Anti-Inflammatory Vegan Chili

A satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs, anti-inflammatory vegan chili. Made from wholesome ingredients, this chili is not only vegan but gluten-free and has a simple oil-free option as well. Perfect for families, meal prepping, or those looking for simple Veganuary recipes.

Anti-inflammatory vegan chili on a spoon with a bowl of chili and piece of bread in the background.

I had some requests back in December from two of my followers regarding recipes they would like to see on the blog. One asked for chili and the other for anti-inflammatory meals. So I decided to challenge myself my combining the two. What I came up with was a hearty, satisfying, wholesome meal that is a crowd pleaser for everyone in the family. It makes a ton of chili so it’s perfect for meal prepping. Plus, it’s simple so it’s perfect for those of you trying out Veganuary. Nothing like a simple, warm-you-to-the-bone meal on a cold winter evening.

Why you’ll love it

Here are just a few of the reasons why you are going to love this anti-inflammatory vegan chili.

  • Simple. All you need is one pot, 10 ingredients and 30 minutes to make this meal.
  • Wholesome. Made from whole foods. No crazy, brand-name ingredients required.
  • Filling. Everyone wants a satisfying meal.
  • Comforting. Chili is one of the ultimate comfort foods.
  • Fresh. The addition of rosemary keeps this dish from feeling stale and bland.
Close up of anti-inflammatory vegan chili- quinoa, butternut squash, and kale.

Making the Walnut Ginger Crumble

To make the walnut ginger crumble, heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add walnuts and lower the heat to medium. Toss the walnuts and watch closely to prevent burning. You’ll know the walnuts are done when they are fragrant but not burned. This should only take 3 or 4 minutes.

Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. In the same pan, sauté the grated (or finely minced) ginger over medium low heat until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the ginger from the heat and add to the walnuts in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the walnuts are coarsely chopped.

Making the Chili

In the same large skillet, heat your avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and toss in the sliced leeks and minced garlic. Allow them to sauté and soften a bit by cooking for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. Add the cubed butternut squash, cooking for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Once golden, add the vegetable broth and minced fresh rosemary. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Once the squash is cooked, add torn kale and stir to combine. Turn the heat off and allow the kale to wilt inside the chili. Finally, add the cooked and cooled quinoa. Stir to combine and served topped with walnut ginger crumble.

I hope that you enjoy this simple, wholesome meal throughout the remainder of the winter season. Be sure to keep it in mind once fall squash season rolls around again as well. And don’t forget to let me know what you think of this simple vegan meal down in the comments.

Enjoy friends!

Anti-inflammatory vegan chili in a cast iron skillet next to a piece of bread and a sprig of rosemary.

Ingredient Health Benefits

Garlic- phytochemicals

Ginger- antioxidants

Quinoa- complete protein; rich in iron, potassium, riboflavin, B6, niacin, and thiamine; good source of magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese; anti-cancer & anti-inflammatory properties

Walnuts- Omega 3s, thaimine, B6, folic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, Vitamin E, polyphenols

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Anti-Inflammatory Vegan Chili

A satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs, anti-inflammatory vegan chili made from wholesome ingredients. Perfect for meal prepping and is a simple Veganuary recipe.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegan
Keyword: anti-inflammatory, butternut squash, chili, easy, ginger, healthy, inflammation, kale, leeks, quick, quinoa, rosemary, simple, squash, vegan, vegan chili, walnuts, wholesome
Servings: 4 people
Author: Erin

Ingredients

Chili

  • 2 tsp avocado oil, divided
  • 2 leeks, sliced, white only
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large butternut squash, peel and diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 4 cups kale, chopped
  • cups quinoa, cookied and cooled

Walnut Ginger Crumble

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced

Instructions

Walnut Ginger Crumble

  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp avocado oil. Once hot add walnuts and ginger, lower heat to medium. Stir walnuts and ginger cooking for 3-4 minutes until fragrent. Watch closely to prevent burning. Remove for pan and set aside.

