Meatless dishes are just as tasty for Christmas dinner! Here are the best vegetarian Christmas dishes to add to your holiday entertaining.
Looking to please everyone at the holidays? Meatless recipes can have even more flavor than their meat-heavy counterparts! Alex and I eat a lot of vegetarian recipes (in fact, we wrote a vegetarian cookbook!). So we’re experts at not only weeknight meals, but showy recipes for entertaining! Here we’ve put together a list of our best vegetarian Christmas dishes. They’re perfect for Christmas dinner: including entrees, side dishes, and a few desserts too.
Whether it’s a crisp red and green Brussels sprout salad, or our hearty fan-favorite meatloaf or the very best apple pie, these Christmas recipes will please everyone at the table: even meat lovers! Don’t forget to serve with vegan hot chocolate or hot cider (or the slow cooker version).
First up in our vegetarian Christmas dishes...vegetarian meatloaf! This vegetarian meatloaf has been gaining fans for years and years. Our families ask us to make it, and we've heard countless people say: "Wait, there's no meat in this?" The texture and flavor are strikingly similar to meat. Slice it up and serve it with some of our sides below, and you'll have some very happy guests!
This vegetarian pot pie will literally wow your guests! The interior is full of root vegetables: carrots, potatoes, and peas, mixed with a gooey vegetarian gravy flavored with pesto and Parmesan. And it's topped with a flaky, golden pastry crust. It's truly a stunner! Make up 2 pies to serve a crowd.
Traditional shepherd's pie has a meaty filling topped with mashed potatoes: but this vegan spin has a hearty lentil filling! It's topped with rosemary Yukon gold mashed potatoes that are baked until golden. It requires a bit of prep work...but that's what Christmas dinner is for, right?
This white cheddar mac and cheese is a true gem and perfect as a Christmas dish! The sharpness of the white cheddar cheese brings a sophistication, and the contrast of the bright roasted tomatoes is an unexpected flair. A nice feature to this white cheddar mac and cheese is that it doesn’t require baking time. Simply make the mac and cheese, top with roasted tomatoes, and serve!
Here’s a tasty pasta recipe that’s comfort food with a healthy spin: creamy cavatappi pasta! Cavatappi is corkscrew shaped pasta, and it's paired with a creamy cauliflower sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. It’s cheesy but not too rich, made with cauliflower to infuse all the nutrients in this healthy veggie. Paired with spinach and sundried tomato for a little red and green, it's perfect as vegetarian Christmas dish!
Another fantastic vegetarian Christmas dish is stuffed acorn squash! This one features a hearty stuffing of chewy wild rice, kale, and feta cheese crumbles. Top with crunchy pistachios and it's a showy dish that will wow everyone at the table.
This wild rice soup would be perfect as a vegan or vegetarian Christmas Eve dish! It's creamy and cozy, full of wild rice, white beans and mushrooms. The secret to the base? Blended cashews make it rich and creamy without dairy. This one has been made again and again with rave reviews!
What's more fun on Christmas Eve than loaded potato soup? This one is impossibly creamy with intermittent potato chunks, using no heavy cream at all! Old Bay gives it an irresistible undertone. And it’s so easy to make: you don’t even need a blender! Like any good recipe, the best part is the toppings. Load it up with whatever you like: here we used shredded cheese, sour cream, chives, and smoky, salty vegan bacon.
Here's a tradition that Alex and I do every holiday season: Christmas pizza! It's the perfect dish for Christmas Eve, and kiddos especially love to decorate the tree with vegetables. This one features red onion for garlands and red pepper as ornaments. And the green color? It comes from a thin layer of basil pesto!
What's a more classic vegetarian Christmas dish than baked brie cheese? This one makes the perfect appetizer: gooey brie is topped in a cranberry sauce scented with orange and cinnamon! Serve with crusty bread as the perfect start to a holiday meal.
Let's move on to side dishes for vegetarian Christmas dinner, shall we? Yes, these really are the best Brussels sprouts! They're baked in a hot oven until totally crispy and perfectly salted. A holiday tip: try to bake these on their own to get enough airflow to get crispy! Baking a few things at the same time leads to soggy sprouts. (Or, got an Instant Pot? Try our Instant Pot Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan.)
Here’s a top-notch lentil salad recipe to add to your arsenal, and man is it tasty. This fresh and healthy lentil salad is Mediterranean-style, mixed with fresh veggies, feta cheese and pistachios. It’s a delicious way to add protein to a vegetarian Christmas meal as a side dish. You won't be able to stop eating it!
