Five-Course Vegan Thanksgiving Menu (Gourmet + Easy)

This five-course vegan Thanksgiving meal consists of three side veggie dishes (or two side dishes and an appetizer, depending on how you look at it), a hearty yet wholesome main dish, and an easy no-bake tart. The best part? It can be prepared in just three hours!

I recently attempted a vegan Thanksgiving dinner in just three hours over on Youtube. The goal: make a gourmet-quality holiday dinner in just 3 hours (no boxed mixes or pre-made foods allowed).

Epic vegan Thanksgiving in just 3 hours
Epic vegan Thanksgiving in just 3 hours

While I typically make 8 to 10 (sometimes, even 12) courses and spend 20 hours in the kitchen, I decided 2020 was too stressful to repeat that. Plus, since many of our Thanksgiving dinners (including my own) will be significantly smaller this year, I wanted to keep the menu on the small side and make it relatively fuss-free.

This five-course vegan Thanksgiving meal consists of three side veggie dishes (or two side dishes and an appetizer, depending on how you look at it), a hearty yet wholesome main dish, and an easy no-bake tart.

Most of these recipes are a bit more modern than classic Thanksgiving recipes for a few reasons. One, I already have several more traditional Thanksgiving recipes on my blog (mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, etc.). And two, my cooking style skews more modern and elegant than traditional.

  • Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash (main course)
  • Sweet Chili-Ginger Brussels Sprouts (side dish)
  • Roasted Carrots with Gremolata (side dish)
  • Fresh Herb Salad with Sumac Shallots (starter or side dish)
  • Salted Chocolate Cream Tart (dessert)
Five course thanksgiving spread on various plates on a brown table.

If you want so supplement this meal with something more carb-heavy and indulgent, I suggest either my miso butter mashed potatoes or my wild mushroom stuffing, or some fluffy bread rolls would be divine.

If you work efficiently and make the dessert ahead of time, you can easily make this five-course meal on Thanksgiving day in 3 hours or less.

Whether you make the whole menu or just one recipe, I hope you’ll enjoy these recipes this holiday season!

Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash

Roasted butternut squash gets stuffed with a hearty and creamy lentil filling that is packed with umami and punchy flavors (sticky browned onions, lots of garlic and fresh herbs, red wine, tahini, balsamic vinegar). It makes for a hearty and satisfying main course that the whole family will love.

When ready to serve, drizzle with a creamy (and quick) sauce made from the scooped out butternut squash.

Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash

5 from 32 votes
Roasted butternut squash gets stuffed with the most flavorful, umami-packed lentil filling, then drizzled with a creamy sauce made from the scooped out butternut squash. A hearty and satisfying main course for any winter dinner, especially holiday meals!
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 35 mins
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 medium butternut squash
  • Regular olive oil or avocado oil for roasting
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Creamy Lentil Filling

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (you will need more oil if not using a nonstick pan)
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) dry red wine (such as Pinot Noir, Shiraz/Syrah, or Malbec)
  • 1 cup (190g) green or brown lentils
  • 2 ⅔ cups (640 mL) vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
  • 2 ½ tablespoons tahini
  • 2 teaspoons white miso paste
  • 2-3 teaspoons good-quality balsamic vinegar

