And while we often correlate comfort food with meaty, cheesy American classics, there are dozens of recipes that give you all that same nostalgic flavor without breaking your vegan diet. From vegan mac and cheese to vegan milkshakes and vegan biscuits and gravy, keep scrolling for delicious vegan comfort food recipes to enjoy under 500 calories.
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1. Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 472 calories
- 11 grams of protein
Mac and cheese might be one of the most popular comfort foods out there, but if you're on a vegan diet, it can be a bit tricky to make without the gooey cheese. Thankfully, this dairy-free version provides creamy flavor and protein from cashews and nutritional yeast, says plant-based dietitian Amy Gorin, RDN and owner of Plant-Based Eats. "Plus, you get an excellent amount of fiber from the nuts, veggies and gluten-free pasta."
Get the Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe and nutrition info here.
2. All-American Vegan Cheeseburgers
- 433 calories
- 12 grams of protein
"Not all veggie burgers contain a decent amount of protein, but this one does, thanks to the lentils," Gorin says. The best part about any burger recipe, including this one, is you can customize it to your liking. Serve it on a vegan bun or atop a bed of lettuce.
Get the All-American Vegan Cheeseburger recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Slow Cooker Vegan Chili
- 271 calories
- 17 grams of protein
Nothing spells comfort like a warm bowl of chili.
"This 100 percent plant-based chili offers a triple whammy of pulses — black beans, pinto beans and red lentils — making it so satiating thanks to the combination of dietary fiber and plant protein," says Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, a plant-forward chef and author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes.
As if that weren't enough nutrients, "the duo of canned tomatoes and tomato paste give this recipe significant lycopene, a pigment that offers heart-protective benefits," Newgent says.
Watching your sodium intake? "Simply reduce the amount of salt you use here while adding a splash of red wine vinegar to help balance taste," Newgent says. Sprinkling in a big pinch of cinnamon will also add something special to the flavor profile.
Get the Slow Cooker Vegan Chili recipe and nutrition info here.
4. No-Cook Healthy Vegan Dark Chocolate Chia Pudding
- 198 calories
- 7 grams of protein
Without a doubt, chocolate pudding tops the list of all-time nostalgic foods from childhood. This vegan version is just as tasty as the kind your granny used to make but boasts big benefits.
"The trio of cacao powder, chia seeds and raspberries is what makes this dessert a standout source of dietary fiber for maintaining good digestive health," Newgent says. "Chia seeds offer a powerful assortment of antioxidants with an array of health-protective qualities, including potential anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic and anti-aging properties," she says.
Fresh berries out of season? Go ahead and use thawed frozen berries, which are frozen at the peak of their ripeness, nutritional value, flavor and color, Newgent says.
Get the No-Cook Healthy Vegan Dark Chocolate Chia Pudding recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Vegan Alfredo Pasta
- 280 calories
- 7 grams of protein
Instead of loading up on heavy cream, cheese and milk, this vegan-approved creamy pasta dish calls for coconut milk. "This recipe does contain a higher amount of saturated fat," Gorin warns. "To reduce that, choose a can of lite coconut milk instead."
She also notes that this recipe does include a variety of vegetables, which the traditional dish doesn't include. So feel free to load up on additional veggies for more vitamins and minerals.
Get the Vegan Alfredo Pasta recipe and nutrition info here.
6. Vegan Margherita Thin-Crust Pizza
- 464 calories
- 14 grams of protein
"This plant-based twist on a classic Margherita pizza is bursting with health-protective benefits, especially due to the dietary fiber from the whole-grain crust and carotenoids [antioxidants] from the tomatoes and fresh basil," Newgent says.
"The extra-virgin olive oil helps boost the amount of fat-soluble nutrients, including carotenoids, that your body absorbs," Newgent says.
Pro tip: when it comes to the melty mozzarella-style shreds, choose a plant-based mozzarella or other vegan cheese that's based on nuts — rather than coconut — for the healthiest fat profile, she adds.
Get the Vegan Margherita Thin-Crust Pizza recipe and nutrition info here.
7. Spicy Breakfast Burrito
- 491 calories
- 23 grams of protein
"By starting the day with veggies, this plant lover's burrito recipe offers a delicious way to help boost daily intake of fiber and an array of plant nutrients," Newgent says.
And you won't miss the melty cheese thanks to flavorful nutritional yeast. "Nutritional yeast provides taste, kind of like if it were parmesan cheese while being an important source of vitamin B12 that's otherwise lacking in plant-based eating plans," Newgent says.
The "meat" of this better-for-you- burrito comes in the form of tasty tofu, which contains all essential amino acids while providing anti-inflammatory compounds, she says. "For a satisfying alternative to tofu, try tempeh, canned chickpeas or simply use more of the canned pinto beans."
Get the Spicy Breakfast Burrito recipe and nutrition info here.
8. Sweet Potato Sliders With Guacamole
- 446 calories
- 16 grams of protein
"This recipe offers one of the most comforting ways to get your veggies, as burger patties," Newgent says. These sliders supply a hefty serving of sweet potatoes that pack a powerful hit of gut-healthy fiber (11 grams per serving).
And while some plant-based burgers can be a little soft or crumbly, "hummus helps these sliders stay well-formed as patties while punching up protein, fiber and folate," Newgent says.
If you're watching your carb intake, skip the bread-based bun, and "enjoy these sliders with guacamole and wrapped in lettuce for Mexican-style flair," Newgent says. "Alternatively, serve these topped with baba ghanoush or muhammara [a spicy walnut and roasted red pepper dip] for a Middle Eastern inspiration," she adds.
