A Vegetarian Holiday Menu

A golden turkey, a glazed ham, a roasted leg of lamb – these are traditional mainstays for holiday menus across North America, but for vegetarians, this is not the case. Around many tables of those who choose not to eat meat, the bounty of the season truly shines in an array of main and side dishes featuring grains, mushrooms, legumes and every variety of vegetable from winter squash to leeks.

For me, some side dishes like Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Parmesan and piping hot Yorkshire Pudding tend to steal the show anyway, so I probably wouldn’t miss the turkey if I were a vegetarian. In fact, I’ve often been tempted to serve up my favorite sides and forget the main protein on our holiday meal, but I imagine I’d get a few complaints from the peanut gallery. Who knows. Maybe if I could make it up to them in the pie department…

Last year I posted a Simple Bites holiday menu, in all it’s traditional glory, but this November, I wanted to spotlight a few options for a meatless meal that is elegant enough to serve to your guests.

So today’s post is a round-up of what I believe would make a first-rate vegetarian holiday menu, either for the upcoming American Thanksgiving, or for a dinner party in December closer to Christmas.

Suggestions for a Vegetarian Holiday Menu

Now unless you were feeding a crowd of college boys, this menu is too big to be considered preparing in full, but I’ve given an array of ideas so you can pick and choose your favorite dishes and build a more modest menu of your own.

Appetizers

The finger foods: tasty bites that stimulate the appetite, yet leave plenty of room for the meal.

Entree

Choice of a seasonal soup, made from scratch with the freshest vegetables possible. Garlic croutons optional.

Served with fresh Pumpkin Challah or Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Rolls.

Main Meal

A fresh salad, a sophisticated potato presentation, everyone’s favorite squash dish and braised cabbage for that rustic touch. And for the main dish? Earthy wild mushrooms and leeks baked under a smooth polenta crust. I guarantee everyone will ask for seconds.

Dessert

Thankfully pie is vegetarian, especially when made with an all-butter crust. These two are the perfect balance between nutty-rich and fruit-filled, leaving you with no choice but to try a slice of both.

A memorable holiday menu doesn’t have to revolve around meat, as illustrated brilliantly in this Vegetarian Thanksgiving menu from Saveur. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or even flexitarian there are plenty of alternative options, all it takes is a little extra planning and an open palate.

Bon appetit!

For more menu planing ideas, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie.

What is your favorite vegetarian holiday side dish?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing these with us – it’s a lovely menu. I’m sure I’ll be making a few of these for myself this winter. Especially the Leek Bake and the Potato Strudel.

    The appetizers look yummy too. I would have to add some crackers with cream cheese, topped with some of my home made Blackberry Jabanero jam.

    Garlic croutons are not optional ;)
    Handcrafted With Altitude’s last post: Eat Local, All Year Long – MM Local Harvest Share Pickup

  2. Thank you for posting these! I have been trying to think of satisfying food ideas for our holiday parties! All of our extended family are meat eaters, and we have moved to more beans and grains. I was trying to think of something other than chili to make :-)
    Heather’s last post: weekend

  3. I have been trying to think of satisfying food ideas for our holiday parties! Thanks for sharing all this post!
    leigh’s last post: italian chandeliers

  4. I have often thought of inviting my family over and making them an awesome dinner with a menu similar to the above…and not mention a word of it missing meat. I wonder if they’d miss it???

    Vegetarian sides I love at Thanksgiving…green beans almandine, sweet potatoes, but above all cranberry compote!
    Melissa’s last post: C’est si bon! (Red Beans & Rice)

  5. Most of my husbands family is Vegan and so at most of our big family gatherings there is “us” and “them” food. These vegetarian dishes look DELICIOUS, but any Vegans out there have any holiday recipes they’d like to share?
    Thanks!
    Diane’s last post: Calm Amid the Chaos

  6. Fantastic ideas! My brother usually has a tofurky but I think due to price and the fact that he’s the only one to eat it, he’s opted to not have one this year. I may have to surprise him with a special dish just for him :)
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel’s last post: Slow Cooker Two Bean Spicy Chili

  7. This is great! I love the appetizer selection, especially since those with gluten allergies can still enjoy – often times the hardest to make GF.

  8. I love everything single thing my eyes just looked at.
    Bev Weidner’s last post: Asparagus Salad with Orange and Poppy Seeds

  9. Perfect! I’m always looking for more vegetarian holiday recipes.
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen’s last post: Cooler Cleanse and BluePrintCleanse 3 Day Cleanse Giveaway

  10. looks YUMMY! Please keep the meatless ideas coming- Byzantine Catholics start fasting from meat (except Sundays) from Nov 15th until Christmas to prepare for the feast of the Christmas season
    priest’s wife’s last post: A little GIVEAWAY

  11. Wow! Every single dish looks unbelievable. Thank you!
    Wendy Lawrence’s last post: autumn winifred oliver (and I) do things different

  12. Nice examples of vegetarian options – especially loved the apples and fennel salad :)
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com’s last post: Autumn pepita granola

  13. Wonderful vegetarian menu, Aimee! I definitely wouldn’t miss the meat in any of these dishes!
    Tracy’s last post: Vanilla Latte Cookies

  14. Even though we are not strict vegetarians, we do like to try and eat mostly vegetable dishes, so these are some great ideas. Thanks for sharing!
    Bernice
    Successful Woman’s Resource Center’s last post: 10 easy meals for busy nights

  15. Aimee, you rock! Thank you for this amazing resource for vegetarians, who can feel so left out on Thanksgiving.

  16. Your ideas look delicious! As a vegetarian, I love celery stuffed with cream cheese (thinned with milk), salt and pepper, topped with green olives; mash potatoes with blue cheese and rosemary; my mom’s homemade stuffing; and homemade biscuits. There is always plenty of good food to eat!

  17. This almost makes me want to have a vegetarian meal for the upcoming holidays. Really great stuff, Aimee! Loved all those recipes.

  18. This dishes is really good for the vegetarian..I like this menu I’m sure I’ll be making a few of these for myself..Thanks for the healthy tips..
    Chloe’s last post: How To Get Rid of Cellulite On Back of Thighs

  19. It’d be awesome to take this one step further to a completely vegan, completely cruelty-free holiday meal. With just a few substitutions it’d be easy as vegan pumpkin pie! Although, I am happy to see more people attempting to change the way we think about food and what we are consuming– Consumers have the right to know where their food comes from and how animals are treated before they reach their plates. This is a good, short video to watch about this topic: MeatVideo.com. Or visit ChooseVeg.com for information on adapting a more compassionate lifestyle.

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