Vegetarian Christmas Recipes to Make Everybody at the Table Happy
What to cook for a vegetarian for Christmas? Check out these 22 tasty ideas for appetizers, main dishes, sides, and dessert.
The hardest part of being a vegetarian during the holiday season isn’t finding something to eat — it’s knowing that my loved ones stress over finding vegetarian Christmas recipes to serve to me. Well, I have a not-so-secret tip for them and for anyone looking to create a beautiful and easy Christmas meal suitable for the vegetarians in your life. You don’t have to do much!
So many incredible and traditional holiday foods are naturally meat-free. Why complicate things with two gravies or multiple main dishes when you could just make one menu?
This year, consider forgoing bacon-wrapped figs and pie crusts made with lard, and opt for vegetarian Christmas recipes that will please the whole gang. Your veggie diners will be glad there’s plenty to eat, and you won’t have to fuss over or make room in your oven for additional items. Most important, the family can sit down to the same meal. Everyone will be happy, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
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Dips and spreads, savory pastries, and warm cheese are all fair game for kicking off a special vegetarian meal, and they’re incredibly delicious besides.
Spinach dip is a holiday classic for a reason! Whether you serve it bubbling hot or cold from the fridge, vegetarians and meat eaters alike will love this creamy veggie appetizer. The addition of cream cheese to this recipe helps keep the dip thick enough to coat slices of bread or baby carrots, and the scallions add a mild onion flavor, making the homemade dip surprisingly complex compared to your standard grocery store fare.
This Wild Mushroom Tart is a great way to offer vegetarians a festive and filling appetizer that will tide them over until it’s time for Christmas dinner. The earthy, butter-coated wild mushrooms meld perfectly with tender sliced shallots, all nestled atop a rich layer of thyme and black pepper-laced crème fraîche. While the recipe suggests making puff pastry from scratch, feel free to use the store-bought kind to save time and hassle.
You can’t go wrong with a warm and gooey baked brie. This recipe combines some of my favorite Christmas flavors — rosemary, maple, and pecans — in each cheesy bite, and is sure to be a family favorite for years to come. Bake your brie in a cast-iron pan, round casserole dish, or on a baking sheet, whichever you prefer. Serve with a variety of crackers, crisp slices of apples and pears, or a chewy baguette.
A lot of people don’t realize many tapanades contain anchovies, which can make for one disappointing Christmas snack for vegetarians. In this recipe, the briny fish are replaced with tangy capers. The best part of all might be that this recipe will keep for three days in the fridge or up to three months in the freezer (just make sure you bring it up to room temperature before serving). Set out tapenade with crunchy crostini, crudités, and crackers to let your diners heap on as much of the vibrant olive spread as they like. No vegans in your family? Feel free to add some feta to the mix.
These phyllo swirls are a fun and beautiful way to kick off your vegetarian Christmas dinner. The sweet, honey-soaked phyllo blends perfectly with tangy goat cheese, while the red pomegranate seeds and green pistachios on top offer a nice crunchy texture (and holiday colors)! Be sure not to roll your phyllo too tight around the goat cheese or it will tear when you attempt to wrap it into a swirl.
Vegetarian main dishes
There are two schools of thought when it comes to choosing a vegetarian main course: Go for something a little fancy or stick to cozy. You have good options for both here.
Savory and elegant, nut loaves (aka nut roasts) are a time-honored star for vegetarian Christmas meals. While this recipe is a bit labor-intensive, you can prep much of it ahead of time to cut down on Christmas Day cooking. I love the mix of herbs included here, which gives the loaf a more interesting flavor than some versions (it will make your house smell amazing). This main is perfect if you’re looking for a more traditional vegetarian Christmas dinner to replace a roast bird or ham.
Take the concept of a nut loaf and wrap it in puff pastry, and you have a vegetarian Wellington, a holiday main dish that traditionally involves a beef tenderloin. This version qualifies as a vegan Christmas recipe, assuming you go for a brand of puff pastry made with vegetable shortening and not butter. Or if you’re up for a more elaborate cooking project, how about this fancy one made with beets (beetroot, as they're known in the UK)?
One of the coziest dishes you can make, a gratin can also be quite easy to prepare if you have a mandoline or other hand-held slicer. For this one you’ll thinly slice butternut squash, potatoes, and parsnips; add garlic-infused milk and two kinds of cheeses; and then bake until tender.
My late grandfather made a massive lasagna on Christmas every year, big enough to provide leftovers for the whole family. When I became a vegetarian, he adapted the coveted Italian recipe to create a mini vegetarian lasagna, all my own. There’s no need to make two recipes when you serve this beautiful and filling lasagna, with its gooey cheese and layers of perfectly chewy noodles. A touch of nutmeg in the butternut squash puree nicely complements the flavors of the rich ricotta spinach filling. To me, lasagna represents love and acceptance, and I couldn’t imagine Christmas without one.
This vegetarian dinner recipe with its combination of roast sweet potatoes and crispy fried sage is sure to keep your diners in the Christmas spirit. Sweet potatoes naturally have less starch than regular potatoes, which makes this special-occasion pasta much easier to keep light and fluffy than traditional potato gnocchi. Don't forget the fresh black pepper and drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil at the end! These small touches really make the dish sing.
