To many non-vegans, the prospect of a vegan Christmas dinner probably sounds dull, tasteless and uninspiring. You’d be forgiven for picturing vegans nibbling on a raw carrot or a slither of plain tofu giving off major Scrooge vibes around the table.
We all know that there are very few festivities in the year where healthy eating and getting your five-a-day is thrown out the window in favour of overindulgence. So, if not just the meat but the all-butter mince pies are taken away too, is there even anything left that a vegan can eat and enjoy? Well, don’t let that myth fool you. Being a vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the seasonal sweet treats and festive savoury dishes. Nowadays, supermarkets are becoming wiser to the idea of plant-based options all year round. Which means that we don’t end up with a boring salad for Christmas dinner.
Sure, at first, it may take a little bit of supermarket hopping, research and familiarity to know what’s out there. Nevertheless, with barely any effort, you’ll find an incredible selection of food available for you. Now, it’s time for you to show off those culinary skills and make a top-notch Christmas dinner (with all the trimmings) to impress vegans and non-vegans alike.
All the photos of the cookbooks (and their recipes) within this article have been taken by me. Still, all rights go to the author and the cookbook publisher of each.
Cookbooks at Christmas
Whether you’re catering exclusively for vegans or just want to amaze your meat-eating family and friends, Christmas time is the best time to get experimental with your cooking. You don’t need to get stressed over creating a delicious vegan menu. If you think about it, the bulk of a traditional roast is vegan. Take away the meat and there are only few things that you’ll need to fine-tune. Just a few switch-outs such as using oils instead of butter or animal fat and substituting honey with agave or maple syrup instead. Not too bad is it?
With that being said and the festivities commencing soon, I thought that there’s no better time than now for us all to decide what food to prepare for your vegan Christmas dinner guests. So, I have narrowed down my favourite vegan cookbooks along with the best festive recipes in each to share with you. Hopefully they will inspire you try making a new scrumptious dish for Christmas dinner. Or, to purchase a fantastic plant-based cookbook for day-to-day cooking. Either way, there’s no chance you’ll be missing out on any indulgent holiday favourites with the help of these cookbooks.
#1 Deliciously Ella: The Plant-Based Cookbook by Ella Mills
In mid-2018, the Deliciously Ella: The Plant-Based Cookbook by Ella Mills was published. Only months later, it was named the fastest selling vegan cookbook of all time. Now, that’s impressive. Mills has published several vegan cookbooks before and this one is another of her bestsellers. Being dubbed as, “the Queen of plant-based eating” who better to get inspiration for your vegan Christmas dinner from? Incredibly, Mills also has her own range of vegan snacks and meals in supermarkets. Alongside this, she has her own delicatessen in central London. This woman is truly an entrepreneurial inspiration. Especially considering she created her brand only a matter of years ago and, well, you can see her brimming success already.
This cookbook features 100 simple yet abundant recipes. Each one uses nourishing ingredients to prove that plant-based eating is anything but bland. It covers everything from tasty salads, falafels and burgers, comforting curries and stews to delectable side dishes, sweet treats and brunch ideas. And of course, there are recipes perfect for your yummy Christmas vegan menu too. You’ll be dishing up the best roast in town, no doubt.
Savoury festive recipes for Christmas: Potatoes
To spice up your vegan Christmas dinner, try the side dish of spiced new potatoes with minty yogurt dressing (p.100). The potatoes are tossed with aromatic spices such as cayenne pepper, paprika and thyme then baked until perfectly golden brown. After, they are drizzled with an easy fresh minty yogurt dressing. You could always skip out on making the dressing and just have the new potatoes on their own with the spices. It completely depends upon what you and your guests like.
Savoury festive recipes for Christmas: Sensational vegetable sides
Moreover, make your vegetable dishes the star of the show by preparing the tender and soft harissa-roasted aubergines (p.108). Whilst not a conventional vegetable for the festive season they are ideal if you fancy trying something new that’ll make your roast extraordinary. If you aren’t a fan of aubergines, use the same method and cook the vegetables of your choice in the same harissa sauce. Garnish the dish with sesame seeds sprinkled on top for a crunchy finishing touch.
