MY BEST VEGAN HOLIDAY RECIPES

Over fifty of my best vegan holiday recipes! A bunch of delicious, vegan, mostly gluten-free, and totally holiday-appropriate dishes for your meal-planning inspiration, whether you’re gathering with a few or keeping the festivities chill at home. Most of these recipes are from the site, but I’ve highlighted some options from my cookbook with page references, too.

MAINS:

ROMESCO ROASTED WHOLE CAULIFLOWER w/ HERBED TAHINI CREAM - The First Mess

ROMESCO ROASTED WHOLE CAULIFLOWER WITH HERBED TAHINI CREAM. This red and green beauty just looks so festive on the table. I like to lay it on a cute “wreath” of clipped herbs from my garden, but it looks dramatic no matter what. The preparation of this rests on two sauces (romesco and the tahini cream) that you make quickly in a food processor. These sauces can be made up to 5 days in advance, leaving you only the tasks of briefly steaming the cauliflower, roasting it to completion, and then garnishing. Gluten and nut-free too!

CARAMELIZED ONION SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH LENTILS & CREAMY CAULIFLOWER POTATO MASH. This cozy main is full of flavour from the slow caramelization of onions. Creamy cauliflower and potato mash forms a beautifully baked cloud on top. The caramelized onion and lentil base takes a little bit of extra time, but you can 100% prepare it well in advance.

VEGAN BUTTERNUT GALETTE WITH APPLES, SHALLOTS & BLACK PEPPER CHICKPEA CRUST. This is the coziest plant based main course. The crust is made with chickpea flour and a bit of cornmeal, so it’s naturally gluten-free too (but still so tender—no cardboard crusts here!). Sweet squash is tossed with shallots, apples, a tart sprinkle of sumac, and a swoop of Dijon mustard directly on the crust keeps us in the flavour zone ;)

MUSHROOM BROWN RICE BAKE WITH CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS, CRISPY LENTILS & GREMOLATA. You could make the mushroom and rice portion a day in advance and simply heat it up in the oven with a couple splashes of vegetable stock right before serving. Make your crispy lentils and gremolata the day-of for sprinkling on top!

VEGAN SPINACH AND MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE - The First Mess

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM POLENTA PIE WITH ALMOND RICOTTA. This savoury and satisfying pie just looks festive with all of hose red, green, and gold tones. The cozy flavours of sautéed mushrooms with garlic, a good blanket of marinara, and an unmistakable cheesiness will make this a hit with vegans and omnivores alike. You can make the almond ricotta and almond parmesan up to 5 days in advance. Just keep them covered in the fridge. This one is naturally gluten-free too!

GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS & GARLIC BREAD - The First Mess #veganrecipes #healthyrecipes

GIANT VEGAN MUSHROOM MEATBALLS. Vegan meatballs belong on a holiday table and I will argue with anyone about this. These ones are made super hearty with pecans and rolled oats. They hold together perfectly and are an excellent make-ahead option with your favourite marinara recipe.

Mushroom Gravy Pie with Garlicky Kale Mashed Potatoes (vegan) - The First Mess

MUSHROOM GRAVY PIE WITH GARLICKY KALE MASHED POTATOES. From my own experience, this appeals to pretty much everyone at the table because it combines a delicious and meaty gravy with a fluffy mashed potato topper. For larger crowds, I do recommend doubling the amount of mashed potatoes (if your dish is deep enough). I’ve frozen this entire dish with great success. Just wrap it tight in its completed state, freeze it solid, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and then proceed to drizzle it with olive oil before baking. The texture and viscosity of the gravy was virtually unchanged. Win!

Cabbage Steaks with Jalapeño Chimichurri Lentils - The First Mess

GRILLED CABBAGE STEAKS WITH JALAPEÑO CHIMICHURRI LENTILS & MAPLE MUSTARD TAHINI. If you live somewhere warm, but still want those cozy autumnal flavours, this is a great option! The charred edges of the cabbage mingle so nicely with the slightly spicy lentils and creamy sauce. Both the sauce and lentils can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time!

