20 Healthier Thanksgiving Recipes


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If you still haven’t decided on what to make, or need some lighter or healthier sides to round out your meal, here are 20 of my favorites, many of which can be made in advance and re-heated on the Big Day.

There’s not a single recipe for turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, or pumpkin pie. Instead I have chosen to showcase some versatile sides, some that can double as entrees, and some meat-free mains. Although everyone’s definition of healthy varies, all the recipes are either vegetarian or vegan and many are gluten free. After all that health food, there’s a few festive desserts that aren’t necessarily healthy, but you only live once.

1. Honey Dinner Rolls – The best dinner rolls I’ve ever had and I will use this recipe over and over, for years to come. Soft, fluffy, scrumptious and the rolls can be made in advance, too

Honey Dinner Rolls

2. Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad (vegan, GF if GF tempeh is used) – This can be served warm or cold, and can be made in advance and combines pumpkin pie spice, cranberries, mixed vegetables, and tempeh for a seasonal salad

Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad

3. Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip – (vegan, GF) Healthier than potato-based fries, and parsnips have a nice warming little kick and the cooling creamy dip balances the flavors

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip

4. Pumpkin and Cheesy Baked Potato Casserole (vegan, GF) – Layers of potatoes, pumpkin, and cheese (vegan) make for a warm, hearty, and comforting dish that also uses up some of the last bits of pumpkin puree in the can

Pumpkin and Cheesy Baked Potato Casserole

5. Spicy Baked Black Beans with Mixed Vegetables (vegan, GF) – A kicked up version of baked beans, with mixed vegetables for extra texture and crunch

Spicy Baked Black Beans with Mixed Vegetables

6. Roasted Grapes and Balsamic Reduction with Cheese and Crackers (Reduction is vegan, GF) – A tasty and tangy and appetizer that can be made quickly and easily. I could drink balsamic reduction and love it so much, on anything

Roasted Grapes and Balsamic Reduction with Cheese and Crackers

7. Sweet Potato Red Pepper and Coconut Milk Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, microwave-friendly) – This soup comes together in 15 minutes from start to finish, and is make entirely using a microwave to steam sweet potatoes and red peppers, before they’re pureed with coconut milk. Creamy and hearty

Sweet Potato Red Pepper and Coconut Milk Soup

8. Vegetable Lasagna Casserole (vegan, GF) – Rather than using traditional noodles, I made a noodle-like pancake from grated carrots and zucchini, but hash browns or grated potatoes could also be used to create a noodle. Top with any kind of filling you enjoy from salsa with corn and beans to marinara sauce

Vegetable Lasagna Casserole

9. Rosemary Chipotle Roasted Almonds (vegan, GF) – Make these as kicked up as you desire, and watch people gobble them by the handful

Rosemary Chipotle Roasted Almonds

10. Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney – A play on my favorite Mango Chutney from Trader Joe’s and in this version I included cranberries, fresh oranges, ginger, and mango chunks. So easy and just put everything in a kettle and simmer

Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney

11. Spinach Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Cheesy Squares (vegetarian, with vegan & GF options) – I love spinach and artichoke dip and these squares are a portable version of one of my favorite dips, no crackers required

Spinach Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Cheesy Squares

12. Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) – The roasted vegetables give this soup an almost smoky quality. They’re roasted and then blended with peanuts, peanut butter, and coconut milk for a soup rich in layers of flavor

Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup

13. Cheezy Vegetable Bake (vegan, GF) – Use up any leftover stray vegetable odds-and-ends in the crisper drawer with this cheezy and easy vegetable casserole

Cheezy Vegetable Bake

14. Pumpkin Honey Tofu (vegan, GF) – Draining and pressing tofu, then freezing it for about two days, allowing it to thaw, and then pressing it and marinating with pumpkin puree before baking creates tofu that has an almost bread-like quality. If you want to turn tofu into something that resembles pumpkin bread, freezing it first is how

Pumpkin Honey Tofu


15. Apple Glazed Vegetables & Edamame Stir Fry (vegan, GF) – Glazed apples are great in everything from pie to this easy, slightly sweet-yet-savory stir fry

Apple Glazed Vegetables & Edamame Stir Fry

16. Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars (Vegan, GF) – An easy, fast, hearty dessert that’s not too sweet and full of robust pumpkin flavor and lots of hearty chewiness from the oats. People write frequently telling me how much they really like these bars

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

17. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting – A batch size of just six cupcakes and a perfect way to use up the last bits of pumpkin puree in the can. The batter comes together, by hand, in under two minutes

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

18. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – I loved these cookies so much that I remade them a few days after I made the first batch. The cookies are soft and light, yet satisfying and the buttercream filling is the icing on these little pumpkin cakey cookies

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

19. Cranberry Bliss Bars {Starbucks Copycat recipe} – One of the best desserts I’ve made in ages, with a white chocolate and cranberry blondie base, topped with white chocolate-infused cream cheese frosting, more cranberries and a white chocolate drizzle. It’s a good thing the batch size only yields eight wedges because they’re dangerously good and a dead ringer for the Starbucks version

Cranberry Bliss Bars

20. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache – The batter takes five minutes to make by hand and it’s one of the moistest cakes I’ve ever had and will be a favorite for years to come. The ganache can be made in the microwave and is a snap and I’d much rather have this pumpkin cake than pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Here are a few other recipe roundups and links:

25 Thanksgiving Gathering Recipes – a free ebook/PDF download

70 Thanksgiving Recipes from Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker

50 Way to Do Pumpkin Pie from Lori the Recipe Girl

Crowd-Pleasing Thanksgiving Recipes: Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free from Williams-Sonoma

40 Non-Pumpkin Thanksgiving Dessert Bites from Christie at Love From The Oven

50 Totally Awesome Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes from Marla at Family Fresh Cooking

What are you making for Thanksgiving or looking forward to eating?

