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Vegan Turducken and the Quest for the Perfect Meatless Thanksgiving

Who says a vegan Thanksgiving can't be delicious?

Thanksgiving is sort of like Hanukkah for vegans. Sometimes they just feel a little left out. Which probably goes a long way toward explaining the weird number of vegan turducken recipes out there on the interwebs. To help vegans plan a terrific T-day meal without feeling like they're just putting lipstick on a field roast, we tapped a network of vegan chefs for their favorite recipes, from the perfect vegan turducken to delicious dessert options.

Turducken - Chef Wendy Landiak, Balasia, Hereford, PA

This is one of those dishes that you just feel is so ridiculous and bordering on insanity that you think to yourself, 'why not make a vegan version?'... so I did.


Use your favorite seitan recipe, but treat the seitan with 3 different marinades and spices. The key is how you season the boiling water and after. Think Thanksgiving: sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic, wine, etc.

If you don't feel like tackling seitan, buy three different wheat meats and gussy them up with wine, poultry spices, oil for the duck, and soy butter.

Then you gild the lily: Wrap the entire entity with cooked vegan bacon!

...and More Turducken

Looking for other vegan turducken ideas? Bay Area slow food impresario Chef Leif Hedendal suggests trying the Punk Rock Chef's version, or stuffing a 'beyond meat' chicken inside a house-made smoked seitan duck and molding tofurkey around that.

"I think a good way to make it actually taste delicious and like Thanksgiving is not to use all the hippie shit flavorings like vegans tend to use such as soy sauce, nutritional yeast, braggs, apple cider vinegar etc, but to use a lot of fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, a nice amount of well caramelized onions, well prepared celery, carrots, garlic," Hedendal wrote in an email.

Meatloaf (pictured above)- Chef Chloe Coscarelli - Chloe's Kitchen\n

Rather than trying to make fake turkey taste good, vegan chef and Cupcake Wars alum Chloe Coscarelli plans to cook her famous Country "Meatloaf" for Thanksgiving.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 2 large carrots, diced

  • 2 cups diced celery

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 2 teaspoons dried basil

  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice, warm

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.

2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large deep-sided skillet and sauté onion, carrots and celery until soft, about 15 minutes. If vegetables begin to stick, add a little bit of water to the skillet. Stir in garlic, thyme, basil and parsley. Let cook a few more minutes. Crumble the tempeh into the skillet and add soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

3. Add warm brown rice and bread crumbs to the bowl and mix thoroughly with a large spoon. The more you mix it and mash it, the better it will hold together when you bake it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and pack it down very firmly using the back of a spoon. Cover the top of the loaf pan with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, covered, then remove foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before unmolding. Run a knife around the edges of the cooked loaf to loosen, then flip onto a serving plate to unmold. Slice and serve.

Chef’s note: Recipe can be halved to serve 3 to 4 people. If halving, bake in an 8-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan for 30 minutes covered, then 15 more minutes uncovered.

Recipe reprinted with permission from the Chloe's Kitchen cookbook.

Gravy Chef Chloe Coscarelli - Chloe's Kitchen

What's meatloaf—or Turducken—without gravy? Chef Chloe's Golden Gravy recipe is a great match for either dish.

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

  • 1/2 cup flour

  • 2 cups water

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion until soft. Add nutritional yeast and flour, and stir for about 1 minute. Add water, soy sauce, thyme and garlic powder. Continue to cook, whisking continuously, until mixture is very thick. Transfer gravy to a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust seasonings, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings. Recipe reprinted with permission from the Chloe's Kitchen cookbook.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Chef Chloe Coscarelli, Chloe's Kitchen

This warm pumpkin bread pudding has a dash of spice and is studded with chocolate chips. It’s a rich and creamy dessert that’s free of dairy and eggs but will leave everyone feeling indulged.

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 15 ounce can organic pumpkin

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (can use maple syrup)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

  • 10 cups cubed day-old bread of your choice (about 10 to 12 slices of sandwich bread, depending on the thickness of slices)

  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Guittard and Ghirardelli are among those that are nondairy)

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 4-ounce ramekins (single-serving ceramic dishes) or a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.

2. In a blender, process coconut milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and spices until smooth. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the pumpkin mixture and chocolate chips until each bread cube is coated.

3. If using ramekins: Evenly sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar into the bottom of each greased ramekin. Fill each ramekin to the top with the mixture and lightly press it down with the back of a spoon. If using a 9-by-13 baking dish: Fill the baking dish with the mixture and lightly press it down with the back of a spoon. Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons brown sugar over the top of the bread pudding. The brown sugar will help the pudding to caramelize on the edges. (Steps 1 through 3 can be done up to three days in advance; store covered in the refrigerator.)

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned. If using ramekins: Let the pudding cool a few minutes, then carve around the edges with a knife to loosen and unmold. Garnish with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm. If using a 9-by-13 baking dish: Let the pudding cool a few minutes before serving. Cut into portions, then garnish with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm. The pudding can be baked right before serving or earlier that day and then reheated for 8 to 10 more minutes right before serving.

Yield: Serves 14. Recipe reprinted with permission from the Chloe's Kitchen cookbook.

Pumpkin Tiramisù

For another variation on the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin dessert, Coscarelli suggests a pumpkin version of the Italian classic.

For the Pumpkin Crème:

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch or arrowroot

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup

  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


For the Vanilla Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum)

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 3/4 cups soy, almond or rice milk

  • 1 cup canola oil

  • 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla or almond extract


For the espresso soak:

  • 1/2 cup amaretto

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso


For assembly:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free), ground in a food processor or finely chopped

1. To make the Pumpkin Crème: In a small bowl, thoroughly mix cornstarch and water with a whisk or fork and set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together coconut milk, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and salt, and heat over medium heat until it just begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, whisking continuously. Cook until the mixture becomes very thick, about 5 minutes, whisking frequently. Pour the crème into a bowl and let cool about 15 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is touching the top of the crème. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

3. To make the Vanilla Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans or one 9-by-13-inch pan and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together nondairy milk, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix.

5. Fill each prepared cake pan evenly with batter. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean, with a few crumbs clinging to it. Rotate the cakes halfway through the baking time. Cool the cakes completely before assembly.

6. To make the Espresso Soak: In a small bowl, whisk amaretto, water and espresso until espresso dissolves.

7. To assemble: In a large bowl or trifle dish, place one layer of cake (trim to fit) at the bottom and drizzle it with the Espresso Soak. Spread a layer of Pumpkin Crème on top and generously sprinkle with ground chocolate. Repeat this process for 2 more layers until all components are used up. You could also cut the cake into mini rounds for individual servings in mini trifle dishes or ramekins.

Yield: 1 (8-inch) trifle or 6 to 8 mini-trifles. Recipe reprinted with permission from the Chloe's Kitchen cookbook.

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