Anti-Inflammatory Chili

  • In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tsp avocado oil over medium high heat. Add sliced leeks and minced garlic cooking for 3-4 minutes until tender.
  • Add cubed butternut squash and cook 5-8 minutes until browned.
  • Pour in vegetable broth and add minced rosemary. Bring to a simmer then lower to medium. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Add more broth if needed to keep the squash just covered.
  • Once squash is cooked, add chopped kale and simmer for additional 2-3 minutes until wilted. Turn off heat and add cooked and cooled quinoa. Stir to combine. Serve hot sprinkled with walnut ginger crumble.
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Gingerbread Granola

Have your gingerbread cookie for breakfast and eat it too with this vegan, gluten-free, 10-ingredient, gingerbread granola. Crunchy, chunky, sweet, spicy and ready in 30.

Gingerbread granola on a sheet pan surrounded by pine and gingerbread cookie cutters.

Why you’ll love it

A chunky, crunchy, sweet, and spicy delight this gingerbread granola is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a festive treat for breakfast. Or even as a snack.

  • Simple- Did I mention this granola is only 10 ingredients? Well it is. Did I also mention you only need 1 bowl to make it? Well, that’s all you need. It really doesn’t get much easier than that. And don’t worry, granola doesn’t really get much more delicious than this.
  • Chunky- I love a chunky granola! That crumbly, tiny, oat-dusty kind just isn’t for me. If this resinates with you, make this granola. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Spicy- A gingerbread cookie wouldn’t be complete without cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Thankfully, this granola too has all those spices. So it’s not so much spicy in intensity, but in flavor. Don’t worry, kids and those who prefer mild foods will still totally enjoy this gingerbread granola.
  • Gluten-free- Sometimes finding a good vegan cookie recipe can be difficult. So make this granola instead! As long as your rolled oats are gluten-free, this is a super simple way to enjoy gingerbread without compromising your dietary limitations.
Gingerbread granola on a sheet pan surrounded by pine and gingerbread cookie cutters.

Pecan Butter

Now, I usually can only find pecan butter online since it isn’t carried at many of my local grocery stores. And although I’m sure the online brands are good, there’s just nothing like HOME MADE pecan butter (or any nut/seed butter for that matter). And let me tell you…it’s easy. It’s cheap. And it tastes absolutely AMAZING when you make it yourself. But you have to be crazy to make it at home right? I mean, it takes FOREVER and you have to have a super powerful food processor. Right? Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

All you need is 1 cup of pecans to make enough pecan butter for this recipe. And you’ll even end up having extra to spread on toast, drizzle into oatmeal, dip apples into, or lick right off the spoon (I won’t judge). 

Making homemade nut butter

So here we go…Dump those lovely little raw pecans (or walnuts) into your food processor and process. The stages of pecan butter (or any nut/seed butter) are as follows:

  • Flour: After about 30 seconds the nuts will turn into a flour-like consistency.
  • Paste: Give it another 1-2 minutes and it will turn into paste. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and continue.
  • Thick butter: Another 2-3 minutes and you’ll have a thick butter-like texture. Scrape the sides again. You’re almost there! 
  • Creamy, delicious, warm pecan butter: Another 2-3 minutes and the thick butter has turned super smooth and pourable. Congratulations! You’ve done it! You can now make your own nut and seed butters at home! Go crazy, get creative, and tell me what you come up with!

After you’ve successfully created the most amazing pecan butter in the world all you have to do is combine it will the other wet ingredients and dump in the dry ingredients. And if you don’t have pecan butter or don’t want to make it, you can sub almond or sunbutter instead. Just a side note: I wouldn’t recommend peanut butter for this recipe, it’ll be too strong and will overpower the gingerbread flavor we’re going for. Other than that…Bam! Done. Well, kinda…continue reading for my 3 perfect granola tips. Because having an amazing granola recipe is only half the battle.

Granola Tips

You have to promise that you’ll follow these tips for making the perfect granola. Because even though you have this awesome recipe, if you fail to do these few simple things your granola might not turn out quite as perfectly as it should. 

