Vegan Mashed Potato Bowls with Tempeh Gravy
4.50 from 6 votes

These vegan mashed potato bowls with tempeh gravy are so festive and fun! They’re the perfect way to celebrate an intimate, low-key holiday or to channel the spirit of the holidays at any time. The bowls feature fluffy mashed potatoes and a savory, protein-packed tempeh gravy. If you’ve got a soy allergy, I’ve got you: there’s an option to make the gravy with chickpeas, too.

A bowl of vegan holiday food, including mashed potatoes, tempeh and gravy, green beans, and a little scoop of cranberry sauce.

One of the things that’s said about holiday meals is that they’re all about the sides.

This tends to be especially true of Thanksgiving. With a big spread of stuffing, sweet potato casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts, and assorted vegan vegetable side dishes, who’s to miss a main dish?

Actually, me! I like having a main dish for my holiday meal—something that’s substantial and celebratory.

I also like when that main dish feels as effortless as it does hearty and fun.

That’s why I created these vegan mashed potato bowls with tempeh gravy.

The bowls are every bit as filling as some of the other holiday entrées I’ve created, like my lentil sweet potato shepherd’s pie or red lentil chickpea loaf. But they’re a bit simpler to make, and they can be scaled to serve two or four people, rather than six or eight.

They’re also a perfect option for one person who is very, very glad to have leftovers.

A different kind of season

I originally developed the recipe for these mashed potato bowls during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

That Thanksgiving, of course, was different.

Many folks were celebrating alone or with only one or two other people.

Big and elaborate feasts just weren’t a reality for a lot of families, my own small family included.

So, I thought about something that would deliver on holiday favorites in a compact, low-key way.

Mashed potatoes? Check.

Something green? Check.

A protein component? Check.

And of course, optional, yet highly recommended, cranberry sauce.

The resulting bowls quickly became a favorite. Nowadays I enjoy them often, simply as a means of channeling comfort and coziness, whether the winter holidays are approaching or not.

An angled photograph of a serving of plant based ingredients, including green beans and soy tempeh with gravy, garnished with herbs.

Vegan mashed potato bowl components

Mashed potatoes

My fluffy vegan mashed potatoes are the base of these fun, festive holiday bowls.

They are very classic mashed potatoes, and they happen to be my mom’s favorite holiday side dish. There’s nothing like a buttery, pillowy bite of them.

I’m a proponent of steaming potatoes, rather than boiling them, prior to mashing. I’m also a fan of using a potato ricer. If you need to use a regular, handheld potato masher, that’s just fine, too.

You can read all about the science of super fluffy mashed potatoes in this post.

Green beans

I actually do have a recipe for a traditional green bean casserole recipe.

But I wanted to keep things a little simpler for these mashed potato bowls, and I used steamed green beans as a vegetable component.

You could add some vegan butter to the beans for extra flavor. You could also use my quick steamed green beans with Dijon vinaigrette if you’d like more seasoning on the vegetables. I tend to think that the gravy is enough to season them well.

In place of green beans, you could add Brussels sprouts—another classic holiday side dish. You could also add broccoli, kale, or any other green vegetable to your bowl.

Alternately, try a simple salad in place of green beans (or cooked greens). This shaved Brussels sprout salad, my festive kale salad with coconut bacon, and my favorite butter lettuce side salad are all great.

Cranberry sauce

Can I admit something? I don’t mind making cranberry sauce. Truly. But I really like the store-bought stuff, too.

Sometimes—OK, most of the time—I think it tastes better than mine. And my mom is a fan of the jellied version.

In the spirit of keeping things realistic, I suggest a store-bought cranberry sauce as a garnish for these bowls. You could use a sprinkle of dried cranberries, too, with or without a little handful of crispy baked vegan candied pecans.

You could substitute another relish or chutney that you love.

Or, you can omit the cranberry component altogether, option for some fresh parsley or chives as a garnish instead. The bowls will still feel fulsome and complete.

A close up of vegan mashed potatoes, topped with festive tempeh and gravy and a side of green beans.

Tempeh (or chickpea) gravy

It wouldn’t be a Power Plate—or an appropriately filling and complete meal—without a plant protein.

I chose tempeh, which may be my favorite plant protein, for the vegan mashed potato bowls.

I love the earthy flavor of tempeh, and it’s hearty texture is a perfect base for so many homemade vegan “meats.” I’ve turned tempeh into meatballs, steak, and crispy bacon.

As it turns out, tempeh is also a perfect addition to a creamy, savory gravy.

