6 Must-Have Ingredients for Vegan Thanksgiving

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I love this time of year and I always have to remind myself to take pause and really enjoy everything about the changing seasons. Having recently moved to Austin from Los Angeles, I’m thrilled with all of the rain we’ve been experiences and the crisp air in the mornings ( it’s still getting up to high 70’s during the day!). 

Thanksgiving is coming up pretty quick and it will be here before we know it. We’ll be traveling to my grandparents’ house in Kansas City, MO, this year. My dad, my sister and her family will be meeting us there. I’m so excited to be spending the holiday together even though we live so far away now. 

Even though this holiday is one of my favorites, since going vegan I’ve had a little bit of anxiety around it. This is because I’m the only vegan in my family and sometimes that can be a little tricky to navigate. Last year was my first vegan Thanksgiving and it went really well! I recently saw a post about how to survive Thanksgiving as a vegan and loved it – some great advice there!

I decided to expand on that idea and share some of my must-have ingredients for Vegan Thanksgiving to help empower everyone to be able to make amazing vegan food to share with their families!

1. Plant-based milks

This is a no-brainer and most likely you already have a box or two in your cabinet. There are endless options of plant-based milks such as coconut, soy, almond, oat, rice, hemp and I’m seeing new ones all the time. Coconut milk works great for pumpkin pie, coconut cream and other desserts.

I use soy milk to replace cow’s milk in any recipe that calls for it. I like to use soy milk because it’s a little creamier than the other plant-based milks I’ve tried.

Side note: I always use organic since soy is one of the most highly pesticide contaminated foods and avoid milks that contain carageenan, which is a reported carcinogen. Here’s a list of milks that do not contain carageenan.

I generally buy milks at Trader Joe’s. You can also buy coconut milk here and Soy Milk here. If you use these products a lot, it saves you money to buy in bulk!

2. Mushrooms

I always have mushrooms around but for thanksgiving I stock up on extra. Make my vegan sausage to crumble into to the stuffing. Mushrooms are a great base for tasty vegan gravy. Stuffed mushrooms are great as an appetizer, using button mushrooms or as an entree, using portabellos.

Side note: I know that not everyone is a huge fan of mushrooms, my husband included. However, he still loves the vegan sausages and gravies that I make with them. 

3. Liquid smoke

If you’re making an dishes that traditionally would use ham or bacon, then liquid smoke is a great tool to have on hand. In my household we always made stewed green beans with onions and ham hock(ew!). These days, I omit the ham, obviously, and add a couple drops of liquid smoke instead. You get all of the great salty, smoky flavor, which was the main purpose for the ham in the first place.

Liquid smoke is one of the 3 ingredients for Tempeh bacon, which is a super yummy addition to stuffing, or the stuffed mushrooms mentioned above. 

Side note: Be careful not to use too much – this is a strong ingredient. As I usually say about salt, you can always add more but once it’s in, you can’t take it away!

4. Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base

This stuff is seriously magic! I’ve tried lots of vegetable broths and bouillons and this is by far my favorite, especially for soups. Use this in EVERYTHING. No, I’m not kidding 🙂 This is a great way to make the broth for vegan stuff. Add this to stock for vegan gravy. Literally anything that you would use vegetable broth for. Enjoy!

I usually pick this up at Whole Foods. You can also buy online at amazon, though it’s pricier there!

5. Vegan marshmallows

One of the most celebrated Thanksgiving dishes of all time is candied yams, usually with marshmallows(if it’s done right!). However, since marshmallows usually contain gelatin, which is derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-products (EW!), having a vegan version comes in pretty handy. I haven’t seen these in major grocery store chains but they might have them at Whole Foods. They are available on amazon.

6. Vegan Pie Crust

Pie is one of my absolute favorite desserts and I think many people would agree. For me Thanksgiving is synonymous with pie, which might be the actual reason I’m obsessed with this holiday. As much as I love cooking and as much as I love pie I somehow have not been able to perfect the art of making pie crust! It’s a crime, I know. I think it’s fair to say there are plenty of people out there who want to make a pie without having to make the crust. During Thanksgiving, there are a million things to be prepped, and for me, pie crust comes pretty low on the totem pole.

Luckily, I’ve found vegan pie crust in the regular grocery store freezer! They weren’t marked vegan, but contained no animal products. Next time you’re at the store, check out the options. You just might be surprised.

Mrs. Smith’s Pie Crusts and Keebler Graham Cracker Pie Crusts are vegan.

Side side note: Normally, I would include Earth Balance on my list because it has been a great substitute for butter in mashed potatoes and other dishes. However, I have stopped using this product due to the information that has arisen about the devastating effects of the high demand for palm oil, their main ingredient.

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy and delicious vegan Thanksgiving! 

Are there other must-have Thanksgiving vegan ingredients you use? Please share in the comments!

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