With an increasing number of consumers exploring plant-based diets, the holidays create a prime opportunity for restaurants and food service establishments to diversify their menus and cater to a wider customer base. After all, food is one of the most integral parts of holiday celebrations across cultures and regions.
In need of some menu inspiration? Here are several ideas for your restaurant’s plant-based holiday menu that even the pickiest customers will enjoy.
Plant-based holiday appetizers
Start off your plant-based holiday menu with highlights such as:
● Mac and cheese bites. Kids and adults alike will be clamoring for this take on mac and cheese. When making the cheese sauce, simply sub out the dairy for the plant-based milk of your choice and some Oddlygood mozzarella-style plant-based cheese or our tasty cheddar-style variety. Roll into balls, coat with breadcrumbs, and bake in the oven for gooey and crispy perfection.
● Stuffed mushrooms. A flavorful, savory filling perfectly complements these bite-size mushroom delights. Cook your rice in vegetable stock, then add in plant-based cheese, garlic, oil, toasted walnuts, and any other seasonings.
● Pigs in a blanket. For a plant-based take on this crowd-pleasing appetizer, boil and marinate baby carrots before wrapping and baking in crescent dough. Alternatively, use plant-based sausages and cut to size.
● Roasted jalapeño queso. Using a plant-based cheese block, let your customers share a roasted jalapeño queso dish (or two) to get their meal started. Oven roast jalapeños, prep some cumin and hot sauce for an additional kick, and bake crunchy chips for a spicy, lip-smacking plant-based appetizer.
● Hummus and chips. Hummus is plant-based by nature and quite versatile in flavor. Some wintery or seasonal hummus options to try on your menu include roasted garlic and white bean, sweet potato, and tahini, or butternut squash and cranberry. Or, give your customers a sweet starter with gingerbread-flavored hummus. For savory hummus platters, consider cutting up plant-based cheddar-style slices and baking them for a unique “cheese” chip.
● Personal shepherd’s pie. While shepherd’s pie is usually a full family meal, offering a person size lets your kitchen get creative with the recipe. Opt to create a shepherd’s pie with lentils and sweet potatoes, or use the traditional mashed potatoes (made with dairy-free alternatives) and sprinkled with a blend of plant-based cheddar and mozzarella.
Plant-based main courses for the holidays
Warm your customers’ hearts (and bellies) with these classic main dishes:
● Plant-based turkey. With the right ingredients, people who don’t eat meat can still enjoy a turkey dinner without the actual turkey. Chickpeas, tofu, or seitan can do the heavy lifting, with a little help from nutritional yeast and your favorite seasonings.
● Meat(less) loaf. A simple substitute of plant-based ground meat quickly transforms this winter meal into a tasty, plant-based dish. If your restaurant uses Worcestershire sauce, make sure that it doesn’t contain fish.
● Lasagna. Since most noodles and marinara sauces are already free of animal products, it doesn’t take much to turn this comfort food into a plant-based meal. There are plenty of options for making a ricotta substitute, including nutritional yeast, cashews, and almonds. Layer with plant-based meat crumbles and top with a shredded mozzarella cheese alternative.
● Lentil mushroom stew. To give variety to your holiday-inspired main dishes, a hearty stew over plant-based mashed potatoes sprinkled with plant-based cheddar provides the warmth and density of a true comfort meal. You can make an entirely vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free lentil stew with just a few ingredients that will keep your customers satisfied.
● Roasted cauliflower. Whole roasted cauliflower has the versatility of adopting the flavor you season it with. For a warm and flavorful meatless entree, try using a shawarma blend of spices and harissa spice for a Mediterranean kick.
● Thanksgiving wraps. Skip the meat alternative and opt for a tasty, bold, unique seasonal dish. Your wraps can feature sweet potatoes, chickpeas, arugula, and whatever other plant-based addition you think makes a handheld Thanksgiving feast complete. Don’t forget a creamy dipping sauce made with plant-based oat yogurt!
