We've put together our most popular special occasion recipes for a meatless holiday feast that's gorgeous and satisfying.

650 x 465 4015405_original photo by luba
Tofu Turkey. Photo by luba

The nation's most delicious food holiday doesn't always revolve around roast turkey. Thanksgiving is just about the perfect holiday for vegetarians because so many of the traditional faves are meatless. Let's give it up for our top-rated vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes, breaking this down course-by-course.

For Starters

Your plant-based chips and hot spinach dip game is gonna be strong. Also, serving a salad as an opener to the lavish meal is especially appropriate, if you go for greens tossed with colorful fall veggies and fruit like delicata squash and everybody's new apple obsession. Or, warm everybody up with a bowl of soup.

Spicy baby arugula leaves combine with cubes of roasted acorn squash, dried cranberries, pistachios, and goat cheese in a homemade dressing with a hint of curry flavor. "This recipe was outstanding!" raves Danielle DiBoot. "It tasted like it was from a 5-star restaurant and that hint of Indian spice was so great. I will make this again and again trying different things to mix it up."

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad
Photo by Kevin J. Flynn

"Beautiful, sweet, twice-roasted beets and baked goat cheese with crunchy nuts and slightly bitter greens is my idea of an easy, healthy, beautiful fall lunch," says Chef John. "Or dinner, or breakfast, or brunch. Serve with toasted walnut bread."

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
Photo by Chef John

Roasted beets are tossed with kale, cashews, dried cherries, and golden raisins and dressed with an apple cider, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, cider vinegar, and olive oil dressing. "This is an incredibly tasty salad that is packed full of nutrients and vitamins!" says Sabrina Sperry. "It is also one that will keep you feeling satisfied longer than most. Add chevre cheese right before serving if you would like to add a creamy texture."

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

For this one, you'll layer sliced persimmons, pomegranate seeds, and toasted pecans over an herb salad mix and dress it up with a good drizzle of tarragon-orange dressing. BORY says, "A sweet and tangy fall salad with a bit of crunch and nuttiness tossed in from the pecans. I love pecans so I often double the amount of pecans."

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad
Photo by Jennifer Baker

"This is simple and delicious," says estkay. "The taste is so smooth and creamy most people think this is a fattening soup loaded with cream and potatoes. People are always shocked by how few ingredients are needed."

Photo by bd.weld

This cream and curry soup starts with a base of pumpkin puree and vegetable broth. Mary Ingram says, "This is a wonderfully soothing and savory soup -- a perfect choice for a holiday party or dinner. Adjust the amount of curry and soy sauce for spiciness. Adjust the amount of half-and-half, or substitute heavy cream or milk for varying levels of creaminess."

Curry Pumpkin Soup
Photo by naples34102

The Main Event

Tofu turkey has come a looooong way since it first flew onto the culinary landscape. For one thing, tofu is no longer strange and exotic, but now available everywhere. As is seitan and other meat substitutes. Nut loaves also get a whole lot of love from vegetarians. Simmer up a batch of Mushroom Cream Gravy, and the Thanksgiving meal just got so festive. Watch this short video for the full scoop on how to put together the popular Tofu Turkey I recipe.

This vegetarian nut loaf is loaded up with walnuts, pecans, mushrooms, and wild rice, along with eggs, Swiss and cottage cheeses, and seasonings. "I made this for our Thanksgiving dinner with friends," says Susan. "I intended it as a substitute for turkey for the vegetarians, but everyone tried it and loved it. It was a big hit. It turned out absolutely delicious. Great with gravy too!"

Photo by Marianne

Here's the secret to super-savory meatless meatballs: "A thorough browning of the mushrooms provides more than enough savoriness," says Chef John. "The garlic, cheese, and parsley do the rest. What really blew me away was how close the texture was to actual meatballs."

meatless meatballs in tomato sauce
Photo by catherine.drew
| Credit: catherine.drew

On the Side

The side dishes actually get the chance to take center stage during a vegetarian holiday meal, with the possibilities seemingly endless. We've honed this list to side dishes with a whole lot of personality, and a few with a nod to tradition.

"These were so delicious, they were the talk of the table!" raves Molly. "I used part of a sweet onion instead of shallots, and omitted the sage. Helpful tip: when you go to remove the innards after baking, if you just squeeze gently around the skin, the potato pops right out! No scooping needed. Lovely addition to a light Thanksgiving!"

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Sweet potatoes are combined with cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. "This recipe is EXCELLENT!" says BMCCOWN. "I made it for Thanksgiving this year and everyone loved it. I cooked it in a Crockpot to save space on the stove and it worked out great."

Photo by bobagirl

"An excellent Irish dish," says Mary Beth. "I left out the butter & milk, and instead boiled everything in the same vegetable broth. I then added a whole head of roasted garlic for extra flavor. Will definitely make again."

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Here it is, the classic, creamy vegetable casserole with a French fried onion top. "I made this as one of my side dishes for Thanksgiving. It was WONDERFUL and turned out to be a big hit with my guests," says Andrea R. "I must confess that it is just as good (if not better) the next day when I got it out of the fridge the day after Thanksgiving, I was eating it before I re-heated it...it was great cold!"

Best Green Bean Casserole
Photo by Cynthia Ross

Another classic, this layered dish featires thin-sliced potatoes, whole milk, flour, butter, and seasonings. "These are so simple," says AMBERRAE. "They come out creamy and delicious every time with no stirring or fussing!

Photo by lutzflcat

The Big Finish

Sure, you could do pumpkin pie. But because the vegetarian Thanksgiving is all about clever twists on the typical, why not play around with the dessert course? Maybe offer a buffet of tiny bites, or do a deep dive into pumpkin cheesecake? Mmmmm. Here's a short video that shows how to make a 5-star Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Check out the collection of Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes.