15 Delicious Thanksgiving Turkey Alternatives

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 25, 2024 at 2:24PM UTC
Think Thanksgiving has to mean turkey? As a vegetarian of 22 years, I beg to differ. To me, Thanksgiving means sides, sides and more sides — oh, and plenty of desserts. But this year, I may have to trade in the tried-and-true mashed potatoes, salad, stuffing (cooked outside of the turkey), hors d'oeuvres and cookies from some of these delicious turkey alternatives. (And for the meat lovers out there, not to fear: there are plenty of meaty turkey alternatives, too! Think fish, ham, chicken — you name it.)

15 turkey alternatives for the best Thanksgiving feast ever

1. Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

KCET
KCET
Total prep and cook time: N/A
You'll be keeping with the seasonal theme — and giving this decidedly American holiday an Italian flare — with these mouthwatering ravioli. If you make your pasta yourself, they'll be extra special. Pro tip: Save the pumpkin seeds to roast later and offer your relatives and friends another treat to snack on while the meal's cooking.

2. Homemade Vegetarian Tofu Turkey with Stuffing

The Spruce
The Spruce
Total prep and cook time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Move over, Tofurkey. This homemade version will please your pickiest guests. If you have time, make your own stuffing — it will be worth it. And it's vegan!

3. Pepper and Herb Crusted Sirloin Strip Roast

The Spruce
The Spruce
Total prep and cook time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Beef up your Thanksgiving dinner with this meaty turkey alternative. Keep in mind that it can be prepared and refrigerated up to a day before roasting it.

4. Vegetarian Thanksgiving Lasagna

The Kitchn
The Kitchn
Total prep and cook time: N/A
Butternut squash and pumpkin make this lasagna worthy of your Thanksgiving table. You and the other guests will also enjoy the flavors of arugula, sage and fontina. It's all topped with a no-cook pumpkin purée and tangy crème fraîche sauce. Anybody else feeling hungry right now?

5. Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

Smitten Kitchen
Smitten Kitchen
Total prep and cook time: N/A
These fancy tarts can be made with a variety of tasty fillings, but butternut squash is perfect for Fall. The caramelized onions give the galette a nice flavor, too.

6. Smoky Glazed Ham with Red Pepper Jelly

Food and Wine
Food and Wine
Total prep and cook time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Who says ham is just for Christmas? Chef Jonathon Sawyer, the recipe's creator, suggests making the glaze and red pepper jelly ahead of time (a few days) for easy "game day" prep.

7. Fried Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Domestically Bissful
Domestically Bissful
Total prep and cook time: 20 minutes
Could gnocchi get any better? Fried up with veggies like baby spinach and mushrooms and herbs like basil, this dish is an ideal turkey alternative.

8. Maple Balsamic Roasted Duck

Spoon Fork Bacon
Spoon Fork Bacon
Total prep and cook time: N/A
Duck is increasingly making its way onto Thanksgiving tables (turducken, anyone?). Make this mapley, orangy, balsamic version and serve with a yummy spiced cranberry-persimmon chutney (recipe included below) for a beautiful feast.

9. Pumpkin Pot Pie

Earthy Feast
Earthy Feast
Total prep and cook time: about 1 hour
A favorite comfort food gets a Thanksgiving spin. The pumpkin is complemented by kale, beans, carrots and other healthy ingredients. Plus, it's completely vegetarian.

10. Thanksgiving Salmon

Food.com
Food.com
Total prep and cook time: 30 minutes
This Thanksgiving Salmon is ready in no time. Think its not Thanksgiving enough for your feast? The cranberry sauce topping, mixed with dijon mustard and shallots, would beg to differ.

11. Kabocha & Havarti Pockets

I Will Not Eat Oysters
I Will Not Eat Oysters
Total prep and cook time: N/A
These tasty pastries work well as appetizers or hors d'oeuvres — or, made a little bigger, they can serve as the perfectly flakey turkey substitute. Make them ahead of time and pop them in the oven for just 20 minutes — they're best served hot.

12. Acorn Squash with Apple Walnut Stuffing

Salt & Wind
Salt & Wind
Total prep and cook time: 1 hour
Loaded with farro, walnuts, apples, currants and onions and packed with flavors like garlic and thyme, this vegan recipe will make the perfect healthy substitute for the traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece. Just make sure there are enough for everyone!

13. Bacon-Wrapped Cornish Hens

Caroline's Cooking
Caroline's Cooking
Total prep and cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Despite their fancy look, these cornish hens are deceptively easy to make — they require just 15 minutes of prep time. As an added bonus, they require zero carving, but you'll still satisfy your poultry craving,

14. Lentil and Sweet Potato Sheperd's Pie

Minimalist Baker
Minimalist Baker
Total prep and cook time: 1 hour 35 minutes
A vibrant, healthy, vegan alternative to the classic, this recipe includes just 10 ingredients and requires only 15 minutes of prep time to make. Topped with fluffy mashed sweet potatoes, you'll also taste lentils, balsamic mushrooms and maple syrup.

15. Roast Chicken with Inside-Out Stuffing

Irina Macri
Irina Macri
Total prep and cook time: 1 hour 30 minutes
It's time to give chicken its due. For a smaller celebration, forego the turkey and serve another poultry option — surrounded by a moat of stuffing, of course. Enjoy flavors like paprika and turmeric. The stuffing is nothing to scoff at either, thanks to the sage, leeks, garlic, bacon and nuts. Plus, this bird is paleo-friendly.

Bonus: a feast of sides

I can't imagine you haven't found a tempting main on this list, but if you choose, you can forego a "centerpiece" main dish for a bountiful plate of delicious sides. Mashed potatoes, vegetables like green beans, corn, carrots and brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, rolls, cornbread, biscuits or whatever your family classics are — will you even miss the turkey? For a new favorite, try these broccoli tots — they're much healthier than their fried tater tot cousins, and they're super delicious. I've started making them for every party (and Thanksgiving dinner), and my family and friends go crazy for them. What are your top Thanksgiving recipes — turkey alternatives or not?

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