The flavoursome whole baked cauliflower (p.110) is the ultimate Christmas vegetable dish. It’s actually one of my current favourite recipes to use for dinners. It’s simple to make and once it’s in the oven you can get on with cooking all the other elements of the roast – you don’t have to check on it once. The spices are sensational nonetheless you can switch them up to suit your tastebuds. Harissa paste would intensify the flavour if you like your food extra spicy.
Swede is a vegetable that reminds me solely of Christmas time. It seems to only be in the supermarket throughout winter too (because its seasonal) which is likely why I think this. If you want to take advantage of this vegetable being available then you should make the slow-roasted carrot and swede soup with toasted hazelnuts (p.238). It’s utterly delicious. It has a warming and buttery (without the butter) taste and smooth yet nutty texture. This makes it perfect for the winter months. Make it as the starter to your Christmas roast dinner or prepare it in bulk and eat it as a cosy lunchtime meal.
Sweet festive recipes for Christmas:
If you’re a chocaholic like me then the easy fudgy brownies (p.200) is the Christmas recipe for you. They are gooey and intensely chocolatey making them the perfect celebratory dessert. You could use Christmassy stencils rather than cutting them up into squares if you want to make it more fun when catering for children. Then, all that’s left to do is sprinkle some edible glitter on top – red, green or gold – for that extra Christmassy feel. Don’t forget to serve with vegan ice cream, it’s a must.
Furthermore, the mini apple crumbles (p.199) are the sweetest (and cutest) dessert to finish off your Christmas feast with. Of course — whenever pastry is involve — the recipe is usually more time-consuming so do if you’re doing it from scratch (so keep, that in mind with these crumbles). Although, if time is on your side, do give them a try on Christmas Day. Alternatively, use them as a fruity and crumbly afternoon bite anytime during winter, it’s up to you. Make sure to serve with plant-based single cream poured on top to make the flavours pop.
Finally, a dessert that is bound to go down well are the red velvet cupcakes (p.208). They are the perfect pretty-in-pink sweet treat. The cupcakes use freeze-dried raspberries and beetroot powder to get their beautiful rosy colour. You could always add more raspberries to deepen the shade of the icing if you like. Before serving to your guests this Christmas time, throw on some festive sprinkles and vegan white chocolate shards to make your cupcakes stand out from the rest.
#2 Eat Smart by Niomi Smart
Niomi Smart, a social media sensation famous for her beauty and lifestyle Youtube channel, published her greatly anticipated first plant-based cookbook Eat Smar in mid-2016. As well as this, Smart has a healthy and natural online vegan snacking service called “Sourced Box” which launched in 2014. Using her social media success to her advantage more recently, in 2018, she created her own beauty and lifestyle range with Boots alongside several fashion edits with Oasis Clothing. It’s amazing what a dream, a little determination and a lot of hard work can do.
The Eat Smart cookbook is about creating delicious but unassuming dishes. The recipes are perfect for the health-conscious who want to feel good all day everyday. Many of the recipes are great to prepare in bulk for when you have a hectic week and want to spend minimal time in the kitchen. Throughout the cookbook, Smart proves how eating well at every meal can fit into your daily life without being a tedious task to worry about 24/7.
Many dishes in this cookbook are inspired by the food and culture from her travels along with the re-creation of several British classics. It is jam-packed with indulgent, nourishing and hearty recipes to please even the pickiest dinner guest. From easy and refreshing breakfast ideas and warming soups to sizzling curries and the most scrumptious desserts, Eat Smart has your meals and snacks covered from morning to night. Don’t think I forgot to mention her spectacular festive recipes perfect for your Christmas feast. If you decide to make any of these on Christmas Day, don’t expect to have any leftovers for Boxing Day lunch. Or, double the recipes up. That way, you’ll avoid the inevitable “is there anymore?” question at the dinner table.
