Kitchn Love Letters

The Frozen Dinner Entrée That I Can’t Celebrate the Holidays Without

published Dec 10, 2020
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Frozen food aisle of grocery store
Credit: Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

As a committed vegan, I’d long been on a search for a festive-feeling holiday stand-in that felt the same level of special as, say, a turkey or ham, but tasted more elevated than the faux meats I regularly eat year-round. I’m happy to report, now, that I’ve found what I was looking for: The Gardein Holiday Roast. Surprisingly tasty, convenient, and consistent, this seasonal, vegan faux-turkey loaf has become my go-to for all major food holidays — especially Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

Buy: Gardein Holiday Roast, $16.49

Made of soy and vital wheat gluten, this breaded loaf contains a core of wild rice, onion, and cranberry stuffing. (It’s the cranberry stuffing that makes this so divine.) The package also comes with two packets of savory gravy, which is more than enough to decadently cover every slice of the “roast” once it’s prepared.

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

The cooking process for the roast is super-simple, which gives me time to focus on whatever veggie sides I decide to serve alongside it (think: shallot roasted green beans, mashed yams, and candied carrots). It’s so easy to make that I can even park myself in front of a classic holiday movie, knowing full well my meal is on its way with little effort on my end.

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

The only prep steps involved are taking it out of the freezer, placing it in a pan, and heating it in the oven for just over an hour. I put the sauce packets on the stovetop to thaw, and by the time the roast is ready to come out of the oven the gravy pouches are warm and ready to drizzle over each slice.

The only downside is that this loaf is indeed seasonal and only available for a short period of time. And it’s so popular, it often sells out! That was the case last year when my mom and I dashed between Whole Foods, New Seasons, and Natural Grocers trying to find any store that had one in stock. I failed and have since learned to buy one in advance (as in, earlier than just a few nights before our Christmas feast).

The regular price for Gardein’s Holiday Roast hovers around $15, which feels like a steal given the price of most festive protein options. And I get a few dinners out of just one roast, even when sharing (it’s meant to serve eight).

What’s your can’t-live-without holiday grocery?