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25 Meatless & Dairy-Free Soups, Salads, and Starters for Your Thanksgiving


It’s almost Thanksgiving and everyone is planning for the big meal. While most of the attention will go to the main course, side dishes, and desserts, there are other important courses to consider.

Let’s start with the starters. Appetizers are not only fun but also they give your guests something to munch on while you put the finishing touches on the meal and set up the dinner table. Appetizers should be small, portable and not require utensils. Check out these Simple and Flavorful Vegan Appetizer Ideas To Take to Your Next Celebration and Be the Life of the Party This Summer With These 30 Vegan Appetizers. Dips and spreads are always popular. Learn How to Make Clean Eating Dips and Spreads That Eliminate Oil and Dairy and then try these 15 Double-Dip Worthy Vegan Dips.

Next come the soups. A small bowl of soup is a wonderful way to start the meal and warm everyone up. Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend hours at the stove stirring a pot of soup. Take a look at The Best Quick Soups to Keep You Warm Through the Winter. You can also use a crock pot or slow-cooker and let the soup cook itself while you prepare the rest of the meal. Here are 10 Nutritious Soups and Stews to Make in Your Slow Cooker. Some of you may be saying, “Hey, I live in Florida. The last thing we want is hot soup!” We agree! That’s why we also have these recipes for 15 Fresh and Cool Raw Soups.

Finally, there are the salads. With all the heavy dishes of vegan turkey, mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy and assorted casseroles, it’s a welcome sight to see a light and healthy salad on the table. Try these 8 Beautiful and Healthy Thanksgiving Salads. Of course, salads can also be hearty and satisfying like these 15 Salads That Are Hearty Enough to Be the Main Course. Salads are also a great way to get creative. Check out Think Salads are Just Lettuce? Here are 10 Summer Salads That Will Make You Think Again.

So now that you know how important all the other courses are, you probably need even more ideas and recipes. We’ve got you covered. Here are 25 soups, salads and starters for your vegan Thanksgiving.

1. Cinnamon Graham Crackers With Healthy Pumpkin Pie-Spiced Hummus

Cinnamon Graham Crackers With Healthy Pumpkin Pie-Spiced Hummus [Vegan]

These Cinnamon Graham Crackers with Healthy Pumpkin-Spiced Hummus is a seasonal appetizer that is perfect for any party or gathering. It’s easier than you think to make your own graham crackers. Pair them with pumpkin pie-spiced hummus and you’ve got yourself a fall treat that can’t be beat.

2. Cheesy Spinach Dip

Cheesy Spinach Dip [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Get ready for some dairy-free dipping! This cashew-based Cheesy Spinach Dip is a crowd-pleaser. It’s cheesy, rich, creamy, and everyone will enjoy it. Set it out with crackers or fresh veggies and watch everyone dig in!

3. Caponata Siciliana (Sicilian Eggplant Antipasto)

Caponata Siciliana (Sicilian Eggplant Antipasto) [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Mambo Italiano! This Caponata Siciliana is a beloved and delicious Italian appetizer. It’s a sweet and sour vegetable antipasti that combines eggplant, tomatoes, and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, salted capers, onions, and green olives. Yum-O!

4. Creamy and Cheesy Nut-Free Chickpea Fondue

Creamy and Cheesy Nut-Free Chickpea Fondue [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Creamy and Cheesy Nut-Free Chickpea Fondue is a dairy-free fondue that will satisfy all of your cheesy cravings. It’s simple to make – just whiz everything together in a blender and you’re on your way to dipping heaven! It’s totally nut-free, too. Step aside, cashew cheese because chickpea cheese is here to stay!

5. Simple Red Pepper Bruschetta with Homemade Roasted Garlic Ricotta

Simple Red Pepper Bruschetta With Homemade Roasted Garlic Ricotta [Vegan]

This recipe for Simple Red Pepper Bruschetta with Homemade Roasted Garlic Ricotta is about as easy as it gets, and it’s so versatile! You can season the bruschetta mixture with your favorite spices, and if fresh tomatoes and peppers aren’t available, you can substitute the veggies with whatever you like. It all tastes good on top of toast with a generous smear of creamy, garlicky homemade cashew ricotta.

