Tourtière is a quintessentially Canadian dish, brimming with rich, savoury flavours and plenty of history and tradition as well. A proud French-Canadian dish, Tourtière is an essential part of holiday celebrations in Canada, and specifically in the province of Québec, where it is associated with the tradition of le Réveillon, a late-night feast on Christmas Eve that stretches well into the next day. Recipes for tourtière can vary significantly from region to region, depending on what sorts of meat or crops are available or in abundance, but a traditional French-Canadian tourtière consists of a flaky pie crust filled with ground pork and generously spiced with summer savoury, along with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or even allspice.
Of course, with a ground pork filling and a crust made with the secret ingredient of lard – if not lots of butter – the classic tourtière recipe is heavy on meat and animal-based products. Most regional variations on the dish also involve some sort of meat, with beef, lamb, or even trout among the most popular replacements for the traditional ground pork. As a result, tourtière has not usually been seen as a particularly good vehicle for vegetarian, let alone vegan, substitutes. That said, vegan chefs have consistently proven themselves to be creative and adaptable, and vegan interpretations of this Québécois specialty are certainly no exception. The meaty texture and full flavour of mushrooms makes them a popular substitute, but there are plenty of other vegan options to replicate a tourtière’s warmly spiced filling. Here are six great vegan tourtière recipes to give you some fresh ideas:
6 Vegan Tourtière Recipes
One of the challenges to making a vegan tourtière that tastes and feels close to the traditional version is replicating the texture of ground meat. This clever recipe solves that problem by adding millet, a small-seeded grain that is produced by various types of grasses grown in dry regions of the world, with India cultivating the vast majority of the world’s supply. Mushrooms, potatoes and plenty of spices are added to the millet to round out the filling and add the necessary umami. The cooked filling is then added to a straightforward vegan pie crust, and you’ve got a tourtière worthy of any Québécois holiday feast.
Another smart solution to creating that extra bit of lift and texture for a tourtière filling is the addition of chickpeas, as this recipe demonstrates, alongside plenty of other vegetables including celery, carrots, leeks, potatoes and, of course, mushrooms. This recipe is also especially interesting because it uses frozen olive oil to make the crust, shredding it into flakes and blending it together with a mix of cold water and vodka. The result is a lightly flaky and authentic-looking tourtière that you can prepare for a satisfying meal any time of year.
For a truly stunning tourtière that will impress any of your friends or dinner guests, look no further than this recipe, which features a delicate crust made with vegetable shortening and any variety of plant-based milk – although a store-bought vegan pie crust will also do in a pinch. Mushrooms are once again a core ingredient of the filling, but this recipe also adds crumbled tofu, bread crumbs and corn starch for an extra rich, satisfying texture. A final clever touch is the use of aquafaba – the starchy water that remains after cooking chickpeas – in place of a traditional egg wash as a glaze for the pie crust, brushed onto the dough just before putting it in the oven.
With more and more meat-substitute products appearing on supermarket shelves these days, why not use one of them as a convenient shortcut to an authentic-tasting tourtière? While this recipe suggests using a store-bought veggie ground beef substitute made from soy protein, there are plenty of options out there based on your tastes and preferences. From there, the rest of the recipe looks a lot like a traditional Quebec tourtière, with the obvious exception of the vegan pie crust, made with vegetable shortening, flour and a pinch of dried thyme. A nice, straightforward variation on a classic recipe, perhaps a nice choice for those a bit less familiar with vegan cooking.
For another show-stopping vegan tourtière, check out this recipe, which also features millet and mushrooms in the filling for a full-bodied, meaty texture. The addition of tamari in the filling also gives this tourtière a solid umami kick, and a white wine reduction is another classy touch. The crust in this recipe is based on refined coconut oil, another worthy substitute for butter or lard – just be sure not to overwork the dough! Once again, you can still get the glistening effect of an egg wash without having to use eggs; in this case, a plant-based milk will do the trick.
Finally, for those looking for a meat substitute that tastes as close as possible to the real thing, there’s this recipe, featuring steak spice, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke mixed into textured vegetable protein for a full-flavoured filling that could fool any meat-eater. The recipe also skips the homemade vegan pie crust in favour of a store-bought version – just make sure your local supermarket has them in stock. The recipe also calls for potatoes in the filling, but don’t pour out the water used for boiling them, as it comes in handy at the end when making a tasty gravy.