These braised vegetables taste like they’ve been roasting under a chicken all day long! But they’re fully plant based and healthy, bursting with flavor that takes cozy to the next level. They're the perfect side dish for any special occasion main, with the jewel toned purple onion and orange carrot. Ready to get braising?
Here's a stunning Christmas side dish recipe that's full of beautiful colors! There's the pink of roasted apples, golden cauliflower, and the bright purple of roasted red onion! Top it with fluffy fresh dill, and it's not only lovely to look at but seriously good.
This apple salad is one of our favorite recipes, and it would be perfect for Christmas dinner! Crisp apples are cut into matchsticks, and then you'll cut Manchego cheese into the same shape. Top with olive oil and chives, and each bite is sweet, tart and savory!
This beet salad is showy and full of contrasts! It's got tender roasted beets, tangy balsamic dressing, crunchy pistachios and creamy goat cheese. The red and green colors make it perfect for Christmas!
Shaved Brussels sprouts make the perfect base for a salad! They taste a little like a sweeter version of cabbage. Top with tart pomegranate seeds, crisp apple, and a tangy vinaigrette, and it's a seriously refreshing Christmas salad recipe.
A fresh and colorful squash recipe: delicata squash salad! Here, delicata squash is roasted until caramelized and tender. It's served over a bed of baby greens with pistachios, pepitas, goat cheese crumbles and pomegranate seeds. Toss it with a honey mustard vinaigrette, and it's a healthy side dish everyone will love!
A perfect vegetarian Christmas dish, these roasted vegetables result in the most colorful sheet pans that will please even the most veggie-wary eaters! They’re healthy, plant based, vegan and gluten-free, and even better: beautiful and delicious. This recipe makes 2 sheet pans and takes only 30 minutes to roast. If you're prepping for Christmas dinner, you can roast ahead and then reheat in a 400F oven prior to serving.
The coziest Christmas drink: mulled cider! This apple cider is simmered with whole spices until it's full of warm spiced flavor! Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and star anise make the best wafting aroma possible. Everyone will want a mug of this one! Add a splash of rum if you'd like! You can make it in a slow cooker, Instant Pot, or on the stove.
The only Christmas drink that can hold a candle to mulled cider? Mulled wine! It's another classic winter drink that tastes like roaring fires, fuzzy blankets and wool sweaters, all in one! Here you'll combine red wine with honey and orange zest, then simmer with, cloves, cinnamon and allspice. It makes for a savory sweet flavor that everyone will enjoy.
This easy cranberry bread has just the right crunchy outside and fluffy interior. It’s not too sweet, punctuated with tart cranberries. The best part? A hint of vanilla and bourbon seals the deal. There’s a bit of a healthy spin, but it’s every bit a holiday treat! It's perfect as a Christmas appetizer or on a dessert tray.
Snowballs are a Christmas classic, and this one is a unique spin! It's made of almond flour (ground almonds), so it's filling and works for many diets. The kicker? It's flavored with chai spice: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom. It adds the perfect cozy holiday flair.
This isn't a normal cookie. These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are full of texture and flavor. They’re gooey and chewy, loaded with dark chocolate and topped with sea salt. They’re just sweet enough, and filled with just the right amount of oats. The best part? They’re flavored with a hint of molasses, which makes them utterly irresistible. They're perfect for a Christmas cookie tray!
This apple pie really is the BEST, and it's a perfect centerpiece for Christmas. It's got gooey apples flavored with fresh ginger and spices, a rustic lattice crust, and a glittery maple glaze. Truly perfection!
And last up in our vegetarian Christmas dishes: classic Christmas pudding! My family makes this cranberry pudding every year. The spongy cranberry pudding is made perfect with a creamy, dreamy butter sauce poured over the top. It's the richest, most celebratory Christmas dessert you've ever had!
Desserts to round out your vegetarian Christmas dinner
Place 1 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup cashews on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, finely chop 1 onion and mince 3 cloves garlic. Clean and finely chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. When the nuts have cooled, finely chop them with a knife or in a food processor.
In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1 teaspoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon sage. Cook about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden. Transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, lightly beat together 4 eggs.
In the large bowl, combine the onion and mushroom mixture with the toasted walnuts and cashews, parsley, 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 cup cottage cheese, 12 ounces Swiss cheese, beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
Butter a 9-inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter it again. Pour the mixture from the bowl into the pan.
Bake 1 hour until golden brown. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert loaf and remove from pan. Slice into pieces and serve warm. Leftovers can be stored for a few day in the refrigerator or a few months in the freezer (cut into pieces). Reheat in a 375F oven.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.