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8 vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes for holiday cooking

There’s no right or wrong way to do Christmas food.

Christmas traditions and family recipes are part of the magic that bring us all together during the holidays. Chances are, many of you might be traveling to see extended family and friends of old, or perhaps you’re preparing your home to invite loved ones in this holiday.

If you have special dietary needs, or one of your guests does, don’t sweat it — these vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes will help you take the guesswork out of cooking this Christmas. Plus, we promise it’s tastier than reindeer food.

Remember, most ingredients in any of these recipes can be easily swapped out to make them vegan, vegetarian or gluten free.

Note: “vg” denotes “vegetarian,” “v” denotes “vegan” and “gf” denotes gluten-free. But remember, you can make swaps in any of these recipes to suit your special dietary needs.


From Oh, Ladycakes. Makes nine rolls.

These can be prepared a few days before Christmas and frozen in the meantime. You can pop them in the oven before presents are torn open, or let them bake while gifts are exchanged to serve with brunch.



  • 2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ¼ cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup soy cream or nondairy milk
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • ¾ tsp. fine sea salt
  • 3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour


  • 2 tbsp. vegan butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. nondairy milk
  • ¼ tsp. pure maple extract


  1. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl. Add water to a small bowl and lightly stir in the yeast. Add a pinch of sugar and set aside about 20 minutes or until foamy.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in sugar and creamer until warm. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and 3 cups of flour to a stand mixer bowl. Attach dough hook and mix for 15 seconds (if you’re not using a stand mixer, mix well). Add butter and yeast mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Add the remaining ¾ cup flour and mix on medium for 7 minutes (or knead well).
  5. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm area for an hour.
  6. Lightly oil a 9-inch square pan and set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour.
  7. Roll dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle and spread with the vegan butter. Cover with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Starting at the long end, tightly roll the dough into a log and cut into 9 even pieces. Transfer rolls to the prepared pan and leave room between each one.
  9. Cover the pan with a towel and let rise for 45 to 60 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for about 17 minutes. Remove and let cool in the pan.
  10. While rolls are cooling, stir together sugar, maple syrup, nondairy milk and maple extract for the icing. Drizzle over the cooled cinnamon rolls and serve.


From Produce on Parade. Serves 6. 

You won’t get a sugar meltdown with this protein-packed breakfast. Plus, quiche is a fancy addition that will definitely impress your guests.



  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. whole flax seeds
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 


  • ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 oz. small button mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 large handful fresh spinach
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper


  • 1 14 oz. block extra firm tofu, drained
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup plain unsweetened soymilk
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a tart pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, add dry ingredients for the crust and whisk to combine. Drizzle in water and oil while stirring. Stir until combined.
  3. Form a ball with the dough and place on a solid surface. Knead 6 to 8 times, then roll out with a rolling pin to a circle larger than the tart pan.
  4. Press the dough into the tart pan. Be sure the edges make it to the top edge of the pan. Poke with a fork and allow to bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside, but leave the oven on.
  5. Heat the olive oil for the veggies in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 3 additional minutes. Add the remaining ingredients for veggies and saute for another 5 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.
  6. In a food processor, add all of the tofu ingredients and process for 3 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy. Add tofu mixture to veggie mixture and stir well to combine.
  7. Add tofu/veggie mixture into pre-cooked crust and smooth over with a spatula.
  8. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and quiche is set. Place on a cooling rack and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


From Brooklyn Supper. Serves 2-3. 

Oranges aren’t just for stockings (please tell me it wasn’t just my stocking that had these?) or holiday fruit baskets anymore. This salad brings fresh flavor and holiday colors to any spread.



  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. shallot, minced
  • ½ tsp. rosemary, minced
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt


  • 1 large bunch spinach
  • 3 oranges or clementines (both are in season)
  • 1 large pomegranate (shelled and with the seeds scooped out)
  • ½ shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. For the dressing, add zest, juice, vinegar, mustard and buttermilk to the olive oil one at a time. Whisk well. Add shallots, rosemary and sea salt. Set aside while you prepare the salad.
  2. For the salad, cut the very top and bottom off of the oranges. carefully slice off the orange peel, removing the pith. Cut the oranges into ½-inch thick slices.
  3. Pour most of the dressing over the spinach and toss to coat.
  4. Spread spinach on a large platter and tuck the oranges throughout. Scatter the pomegranate seeds and shallots. Finish with a drizzle of dressing, scattering of rosemary leaves and salt/pepper as desired.


From Oh She Glows. Makes 13-14.

These hearty faux-meatballs are a great appetizer or snack if it’s your turn to be the host(ess) with the most.


Lentil balls:

  • ½ cup uncooked green lentils
  • 1 cup walnuts, halved and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 heaping cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped kale leaves
  • ⅓ cup cranberries, chopped
  • ½ tsp. rosemary, fresh and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax plus 3 tbsp. water
  • ½ cup rolled oats, ground into flour
  • ½ tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cranberry sauce:

  • 2 cups frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • Small pinch fine-grain sea salt


  1. Add lentils into a medium pot along with 2¼ cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered, adding more water if the lentils dry out. Once the lentils are fork tender, remove from heat and mash with a potato masher until the mixture is a coarse paste with some lentil pieces still intact. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the chopped walnuts for 9 to12 minutes, until light gold. After toasting, increase oven temp to 350.
  3. In a large skillet, add the oil with the finely chopped mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt. Saute over medium-high heat for 7 to 9 minutes.
  4. Add the kale, toasted walnuts, cranberries, herbs and sherry vinegar. Stir until combined and continue cooking until the kale is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the mashed lentils when ready.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and water. Stir for 10 seconds, then immediately pour into the skillet mixture. Stir to combine. Stir in ½ cup oat flour until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape lentil mixture into balls and pack tightly with your hands. Place on baking sheet an inch or so apart.
  7. Bake the lentil balls at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, gently flip over and bake for another 11 to 13 minutes, until golden.
  8. For the sauce, add the cranberries, pear and maple syrup into a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes until thickened. Use a potato masher to mash the pear.


