Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes: 4 Best Dishes to Skip the Turkey

By: Mike Dunn | Segun Oduolowu Posted: 10:47 AM, Nov 6, 2018 Updated: 10:23 AM, Nov 15, 2018

A Canadian Thanksgiving potluck for the ages went down at the University of British Columbia recently. There were an estimated 300-400 guests, 200-250 dishes, 50 volunteers, and not a turkey in sight. The List spoke with Chef Jon-Paul Hutchins who cooked up four vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes to serve as meatless alternatives this holiday season.

1. Roasted Wild Mushrooms on Baked Polenta Slices

Let’s start our list of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes with a dish sure to please eaters of all types. First, we’re replacing the turkey with roasted wild mushrooms on baked polenta slices. The key to this recipe is using umami, the ingredient that gives meat its “meatiness” and flavor.


  • Prepared polenta, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • Assorted mushrooms, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch slices/pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Sherry to taste
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat an oven to 400F degrees. Place cast iron skillet large enough to hold the mushrooms in one to two layers. Toss mushrooms with olive oil, sherry, salt and pepper. When oven and pan are hot, add mushrooms. Return to oven. Oil an ovenproof dish, shingle polenta and brush with oil. Place in oven until edges are lightly toasted and completely warmed through. When tender, remove mushrooms from oven, adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with more sherry or sherry vinegar. Mound on top of polenta. Then enjoy!


2. Butternut Squash Mac n’ Cheese  

Next on our roundup of  vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes is a bowl of good old, gooey mac n’ cheese. Our secret ingredient? Butternut squash! Butternut squash will actually be what replaces your usual cheese sauce.


  • 1 cup butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp onion, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 oz. olive oil
  • 3 oz. stock (vegetable or meat)
  • 2 oz. milk
  • 12 oz. whole wheat pasta cooked or drained
  • 4 tbsp. parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup Panko whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp. mozzarella, grated


In a saucepan, heat oil, then sweat onions and garlic. Add diced squash and sauté for three minutes. Add stock, cover and simmer until tender. Purée. Return purée to saucepan, add milk and season with salt and pepper. Toss drained pasta with Parmesan and place in baking vessel. Lightly coat with non-stick spray. Add pasta to the vessel. Pour sauce over the pasta, mix gently. Toss panko with mozzarella, gently toss with oil to moisten the crumbs. Sprinkle over pasta mixture. Bake at 350F until the core temperature reaches 165F degrees.


3. Balsamic Roasted Grapes with Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts

At this point, we’ve seen recipes using Brussels sprouts over and over again. So, let’s add a different twist with our vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes. These Balsamic roasted grapes are guaranteed to take this recipe to the next level. 


  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, cleaned, bottoms trimmed and cut in half through the core
  • Vegetable oil as needed
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste (white or traditional)
  • 1 pt. mixed seedless grapes, halved
  • Walnut halves
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper 


Make a cup of vinaigrette using one part vinegar with three parts oil, salt, pepper, honey, and/or maple syrup to taste (think “sweet and sour”). Toss half of the vinaigrette with the Brussels sprouts and marinate tossing occasionally for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put a heavy-bottomed or cast iron pan in the oven and preheat to 450F degrees. When the oven hits 450F degrees, remove the pan and add the Brussels sprouts. Turn them cut side down and quickly (but safely!) place back in the oven.

Toss grapes and walnuts with remaining vinaigrette and let marinade. When the sprouts start browning and can be pierced with resistance, add the grape mixture, stir to distribute. Roast until the grapes begin to shrivel.


4. Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes: Sweet Potatoes with an Apple and Caramel Glaze

And finally, we can’t offer vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes without including a dessert! These sweet potatoes with apple and caramel glaze are sure to tickle your family’s taste buds!  Need we say more? Your guests are guaranteed to be asking for seconds! 


  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • Apple juice to cover
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Peel potatoes, trim ends, and cut into one-inch thick rounds.. Slightly round the edges with a peeler or paring knife. The finished potato should resemble an aspirin or tablet. Spray baking dishes liberally with non-stick coating. Place the potato snuggly in a single layer. Pour boiling juice over the potatoes to just cover and season them. Bake uncovered in a 350F degree oven until the liquid is almost completely evaporated and the potatoes are soft and browned, 2-3 hours.  


If you’re looking for vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes, now you’ve got four to help you skip the turkey but add an extra boost of flavor!


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