  • First, make sure your rimmed baking sheet is lined with parchment paper or a mat. Otherwise your granola will stick and burn. 
  • Next, firmly press your raw granola into the baking sheet. Make sure that it is evenly pressed into the pan and that there are no holes in the granola where you can see the parchment paper. Evenly pressed and spread = chunky granola.
  • Lastly, LET IT COOL! Please, please resist the urge to break the granola apart when it’s still hot, or even just warm. Letting it cool completely will make it brittle and perfect for breaking into large chunks. This granola is pretty crunchy right out of the oven so you shouldn’t have to wait too long to break it apart. You only have to be a little patient.
Gingerbread granola on a sheet pan surrounded by pine and gingerbread cookie cutters.

Gingerbread Granola

This really is a very simple granola recipe. You only need 1 bowl and 10 ingredients. Let’s get started! Preheat the oven to 325*F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine the wet ingredients (coconut oil, pecan or walnut butter, maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla extract). Dump in the following ingredients in order: rolled oats, chopped pecans or walnuts, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cardamom. Stir to combine and then firmly press into the prepared baking sheet. Bake the granola for 15-20 minutes checking to prevent burning. Once the granola is done, allow to cool before breaking into chunks.

Granola Custumization

If you’d like, throw in some chopped candied ginger or even dark chocolate chunks. I prefer the ginger although you may want to omit that and opt for chocolate if this is going to be something you’re serving kids. Although the ginger is coated in sugar it is still rather, well, ginger-y so it might not be the best option for people opposed to a true ginger flavor.

However you make it, it’s fantastic and has become my new favorite granola flavor this holiday season. Let me know what you think down in the comments section below. Happy granola-ing.

Enjoy friends!

Ingredient Health Benefits

Cardamom-essential oils, antioxidants

Cinnamon-manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber

Ginger-antioxidants

Oats-vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, fiber

Pecans- thaimine, vitamin E, magnesium, protein, fiber, antioxidants, oleic acid, phytochemicals

Walnuts- omega 3s, thaimine, B6, folic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, vitamin E, polyphenols

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Gingerbread Granola

Have your gingerbread cookie for breakfast and eat it too with this vegan, 10-ingredient, gingerbread granola. Crunchy, chunky, sweet, spicy and ready in 30.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Cooling Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Holiday, Vegan
Keyword: 1 bowl, candied ginger, coconut oil, easy, gingerbread, holiday baking, holiday recipes, molasses, pecans, quick, simple, walnuts
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Erin

Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup pecan or walnut butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients

  • cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cardamom

Add-In

  • ¼-⅓ cup candied ginger, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wet Ingredients

  • In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, pecan or walnut butter, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, and vanilla extract.

Dry Ingredients

  • In the same bowl add rolled oats, chopped pecans or walnuts, cinnamon, ground ginger, salt, and cardamom. Stir well to combine.
  • Gently press granola onto parchment paper about ¼ inch thick making sure that there are no gaps in the granola.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes watching to prevent burning. Remove from oven and allow to cool completly before breaking into chuncks. Add optional chopped candied ginger.
  • Store in an airtight container at room-temperature.
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Mom’s Old Fashioned Stuffing

10 ingredients and vegan, my mom’s old fashioned stuffing is perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Start to finish, this side requires less than 60 minutes to prepare. Grab a fork, and dig in to this family-favorite dish.

Old-fashioned stuffing with walnut and cranberries in a glass pan.

I wish I could take credit for this recipe. But alas…I cannot. My mom has been preparing this stuffing recipe for almost 40 years. It’s not Thanksgiving without this delicious side sitting on our dining room table. It has traveled through our family and now it’s one of my husband’s favorite foods. Although I have adapted it here to be vegan, and to include a few of my favorite seasonal add-ins, I hope that you all find my mom’s old fashioned stuffing to be just as amazing as our family does.