6. Sticky Peanut Orange Cauliflower Wings

#5under5: Sticky Peanut Orange Cauliflower Wings [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

These Sticky Peanut Orange Cauliflower Wings are seriously amazing. Crunchy baked cauliflower “wings” coated in a sticky, spicy peanut sauce? Oh yeah! The secret ingredient is a few heaping tablespoons of orange marmalade, which gives the sauce a slightly sweet, slightly tangy hint of citrus.

7. Cauliflower Rice Paper Samosas with Tangy Mint Chutney

Cauliflower Rice Paper Samosas With Tangy Mint Chutney [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Here’s a lighter version of the traditional potato samosas everyone loves. These Cauliflower Rice Paper Samosas are thin, crisp, and light. The filling is cauliflower flavored with Indian spices. Dip them in tangy mint chutney for an appetizer that will be a new tradition.

8. Buffalo Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms

#5under5: Buffalo Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

These Buffalo Sweet Potato Stuffed Mushrooms are going to have everyone’s mouths watering. They are baby Bella mushrooms stuffed with a sweet potato and chickpea pâté that’s generously seasoned with tangy Buffalo hot sauce. Is your mouth watering yet? We thought so.

9. Wild Garlic Pesto Snails

Wild Garlic Pesto Snails [Vegan]

These Wild Garlic Pesto Snails are super easy to make and awesomely delicious. Made with puff pastry, they are light and flaky and filled with a super garlicky pesto. Topped with a homemade cashew parmesan, these are snails that won’t move slowly.

10. Barbecue Apricot Meatballs

Barbecue Apricot Meatballs [Vegan]

Food you eat with little toothpicks are always fun and festive and these Barbecue Apricot Meatballs will get everyone in a party mood. Just take your favorite veggie meatballs and with just three ingredients, transform them into something really special and delicious.

11. Carrot Cashew Paté (That Bursts With Flavor)

Carrot Cashew Paté (That Bursts With Flavor!) [Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free]

You definitely want to balance the decadent dishes with healthy ones but they still have to be packed with yumminess. This Carrot Cashew Paté is simple, healthy and exploding with flavor because vegan food should be fun, not bland.

12. Curried Pumpkin Soup With Apple Croutons

Curried Pumpkin Soup With Apple Croutons [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Curried Pumpkin Soup is warm, comforting and delicious. It’s filled with all the fragrant flavors and spices of fall. Top it off with a sprinkling of sweet and toasty apple croutons that will certainly impress your guests.

13. Creamy Beet and Ginger Soup with a Coconut Swirl

Creamy Beet and Ginger Soup With a Coconut Swirl [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Creamy Beet and Ginger Soup is absolutely hypnotizing! Earthy, sweet beets are flavored with ginger for a savory bowl of goodness. The creamy coconut milk swirled into the delightfully pink beet soup makes for a show-stopping, beautiful dish.

14. Potato Leek Soup with Caramelized Tri-Color Carrots

Potato Leek Soup With Caramelized Tri-Color Carrots [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Potato Leek Soup with Caramelized Tri-Color Carrots is the trifecta of soup. It’s hearty, flavorful, and colorful all at the same time! Seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and tarragon, this creamy soup will satisfy your eyes, mouth, and belly. Basically, everything you could ever want in a soup, right?

15. Autumn Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto

Autumn Vegetable Soup With Parsley Pesto [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

What’s more comforting than walking into a kitchen and being greeted by a big, bubbling pot of vegetable soup? Even better when it’s this Autumn Vegetable Soup with Parsley Pesto. It’s hearty yet wholesome, and so satisfying on colder days. Stir in a big spoonful of parsley pesto – it makes the soup twice as delicious!

16. Creamy Cashew and Chestnut Soup

Creamy Cashew and Chestnut Soup [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Creamy Cashew and Chestnut Soup is a lovely, rich soup that’s perfect for a holiday dinner. Pureed potatoes and cashew cream help give this nutty soup a creamy texture without the dairy. This seasonal soup will warm up everyone at the table.

17. Caribbean Callaloo Soup

Caribbean Callaloo Soup [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Caribbean Callaloo Soup will definitely spice up your holiday meal. Butternut squash, sweet potato, and coconut milk adds creamy deliciousness to the callaloo or spinach. A little Scotch Bonnet pepper goes a long way to add fire to the bowl.

