IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

66 vegetarian recipes that make plant-based eating exciting

It's time to veg out.
/ Source: TODAY

We're all looking for fun, new recipes to make meal planning easier. And discovering ways to include more healthful veggies in a diet is always a win — especially with dishes so abundant with flavor that meat eaters won't miss a thing.

Maybe you're looking for lighter variations of classic pasta dish or want a rice dish that's nourishing and comforting any night you need it. So many more chefs and home cooks are setting their sights on top-notch options for vegan and vegetarians so everyone, whether or not they abide by a particular diet, can enjoy something without animal protein.

To create a nice-sized list full of vegan and vegetarian options for any craving or course, from burgers to pasta and curries to cakes, we turned to many talented plant-based cooks and chefs. So grab some veggies from the local market, pick up ingredients from the grocery store and turn to what's in the pantry. Many of these gorgeous plant-based meals are shockingly easy to make and will without a doubt be showing up on meal plans in the future. Enjoy!

Vegan recipes

"I love making dishes that can satisfy people following different dietary rules, so this noodle dish really hits the spot!" says Kevin Curry. "Rice noodles make the perfect, gluten-free base for this saucy, sweet, nutty and spicy stir fry. Firm tofu adds some healthy plant-based meatiness and the fresh veggies bring in some serious crunch."

Recreate a drive-thru experience at home in a totally vegan way. These veggie taco "su-primes" are an ode to Priyanka Naik's childhood spent going to Taco Bell and indulging in fully loaded crispy, crunchy tacos.

 Creamy Vegan Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e pepe is one of those dishes that many people love because of its simplicity, but it's not easy to replicate the complex flavor of traditional Italian cheeses. Dada's take on the Italian staple uses nutritional yeast and cashews to create a luscious, umami-packed sauce.

Coconut milk is a traditional ingredient in many Thai-style curries — it gives them their signature creaminess without actual dairy cream. A variety of vegetables and firm tofu make this dish filling while keeping it light enough for a summer supper.

Vegan Lentil Chili

Vegan Lentil Chili

Chloe Coscarelli

Hearty lentils and meaty mushroom take the place of animal protein in this rich chili. This healthy swap makes the dish so much better for you without leaving out any of the satisfying flavor or comforting texture from this cold weather classic.

"I came up with this spicy and crunchy garlic tofu recipe because it needed to happen," says Joanne Molinaro (aka The Korean Vegan) bout her TikTok-famous recipe. "Like, there was a gaping maw in the universe that could only be filled once this recipe was created."

This salad made with hearty and nutritious wild rice can be enjoyed as a side dish or a main during lunch or dinner. It's great served on its own or over a bed of leafy greens for extra bulk and fiber.

Sumac-Dusted Chana Masala

Chickpeas and other legumes are packed with fiber and plant-based protein and therefore deeply satisfying and healthy. In fact, their regular consumption is associated with enhanced health and longevity! The spices in this recipe are not just belly-warming and flavor-enhancing but also help the digestibility of the legumes, which can be challenging for some. This dish improves over time so make extras and freeze for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner.

Charred Cauliflower

Charred Cauliflower

Kwame Onwuachi

The spicy coconut syrup in this dish transports you to the islands while the romesco sauce is reminiscent of classic European cuisine. It's a truly globally inspired dish that will keep you going back for more.

Seasonal Lentil Soup

Seasonal Lentil Soup

Dominique Khoury

This beautiful Lebanese dish has been passed down from generations of women within Dominique Khoury's family, nourishing them with nutrient rich lentils, vibrant seasonal vegetables and warm spices. You can make this dish in one large soup pot, enjoy it over several days for lunch or dinner and create large batches and freeze it for future family dinners to come. It is filled with layers of wholesome, bright and delicious flavors and is enjoyed best with a slice of warm toast, family and friends!

Vegan Taco Mac and Cheese

This vegan main by Chloe Coscarelli is hearty with a capital H! It’s kind of like a cross between tacos and mac and cheese — so definitely make it for your hungriest of friends and family members and just dare them to say vegan food isn’t filling.