Butternut-Tahini Sauce

  • 1 cup roasted butternut squash (from the scooped out halves)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-6 tablespoons water or vegetable broth, more as needed to thin the sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  • Roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Slice each butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and sticky stuff with a spoon. Place each squash half, cut side up, on a large baking sheet and rub each with a bit of the oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender and lightly browned.
  • Make the Creamy Lentil Filling. Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions and season with a pinch of salt and sauté for 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning but not too often so that they can brown, or until most of the onions are browned. Add the garlic, sage and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine into all of the ingredients, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium and pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits, until the liquid has evaporated and the smell of alcohol has dissipated, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth, along with the lentils, bay leaf, and paprika. Stir to combine and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer, and simmer until the lentils are just tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Add the tahini, miso, and balsamic vinegar, and stir until well incorporated. Taste for seasonings, adding about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • When the roasted squash is cool enough to handle, use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh from each squash half, leaving a ½ to ¾-inch -thick border around the sides and bottom.
  • Transfer 1 cup of the butternut squash flesh to a food processor (set aside the rest for another use, such as a risotto, pasta, oatmeal, or smoothie).
  • Reduce oven temperature to 350F° (175°C).
  • Stuff the lentil filling into each squash cavity. Add the stuffed squash halves to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until everything is warmed through.
  • Meanwhile, make the butternut tahini sauce. To the food processor with the 1 cup squash flesh, add the tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and blend until smooth. Stream in the water or broth, scraping down the sides as you go, until you have a pourable but thick sauce.
  • To serve, drizzle the butternut tahini sauce on top of the stuffed baked squash. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 554mg | Potassium: 1392mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 27077IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 183mg | Iron: 5mg

Sweet Chili-Ginger Brussels Sprouts

My holiday table is never complete without Brussels sprouts, so I love coming up with new and fresh ways to serve them. Like these Chinese-inspired Sweet Chili-Ginger Brussels Sprouts! Brussels sprouts get roasted until browned, then doused in a sticky, spicy and slightly sweet sauce with fresh ginger and garlic.

Sweet Chili-Ginger Brussels Sprouts on a grey plate on a brown table.

Sweet Chili-Ginger Brussels Sprouts

5 from 15 votes
These Chinese-inspired Sweet Chili-Ginger Brussels Sprouts get roasted until browned, then doused in a sticky, spicy and slightly sweet sauce with fresh ginger and garlic.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese-Inspired
Serving size: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds (680g) Brussels sprouts
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil, or neutral cooking oil of choice

Sweet Chili Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha, or other sweet-chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, aka rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water

Aromatics

  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil or neutral cooking oil of choice
  • 3 scallions sliced at a bias (white and light green parts only; reserve the dark green pieces for garnish)
  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Garnishes

  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews, chopped (optional; omit for nut-free)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds or black sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Prep the sprouts. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Wash the sprouts and remove any browned or tough outer layers. Cut the sprouts in half (if any sprouts are large, cut into quarters).
  • Roast the sprouts. Spread the sprouts out on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat with your hands. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing after 20 minutes, until the sprouts are nicely browned. If your sprouts are quite small, flip after 15 minutes and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile make the Sweet Chili sauce. Whisk together the tamari or soy sauce, agave, water, sriracha, sesame oil, and rice vinegar in a small bowl until well combined.
  • Sauté the aromatics. Just before the sprouts are done roasting (or after they’re done roasting), heat the 2 teaspoons oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often until golden, about 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make cornstarch slurry: whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth and. no longer clumpy.
  • Add the Sweet Chili Sauce to the frying pan and bring to a simmer. Then add the cornstarch slurry, stir well, and simmer until the sauce has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Toss in the roasted sprouts and coat in the sauce. Sprinkle with sliced green scallion tops, roasted cashews (if using), and sesame seeds.

Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 355mg | Potassium: 518mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 918IU | Vitamin C: 100mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg

Roasted Carrots with Gremolata

For my next veggie side dish, I chose to make a simple carrot dish because (1) both veggies roast in the oven at the same temperature for the same time, so you save on a lot of time there; (2) I love starchy veggies on my Thanksgiving table; (3) and roasted carrots are so delicious that you don’t need much to turn them into a crowd pleasing side dish.

You do need to use skinny carrots if you want to roast them whole. If your carrots are standard-sized or large, you’ll want to cut them into half or quarters, lengthwise, and then into large chunks.

Roasted carrots with gremolata on grey plate on a brown table.