Get the Sweet Potato Sliders With Guacamole recipe and nutrition info here.
9. Homemade Chunky Almond Butter Bars
- 156 calories
- 3 grams of protein
Free from soy, dairy and sugar alcohols, these no-bake bars are just as sweet as store-bought candy bars but only contain nutritious whole foods. Raw, crunchy almonds combine with chewy, caramel-tasting Medjool dates for a tantalizing texture that'll tickle your tastebuds.
While each bar contains a moderate 10 grams of sugar, you can slash the sugar content even further by using fewer chocolate chips. Rather than dipping the bars in chocolate, simply drizzle a little melted chocolate on each instead.
Get the Homemade Chunky Almond Butter Bars recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
10. Vegan Bolognese Sauce
- 483 calories
- 28 grams of protein
This meat-free version swaps out the beef or pork in favor of crumbled tempeh. "Tempeh, which is made mainly from fermented soybeans, is an excellent source of protein, nutrient-rich and associated with potential heart and bone-health benefits," Newgent says.
"For an aromatic, Italian sausage-like taste, add a few big pinches of fennel seeds and a dash of red pepper flakes," she recommends.
To complete the meal, pair it with a traditional pasta like tagliatelle. Need a low-carb option? "If you serve the plant-based Bolognese over spaghetti squash, the recipe remains diabetes-friendly since this versatile vegetable has a low glycemic index," Newgent says.
Get the Vegan Bolognese Sauce recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
11. Vegan Cornbread
- 202 calories
- 3 grams of protein
Fluffy, moist and sweet, this vegan cornbread makes a comforting side for any main dish without all the saturated fat of the traditional type, which is usually swimming in butter.
"Cornmeal, the star of this cornbread recipe, counts as a whole grain food with a significant mineral content," Newgent says. "It also features lutein and zeaxanthin, [two kinds of carotenoids] which may play a key role in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration," she adds.
To bank bonus whole grain benefits — and equally yummy results — Newgent suggests swapping out the all-purpose flour for whole-wheat pastry flour.
Get the Vegan Cornbread recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
12. Vegan Chocolate Shake
- 121 calories
- 11 grams of protein
Sipping on a thick, chocolatey milkshake — now that's the epitome of comfort.
Even if you're not vegan, this plant-based smoothie will satisfy your sweet tooth and your hunger pangs with a powerful punch of protein (11 grams per serving).
With just three ingredients — unsweetened almond milk, protein powder and ice — it only takes 5 minutes to fire up the blender and make this frothy masterpiece. And if milk-based shakes stir up your stomach issues, this delectable drink will be easy on your tummy as it's dairy-free.
Get the Vegan Chocolate Shake recipe and nutrition info here.
13. Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits and Country Gravy
- 448 calories
- 8.5 grams of protein
Don't let the name fool you. These buttermilk biscuits and country gravy are totally vegan (and ready in about 30 minutes). Even though these biscuits call for cashew milk, you can sub it for almond milk if you've got it on hand.
"The sodium content is on the higher end, so just minimize the amount of salt added," Gorin says.
Get the Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits and Country Gravy recipe and nutrition info from The Simple Veganista.
14. Vegan Rice Krispie Treats
- 260 calories
- 6 grams of protein
Many of us have fond memories of making marshmallow-y, ooey-gooey Rice Krispies Treats from scratch. This vegan twist on the classic sweet snack serves up the same great flavors you love without all the artificial flavors.
Made with only five simple ingredients, these vegan bites get a heap of heart-healthy fats with the addition of natural almond butter.
Plus, substituting brown rice crisp cereal for regular Rice Krispies ups the gut-friendly fiber content: Compared to the original Rice Krispies Treats, which contain zero grams of fiber, each serving of these goodies supplies 4 grams.
Get the Vegan Rice Krispie Treats recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
15. Vegan Chili Cheese Fries
- 338 calories
- 8.3 grams of protein
There are so many components to these Vegan Chili Cheese Fries, it's like every bite is a new adventure. "I like that these fries combine several fiber-rich veggies, including potatoes and onions," Gorin says. And of course, avocado is a source of healthy fats. Because the fries can be baked or air-fried, you can keep oil to a minimum.
Get the Vegan Chili Cheese Fries recipe and nutrition info from Avocado Centric.
16. Creamy Vegan Queso
- 85 calories
- 3 grams of protein
Have a hankering for nachos? There's nothing more comforting than a big bowl of melted cheese dip, and this vegan spin is no exception.
Even cheese lovers will drool over this creamy vegan queso bursting with lip-smacking spices like chili powder, paprika and cumin and loaded with nutrient-dense sweet potatoes and cashews.
This cashew queso works wonderfully as a dip for tortilla chips or makes a terrific topping for taco and burrito bowls. And with only 1 gram of saturated fat per serving, it's a heart-healthier option compared to store-bought dairy-based cheese dips that clock more than triple the saturated fat content.
Get the Creamy Vegan Queso recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
17. Vegan Chocolate Mousse
- 243 calories
- 3 grams of protein
If you've never tried aquafaba, we suggest making this recipe, stat. Aquafaba is nutrient-rich chickpea water (think: the liquid leftover in a can) and it works perfectly as an egg or egg white substitute in recipes, Gorin says. Instead of adding sugar or honey for sweetness, this Vegan Chocolate Mousse uses antioxidant-rich cacao nibs and raspberries, in addition to dark chocolate and maple syrup.
Get the Vegan Chocolate Mousse recipe and nutrition info here.