From No Whey No Cow. Serves about 5.

Be mindful when cooking with noodles, as some dried pasta contains eggs. You can also make this gluten-free by using gluten-free noodles, available at most health food stores.


  • 1 box pasta shells


  • 1 14 oz. box of extra firm tofu, drained
  • 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. oregano (fresh or dried)
  • ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped small
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped small
  • 4-5 baby portobello mushrooms, chopped small
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped small
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cups veggie broth or water


  1. For the filling, put all of the ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
  2. For the sauce, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Saute the onion for 2 to 3 minutes until soft. Add carrots, celery, mushroom and garlic and saute until all are soft.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and veggie broth. Stir.
  5. Use an immersion blender to process the sauce until smooth. Add the seasonings.
  6. Let simmer on the stove while the shells cook.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cook the shells according to package directions.
  8. Ladle 1 cup of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a baking dish.
  9. Fill the shells with 1½ tbsp. of the tofu filling and line them on the baking dish. Top the shells with more sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes.


From Sainsbury Magazine. Serves 4.

Whether it’s brunch or dinner (or left out for snacking during the day), this rustic, fancy pastry won’t take too much of your time but will impress your guests.


  • 3 ½ oz. spinach
  • 12 oz. ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • 8 oz. goat cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh, ready-to-cook beets, drained
  • 1 ½ oz. blanched hazelnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 430 degrees. Place the spinach in a colander in the sink and pour a kettle full of freshly boiled water over the spinach. Drain well and let cool.
  2. Unroll the pastry sheet onto a baking sheet. Score lightly around the edges. Poke the border all over using a fork. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
  3. In the meantime, squeeze all the water from the spinach and chop. Transfer to a bowl and add seasoning and goat cheese. Mix well until spreadable. Be sure cheese is soft enough to spread.
  4. Slice the beets into thin rounds and drain, squeezing water out with a paper towel. Roughly chop the hazelnuts.
  5. Remove the pastry from the oven. Spread the goat cheese and spinach mixture within the border of the pastry. Arrange the beet slices on top. Scatter the hazelnuts and thyme over the top evenly. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.


From Real Simple. Serves 6.

Beyond preparing vegetables, you won’t have to hover over the stove with this soup. Toss it all in and let it simmer while you enjoy the afternoon.


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 leeks, cut into ¼-inch thick half-moons
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup brown lentils
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking up with a spoon, for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, kale, lentils, thyme, 1½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.


From Bon Appetit. Serves 10-12.

There are three types of yule logs — the log in the fireplace, the Christmas-morning television program and the deliciously French bûche de Noël — but only one we recommend you nosh on. Every Christmas since 1898, Parisians roll out a gateaux, or cake, decorated as a festive yule log, according to Saveur.

Yule itself is a celebration of the winter solstice during which Yule logs were burned to ward off the darkness, Saveur says. Decorate however you wish. My high school French teacher gave us the recipe for these cakes … in French. I never tried my hand at it because my French was none too good, but I might take a crack at it this year.


Chocolate cake:

  • Vegan butter, just enough for greasing
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1⅓ cup vanilla sugar
  • 9 tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 1½ cups water

Chocolate Mousse:

  • 5 packages extra firm tofu
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups dehydrated sugar cane
  • ½ tsp. plus ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 cups vegan, non-dairy chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)


  • 1 cup unsweetened plain soymilk
  • 2½ cups dark dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a half-sheet pan lined with wax paper for the cake.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar, oil and water. Mix into a batter-like consistency. If using a stand mixer, medium speed with the paddle attachment will do. Pour the mixture into the prepared sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake springs back to a light touch in the center.
  3. Turn the cake onto a wire rack and strip off the wax paper. Allow to cool completely.
  4. While cooling, prepare the mousse. Place the silken tofu, sugar cane, vanilla extract and salt into a food processor and pulse until ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
  5. Place chocolate chips and canola oil in a double boiler and melt the ingredients slowly so the chocolate doesn’t burn. Stir constantly until chocolate is smooth and silky.
  6. Add the melted chocolate mix to the food processor with all the ingredients and process for about five minutes. Place the mousse base in the refrigerator for about 5 hours to set.
  7. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine all of the ganache ingredients. Stir frequently and cook until the mixture is combined well. Remove from heat, add coconut oil and continue to whisk.
  8. To assemble your bûche de Noël, flip the spongecake out of the pan and onto parchment paper. Spread a thin, evenly applied layer of the mousse onto the sponge. Using the parchment paper as a guide, roll the coated sponge cake. To finish, give the log a final roll and squeeze to secure. Frost with the ganache to look like a log and decorate as desired. Can also dust powdered sugar or add fruit to the top. 

From the Flavor 574 family to yours, Happy Holidays! If you have more special diet recipe submissions, let me know at or on Twitter at @DanielleWaldron.

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