Savoury festive recipes for Christmas: The roast
A beef wellington is a dish regularly used as part of a roast dinner. For your vegan Christmas dinner feast why not make the delicious plant-based alternative – a nut wellington? (p.137). It is full of nutritious ingredients including protein-packed lentils and various nuts alongside flavoursome vegetables and seasonal herbs. The nut wellington is wrapped in aubergine slices for an extra kick of flavour and another texture element to balance out the dish.
The nut wellington tastes exceptional when served with the fresh mint sauce (p.137). It’s miles better than shop-bought ones and takes next to no time to prepare.
Savoury festive recipes for Christmas: Sparkling side dishes
As we all know, vegetables are a fundamental part of a classic roast dinner. Nonetheless, I think this Christmas it’s about time we put a twist on the basic steamed vegetable. Smart’s roasted carrots with thyme (p.153) is an impeccable dish that never fails me. They are cooked in a little coconut oil for a healthier and more mild taste. Yet, still share the crispy surface on the vegetables that other oils would give them.
Brussel sprouts are certainly a love or hate food. Personally, they’re one of my favourite vegetables hence why I’m adding in the roasted brussel sprouts with garlic (p.153) recipe here. To me, a Christmas roast just isn’t complete without them! If you don’t like brussels steamed or boiled – which admittedly is quite unexciting – then make this dish. The garlic cloves, salt and pepper bring it to life.
Lastly, a recipe that transforms the traditional roast potato. Smart’s rosemary-roasted sweet potatoes (p.150) are a great accompaniment to your roast and changes things up from the conventional spud. If you don’t like sweet potatoes, make this recipe with white ones instead. Just use the same method for a slightly different but still luxurious flavour.
Serve these vegetable and potato dishes with the nut wellington to impress your guests with the ultimate vegan Christmas roast dinner.
Sweet festive recipes for Christmas:
The cinnamon pecan rolls with maple glaze (p.207) are an outstanding choice for the Christmas time. If you prefer a lighter and fluffier dessert to one that is richer and creamier, then this recipe will be right up your street. With a syrupy flavour, together with wintry cinnamon spice and pecans, this dessert is perfect for the festive season. These are more time-consuming to prepare and bake. However, if you have the time, it’s worth it.
The orange spiced biscuits (p.202) are a sweet treat that tastes equally as good as the cinnamon pecan rolls but take a fraction of time to prepare. The biscuit uses similar ingredients to that of a Christmas pudding. Those flavours mixed with the light and airy texture makes it the perfect pick-me-up. The fragrant orange and cinnamon add to the Christmassy vibe too. If you are allergic to nuts you could swap out the ground almonds for ground oats instead.
Around Christmas time, when you invite people to your home and vice versa, it’s not unusual to buy a big box of chocolates for guests to pick on during the day. Nevertheless, they aren’t the healthiest snack. Perhaps, this year, you could switch them out for the after-dinner truffles (p.181). They are rich, creamy and probably one of the healthiest chocolate desserts you’ll ever eat. Dates are the main ingredient which provides a delightfully rich and sweet truffle taste. Plus, the peanut butter makes them irresistibly creamy. Your guests won’t be able to turn them down.
#3 The Vegan Baker by Dunja Gulin
If you’re struggling to find the perfect vegan sweet or savoury cake or bake for an occasion, look no further than, The Vegan Baker by Dunja Gulin. Published in early 2013, this is the ultimate vegan baking cookbook. Gulin is a Croatia-based cooking teacher and author of several vegan cookbooks whose work is featured frequently in magazines, such as Vegetarian Living and Marie Claire. Her aim is to inspire people everywhere to try a cruelty-free, although just as scrumptious, approach to cooking and baking.
The contents page of The Vegan Baker is vast. Gulin has over 50 recipes covering simple and delicious muffins, show-stopping extravagant cakes as well as sumptuous pies and strudels. And no, it doesn’t stop there. There are also sections for tasty dessert slices and bars, unusual cookie and biscuit options as well as mouth-watering savoury baking ideas. Gulin has you covered for anything you’d ever want or need to bake.