TWICE BAKED POTATOES WITH BUFFALO CHICKPEAS AND CAULIFLOWER. These are fun, messy, a little unexpected, and relatively simple to make. You could pre-bake the potatoes and have the filling ready to go so that you only have to assemble the day-of. These are particularly great with a slightly creamy slaw served on the side.

Creamy Vegan Farrotto with Butternut Squash - The First Mess

CREAMY VEGAN FARROTTO WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH. You could make this one well ahead of time, and then heat it up with an extra pour of vegetable stock the day-of. Kabocha, honey nut, and fresh pumpkin would all substitute beautifully for the butternut squash. I love serving this with a bowl of vegan parmesan on the side and some drizzles of reduced balsamic vinegar.

stuffed squash with broccoli rabe and quinoa // thefirstmess.com

STUFFED SQUASH WITH QUINOA, BROCCOLI RABE, ROSEMARY, AND MARCONA ALMONDS. The stuffing in this one is so flavourful, vibrant, and delicious. Plus it’s another easily made-ahead option. Just cook up the filling and place it in a sealed container in the fridge and pre-roast the squash. Assemble the two components the day-of, bake them until piping hot and then drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle on the chopped marcona almonds. An equal amount of regular broccoli or broccolini would also be great here.

Garden Keeper's Pie with Beets, Lentils & Celery Root Mash - The First Mess

GARDEN KEEPER’S PIE WITH BEETS, LENTILS & CREAMY CELERY ROOT MASH. You could freeze this one ahead of time just like the gravy pie described above. This is an outright celebration of cold weather vegetables with a filling of carrots, beets, and squash, and then another whipped up veg (celery root) on top. These individual pies glow with an irresistible deep pink hue, but manage to not taste to strongly of beets because of some flavor bombs like balsamic vinegar and tamari.

An overhead shot of a dinner plate that features one mini vegan buffalo meatloaf, some dressed arugula, a heap of mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy spooned on top, and some simply sautéed yellow string beans.

SPICY VEGAN BUFFALO MEATLOAF MINIS. Adorably individual and so flavourful, these white bean and walnut meatloaves are spiked with Buffalo-style hot sauce and lots of spices. You could make the loaves minus the glaze up to 2 days ahed of time, and then bring them to room temperature before baking and topping with the glaze.

Salty maple Squash with Turmeric Brussels Slaw & Ginger Rice - The First Mess

SALTY MAPLE SQUASH WITH TURMERIC BRUSSELS SLAW & GINGER RICE. This one is on the higher maintenance end of the spectrum, but it is a complete meal when all is said and done. You roast some squash with a tamari-maple lacquer, simmer some fragrant ginger rice, and then tie it all together with a creamy and fresh Brussels sprout slaw with a kiss of turmeric. Don’t forget the pomegranate seeds! The little juicy pops are so good here. This is feel-good food to the power of a thousand.

Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Homemade Almond Ricotta & Spinach Pesto - The First Mess

VEGAN SKILLET LASAGNA WITH SPINACH PESTO AND HOMEMADE ALMOND “RICOTTA.” Maybe not the most traditional holiday dinner choice, but who doesn’t love lasagna? Also, some sort of ricotta stuffed and marinara-sauced pasta always winds up on our holiday tables (manicotti, cannelloni etc), so there’s that. If you live near a Whole Foods or a well-stocked health food store (USA only), you could definitely use Kite Hill’s almond ricotta to save you some time here. I’ve even made this with a store-bought vegan pesto on occasion. It’s all about making the recipe work for you sometimes ;)

Baked Balsamic Lentil Stew w/ Rosemary Potaoes - The First Mess

BAKED BALSAMIC LENTIL STEW WITH MUSHROOMS & CRISPY ROSEMARY POTATOES. Another make-ahead wonder dish here! You could even freeze the stew portion up to a month ahead of time. Then, thaw it completely and pour it into the baking dish before proceeding with the cutting and layering of the potatoes. I like to make an extra tray of just basic roasted potatoes so that everyone gets their fill of crispy starchy goodness.

