A Vegan Thanksgiving

I don’t normally post recipes on here, but someone requested my tofu “turkey” instructions via twitter. I originally found this recipe online about 8 years ago and have been adjusting it yearly based on experience. I’ll apologize to all of the non-American readers who inevitably will question the funny measuring units and temperatures.

Tofu Turkey at Thanksgiving 2005

Tofu Turkey

  • 5 pounds firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1-1/3 cup celery, diced (about 4 stalks)
  • 1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup sage
  • 2 teaspoons marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 teaspoons winter or summer savory
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 cups cubed bread

Basting Mixture

  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon mustard of choice


If you need a visual guide, I’ve posted photos of the process on flickr.

Mash tofu or mix well with hands. Be sure that all of the lumps are out.  Line a 12″ colander with wet cheesecloth over lapping the sides.  Add the mashed tofu to the cloth covered colander, press down and cover with the overlapping sides. Place the whole thing in a large bowl. Cover the cheesecloth with a plate that fits inside the colander and place a 5 pound weight on the plate. Refrigerate and let sit 4-5 hours or overnight. I have also found that filling a large pot with about 8 cups of water can take the place of the weight.

When time is up, start the stuffing.  Saute’ the onions, celery and mushrooms in the 2 tablespoons sesame oil. When soft, add the garlic and all the rest of the stuffing ingredients, except stuffing, mixing well. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add herb stuffing and mix well.

Remove tofu from fridge and take off weight, plate and top of cheesecloth.  Hollow out tofu to within 1 inch of the sides and bottom (You will have a “shell” of tofu lining the colander at this time, Place the scooped out tofu in a bowl. Place the stuffing inside the shell and pack in firmly.  Next cover with the remaining scooped out tofu you placed in a bowl and pat down firmly. CAREFULLY Turn stuffed tofu onto a greased baking sheet, flat side down.

Mix up the basting mixture and baste tofu “turkey” with half of it. Cover the “turkey” with foil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. Watch carefully after 45 minutes because it’s easy for the edges to burn.

Remove foil, baste with all the remaining mixture except a few tablespoons and return to oven for 1 hour more, or until the “turkey” is golden. Remove from oven and use rest of basting mix. Using at least 2 large spatulas, move to a large plate.

Serve with the gravy of your choice, if you wish, and cranberry sauce. Tastes good leftover (if there is any!) in sandwiches or plain.

Serves: 8-10

Preparation time: 1 day

Vegan Gravy

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or sesame oil)
  • 1 can (16 oz) of vegetarian broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2-4 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • approx 3 tbsp flour


In a large skillet or pan, sautee the onion and mushroom in vegetable oil just until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the flour, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

Slowly add the flour, one tablespoon at a time and whisk thoroughly to combine. Continue adding flour until the gravy reaches desired thickness. It is often easier to mix the flour with cold water and then slowly at it to the gravy to thicken.

By Mark

Mark is an architect in San Francisco.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this 🙂 I am excited to make Tofurkey from scratch and your pics definitely help us well. Have a wonderful holiday!

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