Delicious Ways to Go Vegan
A plant-based diet is rich in healthy ingredients like whole grains, produce, nuts, legumes and soy. A vegan diet excludes all animals and animal products such as meat, eggs, dairy, honey and gelatin. It's easy to go vegan when the recipes taste as good as these do. It's entirely possible to enjoy a vegan diet and also reap the benefits of some absolutely exceptional flavor. If you're planning to go vegan, stock up on versatile ingredients like jackfruit, avocados, coconut oil, and nut milks.
Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos
This flavorful fiesta-on-a-plate involves an unlikely main ingredient: fruit! Jackfruit is an extremely versatile ingredient because it absorbs and takes on the flavors of spices and other ingredients incredibly well, which helps lend these tacos their authentic flair. The fruit itself is pale in color and has a flaky, meaty texture, which makes it the perfect meat substitute for a vegetarian or vegan dinner option so everyone can enjoy it.
A range of textures--crunchy peas, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth--makes this cool-weather main incredibly satisfying. The chickpea mixture can also be a delicious gluten-free snack: After baking, toss with a little kosher salt, ground cumin, and ground red pepper.
Millet Amaranth Buddha Bowls
Imagine a classic Asian-style rice bowl, but with a risotto-like blend of millet and amaranth as the base. At Vital Root in Denver, chef-owner Justin Cucci tops the grains with loads of vegetables and tofu, then drizzles on a silky tahini sauce.
White Bean and Jackfruit Chili
In the vegan and vegetarian world, jackfruit is a blessing when it comes to adding a hearty touch to typically meaty dishes such as chili. Jackfruit has a mild flavor that is a lot like a blank canvas that easily takes on the flavors of sauces or spices used with it. In the case of this flavorful and cozy dish, spices like coriander, paprika, oregano, and cumin add a warm and toasty edge to this can't-believe-it's-vegan chili. The jackfruit has a shockingly good meaty texture while the supporting flavors lend it an unforgettable quality that simply proves that a meatless chili can actually be very meaty and satisfying.
Tahiree Vegetable and Rice Casserole
This ancient dish traces its roots to India's Kayastha community, who developed it as a unique variation of biryani. In tahiree, rice and other elements cook together, while biryani rice is cooked separately and then layered with meat and vegetables. Saran uses Royal Chef's Secret basmati--available at Asian markets--because it has the longest grain. He fluffs gently with a carving fork to keep grains intact.
Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Pecans
Featuring cranberries, wild rice, toasted pecans, and scallions, this salad is full of fall flavor.
Indian Chopped Salad
Combining chopped vegetables with lime juice, ground cumin, and other seasonings give this Indian-style salad a unique flavor.
Quinoa Salad with Apples, Almonds and Dried Cranberries
Toss quinoa with diced apples, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries and serve with a large lettuce leaf.
Chili-Roasted Acorn Squash
Coat acorn squash slices with a mixture of chili powder, cumin, and paprika before roasting them until tender.
Cashew-Lime Cilantro Hummus
"Invited to a party at the last minute, I invented this hummus from what I had on hand," says reader Maria August, of Boulder. "To my surprise, I liked it better than the traditional tahini version." Serve with fresh-cut vegetables, such as jicama, carrot, red pepper, and celery sticks.
Grits with Creamed Cashews
"I tell people to use true grits, rather than polenta," says Oakland cookbook writer Bryant Terry, author of The Inspired Vegan, because he likes the grits' coarser texture. "I also prefer yellow grits for both color and flavor."
Barbecue Slawpy Jacks
This hearty vegan entrée is essentially a cross between a sloppy Joe and a barbecue sandwich and a creative way for vegans to enjoy a traditionally meat-based classic. Be sure to use jackfruit canned in brine, not syrup. Jackfruit can be found at Asian markets and on Amazon. Serve with potato chips for crunch.
Eggplant Involtini with Grilled Ratatouille
Faux cheeses made with nuts are key to vegan cooking. To stuff these involtini, chef Sean Baker of Gather in Berkeley re-creates the flavor of ricotta by combining pureed raw cashews with nutritional yeast, which has a very savory, almost cheese-like flavor and is available at well-stocked specialty and natural food stores.