Old Fashioned Stuffing

Soft yet crunchy. Salty and sweet. Tasty and, well…delicious! This old fashioned stuffing is made with only 10 ingredients and requires about 1 hour of time to prepare. Not bad for the Thanksgiving side. It’s so simple and completely customizable (see Add Ins below). And let me just say that, yes, I am aware that we use 1 CUP of vegan butter in this recipe. I know. It’s a lot. But this is a side dish. And it’s meant to be eaten on a day of celebration. So don’t panic. It’s ok. We can use a cup of vegan butter and still live. I promise. Good, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

The bread

Begin by using your favorite loaf of rustic bread. I’m a huge sourdough fan so that’s what I chose to use. If the crust of your bread is rather crunchy you can remove it just to make sure that the top of your stuffing doesn’t become too hard when cooked. Once that’s taken care of, cut your loaf into large cubes. You’ll need about 9 cups of cubed bread which is about 1, 14oz loaf.

The Celery and Onions

Now, let me just say that for some reason, my mom does not like large pieces of celery or onion in her stuffing. She’s a big texture person so perhaps that’s why she always pulverizes them in the food processor for this recipe. To be honest, I prefer the onions and celery this way. Maybe it’s because I’m my mother’s daughter. Or maybe it’s because that’s just the nostalgia of the dish for me. Either way, give it a try. Place your celery in the food processor and pulse until VERY FINELY chopped. Do the same with the onion. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, feel free to finely chop the celery and onion yourself. You do you.

Combining

In a large skillet, melt 1 cup (remember, you’ll be ok) of vegan butter. Once melted, add in the celery and onion. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. If your celery and onion pieces are larger, they may need to cook for 4-5 minutes. Just cook them until they’re tender. Once cooked, turn off the heat and add sage, thyme, truffle salt, pepper and 3 cups of cubed bread. Toss to coat. This bread will become very soggy rather quickly. Don’t worry, this is what we’re going for. At this point add in the other 6 cups of cubed bread as well as any add ins.

Add Ins

This is where my recipe really deviates from my mom’s. I decided to add in some fresh cranberries as well as chopped walnuts. You can either leave these things out completely or replace them with other seasonal favorites such as: chestnuts, pecans, pomegranate arils, cooked vegan sausage, or sliced apples.

Missing scoop of old-fashioned stuffing with walnut and cranberries in a glass pan.
Bake it

Once you’ve added (or not) any extras it’s time to bake the stuffing. Grease an 8×8 inch dish with vegan butter and dump in the stuffing. Cover with aluminum foil (or a rimmed baking sheet) and bake at 325*F for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes until the top is crispy. Serve and prepare for this to become a new family holiday classic.

Missing piece of old-fashioned stuffing with walnut and cranberries in a glass pan with cranberries on a wooden spoon.

I would like to end this post by saying “Thank you” to my mom. Not just for sharing this recipe but for instilling in me, at a young age, a love of cooking. She taught me the joy of bring family and friends together over meals. Holidays have always held a special place in my heart because I can remember, even a child, assisting in the kitchen. From this stuffing dish at Thanksgiving, to cookies on Christmas Eve, the holidays, for me, are marked by meals. So thank you Mom, for instilling in me at such a young age the true meaning of holidays: spending time with the people you love. Sharing laughs, love, and, of course, food.

Enjoy friends.

Ingredient Health Benefits

Celery- vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium

Cranberries- rich in fiber; excellent source of vitamin C, phytonutrients

Onion- antioxidants; fiber; vitamin C; folate

Walnuts- Omega 3s, thaimine, B6, folic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, Vitamin E, polyphenols

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Mom’s Old Fashioned Stuffing

A 10 ingredient, vegan, old fashioned stuffing that is perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Start to finish, this side requires less than 60 minutes. Grab a fork, and dig in to this family-favorite dish.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Holiday, Vegan
Keyword: 1 pot, 10-ingredients, cranberries, dressing, dried cranberries, fried sage, holiday sides, sour dough, stuffing, thanksgiving sides, walnuts
Servings: 8 people
Author: Erin