Plant-based holiday sides
Some would argue that the sides are the star of every holiday meal. Here are some of our favorites, reimagined for your plant-based menu:
● Green bean casserole. This vegetable-based delight can easily be adapted for plant-based diets with a few simple swaps. Skip the cream of mushroom soup and make your own sauce from scratch with olive oil, plant-based milk, and flour. For a little extra creaminess, top with plant-based shredded cheddar cheese.
● Scalloped potatoes. Looking for something a little fancier than mashed potatoes this holiday season? Try them scalloped with cheese and caramelized shallots! We recommend using starchy baking potatoes for this application so they can soak up all the creamy goodness of your favorite plant-based milk. Throw in some miso paste, Dijon mustard, thyme, and garlic for a truly delectable spin on this comforting side dish.
● Stuffing. No need for chicken stock or sausage here! Sautée veggies in plant-based butter or your preferred oil, then moisten your toasted bread and celery mixture with vegetable stock.
● Cheddar jalapeno cornbread. Cornbread is a classic holiday meal accompaniment. By replacing common ingredients like eggs, milk, and cheese with plant-based alternatives like flax “eggs” (flax seed plus water), almond milk, and Oddlygood’s cheddar-style shredded “cheese,” this cheddar jalapeno cornbread recipe will please any palette.
● Garlic mashed cauliflower. Another unique spin on the classic holiday mashed potatoes, garlic mashed cauliflower is easy to make and packed with nutrition. Melt in a plant-based cheese alternative gives customers a creamy, comforting side to eat with their plant-based turkey, meat(less) loaf, or Thanksgiving-inspired wraps.
● Cheddar biscuits. Using plant-based cheddar and your own signature blend of spices, homemade herb-infused cheesy biscuits are sure to be a seasonal hit with customers. Simply swap out the butter and milk for plant-based alternatives and use plant-based shredded cheddar cheese to create the perfect warm and flaky biscuit. It’s a perfect side to go with stews, soups, and meatless main dishes.
● Personal pot pies. Restaurants can customize their pot pies with flavors that complement the rest of the menu. A white bean filling is a neutral base that can take tons of flavor and spice additions. Cover with a flaky, plant-based pie crust and bake in an individual ramekin.
Plant-based holiday desserts
Last but not least, these plant-based desserts will end your customers’ holiday meal on a sweet note:
● Chocolate cranberry cake. Decadent chocolate and festive cranberry come together for a rich, sophisticated dessert. Simply swap out the animal products for cacao nibs, plant-based milk, and vegetable oil.
● Apple crisp. Anything apple is perfect for the cold fall and winter months. This dish is easy to make plant-based by substituting coconut or olive oil (or dairy-free butter) for the dairy products. Plus, it can easily become gluten-free if you use almond flour and gluten-free oats for the crispy topping.
● Pumpkin pie. This holiday favorite doesn’t need butter, eggs, or heavy cream to be delicious. Vegetable shortening and flour can be used to create a plant-based pie crust. Then, mix coconut cream with sugar, spices, and pumpkin puree for the filling. Serve with a dollop of coconut cream-based whipped cream.
● Traditional sugar and gingerbread cookies. A platter of Christmas cookies can feel nostalgic no matter how old you are. Try a mix of decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men (or gingersnaps) to give your customers a beautiful, varied tray of desserts. The best part — these cookie recipes only need a plant-based butter substitute to be vegan!
● Peppermint black bean brownies. Seasonally-flavored brownies are often a home run for dessert — especially when topped with coconut whipped cream or plant-based ice cream. These black bean brownies, made with peppermint extract and dusted with crushed candy canes, make for the perfect, decadent ending to a great plant-based meal.
● Carrot cake. Tender carrot cake with plant-based cream cheese icing is a perfect dessert for the holiday season. Instead of dairy, you can use coconut milk for the frosting and naturally sweeten the cake with Medjool dates, vanilla, and raisins.
There’s no time like the holidays to expand your restaurant’s plant-based offerings! If you’re not sure where to start, check out Oddlygood’s full line of plant-based products.