Warm and filling, this vegan Chickpea Curry comes together in 30 minutes, letting you spend most of your Christmas where you really want to be — with loved ones. The recipe is easily customizable, and it offers alternatives to many of the ingredients if you are having trouble sourcing them or want to make the dish more or less spicy. As a bonus, it's gluten-free. Serve over rice or with a side of naan for a simple and comforting Christmas dinner.
Perfect for a cozy Christmas night, this veggie shepherd’s pie recipe features mushrooms and quinoa rather than lamb, giving you the savory, meaty flavors some might be craving without compromising on texture. While it may sound like a labor-intensive dish, it's actually fairly simple, with about half the total cook time spent in the oven. You can make the mashed potatoes a few days ahead of time or use leftover mashed potatoes to top the veggie filling.
Vegetarian side dishes
Some people’s favorite part of a holiday meal is the sides, and you have plenty of great choices when you’re keeping them vegetarian.
Cranberry sauce is an essential side dish for any vegetarian holiday spread. Since so many Christmas favorites go heavy on the cream, cheese, and butter, the acid present in each tart spoonful of cranberry sauce will help cut through all of that richness like a brisk after-dinner walk. Using whole fresh cranberries gives this invigorating side a much more desirable texture than canned, somewhere between jam and chutney rather than a solid jelly. The orange and lemon zests add a surprising pop of flavor. Plus, who can resist cranberry sauce’s vibrant red hue.
The ultimate comfort food, mashed potatoes has always been one of my favorite holiday classics. While the dish appears simple on the surface, there are ways to go wrong, which might leave you with a gluey, unappetizing side. That’s why I love how straightforward this recipe is. The roast garlic really elevates the dish beyond your traditional bowl of mashed potatoes, and the chives sprinkled on top add a beautiful burst of green and delicate onion flavor without all the chopping and tears. If you don’t have any vegans in your family, feel free to replace the butter and almond milk with your standard dairy products.
You might not believe this, but vegan gravy can be just as good as the kind made with meat! One small caveat, however, is that you need the right recipe, as some meat-free gravies quickly become lumpy, oily messes. The step-by-step guide provided with this recipe helps you avoid many of the pitfalls associated with bad gravy and deliver a smooth, luxurious sauce every time. It’s made using marmite and that old vegan standby, nutritional yeast, to create a rich umami flavor without animal products. You can even make this gravy five days ahead and reheat it at serving time.
Like cranberry sauce but way more frequently overlooked at the Christmas table, a salad brings welcome balance to your holiday meal. Trust me — you’ll be thankful for it when you’re elbow-deep in butter, carbs, and cheese. I love how simple this kale salad is, requiring only five ingredients that might well show up other places on your Christmas menu. Be sure to give the kale a good massage to make it tender and easier to digest. As a variation, you could swap out the Parmesan for a mature, crumbly cheddar. What's more, the salad keeps in the fridge for three days, meaning you can make it ahead or enjoy a lunch of healthy Christmas leftovers on Boxing Day.
Put down the bacon! I promise these Brussels sprouts don’t need any meat to be a filling and delicious side. In this wildly easy Yummly recipe, honey marries beautifully with balsamic vinegar, creating a perfectly caramelized, crunchy exterior while keeping the insides nice and creamy. Not too sweet, not too savory, these roasted Brussels sprouts will fit in perfectly with any main you choose.
If you think about it, a lot of desserts qualify as vegetarian, right? Consider that a great excuse to enjoy some favorite seasonal treats.
This gingerbread cake offers all the classic Christmas flavors you expect from gingerbread wrapped up in a rich, moist crumb. Slice into small squares, top with whipped cream, pair with a cup of eggnog, and enjoy by the fire. Fingers crossed, there are leftovers! Gingerbread cake is just as good for breakfast as it is for dessert, which helps you keep the Christmas spirit going another day.
Can it even be considered Christmas if you don’t eat a decorated sugar cookie (or five)? Yummly’s Christmas Sugar Cookies recipe makes baking these delicious holiday treats as easy as possible with a step-by-step video and pro tips. The final decorating step can be a fun family activity.
Sure to impress after Christmas dinner, this elegant, gooey caramel and bittersweet chocolate tart is a match made in heaven. To create the caramel filling, boil a sugar-corn syrup mixture to 340°, carefully whisk in heavy cream and crème fraîche, and chill. Once the filling has firmed, you’ll pour bittersweet chocolate ganache (melted chocolate and cream) on top and chill again. Plan to make this tart at least a day ahead so there will be time for the components to set up.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more classic Christmas dessert than buche de noel (aka yule log). Roll your thin sponge cake while it’s still warm and let it cool completely before unrolling to add the cream filling. This will help create a perfect spiral and prevent the cake from cracking. If it’s in your wheelhouse, feel free to craft marzipan mushrooms and critters to top your festive cake. But honestly, the simple presentation suggested, which uses rosemary and fresh cranberries for garnish, can be just as lovely.
The perfect one-bite dessert to end your Christmas dinner, hazelnut truffles are a decadent and satisfying treat when you’re just too full for cake. This recipe combines chocolate, Kahlua, espresso, and Nutella to form a creamy and complex filling, using chopped hazelnuts for a crunchy shell. You may want to wear gloves while you form your truffles, as the chocolate mixture may melt slightly when you roll it between your palms.
Veggie all the way
Whether you’re a budding veggie fan or a cook whose recipe choices are deeply rooted in a plant-based diet, Yummly’s got a bounty of ideas you might dig. Read the articles below and savor how fun it is to feast on foods you love. May your mashed potatoes be creamy — and may all your Christmases be healthy!