Roasted Carrots with Gremolata

5 from 12 votes
Despite being easy to make, these carrots have a complex flavor thanks to a gremolata. Your family will love them.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serving size: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 bunches of skinny carrots scrubbed clean and tops removed
  • 2 ½ tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Handful of fresh thyme sprigs optional

Gremolata

  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  • 2 large garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 small organic lemons
  • Coarse or flaky sea salt

Instructions

  • Prep the carrots. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). If some carrots are thicker, cut them lengthwise in half. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and maple syrup.
  • Roast the carrots. Spread the carrots out on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the oil-maple syrup mixture. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat with your hands. Scatter the thyme sprigs on top. Roast the carrots for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes, until the carrots are tender and deeply browned in spots.
  • Meanwhile, make the gremolata. Finely chop the parsley. Use a microplane to grate the garlic cloves directly over the carrot tops, or just finely mince the garlic with a knife. Then use a microplane to zest the lemons on top of this mixture, taking care to not zest the white pith underneath the skin. Chop everything together until well combined, sprinkle with a bit of coarse sea salt, and then transfer to a bowl.
  • Once carrots are done roasting, sprinkle the gremolata on top and serve.

Calories: 123kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 279mg | Potassium: 479mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 19784IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 1mg

Fresh Herb Salad with Sumac Shallots

Since most holiday tables are packed with heavy, rich dishes, I love adding a salad into the mix to lighten things up. You can serve this salad as a starter, or as a palate-cleansing side dish.

And if salad sounds boring for the holidays, keep in mind that this is a fun and non-traditional salad. The base consists of cucumber ribbons, fresh herbs, scallions, and wedges of crisp Little Gem lettuce. The star of the show are the shallots, which get quickly marinated in vinegar and sumac, a spice common in Middle Eastern cooking that’s bright, tangy, citrusy yet a little earthy.

Fresh herb salad with sumac shallots on a white plate on a brown table.

Fresh Herb Salad with Sumac Shallots

5 from 10 votes
This palate-cleansing salad is the perfect starter or side dish for your fall table. The base consists of cucumber ribbons, fresh herbs, scallions, and wedges of crisp Little Gem lettuce. The star of the show are the shallots, which get quickly marinated in vinegar and sumac, a spice common in Middle Eastern cooking that’s bright, tangy, citrusy yet a little earthy.
Prep Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Serving size: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 large shallot, sliced paper thin
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar or white vinegar)
  • A couple pinches kosher salt or 1 pinch sea salt
  • 2 heads Little Gem lettuce
  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted almonds, chopped (for nut-free, substitute roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds or hemp seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  • Marinate the shallots. Mix together the shallots with the sumac, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Use your hands to combine and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to 30 minutes.
  • Shaved the cucumber into ribbons using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler. Slice the Little Gem lettuce heads into quarters.
  • In a bowl, combine the shaved cucumbers, parsley, mint, and scallions. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice and gently toss to combine.
  • Transfer the salad to a serving platter or bowl. Top with the quartered lettuce heads. Spread the marinated shallot slices on top and scatter around the chopped almonds. Toss gently and serve.

Calories: 137kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 399mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2914IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 2mg

Salted Chocolate Cream Tart

While pie (and pumpkin) is more traditional for Thanksgiving, I prefer tarts because they’re so much easier and quicker to make. And while I definitely enjoy pumpkin desserts, not everyone in my family does so I often end up making a chocolate dessert, which is guaranteed to satisfy every appetite.

And this salted chocolate cream tart is a no-brainer when it comes to an easy holiday meal. With a no-bake brownie base and a creamy salted chocolate filling, it’s rich and creamy but made with wholesome ingredients and requires no baking. Best of all, it can be made several days in advance for a stress-free holiday.

The hardest part about this recipe: remembering to refrigerate your coconut cream a day in advance.

Full salted chocolate cream tart in tart pan on brown table.

