My go-to vegan holiday menu

Every year I spend a lot of time re-looking up all the holiday favorites when the temperatures dip to scarf level. And so, here, a roundup of holiday besties — heck, any time of year — presented to you. These are some of my faves. Keep these guys close, like thermal undies.

The classic: Jack Daniels Roast

Since this year’s Thanksgiving in NYC only required cooking for Rob and I, there was no need to create something the size of the traditional beast for the holiday. Not wanting to miss out, I made a mini-me (1/5 the size) from the original recipe posted on Hortomatic, which you can find here. I didn’t stuff the little guy, just kept him pure and whole like my soul.

All done & ready for fork

First, there was dough.

Sitting here next to the original recipe

Then, there was cheesecloth and broth atop.

Plus cooking and flipping for an hour total (rather than the usual two hours):

Next, there was not-quite-Jack Daniels-glaze

I didn’t have any JD on hand so threw some vodka on there … clementines blended worked great instead of pineapple, too:

It baked for around 45 minutes with the glaze in a tiny cast-iron pan:

  All done!

Veggie Pot Pie

This recipe has been a go-to for me going on 20 years. The first version made its way to an Earthsave Potluck in Seattle, where it won the best dish prize. It’s based on the version in the classic Moosewood Cookbook, and the recipe was published here in the Independent Weekly back in 2010, below the article about our annual Thanksgiving Record Party (RIP).

Pre-bake and pre-final topping. There’s that fork again.
Big, fat, made-too-much-filling pot pie.

One update: I am so not making my own crusts anymore. I mean, look at all this food I have to cook! I recommend the crusts available in vegan versions at Whole Foods, and usually opt for the non-Whole Wheat version for extra naughtiness to add to Santa’s list.


Cut up a bunch of potato/yam chunks, steam them for about 10 minutes. Smash them with some soy milk, pepper, olive oil, bragg’s/salt, and any spices you like.

Purple yams & potatoes. Purdy!

In addition to these ‘tates, Rob made his infamous and delicious gravy to top on all the dishes.


This year, I cubed my own (well, Rob’s) bread, tossed it with salt, garlic granules, and olive oil, and baked it for about 10 minutes before adding to this stir-fry of celery, red bell pepper, onions, and portobellos.

Stuffing is pretty easy to experiment with, but I recommend trying a recipe first if you have not made it before. Here is a recipe that looks very simple and tasty from Namely Marly.

Spinach dip

In hindsight, should have taken a shot of this after is was all stirred together and pretty. Just know: it was stirred together and pretty.

This one is so easy I can almost cry. There are some variations, but here is what I did this year:

  • Blend/mix a tub of Toffuti cream cheese with 1/4 cup or so of Just Mayo or Veganaise, 2 garlic cloves, and 1/2 of an onion, and a bouillon cube like Not Chicken (or some Bragg’s to taste). Transfer to bowl.
  • Chop up some spinach. Mix together into bowl.
  • Optional, but recommended: chopped water chestnuts.
  • Stuff into bread or on crackers, then take a walk the next day.

Even easier, some people use the French Onion soup mixes instead of fresh onion/garlic and bouillon.

Green bean casserole

I finally picked up more of that truffle oil that truly makes the umami of this dish pop (but not lock and drop). Don’t make the mistake I did and buy a chemically flavored truffle oil — look for the “infused with truffles” variety instead. There are even truffle lawsuits around this topic.

One cast iron pan recipe

I used a slight adaptation of Isa Chandra’s recipe here, making the following changes:

  • Added about 1 teaspoon truffle oil — it’s a “finishing oil” so technically it’s at its most flavorful if it’s not cooked (add it at the end) — but I added with the cashew mixture and still tasted it (probably because of the 2,4-dithiapentane?)
  • Steamed the beans for 8 minutes first (I prefer a soft, less crunchy bean)
  • Cooked it all in the same cast iron pan

I’ve also made this without cashews — using a more traditional flour-based thickener.  There is a delicious recipe I’ve used before here that I just might try again for Christmas. The site is old but the recipe is solid.

Dill-Garlic Cashew Cheese

I’ve made cashew cheeses and almond cheeses for years. In the beginning, I used this recipe for Cashew Goat Cheese (the best! I first used the adapted version by my friend at Rockin’ the Stove). The last few years, I made this delicious but decadent almond cheese ball (Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball … phew) but wanted to change it up this year.

Unfortunately, in a flurry of other cooking activity, or perhaps a lack of sleep, I messed up. I used only half the cashews required but failed to reduce the water to follow suit. If you follow the recipe by the Minimalist Baker here you should succeed — so never fear.

For comparison, how it is supposed to look (head on over there!).





And my dill-slathered boo blob:

Should make a nice cheese sauce for the mashed potatoes, though?

If you fear similar outcomes, you can go with the sure thing: Miyoko’s.

The weight of this error requires sweets.

Pumpkin Pie

I have always disliked pumpkin pie immensely.This year, that all changed. I even suggested to Rob that we add it to our weekly food groups. After all, pumpkin has tremendous benefits, even when contaminated with sugars and fats, right?  We’ll start here, with these 50 ideas for the great pumpkin.

Kind of went rogue here combining a few recipes, but the main formula is a can o’ pumpkin, 1/3 cup coconut milk/fat (from can), brown sugar, maple, corn starch, spices, bake. No eggs needed or missed.

Top with this delicious whip, which should also befriend your AM coffee. And THAT FORK AGAIN!

Looking at the photo composition above, I’m leaning toward saying I have a significant future in food photography. The broken pie … the aluminum foil … the plant that needs water … the crooked angle … the frame cutting out the whip can … the signature fork in the food (hey that might be my sister-in-law’s fork) … need I say more?

If you want actual measurements, try this easy pumpkin pie recipe by It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken.

You can also make it into a cheesecake like I did here.

Peppermint Rocky Road Fudge

Rocky road

It was only peppermint because I accidentally bought these instead of regular plain-ole:

Dandies, Peppermint flavor. Who knew?

And it was only “rocky road” because I didn’t melt the Dandies correctly. However, still delicious. In addition to dandies, I used the best chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand), coconut milk/fat (instead of condensed milk), sugar, vanilla, and walnuts.

I found a similar recipe here (I’d skip the shredded coconut personally) but might try these beauts next time.

Will be posting my Mom’s classic fudge recipe here shortly.

Apple Pie

Some apples, walnuts, brown sugar, cornstarch, maple = yum. Mix it all together and put it in one of those ready-made crusts. Here is a classic you can try from vegan dad.

Bonus: Pair with a Whiskey Sour. I made my first yesterday:

  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup water or soda
  • 2-3 T whiskey

Shake in a jar, pour over a big ice cube.


In addition to the w.sour, I hope these help your holiday potlucks, out-of-lucks, down-on-your-luck, and other “life events.”  I know that my own winter weight gain has immensely benefited from the above, as has my “spirit.”

Other holiday treats:

Don’t forget the peanut butter ballzzz and Russian Teacakes (use this recipe).

In a continuing tradition of my afore-hated combining of fruit and sweet, another recipe that will soon make its way into our holiday:  Lemon Meringue Pie (how beautiful is that pie?)

What are your go-to plant-based holiday recipes?  Anything you miss from pre-veg days but want to adapt? Share below.

2 thoughts on “My go-to vegan holiday menu”

    1. Oh awesome Cristina! Let me know how any of the dishes turn out if you try them. And if you have any recommendations, I’m all ears!

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