18. Spelt Salad with Oranges, Cranberries and Feta

Spelt Salad With Oranges, Cranberries, and Feta [Vegan]

Hearty, comforting and bursting with flavor, this Spelt Salad with Oranges, Cranberries and Feta have lots of seasonal ingredients. The juicy oranges, tangy cranberries, and salty feta compliment the nutty grain serving as the base of this spelt salad.

19. Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, and Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange Dressing

Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, and Bourgal Salad With Maple-Orange Dressing [Vegan]

They say we eat with our eyes first and our eyes are devouring this Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts and Bourgal Salad. This salad is a warming one. It’s earthy and sweet at the same time, nutty with a hint of crunch and a breeze of freshness from the mint. The orange-maple dressing is bright, sweet and autumnal.

20. Green Bean and Wild Rice Salad

Green Bean and Wild Rice Salad [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Who says the green beans have to be served in a casserole? This Green Bean and Wild Rice Salad is a lighter dish that’s just as delicious. Crunchy almonds, chewy cranberries, and sun-dried tomatoes, tangy olives, and hearty wild rice provide an interesting mix of textures that will have you craving more!

21. Lemon Herb Pasta Salad

Lemon Herb Pasta Salad [Vegan]

This Lemon Herb Pasta Salad is light and fresh, perfect for a course before dinner yet still satisfying enough to be a main course in itself. Mint, parsley, and lemon really brighten up the dish and compliment the zucchini and yellow squash really well. Pasta makes a lovely change from the usual green salad.

22. Orange, Bean and Beet Salad

Orange Bean and Beet Salad [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

This Orange, Bean and Beet Salad may seem like an unusual combination of ingredients but the flavors work incredibly well together. Salty capers, bright dill, and earthy cumin flavor the kidney beans, oranges, and beets making for a delicious, refreshing, and colorful salad.

23. Pigeon Pea Salad

Pigeon Pea Salad (Gungo Peas) [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Add some Caribbean flair to your holiday dinner with this flavorful and healthy Pigeon Pea Salad. Carrots, bell peppers, scallions, and avocado blend with the pigeon peas for a colorful bowl. It’s topped with a ginger dressing that everyone will love.

24. Indonesian Gado Gado

Indonesian Gado Gado [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Change up your usual salad by serving this Indonesian Gado Gado. The name literally means “mix mix” in Indonesian – it’s just a whole big mixed salad with veggies, beans, and tofu, if you want. Topped with a delicious peanut dressing, you’ll think this salad is yum yum.

25. Caesar Salad Nouveau

Caesar Salad Nouveau [Vegan]

The traditional recipe for Caesar salad has a lot of cheese, eggs, and anchovies. This Caesar Salad Nouveau packs all the same tangy, cheesy flavor in a plant-based version. Sometimes it’s best to break tradition!

Sure, the main course is the star of the show but every star needs a strong supporting cast. These soups, salads, and starters just might steal the spotlight.

Lead image source: Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, and Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange Dressing

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38 comments on “25 Meatless & Dairy-Free Soups, Salads, and Starters for Your Thanksgiving”

Click to add comment
Stephanie Potter
2 Years Ago

Finally found the recipe! Yes that sounds delicious....count down is on!

Jessica Price
2 Years Ago

Cody Patrick Gaudlip

Cody Patrick Gaudlip
17 Nov 2015

That eggplant antipast looks amazing! The stuffed mushrooms sound really interesting so I'd love to try them. What do you think mom? Stephanie Potter

Rosie Dee
2 Years Ago

Natalia Sujdak I'm sure you've been researching

Roxanne Julia Morley
2 Years Ago

Kirsty Ellis

Natural Healthy Lifestyle
2 Years Ago

great post especially for starter vegans

Sesameb Bryant
2 Years Ago

remember to set aside time for solitude.....

Sofi Matenaer
2 Years Ago

Andy Ratana

Andy Ratana
16 Nov 2015

Thanks Sofi! Hope you are well!

Mat Williams
2 Years Ago

Michelle Douglas

Jaimi Wainright
2 Years Ago

Traci Wainright

Rodrigo Arenas Arriola
2 Years Ago

Eliza De la Torre


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