This dish is sure to make it into your regular rotation: completely satisfying chili that cooks in a fraction of the time it takes to make traditional meat chili. This recipe makes plenty; freeze leftovers for up to three months. Vegan sausage varies widely in taste and texture; we liked the meatiness and mild heat of the Field Roast brand, Mexican Chipotle flavor.
Farfalle with Artichokes, Peppers, and Almonds
Ground almonds take the place of pasta's usual parmesan, making this a good vegan choice. Trim raw artichokes down to the very tender hearts and slice them quite thin, so they're crisp but not chewy.
You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy these corndogs. They taste like traditional corndogs, but with a unique and meatless twist—think that firm texture you recognize and love, paired with umami flavor, with a corn batter breading that’s both sweet and crunchy. When everything comes together, it’s a true treat and fun alternative for a meal with kids.
The Best "Beefy" Vegan Burgers
This umami-rich burger is unabashedly attempting to imitate a beef burger in flavor, texture, and appearance. Mushrooms and grains form the bulk of the burger--the mushrooms are tender, and the grains stay firm to give the impression of protein which has been cooked. The fat helps coat the separate elements so that it holds together nicely and isn't piecey like most veggie burgers. The patty absorbs lots of grill flavor to deliver a charred, smokey patty just like a traditional beefy backyard burger.
Vegan French Toast
At first blush, brunch as we know it—pancakes, eggs Benedict, bacon, and such—are not particularly amenable to a vegan diet. This is a real drag: Some of the best things in life are brunch. And so many of the best things in brunch are egg- and/or dairy-based. This does not, however, include French toast. Yes, your dad made it with whole milk and eggs. You went to a sleepover once where someone’s mom soaked the bread in melted vanilla ice cream. Vegan French toast doesn’t include any of those things, but it does look and smell and taste like the French toast you grew up with, and it comes together just as quickly.
Vegan cooking makes me mindful of those who came before me, the brilliant mad scientists who discovered that chia seeds and flax seeds could moonlight as eggs. We owe them one. The seeds thicken when soaked in a bit of water and when they’re whisked together with a little non-dairy milk, you get something akin to the custardy texture of eggs with milk. You could use chia seeds if you prefer (the ratios are the same as in the recipe below), but I like the convenience and nutty taste of pre-ground flax meal for this.
And once you have your “custard,” the rest is easy. Doctor it with a hit of lemon or orange zest, splash in vanilla extract or rum or bourbon, add a shake or two of cinnamon or—for something savory to eat alongside a ripe avocado and a tangle of sprouts—smoked paprika. Experiment with the milk substitute, too. Oat milk is very creamy and sweet; full-fat coconut milk is about as close as a vegan will get to soaking the bread in melted ice cream. Almond milk is neutral and good for sweet or savory toast. Soak the bread for a few minutes on each side and fry up in either vegan buttery spread or coconut oil, and invite all the vegans you know.
One final note: A classic choice of bread for French toast is challah. It’s rich and sweet and delicious, and only made more delicious by a custard bath and a spell in a hot pan. But challah is made with honey and eggs (and lots of them), and is only suitable for folks who do eat animal byproducts. Make sure the bread you choose to use for this recipe has no dairy, eggs, honey, or other animal-adjacent.
Vegan French Toast
Rye and Butternut Squash Dressing
Cube the bread a day or two ahead and leave it out on the counter to dry, so it will fully absorb the flavors of the dressing. (If you forget, you can dry it in a 375° oven for a few minutes.) For a moister dressing, use the larger amount of broth. This makes a good main dish for vegans (use kosher rye, which excludes dairy).
This spin on the bistro staple steak frites offers plenty of umami satisfaction in the form of juicy, meaty portobello mushrooms and a savory wine sauce. Finishing the sauce with a touch of vegan butter gives it luxurious and velvety consistency.