So, if you’re still not set on the trio of festive desserts to make for Christmas day – I know, it’s a big decision – have a flick through of this cookbook. Whatever you end up baking you’ll astonish your guests with such appetising creations. They’ll wonder, “how is this vegan?”And, if that’s not a great compliment on your baking skills, I don’t know what is.
Festive dessert recipes for Christmas: Scrumptious cookies
Let’s start with some uncomplicated Christmassy flavoured cookies. Those with rich winter spices and fruits to really make you feel the Christmas spirit surrounding you. The spicy oat cookies with cashews (p.77) are ideal for a festive afternoon tea. Filled with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, they are a perfect balance of crunchy and soft. If you want to bake something sweeter and less spicy then the drop cookies with persimmon and cranberries (p.82) are an excellent choice. They are quick to make and can be stored in an air-tight container for up to two weeks. This makes them the perfect cookie to prepare in bulk if you have several events you are hosting or being invited to over the Christmas period and don’t want to spend time baking each time around.
Festive dessert recipes for Christmas: Decorative cakes, pies and strudels
The moist, light and fluffy chocolate layer cake (p.42) is the yummiest and healthier alternative to the classic chocolate cake. It is added sugar-free except it tastes so indulgent you cannot tell the difference. To make the cake your own, instead of adding the rich dark chocolate shards on top you could use vegan white chocolate for a festive twist. Even better, sprinkle on some edible gold glitter to give the cake a stylish touch.
For an effortless and delicious fruity cake, you could bake the sweet rich tea bread (p.36). This is perfect for those who want a lighter, less chocolatey option that is equally appetising. For that extra festive taste, add more cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. You could always ice the cake (buy pre-made icing or make your own) to make it that much more special.
Moreover, the aromatic pear strudel (p.104) is a beautifully wintry concoction of syrupy pears, rum and citrus fruit. So, if you want to challenge yourself this Christmas and impress your guests more than you ever thought you could, this flaky and sweet strudel is the finest option. Serve it with vegan cream or custard to make it even more satisfying.
Last, but not least, the glorious – and undefeated — peach crumble (p.96). You could switch out the peach for your preferred festive fruit – wintry berries and rhubarb, for instance – if you like. Then, serve the crumble with vegan coconut cream for a velvety finish.
#4 Vegan Goodness by Jessica Prescott
The Vegan Goodness cookbook was published in mid-2016 by popular lifestyle and travel blogger and food writer Jessica Prescott. This is the cookbook that made New-Zealand born Prescott a published author. Since then, her cookbook has become one of the biggest in the plant-based cooking world. With such rapid success, Prescott published another cookbook,Vegan Goodness: Feasts”, in mid-2018. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one because the recipes look incredible. A Christmas present maybe (hint, hint)?
What to expect from Vegan Goodness
The Vegan Goodness cookbook is home to over 60 bright, innovative and delectable plant-based recipes. There are quick and easy eats and side dishes that are perfect for busy days and lazy weekends. Or, when you have a little more time on your hands, there’s plenty of slow and hearty suppers and one-hour meals that work brilliantly for dinner parties.
One of my favourite things about this cookbook is the section on condiments and drinks. There are endless amounts of inspiration for making dressings, jams and pasta sauces along with smoothies, limeades and tonics. This is a useful chapter because it discusses what some cookbooks do not – the basics of cooking. And, for all of us out there who aren’t professional chefs just yet, it might be worth giving that section a read.
Finally, make sure to give the sweet treat recipes a go. If you like simple baking try the crumbles, brownies and cookies. Or, if you’re after recipes that’ll challenge you that bit more go for the luscious vegan cheesecakes and tarts.
I think there’s a high chance I’ll be delving into the dessert chapter for ideas on what to make for pudding on Christmas Day. The pear and caramel tart would go down a treat so that’s top on the list.