Vegan Salted Chocolate Cream Tart

With a no-bake brownie base and a creamy salted chocolate filling, this gluten-free, vegan Salted Chocolate Cream Tart is one of the best desserts you’ll ever taste! It’s rich and creamy but made with wholesome ingredients and requires no baking. Make it for a special occasion and wow your guests!
Check out this recipe

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21 comments on Five-Course Vegan Thanksgiving Menu (Gourmet + Easy)

  1. Angela Newcom

    5 stars
    Hey Nisha, I can’t get the Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash to print. When I click the button, it reverts back to this page. All the others worked though. Can you look at that? I really want to print this recipe!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Angela, that’s so odd because on our end we’re able to print it out. Does it work for you now?

  2. Cecilia

    5 stars
    I can always count on your recipes! So delicious!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Cecilia. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  3. Max

    5 stars
    It was so helpful to have this meal plan. The sweet chili Brussels were our favorites!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Max!

  4. Jennifer R

    I plan to make the Creamy Lentil Stuffed Butternut Squash. Is it possible to omit the red wine from the recipe or can I substitute it for something else?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Jennifer, you can omit the red wine and substitute vegetable broth in the recipe instead. Happy cooking!

  5. Cathy Strobeck

    5 stars
    I made this for my vegan husband and MIL, and they loved it. My husband told me my MIL whispered to him that the lentil stuffed squash was the best item on her plate. She even took one of the squash home as a left over — and it was the only item she took! My non-vegan mom even tried it and raved about how good it was. Thank you for a wonderful, holiday-worthy main course! This is going in the ‘to keep’ vegan recipe binder.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Cathy, So glad to hear you all loved this recipe! Thank you for sharing your experience :)

  6. Sophie

    5 stars
    Made this for thanksgiving and it was such a big hit! I prepped ahead and made the chocolate tart a day in advance and everything else came together surprisingly fast and easily. Everything was so delicious, with the Brussels sprouts being the absolute favorite! I will definitely make them again. All the flavors in everything were so vibrant and balanced and definitely not too heavy. I used one large squash instead of 3 medium and it was more than enough food. Everything impressed my non vegan family. If you want to add a course I highly recommend pairing with Nisha’s pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells. YUM. Thank you so much for delicious recipes and happy thanksgiving

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Sophie. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review. We are so glad to hear you enjoyed the Thanksgiving menu!

  7. Laura Court

    5 stars
    I’m from Australia and I’m very jealous of Thanksgiving food so I just decided to invite some friends over and do it anyway! This was the best dinner I’ve ever made thanks to your recipes. Everyone raved about every course and they’re not Vegan at all! Thanks so much Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      LOL, we are delighted to hear you celebrated Thanksgiving with the Rainbow Plant Life recipes… all the way from Australia! Thank you for trying them Laura!

  8. Max B

    5 stars
    Thanks for this fantastic meal plan!! Happy and peaceful Thanksgiving 2021 everybody

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Of course, Max! Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Meg

    5 stars
    Nisha, I made this last year when we were supposed to have a teeny quarantine thanksgiving with my cousins, who had just had a baby. We ended up cancelling and I just took the dishes over to them and by the time I got home I had like 20 texts saying how good the food was. It was hands down my favorite thing I’ve ever made and I was told/threatened to make it again this year and not change anything. Thank you so much for this dish, it brightened up a horrible year last year, and this year my family gets to enjoy it together. The flavor boosters for the lentils are insane and you are a genius!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Aw, thank you so much for sharing your story Meg. We are thrilled you and your family were big fans of the food! You are too kind. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

  10. Evelyn J Herrera

    Made this menu last year. It was fabulous. A lot of cooking for our small immediate family in quarantine. This year we are actually having people over and a pot luck. So, I am struggling with which of all this fabulousness to pick for my contribution for the meal. Happy cooking.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Evelyn, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed the recipes! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  11. lara

    5 stars
    i’ve been making the sprouts on repeat (nearly every couple of days) since you’ve first posted the recipe. everyone requests for it and even sprout haters love them. well done, nisha and thanks so much 🙈

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