Our 2020 Thanksgiving Menu: A Sample Thanksgiving Menu for a Small Group (vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free)

With one week to go until Thanksgiving and COVID cases spiking higher than ever before, a lot of you have had to change your holiday plans last minute. I have received a lot of messages from you all asking how to put together a simple yet special vegan Thanksgiving menu for your family. And a lot of you have never done all the cooking before or have only had to make one or two dishes…and now you are making a full Thanksgiving meal all on your own! Well, have no fear! I got you! If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can do this! I’m keeping it simple because I certainly don’t need any added stress in my life. These are low-stress, low-mess dishes we all love. I hope this is helpful as you prepare for Thanksgiving 2020!

I’m so excited to share this vegan Thanksgiving menu with you! Most of you are looking to serve 4-6 people this Thanksgiving, which is exactly what we are doing over here. We have a family of five and want to do a traditional Thanksgiving meal but keep things simple without getting carried away. My plan is to select as many dishes that can be made in advance as possible so I can enjoy the day with my family. Some of my favorite make-ahead recipes are candied pecans, cranberry sauce, soups and no-bake desserts!

Vegan Mashed Cauliflower

I’ll be involving my kids in the process as much I can, so I’ll mention tips for that below too! I hope you find this sample vegan Thanksgiving menu helpful as you think about your holiday this year. Even if you are zooming, delivering part of the meal to family, or keeping it super small it can still be just as delicious and special. This year may look different in every way but I see it as an opportunity to create new traditions, practice new recipes (without having to make extra large quantities and get judgement from extended family), and learn how to refine your entertaining skills! Silver lining, people!

Let’s Talk Appetizers

Typically Thanksgiving is a long day of cooking and visiting with family. Appetizers are a HUGE part of that for our family. We typically nosh and visit for the first 2-3 hours while the main dishes finish cooking. We have snack boards, dips, bites, etc. But, this year, you could totally skip appetizers altogether if you want! If you do want to do a seasonal Thanksgiving appetizer for your fam, I would suggest this quick and easy one:

Healthy Candied Pecans (refined sugar-free)

maple candied pecans

This is a quick and easy appetizer that takes ten minutes from start to finish (including baking time). Your kids can help you measure and mix the ingredients together in the bowl and spread the pecans out on the baking sheet. The candied pecans are beyond addictive and delicious. They remind me of the ones my grandmother always brings to Thanksgiving. They are nice to have around all Thanksgiving weekend.

More vegan Thanksgiving menu appetizers:

Sweet and Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

Garlic Pumpkin Hummus

Sweet Potato Rounds with Vegan Ricotta and Toasted Walnuts

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus

Sweet & Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Soup/Salad

For a formal sit down Thanksgiving meal, we typically do a soup and/or salad course. This year, it is totally appropriate to skip this course if you are looking to go more low key.

I already have a batch of my Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup in the freezer from the photoshoot so I will plan to have that on the vegan Thanksgiving menu. The kids go crazy for it and it is so nutritious! You can totally make this one in advance. Same with my easy blender pumpkin soup. If you have frozen butternut squash and want to go SUPER low maintenance you can try this quick and easy version of my Butternut Squash Soup. But, if you have the time to roast a fresh butternut squash, I do highly recommend my newer version, Best Creamy Vegan Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic (pictured below) – it is a total game changer.

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

I’m skipping salad this year because salads can be a lot of effort/mess and my kids don’t love them that much compared to some of the side dishes below. If you are searching for the perfect seasonal salad for your family, I highly recommend my Apple Arugula Salad with Candied Walnuts and Dates and Vegan Feta. It is stunning on a holiday table and full of so much incredible fall flavor. You can also check out my Thanksgiving Kale Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing for a hearty, more entree-like salad.

Vegan Thanksgiving Menu: Sides

Oh, this is a big one. It’s a category of the vegan Thanksgiving menu I usually get super carried away with, to be honest! I love vegetable side dishes more than I can say and it is hard for me to select my favorites. This year I’m going to keep it super simple and stick with four classic Thanksgiving sides:

Make Ahead Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes

(or Vegan Mashed Cauliflower… still honestly deciding because they are both SO delicious but I know we don’t need both mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower!)

Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes

With one EASY secret you can totally make these mashed potatoes in advance. Check out the recipe to find out how!

Green Bean Casserole

Healthier Green Bean Casserole

This is a dish that is best when made the day of so if I don’t have time that day I will just sauté the green beans and mushrooms. I’m so happy with how creamy and classic this menu is! It’s the perfect addition to a vegan Thanksgiving menu.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Vegan Gluten-Free Sweet potato Casserole with Crumble Topping

This can definitely be made in advance, then assembled and baked the day of the meal.

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Refined Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is one of the best things to make in advance since it freezes and thaws so beautifully. I always make this one ahead of time so it is one less thing to do on Thanksgiving. You could even make it a week or two in advance!

Here were some other side dishes I considered that you may want to review as well for your Thanksgiving menu:

Quinoa Stuffing

Crispy Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Easy Maple Glazed Sautéed Carrots

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Restaurant-Style Sautéed Mushrooms

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Whole Roasted Rainbow Carrots

Hemp Seed Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash

Herb Roasted Root Veggies

Good luck deciding!

Vegan Thanksgiving Menu: Entree

We are keeping it totally vegan and skipping the turkey! For me, Thanksgiving is about so much more than turkey meat; it’s about gratitude and family.

Did you know every Thanksgiving 46 million turkeys are killed for the big feast? I won’t go into all the saddening facts about their lives on turkey farms but if you are interested in learning more you can watch this brief video. For our entree this year we are going to have Quinoa-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Quinoa-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash

Vegan Holiday Entree

Bobby absolutely loves everything about this plant-based dish and it is so satisfying and beautiful for a cozy Thanksgiving dinner at home. My kids love it too! The acorn squash gets so sweet and caramelized when it roasts in the oven with the maple syrup. he flesh is so creamy too! Here are some other plant-based entrees ideas for your vegan Thanksgiving menu:

One-Skillet Baked Butternut Pasta with Sage

Creamy Pumpkin Garlic Pasta

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Quinoa

Dessert!

Mmmm the best part of the meal. I selected one that is classic and one that I can make in advance and keep in the freezer until the big day…

No-Bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie

No-Bake Vegan and Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

It doesn’t get any better than creamy pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving! Other desserts that you can totally make in advance:

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

No-Bake Pecan Pie Bars

Apple Crisp

Snickerdoodles

Our Vegan and Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu Recap

So, in summary, for our 2020 Thanksgiving I’m serving butternut squash soup, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffed acorn squash and pumpkin pie!

The soup, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie have already been made in advance and are in the freezer. I do have mashed cauliflower in the freezer as well from recipe testing so I may just serve that if I get too busy for mashed potatoes. All I will need to make on Thanksgiving is the green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and stuffed acorn squash! That feels so doable. If I run out of time my backup plan is to roast the sweet potato and/or saute the green beans and mushrooms instead of turning them into casseroles. Easy, right!? Please let me know if you have any Thanksgiving recipe questions below in the comments. I’m happy to help!

You can find all my Thanksgiving recipes here.

Let’s keep looking for the sliver lining in all these new 2020 situations. I’m thinking of you all and hoping everyone has a healthy, safe and happy Thanksgiving. Sending you all my love!

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