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

  • cups celery, pulsed in food processor
  • ¾ cup onion, pulsed in food processor
  • 1 cup vegan butter
  • 9 cups loaf sour dough bread, cubed
  • tsp salt
  • tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • cup chopped walnuts
  • cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with vegan butter.
  • In a large skillet, melt the vegan butter. Add celery and onion and cook until soft.
  • Stir in 3 cups of cubed bread and toss to coat. Add remaining 6 cups of cubed bread, walnuts, and dried cranberries.
  • Transfer to prepared baking dish and cover with foil or top with a rimmed baking sheet. Bake covered for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and cook for additional 15 minutes until top is crunchy.
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Walnut Fudge with Walnut Caramel

This vegan walnut fudge topped with walnut caramel is just the dessert you should make for the upcoming holidays. The fudge is thick, chocolate-y, and perfectly chewy. And my vegan walnut caramel takes this (or any) dessert from ordinary to extraordinary.

Stack of walnut fudge with more walnut fudge in the background.

Walnut Fudge

This fudge is so simple there’s not much to talk about. Unless of course you want to know just how delicious it is. In that case, there’s plenty to discuss. Don’t let the fact that it’s only 5 ingredients fool you. This perfect holiday dessert packs a powerful punch. It’s sweet, chocolate-y, and chewy. With a slight crunch from walnuts to boot. Made in less 30 minutes, all you’ll need is a food processor and a loaf pan to prepare this ultimate holiday dessert. Make it ahead of time so you can spend your holiday doing what’s really important-hanging out with family and friends.

To make this incredibly easy dessert all you’ll need is: two firmly packed cups of soft, pitted medjool dates, 1/2 cup of walnut butter (for tips on making you own check out this post), some warm water, and a splash of vanilla extract.

Start by pulsing the dates in your food processor until a sticky ball forms. You want a pretty smooth date paste and once you have that, separate the ball so that it’s evenly distributed in the bowl of the processor. Then add the walnut butter, 1/2 cup warm water, and a splash of vanilla extract. Process until everything is incorporated. Continue adding warm water until the fudge is

At this point you can add walnut pieces and pulse to combine. Press the thick, sticky fudge into the prepared loaf pan. Bake at 350*F for 15-20 minutes until the edges of the fudge are just crispy. Allow the fudge to cool in the pan. The longer this fudge sits the firmer it will get. When you’re ready to serve, top it with walnut caramel, vegan ice cream, or whipped coconut cream. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Plated walnut fudge topped with walnut caramel sauce with walnut fudge in the background

Caramel Sauce

As if the fudge isn’t dreamy enough, I’m giving you the ultimate walnut caramel sauce to top it off with. This sauce is vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, and naturally sweetened with dates. It requires only 4 ingredients and can be made in a food processor in about 5 minutes.

Use it not only to top off this fudge, but any other holiday dessert you wish. Try it on cheesecake, over brownies, or sandwiched between cookies. It’s also pretty amazing right off a spoon too.

Walnut Date Caramel

This 4-ingredient walnut caramel will take your holiday desserts from ordinary to extraordinary. Vegan, gluten-free, naturally sweetened, and oil-free. All you need is a strong food processor and 10 minutes.
Prep Time5 mins
Processing Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Dips and Sauces
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: 4-ingredients, caramel, date, dates, dessert, easy, food processor, gluten-free, medjool dates, naturally-sweetened, oil-free, quick, refined-sugar free, sauce, simple, topping, vegan, vegan topping, walnut butter
Servings: 1 cups
Author: Erin

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

  • 6 pitted medjool dates
  • ¼ cup walnut butter
  • ⅓-½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Place fresh, pitted dates to food processor and process until a sticky ball forms. Break apart ball and evenly distribute in the bowl of the food processor.
  • Add walnut butter, vanilla and ⅓ cup warm water. Process until smooth. Add more warm water as needed to thin the caramel.
  • Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Let me know if you make this super simple dessert for your next holiday get-together. I promise, you guests won’t know they’re being served a vegan dessert (unless you tell them).