You're going to love this versatile rice medley. It's perfect for a weeknight meal because everything is conveniently mixed together, dumped right onto a sheet pan and ready to eat in 30 minutes. Once you pull this pan from the oven, the onions will be caramelized, the raisins will be plump, the veggies will be tender and the room will fill with the smell of what Jerrelle Guy likes to call "sheet pan potpourri."

Jenné Claiborne's Vegan Chickpea 'Tuna' Sandwich

This delicious sandwich is so easy to make and perfectly filling — for either lunch or dinner. "Even my toddler loves it!" says Jenné Claiborne.

Mushroom 'Chorizo' Lettuce Tacos

This "chorizo" crafted by Beyoncé's nutrition coach, Marco Borges, is created with umami-filled mushrooms. He usually makes an extra batch and stores it in the freezer to make more tacos later. It is, after all, a family favorite in the Borges house, too.

Frozen Baked Sweet Potato

Summer in Taiwan is only bearable with this: a caramelly, sweet, custardy, cold sweet potato. That's right: The sweet potatoes here are exactly as it sounds — baked then frozen. In Taiwan, these are so commonplace, you'll find them packaged in plastic bags at convenience stores. But oddly enough, they are some of the best sweet potatoes you've ever had.

Dada's avocado cream sauce is both light and refreshing — qualities rarely found in creamy anything. This sauce also maintains an amazing brightness with the addition of fresh basil and lemon. You can add it over pasta or smother your favorite vegan protein in it.

Vegan Meatball Pizza

Vegan Meatball Pizza

Chloe Coscarelli

This vegan-friendly pizza is a perfect weeknight fix and is quite the crowd-pleaser. It's an easy base to add to, as well, in case you're one of those people who eat pineapple on pizza and want to see how it goes with veggie meatballs. And don't get saucy, that's cashew cheese … not real mozzarella!

Sheet Pan Aloo Gobi

Sheet Pan Aloo Gobi

Priya Krishna

Aloo gobi — potatoes and cauliflower sautéed in spices — was a staple of Priya Krishna's upbringing. It’s simple to put together, pretty hands off, and its flavor to ease ratio is off the charts. Also, potatoes and cauliflower are truly exceptional at absorbing and enhancing seasonings.

Healthy Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Every bite of this meal is bursting with flavor — it has the perfect combination of sweetness and savoriness from the sweet potatoes, and sautéed black beans and kale. Plus, the cashew dressing adds lots of creaminess.

Lentil Bolognese

When you know that you have a recipe for a pantry-staple friendly, simple to prepare pasta in your back pocket, there are few things that can go wrong. This lentil Bolognese is one of our favorites. It's fun to use lentils in a Bolognese in the same way that you would meat, while keeping traditional elements like carrots and onions along for the ride. The result adds a plant-based twist to a traditional and iconic pasta dish.

Vegan Animal-Style French Fries

These fries are our healthier version of the classic In-N-Out Animal-Style fries. The usual ones are covered in cheese, mayo and onions, while this recipe is a vegan and healthier spin on the original. The fries get extra crispy in the oven (or you can air-fry them!) and drizzled with the secret sauce on top with some caramelized onions and cashew cheese.

Vegan Loaded Pizza Bagels

"I've always loved pepperoni pizza since I was a little kiddo and I have been itching to develop a simple plant-based pepperoni substitute for years!" says Gabrielle Reyes (aka One Great Vegan). "The meaty mushrooms really soak in the full, robust flavor, and since it is hard to find a fierce plant-based and gluten-free bread these days, I am obsessed with these beautiful bagels."

Red Red Vegan Bean Stew

A stew so good they named it twice. This stew of black-eyed peas cooked in a gently spiced tomato sauce is a great vegan dish eaten all day long in Ghana — an alternative to baked beans for breakfast or as a bean casserole for lunch or dinner. Usually eaten with fried plantains, this is tasty, nourishing comfort food that's super easy to make.

Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeum Bap)

"Like the cuisine of many cultures, Korean dishes are designed to make use of every scrap of food before it goes bad," says Molinaro. "Kimchi fried rice is, like bibimbap, a 'recipe' that was born of need, when grocery stores weren't around every corner and folks had to make do with whatever they had in the refrigerator. Well, I have never seen a Korean kitchen without kimchi or rice!"

"These are sweet enough to make you remember what a mess you’d make with the icing from a cinnamon roll as a little kid," Clairborne says about her vegan rolls. "They're also delicious enough to put your 'healthy diet' rules on suspension for a few minutes, and then reject any bit of regret."

Classic Italian pesto gets a healthy makeover with a big serving of spinach. This recipe is customizable and tastes great with blistered tomatoes, almond milk ricotta, more olive oil and something crunchy like walnuts or pine nuts. Using chick pea pasta will also add a little extra protein to the dish.

Sunny's Black Bean Burgers

What's a Meatless Monday without a solid burger substitute sitting at the table? Sunny Anderson's black bean burgers are so hearty and satisfying, it's easy to forget they're not made out of beef. Oatmeal helps bind the burger and also adds bulk to the patties. Bean appetit!

"Chickpea blondies are one of my all-time most popular recipes, so a chickpea brownie seemed like the next obvious choice," says Dada. "This brownies are fudgy and super easy to make because the batter comes together in a blender."

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Jessica Seinfeld

We love this recipe because it's so flavorful and hearty. This is a home run for people who are worried about walking away from the table unsatisfied. It's great for large groups and serves up well, year-round.

Vegan Egg Rolls

Vegan Egg Rolls

Joanne Molinaro

"I will never forget how my father waited patiently on the living room sofa as my mother frantically fried dozens and dozens of egg rolls for his work holiday party," says Molinaro. "It was around midnight because my dad worked the night shift. It was the one time of the year that my father, who was probably the most introverted and socially awkward employee at the United States Postal Service, became the most popular man at the office. The holiday party wasn't complete without my mom's egg rolls. I've used my mother's egg rolls to win over grumpy teachers and colleagues alike, and even my own mother-in-law declared them to be worthy of attempted bribery."

Mac and Greens

Mac and Greens

Chloe Coscarelli

Love a bowl of comforting mac but also want to get your greens? This dish has got you covered. Simple, creamy and craveable, it's 100% plant-based so it's good for you and the earth.

When a craving for something like popcorn chicken strikes, instead of opting for takeout, whip up a quick batch of these vegetarian-friendly poppers made with cauliflower. Dredged in egg, breaded in gluten-free almond meal and tossed in warm, flavorful spices, these bite-sized florets are irresistible when they come sizzling out of the oven.

Peanut Butter Bars

Peanut Butter Bars

Jessica Seinfeld

"I remember I made these and I left them sitting on the counter. My son, who is averse to trying new things, started eating them — many of them," says Jessica Seinfeld. "That's the ultimate sign of success in our house: Eating something with no raised eyebrows or complaints."

A simple 30-minute meal, this Bolognese uses chopped cauliflower (or store-bought riced cauliflower) in lieu of meat. With rich seasonings and pasta sauce, it tastes just like the real thing, is kid-approved and very affordable. For extra protein, try a chickpea or lentil pasta instead of semolina.

Tofu skeptics, prepare to be converted: Pressing the tofu to expel the water, then marinating it in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger, gives it an incredible amount of flavor.

"Growing up with dishes like chana masala, masala green beans or aloo gobi on rotation adjusted my lens on vegetarian cooking, and I now feel obligated by my soul to add a variety of delicious masala spices to any veggie dish I’m cooking," says Dada. "When I cook for myself, I thrive on seasoning my veggies with cumin, turmeric and cayenne — heightening the flavor profiles and reminding me of the tastes of home."

