8 Vegan (Not Dead) Recipes to Celebrate Day of the Dead


As Halloween draws to a close, spirits of ancestors from the other realm descend to earth to reunite with those celebrating. Dia de los Muertos. Translated as Day of the Dead, midnight on November 1 marks the traditional Mexican holiday when the living honor their deceased family members. It’s a night of celebration, remembrance and joy, characterized by colorful alterations, skull decorations, candles and plenty of food for all.

Dia de los Muertos: A Celebration of Life

Often associated with Halloween due to its proximity on the calendar, Day of the Dead bears little resemblance to All Hallow’s Eve. On Dia de los Muertos, the divide between the worlds of the living and the dead is blurred, and deceased ancestors join their loved ones here on earth.

To accommodate the deceased, the living create alters, also called ofrendas—featuring photos of the deceased, candles, colorful sugar skulls, fresh marigolds, sweets and the favorite foods of those who have passed on to the afterlife.

The living take part in joyful celebrations as their ancestors (the night’s honored guests) join them in dancing, feasting and drinking.

Although Halloween costumes aren’t part of Day of the Dead celebrations, it’s not uncommon to find people wearing skull masks or colorful face paints.

Vegan recipes for Dia de los Muertos

While foods for Day of the Dead may vary depending on your ancestor’s favorite foods, here are eight vegan Mexican recipes to feed all souls, living and dead, on Dia de los Muertos.

plant crafts

1 Pumpkin Tamals

As intimidating as they may seem to the untrained home cook, tamales are actually simple to prepare – all it takes is a little time. As a chef and recipe developer, Rachel Carr’s recipe is virtually foolproof. Trust his instructions and wow your guests with these seasonal pumpkin stuffed corn cakes.
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2 Mole Poblano

There’s no sugar coating this; this recipe takes work. However, your big, big abuela worth it – you won’t see her until next year, after all. Make her proud by mastering this 18-ingredient mole hailing from the Mexican state of Puebla. The smoky, earthy, slightly sweet and spicy sauce is well worth the work, trust us.
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3 Vegan Pozole Rojo With Mushrooms And Kidney Beans

When the night turns chilly, cozy up to a warm bowl of this traditional spicy hominy stew. The complex flavors and varied textures of this soup make it a perfect single dish, so if you do nothing else, this recipe is sure to satisfy you and your ancestors.
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4 Pan de Muerto

A holiday-specific variety sweet panor sweet bread, pan de muerto is a traditional offering left on the altars of the ancestors. It’s a tender, yeasty bread usually flavored with orange zest, and while it’s perfect on its own, it also acts as the perfect dipping vessel in a thick, steaming cup of chocolate. champurrado.
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5 Champurrado

Combine the thickest drinking chocolate you’ve ever enjoyed with the complex flavors of a spicy Mexican hot chocolate, and you’re in the ballpark of the comforting drink known as a champurrado. Thickened with masa (corn flour) and flavored with his signature piloncillo (similar to brown sugar) and sweet Mexican chocolate discs, this drink trumps all other chocolate drinks.
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6 Caramel, Flan with 5 Ingredients

Street vendors can often be spotted selling this sweet and delicate dessert during major Day of the Dead celebrations. Reminiscent of pastry cream, blank dates back to the Roman Empire, where the first cooks imagined this dish with a salty touch. Over time, the sweet iterations took over and the Spaniards eventually introduced the dessert to the Americas during the conquest. Today, it’s a familiar favorite across Latin America. If your ancestors had a sweet tooth, they’ll thank you for making room for flan on their altar.
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seven Vegan Sopa Azteca (Mexican tortilla soup) with black beans

Ancho and poblano peppers bring a sweet warmth to this bubbly tortilla soup that will warm you from the inside, perfect for celebrating your loved ones late into the night. Loaded with crispy tortilla strips, creamy avocado, tomatoes, carrots and aromatic cilantro, this savory tradition is bursting with flavor.
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8 Mexican candied pumpkin

Another sweet treat to delight your ancestors, candied pumpkin is a traditional Day of the Dead food in different parts of Mexico. Soft, sticky and supple, this dessert is made with piloncillo, cloves, orange peel and cinnamon. Enjoy it alone or with a dollop of vegan whipped cream.
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