Quinoa and Brown Rice Bowl with Vegetables and Tahini
"While in Los Angeles filming the second season of Top Chef Just Desserts last year, I discovered Café Gratitude, a vegan café with a cult following," Gail Simmons says. "For me, its fresh, simple food was the perfect antidote to all that sugar. I became addicted to aptly named dishes like I Am Fortified—a bowl of whole grains with lots of cooked vegetables. When I got back to New York, I developed my own version."
Grilled Polenta and Radicchio with Balsamic Drizzle
Chef Ryan Poli of the soon-to-open Tavernita in Chicago became interested in vegan cooking because his girlfriend follows a mostly vegan diet. "It was difficult to cook for her at home," he says. "I couldn't just open the fridge and make something. I had to really think." This relatively simple dish of grilled polenta and radicchio proves it's possible to create something deeply delicious, substantial and vegan with just a handful of ingredients.
Grilled Baby Eggplants with Green Onion Salsa
If you can't find the type of eggplant we used, go for small, slender Japanese eggplants instead.
Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese
This hearty, veggie-forward take on classic pasta Bolognese is a dish that everyone at the table will enjoy, regardless of their relationship status with meat.
Vegan Chickpea Omelet
Some vegans will never be able to appreciate a Sunday morning omelet, so we decided to change that. Behold, the chickpea omelet. When protein-rich chickpea flour and the liquid from a can of chickpeas (also known as aquafaba) are whipped together with non-dairy milk and seasoning, the thick batter will fry up just like a real omelet. It may require a little more work than just scrambling a few eggs, but it’s oh so worth it.
The key to a light and fluffy omelet is the aquafaba. Weirdly enough, you can whip it with a whisk or a hand mixer into a substance that looks remarkably similar to egg whites. Fold it in gently and your omelet will be aces. Plus, you control the seasonings here, and the sky really is the limit. Chickpea flour’s mild nuttiness pairs just as well with za’atar and cumin as it does with smoked paprika and garlic powder. Cover the finished omelet with greens, sauteed vegetables, and sliced avocado.
Vegan Chickpea Omelet
Vegan Huevos Rancheros
Our plant-powered riff on huevos rancheros is just as flavorful and hearty as the classic. Cooking crumbled firm tofu in a skillet achieves the fluffy texture of scrambled eggs, while turmeric adds the quintessential golden hue. Soy chorizo is full of zesty spice, making it almost indistinguishable from traditional Mexican pork chorizo. Look for logs of soy chorizo (or find it crumbled) in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Our version of vegan huevos rancheros saves 20 grams saturated fat over the classic meat-filled dish, and comes equipped with one full serving of vegetables (and 40 percent of your daily fiber goal) in one serving. Serve this satisfying vegetarian main for brunch or breakfast-for-dinner.
This recipe originally appeared on Cookinglight.com.
5-Minute Vegan Breakfast Burritos
An eggless breakfast is practically unheard of for those without dietary restrictions, but for vegans, especially those who used to loved a good scramble, it’s definitely a feat to fake. Luckily, the consistency and texture of spiced tofu crumbles in these vegan breakfast burritos mimic that of scrambled eggs. The vegan-friendly swap is so spot-on, it’ll win over any soy skeptic. Be sure to drain the tofu before cooking; that way your scramble won’t be watery. Ready to roll in just five minutes, you’ll be out the door faster than ever—burrito in hand.
Tofu Breakfast Burritos
Vegan Coconut Cream Tart with White Peaches and Blueberries
This nutrient-rich twist on coconut cream pie is lusciously smooth and decadent… it’s also vegan, paleo, gluten-fee, and raw. In other words, you’re looking at a tart with a stacked resume. Perfect for a special occasion, especially if you’re looking to clean up your diet a bit, this show-stopping vegan dessert offers rich, toasty flavor and sweet tooth satisfaction—without adding refined sugar. And since there’s no need to crank up the oven to make it, this treat especially ideal for summer. Keep in mind, whipping coconut cream can sometimes be tricky. If you forget to refrigerate your cans overnight or if too much of the liquid gets mixed in, it will most likely separate. But not to worry—mixing in a bit of tapioca flour (arrowroot would also work) can bring the mixture back together in a snap. To save yourself time, go ahead and place your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the fridge to chill as soon as you are ready to start prepping your tart.
Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Chocolate Pecan Muffins
Waking up to an obnoxious alarm becomes slightly more bearable with dangerously fudgy muffins waiting in the kitchen. Dark chocolate, ripe banana, and pecans meld together perfectly to create rich, surprisingly healthy muffins that are perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast or take-along snack. Dana Shultz, author of Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking, believes this chocolate lover’s dream gluten-free recipe couldn’t be any more perfect in terms of flavor combination. (Truth.) They’re so soft and chewy, this may quickly become your go-to muffin method.
Banana Chocolate Pecan Muffins
Reprinted from Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.
Vegetarian West African Soup
A long-time staple in the Middle East, the chickpea, also known as the garbanzo bean, is a great source of protein and is easy on your budget. Peanuts and sweet potatoes pack this dish with fiber and Vitamin E creating a nutritious and flavorful meal.
Coconut Pan-Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sesame Seeds
Virgin coconut oil is unrefined and cold-pressed, like extra-virgin olive oil, and isn't hydrogenated. It has a clean, slightly nutty taste that's delicious in this dish. Deborah Madison, who adapted this recipe from one in a new revision of her book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (1997), likes to use a mix of sweet potatoes, but it's fine to go with just one kind. Paler sweet potatoes tend to be drier, so if you use them, add more oil.
Slow-Cooker Veggie Chili
This comforting classic warms you up and curbs your hunger with fiber-and protein-rich beans. Instead of using 4 cans of the same beans, mix and match pinto, red kidney, great Northern, and black beans to give this chili even more variety. Finish with fresh chopped green onions and a dash of hot sauce for a flavor boost.
Vegan Buffalo Tofu Tot Skillet
This fantastic tater tot dish is slathered in some delicious meatless toppings making this one vegan dish that packs a powerful flavor punch. Reminicient of totchos, this skillet dish is a comfort food item to be reckoned with. This is a big skillet with enough to serve a lot of people alongside your favorite tailgating or appetizer dishes. This dish features a layer of homemade buffalo sauce as well as a rich and creamy dairy-free avocado ranch.
Fresh carrots stand in for bulgur in this no-cook, gluten-free side dish. You can use white wine vinegar in place of lemon juice.
Spicy Asparagus-Tempeh Stir-Fry
A heart-healthy and protein-rich alternative to meat, tempeh is a soy cake that's made by fermenting and pressing cooked soybeans. Its chewy consistency is complemented by the crunchy asparagus while red pepper flakes add heat.
Hummus and Grilled-Zucchini Pizzas
Prepared hummus that comes with a scoop of chopped garlic on top (like the kind sold by Sabra) is the secret here: The garlic gets mixed with oil to marinate the zucchini, while the remaining garlic and hummus flavor the whole pizza.
Quick Vegetarian Paella
This Spanish classic is simple to prepare and easily doubled to serve a crowd. Artichokes, bell peppers, mushrooms and olives cooked with nutty brown rice make this a hearty one dish meal. The blend of exotic spices including saffron and tumeric give an extra special flavor.
Double the protein and get more bang for your buck by combining two types of legumes, lentils and soy beans. Both are inexpensive sources of protein that are commonly used in many exotic cuisines. A variety of fresh herbs and spices adds a deep, rich flavor.
Two-Tone Potato Salad
Pickled onions and cucumber relish add a tangy kick to Emilee Gettle's blue-and-gold potato salad. Because she and Jere Gettle don't eat eggs, they opt for vegan mayonnaise.
Billy's Vegan Egg Rolls
Billy Ngo, now chef at Kru, a Japanese restaurant in Sacramento, shared this dish inspired by his previous restaurant, Red Lotus. He deep-fries these, but at home it's easier to brush them with oil and bake them until they're crisp. If you're short on time, you could buy plum sauce instead of making the vinegar-pink peppercorn sauce.