Sweet Soy Tempeh (Tempeh Manis)

The sweetness of this dish is a trademark of central Java, a province of Indonesia. It's sticky with caramelized kecap manis and palm sugar, and perfectly balanced by the nutty flavor of crispy tempeh, the crunch of roasted peanuts and the gentle heat of the chile.

Kelewele (Fried Spicy Plantains)

Kelewele is a simple and quick side dish of spiced and fried plantain, and a common snack available from roadside chop bars and street-food vendors across Ghana. There are several variations across West Africa but it can be as simple as marinating the plantain in a mix of very finely chopped onion, grated fresh root ginger, chile flakes and salt.

This 25-minute meal is flavorful, light and balanced while remaining a plant-based, veggie-packed dinner or lunch that everyone will love. The roasted red peppers and garlic add a sweetness to the sauce that is undercut by the acidic tomatoes, lemon juice and spices.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These bars are freaky good. Packed with protein from the peanut butter, they’re basically a workout food … that’s how that works, right? They’re sweet, chewy, ooey-gooey and very worthy of your next Netflix marathon.

Vegan Matcha-Dark Chocolate Cake

Mashed ripe banana and Japanese ceremonial matcha powder make this cake one of the most beloved recipes in Kumai's cookbooks. The banana adds sweetness and moisture and the matcha is packed with antioxidants and vitamins.

Not only does Dada’s chickpea burger hold together beautifully, it’s packed with plant-based protein and it travels well. Pair it with a delicious spread, like pepper special sauce, and enjoy on a picnic, in a to-go lunch for work or wherever hunger may strike.

Ratatouille

Elizabeth Heiskell

Try this traditional French dish on any warm evening. Teeming with beautifully stewed veggies like tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash and bell pepper, it's a colorful, all-in-one vegetarian meat to satisfy all the senses.

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Tahini

Roasting is Gaby Dalkin's favorite way to make vegetables! Here are a few simple things to keep in mind when you're roasting vegetables: You need ample room on the baking sheet, don't skimp on olive oil and roast until everything is caramelized on the edges.

Grilled Vegetable Paella

Here’s a plant-based paella bursting with bright Spanish flavors. The chickpeas provide the protein. While tradition may call for cooking the veggies right in the paella pan, not directly on the grill, but live fire intensifies their color' and flavor.

Beloved watermelon — naturally sweet and irresistibly juicy — is about to get interesting! In this poke-inspired recipe, swap the tuna out for watermelon by chopping the fruit into bite-size pieces and then marinate them in an Asian-style sauce. The watermelon's sweet signature flavor blends wonderfully with the lime-infused sesame sauce, resulting in a surprisingly addictive bite.

Vegetarian recipes

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

"This is my favorite vegetarian dinner," says Dalkin. "It's so easy, everyone loves it (including meat eaters), and it makes for excellent leftovers."

This recipe is inspired by three Italian classics (chicken Parm, sandwiches and garlic bread), but with a meatless twist. The garlic bread provides incredible flavor and crunch, plus the eggplant is hearty and delicious, making this a speedy yet exciting dish for entertaining or a casual night in.

In this dish, half of the zucchini is roasted, while the remaining half is cooked on the stovetop and blended to create a creamy veggie-packed sauce. The pasta is tossed in the sauce and topped with parmesan, roasted zucchini, pistachios and basil for a hearty yet healthy weeknight dinner!

Brooklyn Yankee Tomato Pie

This tomato pie combines well-loved and familiar flavors from foods such as pizza, with the appearance and fluffiness texture of a quiche. The mayonnaise in the filling acts as a great binder when blended with the cheeses in the recipe to create a dish that can stand on its own or is perfect served with a simple green salad for an amazing brunch, lunch or dinner.

Baked Broken Lasagna Pasta with Spinach

This recipe tackles the high-moisture of eggplant in a new way by treating them how one would cook mushrooms — without any oil or fat added — so that you can skip that step entirely and still end up with browned, creamy eggplant tossed in an Italian-style vinaigrette and other veggies.

