Vegetarian Thanksgiving sides are great. See, most people assume that being a vegetarian on Thanksgiving kind of sucks, but those people are forgetting one crucial thing about Thanksgiving: It’s a holiday centered around meat, yes, but basically the worst one. That is to say, vegetarians really aren’t missing out on much. But while turkey is famously not great, most of the delicious and hearty sides just happen to be vegetarian by nature, and even the ones that aren’t can be made vegetarian. So without further ado, here are our picks for the best vegetarian Thanksgiving sides (and/or the best ingredients to make them). Oh and if you want to go totally plant based, check out our list of everything you need for a vegan Thanksgiving.
- Green Bean Casserole (with Chef’s Cupboard Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup)
Green bean casserole is among the most underrated Thanksgiving side dishes. It is technically a vegetable somehow, but is also packed with delicious, creamy, umami mushroom soup, as well as fried onions, soy sauce, and, as is the tradition, love. I am a firm believer that better ingredients yield better results, so why not use the best possible cream of mushroom soup in your casserole this year? The Sporked team loves this condensed mushroom soup from Aldi for its intense, fatty creaminess—they even called it “the best canned mushroom soup for an elevated green bean casserole.” You simply have to add this to your ingredient list for vegetarian side dishes this year.
- Betty Crocker Creamy Butter Mashed Potatoes
I am of the controversial opinion that instant mashed potatoes are actually better than real mashed potatoes. They are creamier, butterier, saltier, and smoother, and they take just minutes to make. So if you are like me and live that instant mash life, then why not make it one of your vegetarian Thanksgiving sides this year? We specifically love this one from Betty Crocker because it is “smooth, flavorful, and incredibly creamy.” These taters are also “so packed with flavor and don’t need additional seasoning to land on the dinner table.” That’s one less thing for you to worry about while crafting the rest of your vegetarian Thanksgiving sides.
- Rhodes Thaw, Rise & Bake Dinner Rolls
Dinner rolls are universally adored for a reason. They are a great vehicle for butter, sure, but they are also amazing sauce, gravy, and casserole sopper uppers. And these dinner rolls are so good they practically taste homemade. Why’s that? Because you rise and bake them yourself (don’t worry, it’s super easy). Not only that but Jordan called these bad boys “the best dinner rolls ever” and noted that they are “doughy on the inside and have an incredible crust on the outside.” You need these at your Thanksgiving table this year, so add ‘em to the ol’ list of vegetarian side dishes and, hey, be sure to pair them with the best vegetarian gravy.
Related: The Best Dinner Rolls for Dinnertime
- Stater Bros. Whole Cranberry Sauce
I mean, it is pretty obvious that this one is vegetarian, in all my culinary travels I have yet to meet a meaty canned cranberry sauce (though this does feel like something England would do and then call it a “Cranberry Spotted Thomas” or something). But this is also flat-out the best cranberry sauce we tried. It tastes like a cross between jellied cranberry sauce and homemade, and our team loved that it had “big pieces of berry that burst in your mouth and it doesn’t suffer from being absolutely packed with skins and seeds like some of the other whole berry cranberry sauces we tried.” Try this one on your Thanksgiving plate this year, and you might just have a new favorite vegetarian side dish.
- Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
If you’re buying boxed stuffing rather than making your own (smart), you’re going to encounter a sad truth: Most of them are made with some sort of poultry flavoring or broth. Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned classic stuffing is an exception! This stuff is actually fully vegan so long as you prepare it with a plant-based margarine rather than butter. And it tastes good! It’s made of bits of white bread and wheat bread that look like they were actually torn up by hand. You’re gonna want to add more veggie broth to this than the instructions on the box call for and you also have to add chopped onion and celery to the mix, but having a vegetarian stuffing on the table is worth the extra effort.
Read the full ranking of the best boxed stuffing
- Primal Kitchen Mushroom Gravy
Yes, vegetarians deserve gravy too and this one is far from a consolation prize. It is still that brown goo we all know and love, but with not a single animal product in sight—this one is vegan, not just vegetarian. Our team loves this gravy because it is “creamy, super rich and thick, salty, and a little bit herby,” which is exactly what we were looking for in a brown gravy. Do your vegetarian guests a favor and pick up some of this to go with the rest of your vegetarian Thanksgiving sides.