Plant-Based Thanksgiving

Is Thanksgiving really all about the side dishes? If you or some of your family members and guests follow a vegan or plant-based lifestyle, they most certainly will be grateful for an alternative to the main dish (gobble, gobble) as well as some tasty sides.

Plant-based diets are trending so there’s a good chance vegan options will be much appreciated, if not even expected, at your table this year. As an added bonus, vegan recipes are dairy-free so they will appeal to your lactose-intolerant friends as well.

First up is an entrée that is as delicious as it is Instagram-worthy in presentation. Guaranteed to have the turkey lovers at your dinner table drooling!

Maple Roasted Delicata Squash
with Cranberry Cornbread Dressing

Serves 4

Preparation Time
Cornbread, 30 minutes
Roast Squash, 30-40 minutes
Cornbread Dressing, 30 minutes

Dairy-free, vegan, plant-based

Delicata Squash is the queen of gourds and can be found in a variety of sizes and colors ranging from greens to orange. Buttery and thin-skinned, they roast quickly and offer up a uniquely smooth and nutty flavor. They are easy to prepare, and this recipe includes a savory cornbread dressing that is studded with cranberries for a festive touch.
Your Thanksgiving guests will be delighted when you present this gorgeous dish. Make your holiday stress-free by prepping some of the components in advance. Bake the cornbread a day or two in advance and brown the veggie sausage ahead of time as well.


(You can make this the day before)

As tempting as it may be to nibble on the cornbread while it is warm from the oven, resist! You will need the entire recipe for the dressing. Solution- double the recipe and have yet another delectable side dish. You can even bake the second batch as muffins and serve in a breadbasket lined with a holiday-themed cloth napkin.

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2/3 cup organic cane sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 ¼ cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil plus 2 teaspoons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a round cake pan or square baking dish with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil.

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl whisk together the soy milk and oil, then add to cornmeal mixture. Stir just until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until edges are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Roasted Delicata Squash

4 large or 6 medium Delicata squash

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cranberry Cornbread Dressing, see recipe below

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Rinse squash well. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.

Mix the olive oil and maple syrup in a small bowl, brush onto cut sides of squash. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper. Place squash cut side facing down on lined baking sheet.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until fork-tender and golden around the edges. Remove from oven.

Fill squash with the cornbread dressing, drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cranberry Cornbread Dressing

1 recipe cornbread, crumbled

1 -2 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium to large red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup king oyster mushrooms, chopped

8 ounces vegan or plant-based sausage, crumbled and cooked until well browned

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1 to 2 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

While the squash is roasting, prepare the dressing. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until slightly transparent. Add minced garlic and cook another minute or two, then add the chopped mushrooms and seasonings. Continue to sauté until mushrooms begin to brown. Add the cooked sausage, poultry seasoning, cranberries, and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Remove from heat and add cornbread pieces. Stir until well combined, adding more broth if needed to form a moist but not liquid consistency. If desired add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill roasted squash halves with dressing, drizzle with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and bake for another 5- 10 minutes. Serve immediately or keep warm.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Serve 4-6
Preparation Time 30-40 minutes
Plant-based, Vegan, Dairy-free

Really good mashed potatoes…rave-worthy mashed potatoes…require attention to detail. The proper variety of potato and the appropriate cooking techniques make a world of difference. Read and learn…and then treat your tastebuds to the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever experienced!

2 pounds organic Yukon gold potatoes

2 teaspoons sea salt

½ cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

2 tablespoons vegan butter

2 cloves of garlic, pressed

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

½ teaspoon sea salt

Dash nutmeg

Peel potatoes then cut into even-sized ½ inch cubes. Add potatoes to a pot of cold water. Add 2 teaspoons sea salt and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.

While potatoes come to a boil, heat the soy or almond milk and butter on medium heat. Do not let the milk mixture boil. As it begins to simmer, add garlic, thyme, salt and nutmeg. Cook for about 5 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh sieve, return to pot and keep warm.

Cook potatoes just until fork tender. Drain. Then use a potato ricer to puree potatoes. Add warm milk mixture and stir just until well combined. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies
with Cream Cheese Frosting

Slightly crispy yet soft and buttery…the perfect sugar cookies. Only better because they have a hint of pumpkin and are topped with luscious cream cheese frosting. All plant-based, of course!

Yields 2 dozen

Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Chill time: 45 minutes to overnight

Cook time: 12 minutes


½ cup vegan butter (use stick butter instead of tub), softened

¾ cup organic cane sugar, divided

¼ cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking soda

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon unsweetened soy or almond milk

Vegan colored sugar or sprinkles, optional


Cream butter with electric or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Next, add vanilla and pumpkin puree and beat just until mixed.

In a separate bowl stir together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Add flour mixture in thirds to butter mixture, beating after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon soy or almond milk and mix just until a soft dough forms. Add a little more milk if dough is too stiff. Roll into a ball and chill for 45 minutes or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop a tablespoon of dough at time and roll into a ball. Place balls on cookie sheet spaced at least 2 inches apart. Dip a glass into shallow bowl with the reserved ¼ cup of cane sugar and then press down on ball of dough. Repeat until cookie sheet is full, approximately one dozen cookies. Return remaining dough to refrigerator to keep cold while first batch bakes.

Bake for 10-12 minutes just until cookies start to lightly brown. Do not overbake. They will continue to firm up while cooling. Place cookie sheet on wire rack. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove carefully from pan and place directly on rack to continue cooling. Ice when completely cooled. Sprinkle with additional cane sugar or vegan colored sprinkles if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting


4 tablespoons vegan cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons vegan butter, softened

1 cup organic powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 to 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk


Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Do not overmix. Add sugar in thirds, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk. Beat just until mixed. If too thin, add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time. If too thick, add non-dairy milk a little at a time.

Refrigerate for up to one week.

Lori Rodgers – After 25 years running the family business and writing for My Cooking Magazine as their vegan expert, Lori is thrilled to announce the launch of Vegan Friendly Cooking, her online cooking school where she offers courses that show you how easy, delicious, and affordable it is to cook with plants. From the vegan-curious to longtime vegans, it is a welcoming community for anyone interested in including more plant-based foods into their meals.

For 25 years Lori ran the family business, Bert Rodgers Schools of Real Estate, indulging her cooking hobby by whipping up meals for family and friends on the weekends. Her two sons adopted vegan lifestyles while in their early teens, adding a new challenge to Lori’s cooking repertoire. Now that her sons are young adults, she is following her two passions…cooking and teaching…and spreading the love of nature’s bounty.

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