THICK AND CREAMY MUSHROOM GRAVY WITH SHALLOTS & HERBS (vegan, starch-free, make-ahead friendly) - The First Mess

THICK AND CREAMY MUSHROOM GRAVY WITH SHALLOTS & HERBS. This isn’t a main course per se, but gravy essentially accompanies everything on the plate and in my mind that elevates it to main course status :) This gravy is thickened with a baking potato and soaked cashews (no starch!), so its safe to prepare up to 5 days in advance. Just reheat it slowly in a pot over medium-low heat, adding a few extra splashes of vegetable stock to get it moving more fluidly. You’ll also have to stir diligently as it reheats to prevent any sticking on the bottom of the pot. I make a lot of gravies (is that weird?) and this one is my favourite.

VEGAN AND GLUTEN-FREE SHEET PAN GRAVY. This is a mushroom-free alternative without any added starches or flours. I’ve got a lot of my food-sensitivities friends covered here (I think). You caramelize a big tray of cauliflower, onions, garlic, and potatoes, throw in a hearty sprinkle of poultry seasoning and thin it all out with the best vegetable broth you can find. It’s a totally delicious vegan gravy for all eaters at the table.

Pot-Roasted Celery Root from The First Mess Cookbook

POT-ROASTED CELERY ROOT WITH APPLE CIDER AND HORSERADISH CREAM. This is on page 153 of my cookbook! It makes a very cozy supper for a smaller gathering. Whole celery roots are braised in apple cider and onions. Then, those sticky cider onions are reduced down and become part of the sauce. It’s all topped with a dreamy, dairy-free horseradish cream and toasty hazelnuts.

Vegetable and Bean Pot Pies with Crispy Potato Crusts from The First Mess Cookbook

VEGETABLE AND BEAN POT PIES WITH POTATO CRUSTS. Another cozy main from my my cookbook! This one can be found on page 161. Not sure if you can tell, but I have a special affinity for baked savoury pies and little mini casseroles. If you have a mandoline slicer, this is a very simple main to fix up. It’s a flavourful and veggie-packed stew with white beans and whole spelt flour for thickening. The rounds of sweet and regular potatoes on top get crisp and form our “crust.” Super cute!

Butternut and Pesto Cream Lasagna from The First Mess Cookbook

BUTTERNUT AND PESTO CREAM LASAGNA. Another lasagna, but this one from my cookbook has deep, autumnal flavor because of the balsamic butternut “sauce” that we employ here. White beans whipped up with classic pesto ingredients (basil, garlic, lemon) form our protein-rich ricotta here. This hearty dish is perfect with a big green salad on the side. The recipe can be found on page 135.

SALADS, SIDES & VEGETABLES

Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw

KALE AND BRUSSELS SPROUT CAESAR SLAW WITH SMOKY CHICKPEAS. The dressing in this one is sunflower-based, making it a little more friendly for the cashew-averse. I recommend a pine-nut based vegan parmesan for this recipe, but you could easily substitute the nuts with hemp or more sunflower seeds here to make it totally nut-free. I make this salad all year because we love the creamy sunflower dressing so much. It makes kale super crave-able :)

An overhead shot of a roasted sweet potato and radicchio salad with coriander candied pumpkin seeds, shaved fennel and orange.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO AND RADICCHIO SALAD WITH CANDIED PUMPKIN SEEDS & SHALLOT DRESSING. So many strong and beautiful flavours in this salad! The bitter radicchio plays so well with the mellow sweet potatoes. Shallots get roasted as well for a full-bodied dressing. Coriander candied pumpkin seeds and orange segments bring a citrus lift.

Roasted Fennel & Quinoa Crunch Salad - The First Mess

ROASTED FENNEL & QUINOA CRUNCH SALAD. This simple grain salad has lots of added crunch from cucumber, radishes, and golden pieces of roasted fennel. The quinoa makes this nice and hearty, but the flavors are super fresh. Another excellent make-ahead option or potluck-style contribution.

