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Tabitha Brown's Absolute Best Holiday Cooking Tips

Vegan cuisine has come a long way over the years, thanks to influential foodies like Tabitha Brown. The bubbly actor and content creator is responsible for some of the most viral plant-based recipes across social media, from jackfruit pot roast to vegan meatloaf. Brown's skills in the kitchen have built the social media star a loyal following, with over 10 million followers across sites like TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube. While Brown is known for her popular vegan spins on everyday fare, she's also quite the entertaining expert as well. With holiday plans beginning to take shape, who better to seek cooking advice from than the vegan scene queen herself?

To help you perfect your produce-heavy menu this season, Tasting Table spoke to Brown in an exclusive interview held at the inaugural Honeyland Festival in Sugar Land, Texas. The exciting new event, sponsored by Pepsi Dig In, celebrated Black-owned food and beverage makers, musicians, artists, and more. Fans flocked to see Brown appear as one of the featured guests at the two-day meetup, where she shared anecdotes and culinary secrets galore. Ahead, we'll explore Tabitha's tips for hosting a memorable holiday affair, from her favorite plant-based meat substitutes to time-saving pantry staples. 

Tabitha's tricks for crowd-pleasing vegan fare

Whether your guest list consists of strictly vegans or not, Tabitha Brown's cooking tips are sure to whet everyone's appetite at your next gathering. When asked which plant-based dish she'd serve to sway meat-eaters over the holidays, the Food Network star offered up a comfort food standard. "Mac and cheese, because people be thinking that you can't have mac and cheese if you're vegan, but you can have mine, and you won't know the difference," she tells Tasting Table. In her nutritious take on traditional macaroni and cheese, Brown uses everything from root veggies to nutritional yeast and almond yogurt to create a delicious, stick-to-your-ribs dinner.

To amp up the flavor even further in your holiday menu, Brown suggests some swoon-worthy strategies for preparing greens. "I use a veggie broth, onion, a lot of garlic, a little bit of liquid smoke, and liquid aminos to give [greens] a meaty flavor," Brown says. Next, she turns to the aid of her salt-free McCormick spice line. "I add my own seasoning, Like Sweet, Like Smoky, so it elevates it to make it taste like you've got meat in it, even though you don't." Beyond seasoning, there's one ingredient that Brown swears by for adding texture and protein to popular holiday dishes. According to "America's Mom," chopped pecans make a terrific substitute for ground meat in chili or chili cheese recipes.

Tabitha swears by these party-starting pantry staples

Everyone loves a good cooking shortcut, and Tabitha Brown was happy to share some of her go-to goods with Tasting Table. One of her top pantry picks also happens to be her choice for the most underutilized ingredient in vegan cuisine today: Hearts of palm. "I've been doing recipes with it because it's a great seafood substitute. I make crab legs with it. I fry it like fish. You can use it to make ceviche. And it's also healthy and great on its own," says Brown. In addition to jackfruit, the vegan chef incorporates coconut as a seafood alternative. From there, she makes sure to use up any leftovers to prepare a traditional family favorite — with a vegan twist, of course. "My aunt used to make a hash right after the turkey leftovers," recalls Brown. "Instead of using turkey, I use jackfruit or mushrooms, but I do all other things like the celery, broth, and onion. And it's so good."

As the season's soirées start winding down, Brown offers winning suggestions for entertaining guests well into the new year. A bottle of red wine is a must — "That's my business," says Brown with a laugh — though the ebullient star also stresses the importance of serving tasty appetizers and snacks. "I make little mini avocado toasts, some sweet potatoes," she tells Tasting Table. By using Brown's innovative swaps in your menu planning, you, too, can breathe new life into beloved holiday classics.