Savoury festive recipes for Christmas: Soups
When my nana and grandad host a family meal at their home my nana, quite frequently, prepares a soup. This is what inspired me to cook soups more often and appreciate them as a meal. What is more, with copious options and how inexpensive the ingredients are to purchase, plant-based soups make the perfect starter to your vegan menu on Christmas Day. This is especially the case if you have many guests over. This is because, together with the main and desserts, the Christmas meal can work out expensive. So, it’s great to get the cost down wherever possible. Enter, the trusty soup. Soups are hearty, nourishing and ideal for those cold winter days. So, don’t make them an annual dish on Christmas Day only – take advantage.
The golden soup with chickpea croutons (p.48) is a great option for those who are new to making soups. This is because it is a basic recipe to follow nevertheless is packed full of flavor. There are some beautiful spices used – including cumin and turmeric – and onion added to make the flavours from the vegetables and sweet potato explode. The chickpea croutons, whilst a unique addition, work as a tasty crunch to balance out the creaminess of the soup.
If you’re after a chunkier and more filling soup, then the potato, leak and white bean soup (p.51) should do the trick. This nutritionally-dense and aromatic soup is one of my favorites. Just adapt the seasoning and herbs to suit you and your guests and you’ll be onto a winner. Finally, serve your soup with crusty toasted bread for that ultimate comfort food feeling.
Savoury festive recipes for Christmas Time: The roast
If you’re new to plant-based eating or cooking an easy option to make as the star of your vegan roast dinner is the mighty nut roast (p.71). Think of it as the vegan alternative to meatloaf. This recipe is full of delicious everyday ingredients that you can find in your cupboards. These include various nuts (of course), onion and herbs. There’s no way you or your guests will be missing the taste of meat if you serve them up this magnificence.
As a perfect accompaniment to drizzle over the nut roast, try the fragrant mushroom gravy (p.139). Amaze your guests by making your own rather than using a shop-bought one by using this simple recipe.
If you want to transform the vegetable side dishes that go alongside your festive feast then make the gourmet caramelised onions (p.149). It’s a basic recipe that takes time to fry nonetheless requires barely any attention once they’re cooking. This is great as it allows you to get on with preparing the rest of the feast without having to worry about them. Once cooked, mix them in with whatever vegetables you have made. For a more intense caramel flavour add in some brown sugar, agave or maple syrup whilst the onions are cooking.
Sweet festive recipes for Christmas
As I mentioned previously, the pear and caramel tart (p.127) has caught my eye. With fabulously rich festive flavours and an added crunch from the walnuts, it’s a strong Christmas Day dessert contender. It’s time-consuming to prepare however it looks sensational. Thus, if you do end up having more time to bake, then this has got to be your show-stopper. Serve the tart with whipped coconut cream (p.128) and some fresh berries for a delightfully balanced sweet treat to end your celebratory meal.
For a dessert that will make your guests wonder how it’s 100% vegan, make the Matcha cheesecake (p.108). It is a gorgeous blend of sweet and tangy flavours with an added health kick from the matcha. This makes it makes the perfect naughty but nice treat. For another decorative element, you could top the cheesecake with fresh cranberries or other seasonal berries of your choice. It’ll add to the tangy flavour while keeping the dessert light and moist.
#5 Vegan Bible by Marie Laforêt
Marie Laforêt is a French blogger and cookbook author who published the beautifully illustrated Vegan Bible in late 2013. It is, out of all the plant-based cookbooks I know of and own, currently the most comprehensive one on the market. The cookbook consists of 500 inventive and exciting recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snacks. Alongside this, there are sections that cover — in detail — how and what to cook for specific occasions. For instance, buffet meals, holiday desserts, brunches, dinner parties and barbecues and picnics.
Additionally, if you like to use meat alternatives in your cooking or are finding it difficult to convert to plant-based eating due to loving the taste of meat, Vegan Bible is your answer. There are endless recipes on how to cook creative “meaty” dishes using tempeh, seitan and tofu.
Furthermore, what stands out to me about this cookbook is that Laforêt dedicated two chapters entirely to interesting vegan dishes for children. So, if you have a little one (or ones) yourself or just require child-friendly recipes with any frequency, this cookbook is the one for you. Additionally, if you are having children over around the festive period and aren’t sure on what to make then why not prepare a few of these recipes? They’ll love them, I promise.