The tempeh is crumbled before it gets lightly sautéed, similar to the technique in this dish of tempeh “sausage” and grits.

Then, it’s covered in a simple vegan gravy, which I based off of this tried-and-true recipe.

A chickpea alternative

Tempeh was actually quite hard to come by during quarantine, so when I developed the mashed potato bowls, I knew that I wanted to present my readers with a substitute option.

Of course, some people also have soy allergies, so the alternative is with them in mind, too.

I figured I’d test the recipe with chickpeas as well as with tempeh. I smashed the beans partially, using a coarse setting on my potato ricer, so that they’d be “crumbled” as well.

It worked perfectly. The bowls can be made with tempeh or chickpeas, depending on what you can find, what you like, and what’s appropriate for your eating style.

The chickpea version is pictured below. It reminds me of this hearty wintertime dish of creamy chickpeas and mushrooms, which is also made with mashed potatoes!

Chickpeas are paired with a savory gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green beans for a filling vegan holiday bowl of food.

How to make vegan mashed potato bowls with tempeh gravy

The steps here are really as you’d expect. Let’s go through the process together.

Step 1: Make your mashed potatoes

First, you’ll soak, rinse, steam, rice, and fold (or mash) your potatoes as described in this recipe. You may have more potatoes than you really need for the bowls, and this is OK!

A round white bowl is filled with fluffy, smooth, and creamy vegan mashed potatoes.

Freeze the extra, if you like, for future happiness.

Step 2: Prepare the gravy

The steps for making the savory tempeh gravy are to make a flour and broth slurry, then add it to a hot skillet with sautéed tempeh crumbles.

You’ll season this gravy, heat it through, and simmer it until it thickens nicely.

Step 3: Steam your green beans

Next, you’ll steam or microwave cook your green beans for the bowls. They should require about 5-6 minutes of steaming or 4-5 minutes of microwave cooking on high.

Step 4: Assemble and serve

Finally, you’ll put your bowls together: a bed of mashed potatoes, a heap of green beans, a quarter of the savory tempeh gravy, and a dollop of cranberry sauce, if using.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Make ahead and storage options

There are so many ways to make the mashed potato bowls with tempeh gravy in steps, so that you don’t have to prepare them all at once.

To start, you can prepare the mashed potatoes ahead of time. They’ll keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days, and they can be reheated in the oven or in a slow cooker.

You can also freeze mashed potatoes for up to eight weeks, then defrost them in the fridge before reheating.

Ditto for the tempeh (or chickpea) gravy! You can prepare it up to three days before you plan to eat. The gravy will keep in the fridge for up to five days total. It, too, can be frozen for up to eight weeks.

And of course, green beans are easy to steam or microwave cook right before eating.

But even those can be prepared a day or two in advance of your meal. As can most green veggies you might like to add to this hearty, wholesome, cozy and festive meal.

A bowl of vegan holiday food, including mashed potatoes, tempeh and gravy, green beans, and a little scoop of cranberry sauce.
4.50 from 6 votes

Vegan Mashed Potato Bowls with Tempeh Gravy

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Yields: 4 people


For the mashed potatoes

For the tempeh & gravy

  • 1 3/4 cup vegan no-chicken broth (415ml; substitute vegetable broth)
  • 4 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour (30g; substitute superfine brown rice flour or chickpea flour for a gluten-free option)
  • 3 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 14.5-ounce / 415g can), partially mashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons (heaping) nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the bowls

  • 4 cups trimmed green beans (substitute Brussels sprouts or another vegetable of choice)
  • 1 cup cranberry sauce (optional, for serving)


  • Prepare the mashed potatoes as directed here. Cover them and set them aside while you work on the other bowl components.
  • While the potatoes are steaming, bring a few inches of water to a boil in another medium pot and fit it with a steamer attachment. Steam the green beans for 5-6 minutes, or until they're tender yet still bright green and with some firmness. Alternatively, you can place the green beans into a large, microwave-safe bowl with a few tablespoons of water. Cover the bowl with a silicone lid or a large plate and microwave the beans on high for 4-5 minutes, until tender yet a little firm. Set the green beans aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the broth and the flour to create a smooth slurry. 
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh crumbles (or smashed chickpeas). Add one teaspoon of tamari or soy sauce and the smoked paprika. Cook the tempeh, stirring often, for about a minute. Then allow it to cook in the skillet without stirring for a minute, to help brown the crumbles. Stir and then allow it to sit for another minute. Repeat until the crumbles are nicely browned throughout. 
  • Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups broth to the skillet and bring the broth to a simmer. Stir in the broth and flour slurry. Give everything a stir, then add the remaining 2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce, garlic powder, mustard, nutritional yeast, and thyme. Stir everything well, then allow it to come to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until the gravy is thick. Season to taste with additional salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Divide the mashed potatoes into four bowls, along with your green beans or other veggies. Top each bowl with a quarter of the tempeh and gravy. If you like, garnish each bowl with a quarter cup scoop of cranberry sauce. Serve!
A cozy, hearty serving of traditional Thanksgiving ingredients, garnished with fresh thyme.

