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Flavor boost for vegan Thanksgiving stuffing?

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Due to my guest list and my own annoying dietary restrictions, my Thanksgiving stuffing – dressing, I should call it since it's not going in a turkey – will have to be vegan. I usually do some variation on chestnuts, apples and mushrooms, with lots of fresh herbs. But without butter and eggs, something always seems a bit lacking. Any ideas for how to jazz things up? Not into cornbread stuffing, so that's off the table...

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  1. Are you using veggie broth to moisten? You could add in a bit of miso for more umami. Or use a mushroom broth in addition to the mushrooms you add. Caramelize your onions? Use vegan butter-flavored spread to cook the vegetables in?

    1 Reply
    1. re: AmyH

      I use mushroom broth and a ton of carmelized onions and mushrooms

    2. Use really, really great bread - I always make my own baguettes. Also, dried porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid add a ton of vegan-friendly umami. You could also try a drop or two of liquid smoke to add a "bacony" flavor without meat.

      4 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        Vegetable broth, earth balance in place of butter, Braggs aminos, soy sauce, nutritional yeast flakes. A sauteed mirapoix, extra mushrooms...

        1. re: Miri1

          +1 to nutritional yeast- dissolve it into the veg broth before adding to dressing

          1. re: Ttrockwood

            Alternatively, try some Marmite. It's a yeast product that's been processed to up the glutamates, basically MSG. Caution: taste it first and adjust salt levels accordingly. It's very salty.

            1. re: Ttrockwood

              +2

        2. I've been very happy with a stuffing of with wild rice and mushrooms, a hit of lemon and sage sausage.

          You could sub some crumbled extra firm tofu for the sausage and if you season it with sage and a little fennel, I'll bet it will get you there.

          1. Try starting with dried ingredients where possible - it'll add to the umani and give a richer flavour.

            I'm partial to the small dried shitakes (no more than 2 inches across) which avoid the gumminess really large ones have. You could also use dried, unsweetened apples, and start with dried chestnuts (try an Asian market for the latter).

            I'd also be inclined to use a really good multi-grain bread, rather than white, and good quality olive oil for the fat (rather than margarine).

            1. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

              1. I also use miso; in addition, I add crushed juniper berries. I find they add a meaty depth. It is not quite the same as umami but really good - I think. Also try moistening with mushroom rather than veg broth. Better Than Bullion makes one.

                1. smoked paprika?
                  walnuts?
                  second the shitake bouillon idea
                  shallots?