Shredded Fall Veg Salad with Garlicky Orange Tahini Dressing - The First Mess

SHREDDED FALL VEG SALAD WITH GARLICKY ORANGE TAHINI DRESSING. This one is such a crowd-pleaser if you’re tasked with bringing the salad component (or maybe you’ve just taken it upon yourself). The dressing is a little sweet and tangy, but super garlicky all the way through. I think it ever-so-slightly-reminds people of a typical caesar dressing, and that’s why they enjoy it so much. You can make this salad with whatever root vegetables you happen to have on hand, just as long as you shred them up nice and fine. I love throwing a handful of chopped dill into this salad as well! Dill + tahini anything = best buds.

GROUNDING ROASTED ROOTS WITH HERBED JALAPEÑO YOGURT SAUCE. This one just looks so beautiful on the table! The quality of your dairy-free yogurt is really important here. It should be thick and super tangy. I recommend brands in the post. You can also make the sauce up to 5 days in advance!

LOADED BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD WITH CREAMY MAPLE MUSTARD DRESSING AND SMOKY PECAN CRUMBLE - The First Mess

LOADED BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD WITH CREAMY MAPLE MUSTARD HEMP DRESSING, APPLES & SMOKY PECAN CRUMBLE. This one just screams Fall. You can make the dressing and the smoky pecan crumble up to 5 days in advance. Keep the dressing in the fridge and the crumble in a sealed jar at room temperature. So much flavour and satisfaction in one dish! I would happily eat just this at a holiday meal :)

VEGAN SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE WITH APPLES & CRUNCHY ROSEMARY WALNUTS. This one is a symphony of texture and Autumn flavours. The sweet potatoes are whipped up with orange juice, spices, and a little touch of non-dairy cream. Then, they’re topped with maple-y sautéed apples and crunchy bits of toasted rosemary walnuts. This one is perfect for making ahead of time.

VERY GOOD VEGAN BISCUITS WITH MISO & GREEN ONIONS - The First Mess

VERY GOOD VEGAN BISCUITS WITH MISO & GREEN ONIONS. Savoury, carb-y goodness to go alongside everything you’re serving up. These sop up vegan gravy like a champ, but they also just taste amazing solo. They would make cute vessels for leftovers-sandwiches the next day.

HARVEST VEGETABLE MASH WITH ROASTED GARLIC, HORSERADISH & FRID DUKKAH - The First Mess

HARVEST VEGETABLE MASH WITH ROASTED GARLIC, HORSERADISH & FRIED DUKKAH. A nice little alternative to straight up mashed potatoes (celery root and parnips in the mix!) that’s super flavourful on its own or downright ridiculous with a ladle of mushroom gravy. The fried dukkah (spice and seed mixture) on top is an optional step that provides a really fun texture contrast and confetti-like appearance. Like most mashed potato recipes, you’ve got to make this one right at the last minute for the best texture.

Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad with Horseradish Caraway Dressing & Apples - The First Mess

BROCCOLI & CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH HORSERADISH CARAWAY DRESSING AND APPLES. I love the briny and fresh flavors in this salad. You get the tartness from the lightly pickled shallots, the pungent cruciferous vegetables, a lightly spicy vinaigrette, and some sweet crispy apples to balance it all out. It looks and feels so vibrant. I throw some cooked quinoa into this to make it a bit more hearty, but you could use any cooked grain you like.

THANKSGIVING PANZANELLA. This is a holiday-appropriate interpretation of the classic bread salad. Roasted delicata squash mingles with kale, celery, pomegranate seeds, herbs and crunchy sourdough bread cubes. A slightly sweet balsamic dressing ties it all together and softens the edges of the bread just right. This recipe is available in my cookbook on page 102!

Meyer Lemon Romanesco Glow Salad from The First Mess Cookbook

MEYER LEMON ROMANESCO GLOW SALAD. This is a raw salad of finely blitzed up romanesco cauliflower with sweet apples and grapes, and a simple, fragrant meyer lemon dressing. Walnuts and sage finish it off with extra cozy autumnal flavor. It’s so refreshing amidst most of the heavier/starchier foods on offer at holiday times. Kind of like a breath of fresh air ;). This recipe can be found on page 125 of my cookbook.