Enjoy friends!

Ingredient Health Benefits

Walnuts- Omega 3s, thaimine, B6, folic acid, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, Vitamin E, polyphenols

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Walnut Fudge

This vegan walnut fudge is just the dessert you should make for the upcoming holidays. Thick, chocolate-y, and perfectly chewy, you won't believe it's made from only 5 wholesome ingredients.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegan
Keyword: 5-ingredients, brownies, chocolate, cocao, dates, dessert, easy, food processor, gluten-free, quick, simple, vegan, walnut butter, walnuts
Servings: 8 pieces
Author: Erin

Equipment

  • Food Processor

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pitted, tightly packed dates*
  • ½ cup walnut butter
  • cup cocao powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F and line a small loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Add moist, sticky dates to the food processor and process until a ball forms. Break the ball apart and spread it evenly around the bowl of the food processor.
  • Add walnut butter, cocoa powder, and melted coconut oil and pulse until incorporated. The mixture will be very sticky and thick.
  • Add chopped walnuts and pulse to incorporate.
  • Dump fudge into prepared loaf pan. Press more chopped walnuts into the top of the fudge if dessired.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly crunchy around the edges. Allow to cool in the loaf pan. The longer it sits the firmer it will become. Cut into 8-10 pieces and serve with walnut caramel sauce, vegan ice cream, or whipped coconut cream.
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Vegan Charcuterie Board

How To

With the holidays just around the corner, let’s put together a vegan charcuterie board! They are extremely versatile, customizable, and easy to prepare. I’ll show you how you can create the perfect charcuterie board for your next gathering.

Charcuterie board with fresh vegetables, fresh & dried fruits, chips, hummus, and vegan cheese.

So what the heck is a charcuterie board anyway? Well, it’s a large platter filled with finger foods of varying flavors, textures, and colors. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the senses. Charcuterie boards make a fantastic appetizer for parties, holidays, and other large social gatherings. They are also a fantastic way to serve many different foods as an appetizer or light meal. Everyone is able to select what they would like and create their own spread. In this post, I’ll give you tips about how to put together the perfect charcuterie board.

What to include on your Charcuterie Board

The trick to having the perfect charcuterie board is creating layers. You want to have layers of flavors as well as textures. Think sweet, spicy, salty, savory. As well as creamy, crunchy, and smooth. Fruits, vegetables, spreads, dips, crackers, breads, nuts, meats, cheezes…all of these can fit into any number of those categories. So let’s brainstorm a bit to give you some ideas that might be a little out of the box.

Fruits

Select fruits that are in season. In the spring and summer think berries, peaches, nectarines, grapes. In the fall and winter months focus on figs, apples, persimmons, grapes, pomegranate arils. And don’t be afraid to add dried fruits. Sprinkle raisins over your board for a finishing touch. Or place dried apple rounds out since freshly sliced apples will brown too quickly.

Vegetables

Raw vegetables are definitely a must when making a charcuterie board. Think sweet bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, or cucumbers. If making a charcuterie board in the summer add grilled zucchini or summer squash. Even pickled or jarred vegetables will work. Think olives, asparagus, or artichokes.

Dips & Spreads

It’s easy to select fruits and vegetables when making a vegan charcuterie board. Obviously, those are vegan. But finding dips and spreads that are vegan can be a bit more challenging. If you don’t have access to a grocery store with a wide variety of vegan dips or spreads this may end up being the portion of the charcuterie board that you have to spend a little bit of time preparing. But don’t let that frighten you off. Most dips are very quick and easy to prepare. Allow me to give you some examples of both store-bought as well as homemade vegan dips and spreads.

Crackers

Choose crackers that have some personality. You should have some mild ones that will pair well with anything and some others that are for specific dips and cheeses. Think outside the box. I love the beet crackers and sweet potato crackers from Trader Joes. Off the Eaten Path has a fantastically salty and crunchy Veggie Crisp. There are also dried carrot, beet, and kale chips. All of which will add depth and interest to your charcuterie board.

