roasted turkey on white ceramic plate with other sustainable Thanksgiving recipes

Seven Sustainable Thanksgiving Recipes to Make This Year

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching! You’ve probably been tasked with bringing something to the table this Thanksgiving. Or you’ve been honored with the coveted holiday hosting. If you’re looking for healthy, sustainable meals, then look no further! We’re listing out our top sustainable recipes that you can make this Thanksgiving. 

The classic Thanksgiving menu consists of a variety of dishes ranging from mashed potatoes to cranberry sauce. But we like to add some diversity to the menu with healthy, vegetable-forward vegan and vegetarian meals. From green beans to sweet potato and cauliflower mash, to our favorite vegan pumpkin bread, we’re sharing our top favorite sustainable Thanksgiving recipes to make this year!

1. Green beans with Caramelized onions & Almonds

A classic thanksgiving side dish is the green bean casserole. So popular, Campbell’s made a marketing campaign out of it. Unfortunately, the green bean casserole isn’t the healthiest! It also has quite a complex assortment of processed components to end up on your table. Instead, try making this sustainable recipe for the green beans with caramelized onions for Thanksgiving this year.

Green Beans and almonds with caramelized onions is a simple side dish that looks elegant yet simple. The dish takes only a few minutes to prepare from start to finish. It is a go-to recipe for me during the weeknights as a side dish, but it’s a worthy addition to your Thanksgiving table.


2. Sweet potato and cauliflower mash

An American staple in many households during Thanksgiving is Candied yams. However, the simple recipe quickly converts a nutritious tuber into something more closely resembling dessert! With canned sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and marshmallows on top, this recipe shouldn’t be enjoyed more than once a year.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to candied yams on your table, check out our recipe for a sweet potato and cauliflower mash. I typically use this recipe as a sweet & savory healthier mashed potato alternative, but here it can take the place of candied yams. This recipe is packed full of nutrients, with only 110 calories per serving, 15g of carbohydrates, and 2g of fiber. It’s the perfect side to start incorporating into your meal prep schedules for the holidays. This recipe is more sustainable because we are not relying on processed foods with long supply chains. It uses whole ingredients that can be made easily with minimal equipment.

I promise, this recipe will still be easy to prepare and will be ready in just under 30 minutes. If you’re still craving a sweet element or a textural element, you can always top the sweet potato and cauliflower mash with some candied nuts for a bit of sweetness and crunch!


3. Potato leek soup

vegan or vegetarian potato leek soup. Can be made either way

If you’re looking for a hearty appetizer, you can make this potato leek soup. With the option to make this one vegan or vegetarian, you can’t go wrong. but can be enjoyed by everyone!

While soup is not a traditional component of the Thanksgiving menu, you can present an appetizer! It’s a great menu addition for those with dietary restrictions because it’s vegetarian, and can easily be made dairy-free. This recipe is more sustainable because we are using wholesome ingredients to create a dish with a great taste.

 If you live in a colder climate, it’ll warm you up! This potato leek soup recipe is delectable and creamy and delicious!


4. Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Looking for something to do with those extra cans of pumpkin that you got for Thanksgiving? This super moist vegan pumpkin bread recipe delivers on all your cravings for pumpkin spice and a sweet treat. Best of all, you won’t be able to tell it’s vegan.

This moist vegan pumpkin bread is made with aquafaba, which is the liquid broth that comes in cans of chickpeas. The aquafaba helps emulsify the batter and create a batter and bread that’s indistinguishable from its conventional counterpart!

With the cost of eggs increasing, using aquafaba is a sure way you can have a sustainable Thanksgiving while cutting costs in your kitchen this holiday season!


5. Hatch chili vegan mac and cheese

Vegan mac and cheese marco

Did you notice that every vegan mac and cheese recipe now has vegan cheese in it? Well for us Mac and Cheese purists out there, the vegan cheese just won’t cut it. As a mac and cheese lover and food scientist, I have very high standards for my mac and cheese, so that’s why I created this hatch chili vegan mac and cheese recipe that can satisfy your cravings for the classic comfort food, while providing nutrition and variety with pairings.

