Holiday Cooking Guide (when you’re the only vegan in the family)

So you’re the only vegan at the holiday gathering.  You want to bring dishes that you can enjoy, but also so others can taste and realize how delicious vegan food can be. These recipes here are perfect for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or really any holiday/family gathering, potluck, or party.  These are my favorite dishes that I have personally tested and brought to my own holiday gatherings this year so far 🙂 Now you might be thinking, “there are so many vegan holiday recipe guides/books out there…” but this one is different:

1. These are not my recipes, therefore I am not biased in telling you to make them

2. I have already tested them so you don’t have to

3. they are all easy

4. they can be made in advance (which is ideal if you are traveling to a gathering the day before)

5. they are all crowd pleasers and for the most part will shock people that they are vegan recipes (most of them are also gluten-free or can easily be made gf)


This post began when I started getting a little anxious about going to my first family Thanksgiving as a vegan.  My mom and brother knew that I was vegan, but the rest of my family did not.  I made sure to let them know in advance that I would be bringing a few dishes to supplement the Thanksgiving spread that everyone was welcome to try and add to their plates.  I didn’t want to bring anything that was going to ‘compete’ with the non-vegan versions already on the table… so I wanted to bring dishes that we didn’t usually serve, but that would pair nicely with the spread.  So here are my favorites that I made with some pictures and tips! (I even included one of our classic family recipes that we make every year and was accidentally vegan when I checked the recipe!)


Seven Layer Salad

vegan, can be made gluten-free, just check the ingredients you buy

Surprisingly, this was the hit at my Thanksgiving this year.  Who would’ve thought that it would be the salad?! But seriously, this salad is just that freakin’ good. Everyone was obsessed and said that you could not tell at all that it was vegan.  For the dressing in the recipe, I only added half the mayonnaise and put in some dill to give it a more ranch-like flavor and a more runny consistency.  This salad is going to be a new tradition for our family for sure and I’m already looking forward to making it again. The recipe for this one is from an awesome site called Namely Marly ( Or click on this link here to go right to the recipe: Perfect Vegan Seven Layer salad. This dish is also great to make in advance; you can put all the layers together and just keep the dressing on the side until you are ready to serve.  But make sure you fill the container more full of lettuce than you would think… as you can see in the picture below, the weight of the other layers started to weigh down on the lettuce.

Layers: greens, peas, green onion, scrambled tofu, ‘bacon’ bits, vegan cheddar-style shreds, creamy ranch-like dressing


vegan, no oil, low-fat, could be made gluten-free with the substitution of gluten free bread flour

Cornbread is one of those easily veganizable recipes with literally 1000 different variations in terms of dryness to fluffiness to moistness so you can really just use your favorite recipe for this if you already have one. However this recipe that I found is one of the healthier versions (in my opinion) and actually contains a can of real corn, which I thought was unique. This is definitely one of the moister cornbreads I’ve had, but I personally hate cornbread that is super dry so I thought this version was perfect. It’s also low in fat because it doesn’t use any oil or lard or vegan butter; and it doesn’t have much added sugar or salt. It’s from the website Brand New Vegan ( Or click the link here to go right to the recipe: Country Vegan Cornbread

just. look. at. that. fluff. and. moistness (not sure if that’s a word lol).

Vegan Roast

topped with some (canned) cranberry sauce

Okay so I was honestly a little skeptical about this also because I am not the biggest fan of many fake meats. I usually only eat them when dining out/on special occasions.  But I know that to make the epic vegan holiday plate… a slice of some sort of roast is absolutely necessary.  I bought the Field Roast Celebration Roast because it was one of the smaller ones that I have seen and I knew that I would (probably) be the only one eating it… way more family members ended up trying it than I expected!  Slices of this roast topped with canned cranberry sauce ended up being the highlight of my meal… and everyone who tried it also said it was delicious! The flavor is absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend this as a meat substitute for special occasions. It also serves as an amazing sandwich filling for a leftovers sandwich (keep reading to find out what I’m talking about).