GARLICKY WINTER VEGETABLE & WHITE BEAN MASH WITH MUSHROOM MISO GRAVY. This recipe is on page 183 of my cookbook! The bulk of this fluffy mash is celery root, cauliflower, and white beans; all flavoured with a healthy dose of garlic. Once you douse the whole thing in the piping hot mushroom miso gravy, the experience becomes so cozy and familiar. It’s deeply flavourful and satisfying, but somehow still light.

ROASTED CARROTS WITH GINGER MAPLE CREAM from The First Mess Cookbook

ROASTED CARROTS WITH GINGER MAPLE CREAM. You could put the lush, cashew-based cream over any roasted root vegetable, tuber, or squash, but I particularly like it with a variety of pretty heirloom carrots. It’s sweet, a little fresh and spicy, and very simple to prep in advance. This recipe can be found on page 187 of my cookbook.

CRISPY MAPLE MUSTARD CABBAGE from The First Mess Cookbook

CRISPY MAPLE MUSTARD CABBAGE. This vegetable side is a bit unexpected, but so completely crave-able once you give yourself over to it. The cabbage wedges are brushed with a maple mustard lacquer and then roasted until the edges are crispy and golden–kind of the same appeal as charred brussels sprouts, but one big wedge of it. This recipe is on page 195 of my cookbook.

APPETIZERS

SPICY PEPPERONCINI, ARTICHOKE & KALE DIP. This is super creamy and savoury like the classic, much-loved artichoke and spinach dip. We use kale for an even stronger Fall/Winter feel and the acidic spice of chopped pepperoncinis to shake things up a bit. This one is delicious warm or at room temperature and no one will believe that it’s dairy-free. You could prepare it up to 5 days in advance!

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms with Pesto Cream & Garlicky Bread Crumbs - The First Mess

STUFFED MUSHROOMS WITH PESTO CREAM & GARLICKY BREADCRUMBS. The thing about these is that they come together fast if you’ve already made the pesto or you have a store-bought one on hand. While the mushrooms bake, you whip up the pesto cream in the blender and toast the breadcrumbs on the stove. Throw it all together and voila! Easy and convincingly cheesy-tasting warm goodness. A little bit of green on the appetizer table is always welcome, too ;)

ROASTED CARROT & HARISSA DIP. This dip has a chickpea base, and is then smoothed out with some sweet roasted carrots and all of the typical components of harissa sauce (chilies, tomato paste, spices). I top it with pomegranate seeds and crispy brussels sprout leaves, but it’s just as good with a simple drizzle of olive oil. It’s spicy, creamy, sweet, and smooth. A crowd pleaser that isn’t too predictable *thumbs up*

Avocado Tartare - The First Mess

AVOCADO TARTARE. I don’t think anyone was exactly dying for a vegan version of tartare, but the traditional flavours of it work really well with avocado, so I went for it. I make this as something for people to snack on while I finish up dinner quite often when we’re hosting. It has all the appeal of guacamole (because most people love avocado anything), but it’s a little more interesting and unique. I serve the tartare with crostini, crackers, little slices of roasted beets, olives etc.

VEGAN CARAMELIZED ONION DIP WITH FRESH ZA’ATAR. This is my favourite dip of all time. It’s so creamy, is loaded with flavourful caramelized onions, and we top it with olive oil (I opt for chili-infused) and a freshly made za’atar spice mix that’s tangy and uplifting. This is another one of those dishes that no one will guess is dairy-free. So indulgent! You can make it up to 5 days in advance.

Creamy Kale Pesto White Bean Dip (vegan) - The First Mess

CREAMY KALE PESTO WHITE BEAN DIP. This super savoury, slightly cheesy, and festive green dip would look so pretty on a snack board. Hints of lemon and garlic make the kale go down a bit easier here ;)

The ultimate vegan snack board - The First Mess

THE ULTIMATE VEGAN SNACK BOARD. This post was a 3 for 1! You get recipes for 1) a roasted garlic and butternut dip with sesame, 2) balsamic mushroom and olive pâté, and 3) a soft cashew “cheese” spread with roasted beets and miso. Fill it out with all the crackers, crisp vegetables, pickles, olives etc. you can handle. I would happily go to a party that was serving this and this alone.