Bread

Use your favorite artisan breads to enhance the texture of your board. Add breads with rosemary, hunks of garlic, or cranberries and walnuts to create even more flavor on your board. And don’t think you have to slice your bread either! Feel free to rip the loaves into large chunks to add texture and visual interest to your board.

Nuts

Including nuts in your charcuterie board will add visual interest and texture as well as flavor. Use raw, roasted, spiced, or candied nuts to further elevate the flavor profile of you board. Don’t underestimate the power that flavored and roasted seeds can have as well. I have three wonderful recipes for roasted squash seeds that would work perfectly in an autumnal charcuterie board.

Vegan Meats

A traditional charcuterie board will contain deli meats. Now, it is up to you to decide if you would like to include vegan meats in your own charcuterie board. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of vegan deli meat alternatives. I find them to be rubbery, extremely salty, and rather unappealing to look at. That however is just my opinion so please feel free to add whatever, if any, deli alternatives you find appetizing.

Vegan Cheezes

There are so many vegan cheeses available now! Check out your local grocery store or whip up your own nut-based cheeses at home. I love this feta recipe from Erin Ireland. It’s so simple and adds the saltiness to your board that definitely cannot be overlooked.

Extras

Now that you’ve determined what kinds of fruits, vegetables, dips, spreads, crackers, bread, nuts, “meats”, and cheezes you would like to include on your charcuterie board let’s take just a second to discuss the layout of the actual board. Some tips for creating a beautiful and inviting board are as follows:

  • Pick a board large enough to fit everything you want to include. But not a board that is so large that you will have lots of unfilled space. Empty space on the board will give it an unfinished, uninviting feel. You can, to some extent, fill empty space with herbs but you want to use fresh herbs sparingly as a garnish, not as a star feature.
  • Make sure that you provide utensils for spreading, cutting, spearing, and slicing the spreads, fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. These can be fancy to add interest to the board. They can be your everyday serving utensils. Or you can use something as simple as toothpicks! There’s not need to go out and buy anything special.
Charcuterie board with fresh vegetables, fresh & dried fruits, walnuts, vegan deli meat, crackers, chips, hummus, and vegan cheese.

Charcuterie Board Steps

Once you have all the pieces of your charcuterie board puzzle figured out, it’s time to put them all together to create that visually appealing appetizer no one will be able to keep their hands off. Let’s go through the steps of laying out all your charcuterie board items.

  • Step 1: Gather your board, bowls, and food items. Place any dips or spreads into your selected bowls and place them on the board in the rough location that you would like them to be.
  • Step 2: Begin by placing your largest food items on the board first. Think large crackers, blocks of vegan cheese, fruits (such as this pomegranate half), and vegetables (the florets of broccoli). Ensure that the food is overlapping to prevent the board from showing through.
  • Step 3: Place medium food items around the larger ones. Think slices of vegan deli “meat”, smaller crackers, chips, and/or dried fruit.
  • Step 4: Place your smallest food items on the board last. If necessary, corral them onto the board by surrounding them with larger, sturdier foods and bowls to prevent them from rolling off the board. Think loose grapes, blueberries, or nuts.
  • Step 5: The final step is adding fresh herbs to your board. Top dips with parsley, dill or cilantro as appropriate. Stick sprigs of rosemary or sage out from under bowls. Don’t be afraid to re-arrange as you go. If something doesn’t look or feel right rearrange it or remove it from the board. Everything you intended on using might not fit and that’s ok. You can always have two charcuterie boards!

Bonus Tip

Make a dessert charcuterie board! Include your favorite cookies, cakes, chocolate hummus, fruits for dipping in chocolate, sugared nuts…let me know in the comments section what you include in your dessert charcuterie board.

I hope that you all have found this charcuterie board how-to informative and helpful. Know that any board you put together will be a hit with your party guest. I mean, who doesn’t love a bunch of fresh food sprawled out on a wooden board? Be sure to let me know in the comments if you make a charcuterie board.

Enjoy friends!

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