if needed to loosen up the sauce. Keep stirring until pasta is nice and hot. Serve immediately with extra basil, chili flakes, and finishing drizzles of olive oil.