CAULIFLOWER AND PINE NUT "RICOTTA" TOASTS from The First Mess Cookbook

CAULIFLOWER AND PINE NUT “RICOTTA” TOASTS. This recipe is on page 220 of my cookbook! The lush texture of this vegan ricotta is incredible. It’s perfect on little toasts with preserves, sliced pears, or juicy figs. Not sure if this is the case for most people, but the first app I go for at any party is the cheesy/dip-like thing on a toast. This version doesn’t make you feel as sleepy/full as a classic cheese crostini option though ;)

SWEET THINGS

VEGAN AND GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT TORTE - The First Mess

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT TORTE WITH SALTY DATE CARAMEL AND COCONUT CREAM. This gluten-free showstopper is so rich and decadent. It essentially has a dense brownie base that’s topped with a cashew-boosted hazelnut “mousse,” drizzles of a sticky date caramel, and a big cloud of coconut whipped cream. I slice this on the small side because it is luxuriously rich. You could make the brownie base, caramel, and hazelnut mousse up to 3 days ahead of time. Wrap the brownie tightly and close the caramel and mousse in sealed jars, and keep all components in the fridge. bring everything to room temperature before assembling.

The Perfect Vegan Chocolate Cake (vegan + gluten-free, date-sweetened) from "Simply Vibrant" - The First Mess

PERFECT CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GLAZE. This gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan cake plays on those much-loved and perfectly festive flavors. It’s also just so fudgy and rich. Your guests will not believe that this recipe ticks off all the “free’s” :). This recipe is from Anya Kassoff’s Simply Vibrant, and is a go-to for me when I need to bring an allergen-sensitive dessert.

VEGAN SPELT PUMPKIN LOAF. This would be nice to just have around for a little dessert table or to have with coffee the next morning. So simple to make and it keeps nice and moist for a couple days if you keep it in a sealed container, or wrap it up in bees wax wrap/foil wrap.

VEGAN AND GRAIN-FREE GINGER MOLASSES SOFTIES. Like little sweet and spiced pillows of heaven. These are sweetened exclusively with dates and molasses, but they’re extra good drizzled with melted vegan white chocolate ;).

NO BAKE CHOCOLATE MINT CUPS. These are an easy, naturally gluten-free treat that you can throw together ahead of time and keep in the fridge! Less than 10 ingredients with this recipes as well! They’re so rich and decadent. If you’ve stored the cups in the fridge, I’d recommend letting them come to room temperature before serving.

#VEGAN NO KNEAD CINNAMON ROLLS - The First Mess

VEGAN NO-KNEAD CINNAMON ROLLS. Ideal for holiday brunching. These are one of the lazier cinnamon roll recipes out there (outside of opening a tube haha). There is minimal hands-on time with these and they are seriously gooey and satisfying.

VEGAN PUMPKIN MOUSSE PARFAITS from The First Mess Cookbook

PUMPKIN MOUSSE PARFAITS. This recipe is on page 236 of my cookbook. I honestly prefer these little airy pots of pumpkin and spice goodness over pumpkin pie. The mousse couldn’t be easier to mix up, it’s light as a cloud, and the perfect host for whipped coconut cream, toasted nuts, shaved chocolate, whatever your heart desires.

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER COOKIES from The First Mess Cookbook

CHOCOLATE CHUNK GINGER COOKIES. This spelt and coconut sugar-basked cookie is stuffed with chunks of chocolate and crystallized ginger. It’s dark, spicy, rich, and gooey. Basically my perfect Christmas/Holiday cookie if I’m batch-cooking some. This recipe can be found on page 239 of my cookbook!

COCONUT BUTTER HOT CHOCOLATE - The First Mess

COCONUT BUTTER HOT CHOCOLATE. Everyone needs a go-to hot chocolate recipe during the busy holiday times right? This version made lush with coconut butter, cacao powder, chopped chocolate, and dates is just the thing for cozying up.

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