Savoury festive recipes for Christmas
As for imaginative savoury dishes, the seitan stuffing (p.102) took my fancy. It’s a simple recipe with only six ingredients. This take on the classic sage and onion stuffing would be a real winner as a side dish this Christmas time. So, if you want to put cooking with vegan meat alternatives to the test, give this recipe a go.
A recipe that screamed festive to me is the butternut pumpkin and chestnut gratin (p.186). Perhaps, because the main ingredients — particularly the chestnuts — are so novel around Christmas. This dish would be great main for Boxing Day lunch or for a dinner party with friends.
Two recipes that would be fantastic accompaniments to your vegan Christmas Day roast are the stuffed butternut squash (p.200) and the paprika and garlic scented potatoes (p.200). Each recipe uses fragrant seasonings and spices such as sage, garlic and paprika that’ll bring out some incredible flavours in the food.
Sweet festive recipes for Christmas
For a quick and easy but beautifully sweet option, try the apple and cinnamon rice pudding with maple syrup (p.127). Or, if you have more time in the kitchen, the chocolate and berry fondants (p.247) will go down a treat. It is chocolate at the end of the day, what’s not to love?
There is something so Christmassy about chocolate log cakes. They seem to appear in the supermarkets out of nowhere from November. If you’re up for making your own to really impress your guests, try out the chocolate praline and coconut log (p.287) or the chestnut and crystallised orange log (p.288).
If you really want to push the boat out, as they say, the crème brûlee with roasted peaches and thyme (p.228) is a phenomenal pudding. Not only would it taste amazing but it would look lovely on the dinner table. You do eat with your eyes after all.
Instead of buying vegan cream at the supermarket, you could try making some at home with Laforêt’s recipes. She has created a soy crème fraiche, a thick cashew nut cream and a coconut Chantilly cream (all p.143). Drizzle or dollop the cream on top of any dessert you choose to make on Christmas day for an extra sweet addition.
Savoury festive recipes perfect for children
Considering that Laforêt has created plant-based recipes specifically for children to enjoy I just had to include my festive favourites of the bunch.
I thought that the tofu stars with peanut butter (p.275) would work fantastically. You could even switch the peanut butter sauce for another one if you like. Or, just keep to the tofu recipe as it is and don’t make the sauce. It’s a pretty adaptable dish for any child in this way which is what I liked about it. Plus, the star-shaped tofu makes it that much more fun and festive too.
Rather than preparing roast potatoes for your younger guests they may prefer mashed potatoes (p.275). The dish is flawlessly creamy with a festive twist as Laforêt uses nutmeg. They’d be a great option for children who need something a tad easier to digest than traditional crispy roast potatoes.
Sweet festive recipes perfect for children
The fruit jelly trio (p.278) would be superbly matched with some plant-based vanilla ice-cream and chocolate orange sauce. It’s a classic dessert your little guests will be asking for seconds of. If you’ll be catering for mini chocoholics around Christmas time, then the totally chocolate cookies and the mouth-watering chocolate whoopee pies (both p.278) would be most fitting to bake.
If you want to make something yummy but not time-consuming then the chocolatey peanut butter cups (p.277) are great. They remind me a lot of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups I used to have as a treat when I was younger. You can quickly prepare them a few hours before your guests arrive and then just leave to refrigerate until you are ready to bring out dessert. They are a crowd-pleaser, I assure you.
That’s your vegan Christmas sorted!
So, there you have it. I hope that I have made you think a little more about what you could be eating this Christmas to make a difference to the world we live in. Potentially, after reading this, you may be more interested in what vegan-friendly restaurants are out there for you to try during the holidays. If so, check out my ultimate vegan dessert guide for London. Or, if you’re wary about how easy it will be to stay plant-based while travelling, my top picks for vegan food in Paris should put your mind at ease.
All that I have left to say is happy cooking and baking. And, of course, a very merry Christmas to you.