While there are many great things about this vegan mac and cheese recipe, my favorite is the fact it can serve a crowd. Best of all, it can be made with just a few simple ingredients, many of which you may already have in your pantry or refrigerator. 

In addition to being incredibly delicious, this vegan mac and cheese is packed with nutrition. This recipe yields about 6 servings, but can be stretched farther if you use the vegan mac and cheese as a side dish instead of the main course. But with 16g of protein per serving and 5g of fiber, this vegan mac and cheese can be the star of the show any time. It’s also packed with healthy fats thanks to the cashews and olive oil used in the recipe. If you prefer, you can use whole wheat pasta to increase your protein and fiber to this recipe.

By not using processed vegan cheese, we are ensuring we receive optimal nutrition from a classic recipe, while still delivering on taste and indulgent texture. It also adds a sustainable version of a classic recipe to your Thanksgiving table.


6. Pimento Cheese Spread

Looking for a crowd-pleasing yet more sustainable addition to your charcuterie board? Click here to see my recipe for cashew-based vegan pimento cheese spread. Not only is it a satisfying addition to a cheese plate, but it’s also a delightful way to introduce sustainability into snacking.

One thing that I enjoy about this vegan pimento cheese spread is that you can make it in five minutes or thirty minutes, depending on if you account for any preparation time.

You’ll need to start by soaking the raw cashews in water. If you’re in a pinch for time, you can pour boiling water over the cashews and let them soak for anywhere from 15-30 minutes or until the cashews are soft. But, if you’re any type of immunocompromised, I highly recommend this method as a pasteurization step.

However, if you’re a planner, you can soak these raw cashews in room temperature water either overnight or during the workday to save you some time. You should note that if you leave the cashews soaking for more than 12 hours, they may begin to ferment. If a raw diet is your thing, this fermentation actually adds a unique flavor to your cheese spread.


7. White bean burgers turned meatballs!

Use Mushroom and bean mix for a sustainable thanksgiving recipe
mushroom and bean mix for meatballs!

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you might be looking for something to be the center of your plate to replace turkey this Thanksgiving. We often lean on veggie burgers as a quick alternative because they are easy to make, delicious, and low cost. But if you use a little creativity, we can transform a veggie burger recipe into a veggie meatball recipe! We recommend converting our recipe for a white bean and mushroom burger into to a meatless meatball! This ensures all of your guests will have a great tasting center of the plate item at Thanksgiving this year! Learn how to create meatballs using this link.

While there are many great store-bought veggie burgers to try, these meat-like alternatives can be highly processed. Most are nutritionally similar to a traditional beef burger — with a few exceptions like cholesterol. Today’s mushroom and bean burger recipe will provide you with nutrition and taste right from home. 

If you’re a skeptic about processed food, or you just prefer the joy of making food for yourself, this recipe is for you. Using white kidney beans and mushrooms, this recipe satisfies the craving for a juicy and savory backyard sandwich while also adding protein and fiber. Best of all, we have provided you tips to make sure your burger or meat-less ball doesn’t fall apart and does not dry out.

BONUS Recipe: Roasted Carrots with Cranberries and Rosemary

roasted carrots for sustainable thanksgiving recipes

Roasted carrots are a classic side dish that never goes out of style. Not only are they incredibly easy to make, but they also bring out the natural sweetness and earthy flavors of this root vegetable. Whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or simply want to elevate your weeknight dinner, these roasted carrots are a perfect choice. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of making roasted carrots, and we’ll address some common FAQs to ensure your roasted carrots turn out perfectly.

Like many vegetables, roasted carrots can be prepared in a variety of ways. In this recipe, these carrots will be accompanied by a few key ingredients to get a sweet, savory, and slightly tart flavor. The tender glazed texture on the carrots, accompanied by the chewy texture of dried cranberries, will be something everyone will enjoy. They are a perfect fall potluck recipe!

roasted turkey on white ceramic plate with other sustainable Thanksgiving recipes
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Try Our Sustainable Thanksgiving Recipes This Year!

We hope you enjoyed this Sustainable Thanksgiving Recipe round-up! These vegetarian recipes will be a welcome addition to your table this Thanksgiving. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve made any of these recipes, or which one you’re most excited to try this year!


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