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Last Minute Thanksgiving: 10 Vegan Appetizers You Can Whip Up in No Time

These bites come together so fast, you'll have time to spare
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Hey, when we say last minute, we really mean last minute. Maybe you're pressed for time because you're new to hosting, and this is your first Thanksgiving. Maybe you've been burning out lately, and the time just got away from you. Ultimately, here we are: literal days away, Thanksgiving is stressful and demanding on many people (even those looking forward to it). The memes on Thanksgiving anxiety are aplenty, but there's no need to bring food into this nerve mix. Why needlessly sully this particular pleasure? These vegan Thanksgiving appetizer recipes are all about speed and convenience — not about adding to your anxiety. To your excitement and happiness, on the other hand, yes. They look impressive, and they taste divine. All the flavors of Thanksgiving are here: corn, cranberries, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, autumn spices...but with a contemporary twist, accommodating others' varied preferences. And don't get us started on textures — we've got creamy, crunchy, crispy, chewy, you name it. The best part? Even if you consider yourself a novice when it comes to cooking, even if you've never cooked anything in your life before, you'll have a hard time not nailing these. Most of the prep work is done in a blender/food processor, and you don't need a hundred utensils and pots.

These vegan appetizer recipes won't have you slaving away or hunting for any strange or unusual ingredients, either. If you decide to make more than one recipe from this roundup, all it takes is some clever and minimal time management. The fancy polenta and olive tapenade bites? The polenta needs to chill (as do we all, right?) for an hour before slicing, so while you wait, you can get the dates ready — scrumptious date fruit stuffed with vegam cream cheese and pecans (or your actual dates). Or the pumpkin hummus. Or you can do a little masking sesh while you wait — that's how fast these appetizers come together. So, let's go: you got this.

Image and cover image via Forks Over Knives

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Polenta-Olive Tapenade Bites
You'll need:

· 1 and 1/2 cups quick-cooking polenta (instant polenta)
· 4 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth
· 3/4 tsp salt
· pepper
· olive oil
· vegan olive tapenade
· cherry tomatoes (slow-cooked or raw)
· fresh parsley


1. Lightly grease a square brownie pan with olive oil. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, and add the polenta. Whisk vigorously as it will thicken immediately. Keep whisking to remove any lumps.

2. Once very thick, pour into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Set aside to cool and then refrigerate for at least an hour until firm.

3. Slice the polenta into small squares, brush with a little olive oil, and place under the grill (broiler) for a few minutes, until slightly crisp.

4. Top each square with a heaped teaspoon of tapenade and half a cherry tomato. Sprinkle with parsley and black pepper to serve.

Recipe and image courtesy of Coconut and Berries

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Creamy Pumpkin Hummus
You'll need:

· 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
· 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
· 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
· 1/2 lemon, juiced
· 1/3 cup tahini
· 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
· 1 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1 teaspoon ground cumin
· 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· pinch cayenne pepper
· 1/4 cup olive oil
· 1/4 cup ice water
· for serving, as desired: extra olive oil, pomegranate arils, toasted pepitas, finely chopped fresh rosemary, sliced apples, sliced carrots, pita chips, root veggie chips


1. Add the chickpeas, pumpkin purée, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor, pulsing a few times to break everything up into small pieces. Add in the lemon juice, tahini, maple syrup, kosher salt, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Turn the processor on.

2. With the food processor running, thinly stream in the olive oil, then allow the processor to run for a good 2-3 minutes. The hummus will break down into a creamy mixture with some fine pieces, but it should look like a chunkier hummus at this point.

3. With the processor running, slowly add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. This is when the hummus will begin to smooth out. Add more/less water until your preferred texture is reached.

4. If you want, you can serve the pumpkin hummus topped with an extra drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of finely chopped fresh rosemary or pomegranate arils. Serve with pita chips, sliced apples, root veggie chips, or your fave vegan crackers.

Recipe and image courtesy of Plays Well With Butter

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Vegan Cranberry Cream Cheese Bites
You'll need:

· 8 oz vegan puff pastry, 1 sheet, thawed
· avocado oil or grapeseed oil to prep mini muffin tins
· 4 oz vegan cream cheese
· 1/2 cup cranberry sauce (preferably homemade)
· 3 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
· 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary


1. Thaw the vegan puff pastry according to package directions. Oil the mini muffin tins with avocado or grapeseed oil or spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Gently roll out the puff pastry to a 9-inch or 10-inch square. With a pizza cutter wheel or a knife, cut the dough into 16 squares. Separate and place the squares in the mini muffin tins, gently fitting them into the wells.

3. Place a dollop of the vegan cream cheese in each of the pastry squares, follow with cranberry sauce, and top with chopped hazelnuts.

4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges of the puff pastry and golden brown and puffed up. Take out of the oven and top with fresh chopped rosemary. Let cool for several minutes before serving.

Recipe and image courtesy of Resplendent Kitchen

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Crispy Sage Tofu
You'll need:

· 15 oz firm tofu, drained and pressed lightly
· 3 slices of day-old sourdough bread OR one cup of breadcrumbs of choice
· 1 handful of fresh sage leaves
· 1/2 tsp each thyme, garlic powder, fennel seeds, rosemary, nutmeg
· salt and pepper to taste
· 2/3 cup cornstarch
· 2/3 cup plant-based milk of choice
· 1-2 cups sunflower oil or your preferred oil for shallow frying


1. Pat out the excess moisture in the tofu and cut it into 12 even square pieces. In a blender or food processor, combine the sage, bread pieces, and spices. Pulse until you get an even breadcrumb. Season this mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Put the breadcrumbs in a large shallow dish, put the cornstarch in a similar dish, and the milk in a bowl. This is your breading station.

2. Using one hand for the wet ingredients and one for the dry, first coat each piece of tofu in cornstarch. Then dunk it quickly in the plant-based milk, and then coat it in the breadcrumb mixture. When each piece is coated to your liking, set it to the side.

3. Put a skillet on medium heat and add the oil. You want the oil to be about 1/2 inch deep in the skillet. Wait until the oil is hot enough to shallow fry (to test when your oil is hot enough, put a tester piece of tofu in the oil — if it sizzles upon contact, the oil is ready).

4. Use tongs to place 4-5 pieces of tofu in the skillet at a time. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Remove the tofu with your tongs and place the pieces on a paper towel-lined baking sheet or dish to drain any excess oil.

Recipe and image courtesy of Justine Doiron

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