Spiced Lemon Quinoa
Back home in South India, Sunset reader Kavita Aiyar's mom made traditional lemon rice scattered with channa dal (a yellow, lentil-like legume). At her home in Silicon Valley, Kavita cooks quinoa instead of rice and adds spinach or other greens, "basically California-izing it," she says. She suggests split peas instead of the dal because they're easier to find. You can serve the recipe as a side dish or a vegan entrée.
This creamy and dreamy queso dip is something that even the greatest non-vegans will appreciate. This queso is made with a blended puree of nutty and earthy cashews which lend a hearty flavor to this "cheese." The cashews are soaked for a few hours in water until they soften, and from there get blended up to make a rich and creamy base to this flavorful queso. With spices added in like cayenne pepper and cumin, this dip is the perfect flavorful addition to the appetizer table.
Stir-fry is an easy go-to meal option for vegans because of its versatility. Create a new recipe each time you cook simply by combining different vegetables or throwing in extras like tofu and nuts.
Roasted Carrot and Coconut Soup
Avocado and coconut milk give this vegetarian soup a decadent, buttery texture; fiber-rich lentils and beans make it surprisingly filling. Keep your pantry stocked with these staples to help you throw this soup together in no time.
Curried Red Kidney Beans and Cauliflower (Rajma Masala)
This Indian-inspired curried bean dish makes for a hearty vegetarian meal, especially when served with a helping of brown rice. The red kidney beans boast a host of nutritional benefits; the ginger helps your body make the most of those benefits.
Roasted Whole Carrots
Roasting carrots whole makes the prep easier and also offers a pretty presentation.
Marinated Tofu with Sticky Rice and Asparagus
Who needs steak? Tofu can have just as much flavor with the right seasoning. Brown sugar and hoisin sauce add a bold sweetness to the thick, barbeque-like marinade. Even though the word "hoisin" translates to "seafood" in Mandarin, this sauce is made from sweet potatoes and does not contain fish.
Mixed Vegetable and Farro Soup
Eataly's vegetable counter specializes in vegan dishes—specifically, vegan dishes that people might not suspect are vegan. One is this thick, hearty soup made with a colorful mix of carrots, peas, leek and onion. Mario Batali also adds borlotti beans and farro, which make the soup hearty enough to be a main course. The crunchy grissini on the side aren't vegan; they're sweetened with honey.
Stir-Fried Vegetables and Tofu
Unlike traditional stir-fry dishes, this one uses white wine to bring out the flavors of the vegetables. The mushrooms, carrots and squash are great sources of vitamins, fiber, and potassium and combined with tofu, make for a nutritious and filling meal.
Tofu with Red Curry Paste, Peas, and Yellow Tomatoes
The red curry paste adds a punch of heat to this dish but you can add more or less depending on your preference. Serve on a bed of long grain or jasmine rice and finish with a squeeze of lime. The tartness of the lime juice contrasts nicely with the heat of the curry.
Chili Garlic Broccolini
Chili garlic sauce can be found on the international aisle of most supermarkets. Add to stir-fries or marinades, stir into ketchup for a spicy kick, or top scrambled eggs.
Chilled Corn Soup
This recipe for chilled corn soup yields an incredibly sumptuous, velvety concoction—but it’s vegan—and nearly fat-free—and uses one of summer's best and cheapest vegetables. Use corn at the peak of freshness as this simple preparation will highlight corn’s natural sweetness.
Jicama offers a hearty crunch while orange slices balance out a sweetness to this great side dish.
Steamed Jackfruit Buns
These vegan buns are just like Char Siu Pork Bao (barbecue pork-filled buns) that you find at dim sum. Not only is this an amazing vegan version of the dish, it’s an amazing version of the dish period. The filling for the bao is sweet and tangy, and the dough is pillowy and soft. Jackfruit can be found at any Asian market. Purchase the “canned in brine” rather than the “canned in syrup” for this recipe. Since it is brined, it should be thoroughly rinsed and patted dry before use.