It’s nice to have a holiday meal option that’s everything I want on a special, chilly day, without any of the cooking stress that I associate with special occasions.

I hope the vegan mashed potato bowls will bring you coziness and pleasure.


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Categories: Main Dishes, Vegan Bowls
Method: Stovetop
Ingredients: Chickpeas, Tempeh
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep, Holidays

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Recipe Rating

  1. This looks great! I do have a question. I see 1 3/4 cups broth with 1/2 used in the slurry for the gravy and the other 1 1/2 cups in the tempeh. Which measure is wrong? Do we only use 1/4 cup in the slurry? Or 1 1/4 cups in the tempeh – or 2 cups total? Can’t wait to try this! Thanks!

      • 5 stars
        Whoa Gina!!! This was GREAT!!! It turned into a cooking day because I found an easy cranberry sauce recipe and ended up water-bath canning six 4-oz jars. One 4-oz jar split between our 2 plates was just the right amount of sweet! The flavor of the tempeh was excellent. I’m going to fit my steamer over the potatoes next time, so I can steam the green beans above the cooking potatoes and save one pot!

        This deserves way more than 5 stars. I’m already planning it for the two of us for Christmas. Excellent recipe! Thanks Gina!

  2. Dear Gena, I really love the simplicity of this. It looks delicious! Especailly interested in the tempeh gravy. And I do think it’s wonderful that you gave an alternative that works with checkpeas. It is really true that you can’t always get things during this pandemic so it’s thoughtful of you to give options.I hope to incorporate this into our meal someohw. Special Thanksgiving blessings to you my friend! And much love xoxo

  3. 5 stars
    Oh my word! Why did I never think of a holiday bowl? For all the other bowls I’ve eaten, Thai, Chinese, Mexican, – so many cultures represented in the bowls. What a concept to have mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce. I will be making this year round. Thank you Gena. By the way, I have been following your blog since around 2008.

  4. 5 stars
    Thanks for this, Gena! We have a whole slew of your recipes pinned, depending on our energy levels… also looking forward to the biscuits and gravy from your book (a favorite with my Southern partner) for a special breakfast next week.

  5. Gena,

    I just wanted to say thank you! I think this recipe idea is just perfect. You put some key ideas into one bowl with minimal fuss and some real flexibility. No easy thing!

    I don’t know about everyone else but the stress of this holiday in particular for me is having to decide what to make-planning the menu in other words. When you put your questions out there for all of us to respond to it felt like someone else was in charge which was a kind of relief. So, thanks for being the grown up on this one. It’s appreciated!

    Have a good holiday and thanks again,

  6. Hello Gena, I’m neither vegan nor American, but I’m still going to try this recipe! Though we don’t ‘do’ Thanksgiving here in Australia, after the year we’ve had all over the world, taking the time to give thanks seems important to me right now. And I love the idea of a mashed potato bowl as an alternative to the many, many rice and couscous bowls I tend to live on day after day, week after week. I’m looking forward to making (the chickpeas version of) this dish this week! 🙂 Rebecca xo PS I always make my mashed potatoes with extra virgin olive oil rather than butter or vegan butter. I find it gives the potatoes a beautiful, rich, slightly grassy taste and a lovely, silky mouth-feel.

  7. This is a great idea to have a Thanksgiving bowl as an actual recipe! Every year I pretty much enjoy my Thanksgiving sides exactly like this. I love to put them all on a plate (or in a bowl) together and eat a few bites of each thing at a time, mixing and matching flavors because they all go so well together!

  8. This looks ideal! I’m having a solo Thanksgiving this year, and I was thinking that I would treat myself by making real mashed potatoes, so this is just perfect! I’m adding a single serving Gardein stuffed turk’y (meatless), which I know isn’t a whole food, but I think it will all add up to a very nice 2020 Thanksgiving!