“Mac Casserole”

aka vegan mac and cheese; it’s gluten-free, no oil, nut free, low fat, low sodium, and definitely the healthiest thing on this plate

I titled this section “Mac casserole” at the request of my family, but this is just the recipe for my favorite mac n cheese.  My family thought that it needed to be called more of a creamy casserole than Mac n cheese but nonetheless they still loved it.  I don’t care what you call it, this is one of my favorite recipes of all time because of how healthy it is!  Most vegan Mac n cheese recipes are going to be all cashews or loads of fake vegan cheese but this is the plant based version and it. is. epic.  If you’re vegan, you’re gonna love this just as much as me.  If you’re a carnivore, you will love it but just say something like my family aka “its not Mac n cheese but it’s a delicious creamy casserole so it just needs a new name.” The name doesn’t matter… just make this gluten-free/plant-based/nut-free/good-for-you deliciousness. The recipe is from one of my favorite recipe creators called From My Bowl ( Or click here to go directly to the recipe: Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese (Gluten free, nut free). Also if you want to make this in advance, just make the sauce before as it will keep well overnight. Do not make the full casserole as it gets harder every day it sits.  I brought the sauce to Thanksgiving, quickly cooked the pasta, threw it in the casserole dish with the topping and baked it. Super easy and quick to put all that together the day of the gathering.


Chocolate Pie

Chocolate pudding pretzel pie to be exact; vegan and gluten-free as long as you buy the right pretzels

This dessert is my go-to to bring to any type of gathering to impress the non-vegans.  In my opinion, this is one of the best pies I’ve ever had, it looks really professional, and it’s not too complicated.  It does take a little bit more time than the other recipes, but trust me its totally worth it! The recipe is from Meaningful Eats, a site that is all gluten-free and also has lots of vegan stuff ( Click here to go right to the recipe: gluten-free vegan chocolate pudding pretzel pie. This is great to make in advance and keeps perfectly in the fridge.


Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

one of those products that is ‘accidentally’ vegan! (don’t believe me? check out Peta’s Accidentally Vegan Foods and Snacks List)

So not ALL Pillsbury products are vegan so just make sure you look at the nutrition facts to make sure that the item you are getting doesn’t have any dairy/eggs. I didn’t get a picture of this individually but you can see it on the full plate, and I’m pretty sure we all know what a crescent roll looks like. Anyway here is the one that is vegan that I normally buy:

picture from:

Carrot Pennies

So this was a pleasant surprise at Thanksgiving this year when one of the dishes my aunt always makes was already vegan! And the best part is… I even snagged the family recipe to share with you guys.  If you have never had this side dish, you are in for a treat.  It is unlike any vegetable side dish out there and really adds to a holiday spread. Below you’ll find the recipe (pictured below on an original and authentic notecard, not sure how old this is haha) and I have typed it out below in case some of the writing is too hard to read from the pictures of the notecards. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of this dish by itself, but I saved it for last so you can now see the entire plate again with the delicious carrot pennies included!

Cold Carrot Pennies Recipe
2 lbs. carrots
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced 
1 can tomato soup (10 3/4 oz; Campbell's is vegan)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (make sure it's vegan or you can easily make your own)
1/2 cup mazola oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp mustard

Slice and boil carrots until fork tender. When cool, alternate layers of carrots, peppers, and onions. Make marinade with the remaining ingredients; mix until well blended.  Pour mixture over the vegetables and refrigerate.  Stays good in fridge for up to one week :)
(carrot pennies are at 6 o’clock on the plate)

The Ultimate Leftovers Sandwich

And now for one of the best parts of the whole holiday meal: the leftover sandwich.  I have seen this type of creation on the internet for awhile now and I gotta say… I was skeptical.  But it really is amazing how you can capture the essence of a holiday plate in one delicious sandwich.  So you can really put just about anything on this sandwich but I think there are a few necessary components: a slice of roast, cranberry sauce, something creamy (I used Mac and cheese but I think mashed potatoes and gravy would be tasty as well), and some sort of crunch (I used salad). I also think this sandwich could be taken to the next level by adding a layer of stuffing.  So next holiday gathering I’m definitely going to try to make a crowd pleasing vegan stuffing (in the south we call it dressing but I didn’t wanna confuse y’all).  And if you have any other leftover ideas, please comment or share with me because I am always looking for creative ways to use up leftovers!

the combination fo the cranberry sauce+roast+creamy mac was HEAVEN


If you made it all the way down here, you’re a champ! Comment and let me know what you think! Also make sure to follow @vegytales on instagram/like it on Facebook where I post daily! Hope you enjoyed this guide and have a great day 🙂


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