The filling for these mini potpies is inspired by potato samosas, those delicious spiced dumplings that come fried in little triangular packets. Here, you bake the filling in ramekins with a puff pastry topper to create a simple and warming everyday meal.

Tsion's Shakshuka

Tsion's Shakshuka

Beejhy Barhany

Shakshuka is versatile and easy to make for brunch or dinner, it is packed with vitamins and proteins and is very flavorful. It's a delicious comfort food. Traditional shakshuka is usually made with tomatoes, but this 15-minute recipe from Tsion Cafe in Harlem, New York takes it to a different level with a sauce that includes Ethiopian-spiced vegetables.

Once you learn how to trim and cook this delicious spring vegetable, you'll see how quick they are to prepare. Baby artichokes are much smaller and cook faster, making them perfect for sautéing into caramelized goodness. Here, they are served with a buttery pan sauce, but you can also serve them with aioli, garlic butter or hollandaise.

There’s something very satisfying about digging out thick, funky-shaped, sauce-coated noodles, especially when they're coated in melted cheese. The dish calls for spinach but will taste wonderful with any leftover cooked veggies mixed in during the second half of the one-pot baked dish.

Anyone who loves a good, melted spinach artichoke dip will love this Italian spin on the dish. The 20-minute meal is basically the same recipe as the classic dip but with pasta. What could be better?

Indian-Spiced Khichdi

"When we had the tummy troubles, my mom would whip up a simple khichdi of rice and lentils with minimal spices and then up the spice ante for a dinner party-approved masala khichdi served with plain yogurt and a tangy spicy mango pickle," says Kanchan Koya.

This recipe is somewhere in the middle, perfect when you are looking for a quick comforting weeknight dinner that's light on effort, easy on your digestive system and big on flavor. It's topped with yogurt, but that can be skipped to make it completely vegan.

Veggie Chili Pizza

Veggie Chili Pizza

Lazarus Lynch

In the cold weather, chili will fulfill your family in the comfort-food department. Veggie chili is an even bigger win as there is no meat at all, yet it is perfectly chunky, rich and filling. The cornbread crust is light on carbs and provides a nice base for the chili.

Al Roker's Vegetable Lasagna

This vegetarian lasagna, which is bubbling with gooey cheese, is Al's genius (and delicious) way to pack lots of vegetable servings into dinner.

This soup is super bright and flavorful. The fresh ginger adds a touch of heat while the coconut cream keeps the dish cool and velvety. All you have to do is take out the Parm to make it vegan.

“Frying” rice in the oven, on a sheet pan, is not only possible, it actually produces the perfect amount of crisping. As with all sheet pan recipes, it’s the perfect throw-it-in-the-oven dish — simply toss your cold rice with veggies, kimchi and seasonings, spread it all onto a sheet pan and let a hot oven do the "frying" for you.

Spicy Miso Ramen

Spicy Miso Ramen

Candice Kumai

This super oishii spicy ramen is made with basic pantry staples, such as miso paste and tahini. Kumai loves adding extra sriracha for heat and topping it all off with a slightly runny, soft-boiled egg.

Laura Vitale loves this recipe because it is so versatile. She never makes this stew the same twice — it's always changing based on what she has on hand, and it always comes out delicious! It's comforting and filling but also light, and can easily be made vegan without the cheese.

Baked Lemony Broccoli and Mushroom Pasta

This deeply flavorful, silky pasta studded with broccoli, mushrooms and garlic is finished off with some breadcrumbs for crunch, soft dollops of creamy ricotta and quick-pickled peppers for a tiny bit of heat to balance it out.

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

Grilled Zucchini Lasagna

Catherine De Orio

Use all that zucchini from the garden, farmer’s market or grocery store in this cheesy, family-style vegetarian lasagna that is both filling, nutritious and comforting any night of the week.

Tender couscous, juicy watermelon, tart pickled onions, plus, loads of fresh veggies and an herbaceous dressing make this rainbow-hued salad the perfect summer starlet for your vegetarian dinner spread. An added benefit: It’s delicious when made ahead of time!