Feel free to leave recipe links for your favorites or things you have your eye on.

Thanks for the Red Star Platinum Yeast Gift Basket Giveaway entries and have a Happy Thanksgiving Week!

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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  1. i love looking at all the recipes you put together…I just got a case of tempeh- yes a case…so the Pumpkin Spiced Brown Rice Tempeh and Cranberry Salad is so going to be made! Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Um, I’ll take one of everything! Your photos are SO crisp and SO beautiful.. I feel like I could lick the screen and it’d taste so rich and delicious (it doesn’t, but that’s because my screen is dirty and I have yet to install smellovision). That tempeh salad is impressive–can it be any more colorful? It’s like a work of art! And I need to make me those honey rolls.

    1. Thanks for the super sweet compliments – and even your willingness to almost lick a dirty screen :)

  3. Fantastic Thanksgiving recipes, Averie. I love the way those rolls look! And the cranberry bliss bars…I have all those ingredients and I am planning on making them for the big day on Thursday. I meant to do it before now, but hey – better late than never, right?!

    It will be just our family this year as my sister, her hubby and their 4 kiddos are going to his folks’ house over the hill. It will be a small affair, but everyone gets a mini treat of their choosing! Isaac wants chocolate cream pie, Simeon wants cherry cream cheese pie and Seraphim wants pumpkin. The cranberry bars are getting made to be eaten throughout the weekend! Fun times, being with family and sharing food. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, Averie!

    1. I just made a new version – tonite! For Skylar’s school. I will see if I think they’re post-worthy but I think they will be!

  4. I love this recipe round-up Averie! A great way to showcase a few of your savory recipes, which we both know don’t always get the love they deserve. A few that are calling my name right now – apple glazed veggies, cheezy veggie bake ( i love a good casserole!!), parsnip fries, and your honey dinner rolls. I am trying to eat healthier this week because I am going to be GORGING this Thursday lol. I’m looking forward to my mom’s pumpkin pie, buttery/brown sugar glazed sweet potato rounds, and turkey! I dont like gravy, so I use honey mustard as my turkey “dressing” – I know, I am SO WEIRD. But I am so looking forward to a relaxing few days off from work! :)

    1. Honey mustard is amazing on anything! We are twins….I could seriously inhale it. Which is why I started making my own, and salt-free, too! And it costs literally 7 cents for like one cup!

      And your mom’s pie – I need to make a pie for Skylar’s school ‘feast’ they’re throwing this week and still haven’t found ‘the perfect’ pumpkin pie. LMK if it’s an easy recipe! This is for kids, so nothing fancy! :)

  5. the potato casserole is beautiful! your honey dinner rolls are absolutely amazing – definitely a staple around here!!

  6. Great recipes girl. I totally want to try those dinner rolls and may do so for the Thanksgiving leftover dinner party that we’re going to on Friday. Since it’s just the 4 of us for Thanksgiving this year, we’re actually not making the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. My kids are not big turkey fans nor stuffing fans, so we’re having a honey baked ham, twice baked potatoes with tons of fixings, green bean with shallots and this amazing dark chocolate and coconut dream pie. Zoe said that it’s going to be the best Thanksgiving ever! I mean why go through all the hassle of cooking the traditional fare if half of your family doesn’t like it, right? We’re going to take a family hike that morning and then come home and chill!

    BTW, how was your trip? I’m sure you had a blast! Let me know the next conference or blogger thing you are thinking of attending. I would love to meet up with you someday :)

    1. I’m still here and flying home in the a.m. It’s been great, a whirlwind but great! I have zero trips on my agenda but will LYK what comes up!

      Good for you for doing TG your way, and cooking what your family WANTS, not what you ‘should’ make. Good job :)

  7. I love making wya through all of your recipe lists. It totally puts me in the mood for Thanksgiving. Hooray Turkey!

  8. The potato casserole caught my eye — I’ve seen so many delicious potato casseroles/scalloped potato recipes for Thanksgiving — I think I might try one!

  9. I’m making Cranberry sauce, like always, and something else. Whatever I make, I’m sure that the whole family will ask “what is THAT?!?!”, like always.

  10. You’ve got some really good stuff going here…yum!! I’m particularly eying those parsnip fries & cranberry bliss bars!!

  11. Great idea for a post Averie! I’m all about indulging at the holidays, but it’s nice to have a few balanced but delicious additions too.
    Although I’m flying home for Thanksgiving, my family did manage to assign me quite a few things! Or maybe I volunteered because I love it :-) Cornbread Sausage stuffing, corn casserole, pumpkin dark chocolate bread, roasted squash and apple pie comin’ up!

  12. I just got off the phone with my parents and volunteered to make soup on Thanksgiving day…specifically the roasted red pepper, carrot and peanut soup I love so much. Mom has a vitamix also, so I’m in business! Great round up as always–I love those clean out the veggie drawer recipes and am interested in the apple glazed vegetable and edamame stir fry. Hope your weekend in Barbados was fabulous and can’t wait to hear about it!

    1. It’s been fun! It rained today so a little meh at the moment and catching up on computer work from my room :) Glad to hear the soup is going to make an appearance at your holiday party! LMK how everyone likes it! That’s great your mom has a Vita, too!

  13. I always go for healthy sides, as then I can eat more dessert :). My parents and I will have a perfectly quiet Thanksgiving with prime rib, roasted vegetables, and I’m thinking sweet potato pie. It should be a great time. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!