Vicky Wasik

We at Serious Eats firmly believe a meat-free Thanksgiving can actually be a tastier Thanksgiving— one in which your precious stomach real estate is wholly devoted to the real stars of the show: the sides.

But Thanksgiving still calls for a centerpiece, and we’ve got you covered on that front, too. Armed with this collection of recipes, we’re confident you can prepare the cheesy, creamy, rich, but totally turkey-and-all-other-meats-free Thanksgiving of your dreams. For more recipes and Thanksgiving tips, check out our whole guide to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Stuffed Roast Pumpkins

These pumpkins are marvels of stuffed-vegetable architecture. Contained within the wholly edible exterior—which you can slather with a honey-miso glaze—is a mixture of roasted kabocha squash, mushrooms, kale, and cheese, which is more than holiday appropriate. One of the best parts of this main dish is that it can be prepared up to two days in advance, giving you a lot of time to focus on everything else.

The Best Squash Lasagna

Roasted squash is pretty freakin’ delicious. But you know what’s even better? Roasted squash puréed with cream cheese and butter; spread on top of lasagna noodles; covered with sautéed, sage-seasoned cubes of apples and more squash; doused in a Gruyère-based white sauce; layered with all that stuff over and over again; and then topped with more cheese and sauce. Yeah. You’ll like this one.

Creamy Roasted Broccoli Soup With Buttermilk and Spiced Pepitas

Photograph: Daniel Gritzer

If the word “broccoli” tends to conjure a hellscape of limp, bland stalks, it’s time to revisit the classic brassica. Rather than blanching or steaming our broccoli, we start by roasting it until it’s tender and brown, for a deeper, more complex flavor. A pour of tangy buttermilk adds brightness and acidity—not to mention a creamy texture—to the mix. Puréed with sautéed onions and a seasoning blend of coriander, red pepper flakes, cumin, mustard seed, and turmeric, the resulting soup packs a powerful punch. But hey, if it’s not quite over-the-top enough for you, you can always give our broccoli and cheddar cheese soup a shot instead.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Serious Eats / Eric Kleinberg

Plenty of potato recipes claim that they’ll turn out crisp, but we can’t count the number of times a so-called crisp potato has turned to soft, squishy mush within minutes of emerging from the oven. But here, the idea is simple: boil chunks of potatoes in salted water until they are tender, toss them in a large bowl with some fat using a fork to bash and roughen up their surfaces, then roast until crisp. The boiling and bashing steps are key, as they add surface area to the potato chunks, allowing them to roast up with a thick, ultra-crisp shell. They’re crunchier than the best french fry, and packed with great roasted flavor.

Cauliflower Gratin

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

In our opinion, cauliflower is one of the best winter vegetables. Here, cauliflower florets are coated in a velvety mornay sauce—a béchamel enriched with semi-firm cheeses like Swiss, Gruyère, or Parmigiano-Reggiano—then topped with breadcrumbs. A touch of miso paste brings a deep, savory flavor to the sauce as well.

Sautéed Mushrooms

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Whether you’re roasting or sautéing, the greatest challenge of cooking mushrooms is dealing with their spongy texture and high moisture content—they have a tendency to steam in their own liquids, rather than getting the rich, browned flavors we associate with roasted vegetables. Happily, the solution is straightforward, easy, and fast (we’re talking 25 minutes on the stove). With this basic technique, you can customize the mushrooms however you wish—use onion instead of shallot, omit the garlic, replace the thyme with another woodsy herb like rosemary, or deglaze with lemon juice instead. If you add a more delicate fresh herb like parsley or chives, I recommend doing it off heat right before serving. What’s important is that with this solid method, perfect sautéed mushrooms are always at your fingertips.

Extra-Smooth Pumpkin Pie

Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Pumpkin isn’t a universally beloved flavor, but even pumpkin-haters will make an exception for this pie. With ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger, it’s spiced, sweet, and autumnal enough to satisfy lovers of all things pumpkin; but bright, acidic, and tangy enough to retain a broader appeal. Its superior flavor and remarkably velvety texture come thanks to a generous dose of cream cheese, which keeps the dessert just shy of cloying territory.

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