Following a vegetarian diet comes with a host of health benefits. And even though you're cutting out meat, there are endless food combinations to welcome you into a world of incredible cooking.
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Vegetarian diets aren't that restrictive: While you're forgoing meat, you might enjoy cheese and yogurt (lacto-vegetarianism) or have some dairy and eggs (ovo-lacto vegetarianism).
Still, transitioning from Meatless Mondays to meatless every day can be daunting. That's why keeping a few vegetarian cookbooks on hand can be really helpful. Having some go-to vegetarian recipes in your arsenal can help ensure you're eating well-balanced meals. And you'll learn to master dishes full of vegetables, fruit, nuts and beans — all of which promote a nutritious diet.
If this is your first foray into vegetarianism, it may take some time to learn how to make the most nutritious choices. But there are many reasons to stick with it: For one, pooping will be no problem, thanks to all the fiber you'll be eating; and you'll probably have fewer sugar cravings because you'll be filling up on nutrient-dense foods that keep your blood sugar in check.
Here are some of the best vegetarian cookbooks to help you navigate breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and everything in between.
How We Chose
We chatted with registered dietitians who offered product recommendations. We also selected vegetarian cookbooks from renowned chefs and food writers based on customer reviews and certain criteria, including:
- Inclusivity of cuisines
- Accessible and budget-friendly ingredients
The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Beginners
1. The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health: More Than 200 New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Dishes
Based in Ithaca, New York, the Moosewood Restaurant has been running its natural foods kitchen since 1973. Known for its delicious plant-based cuisine, the Moosewood Collective has published 14 cookbooks and is considered a pioneer in the world of vegetarian cooking.
What makes this cookbook particularly great for those new to vegetarian cuisine is that it introduces a variety of vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds and fruits with flavors and dishes that are already familiar to you, like pasta with eggplant, ricotta and walnuts, tempeh bourguignon, green beans with ginger and garlic and even sweet potato pie with pecan-oat crust.
With an emphasis on organic, local produce, you'll learn how to eat seasonally, too, helping you save a few dollars at the grocery store.
"Dozens of books have been written by the Moosewood Restaurant folks, but this is one of my favorites," says Abbie Gellman, RD, a New York City-based chef and dietitian. "Chock-full of delicious, simple recipes, this vegetarian cookbook has hundreds of recipes and meal options year-round."
So even if you can't make it to the restaurant yourself, this cookbook will make you feel like you're truly sitting at one of their tables.
2. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food
In the revised version of this groundbreaking vegetarian cookbook, everyone's favorite foodie Mark Bittman offers vegan recipes and a new chapter on juices, smoothies and teas. You'll also learn how to cook with plant-based ingredients that have recently become more popular and accessible, like jackfruit, chia seeds, vegan cheeses and nut butters.
Brimming with colorful, taste-tempting photos and variations and substitutions for each recipe, you'll feel inspired to get in the kitchen.
3. In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes
Award-winning cookbook author and chef Deborah Madison gives us 100 more reasons to love vegetables in this 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Awards finalist cookbook.
Before she gets into the recipes, Madison opens the book with lessons she's learned about vegetarian cooking, like the importance of learning how to use your senses to find the best beet and artichoke in the bunch and looking into the farms where your produce comes from.
Featuring dishes for weeknight dinners and special occasions, this cookbook offers tips on how to make a delicious vegetarian meal your family and guests won't ever forget.
4. Eating Vegetarian: A Healthy Cookbook for Beginners
In addition to 75 recipes, you'll get information on how to make substitutions, save time in the kitchen and ensure you're getting all the proper nutrients in your meals.
Written by Allisa Bilden Warden and Steve Warden, the founders of the blog Meatless Makeovers, this cookbook has recipes for comfort food favorites, like pizza, burgers and Sloppy Joe, to entice the pickiest vegetarian eaters.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $14.39
The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Everyday Cooking
5. Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen
You might be familiar with Heidi Swanson's timeless food blog 101 Cookbooks, where she shares vibrant dishes that celebrate seasonal produce and ingredients from different cuisines in her California kitchen.
In this cookbook, the James Beard-winning author opens up her home to readers with 100 homecooked vegetarian dishes that provide comfort and nutrition. Swanson shows us just how approachable and accessible vegetarian living really is with simple ingredients and cooking techniques. She even walks you through her favorite kitchen appliances.
"Her recipes are diverse and nutrient-dense and have beautiful photos to accompany them," Gellman says.
From homemade granola and multi-grain pancakes for breakfast to filling soups, salads and pasta dishes for lunch and dinner, you'll want to fill your plate with vegetarian fare every day — and take an Instagram-worthy pic of it, too.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $14.59
6. Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body
This cookbook comes from Kathryne Taylor, the founder of the wildly popular vegetarian food blog Cookie + Kate. In it, you'll not only find mouthwatering plant-based recipes but also cooking tips on how to enhance the flavor of your dishes.
For example, toasting nuts and seeds impart a savory crunch to your dishes, and caramelizing vegetables makes them more palatable and gives them complex flavor.
Wake up to the color of sunshine with the Mango Lassie Smoothie Bowl With Toasted Coconut Muesli, dig into a hearty dinner with the Morrocan Roasted Carrot, Arugula and Wild Rice Salad and finish your meal with Dark Cherry Almond Crisp.
7. The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well With 700 Foolproof Recipes
America's Test Kitchen delivers another go-to cookbook with more than 300 vegetarian recipes that have been extensively tested and vetted before they're published on the page to ensure you're getting only quality meals.
Because their editors and chefs know that time is valuable, all recipes in the cookbook are 45 minutes or less to make from start to finish. There are also helpful photos that break down how to properly chop and prepare veggies.
The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for International Cooking
8. Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World
Author Madhur Jaffrey takes you through an international feast in this James Beard-winning cookbook with recipes inspired by her travels to Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Europe and beyond.
Vegetarians and meat-eaters will both appreciate her extensive guide to healthy cooking techniques and plant-based ingredients, as well as her tips for food prep and storage. In this bountiful book, Madhur also delivers personal nuggets from her food adventures, so readers can have a better understanding of her recipes' roots.
Whether you're a seasoned chef or a beginner, you'll love the journey this cookbook takes you through. Don't be surprised if you get the urge to book your next trip immediately.
9. Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook: 125+ Simple, Healthy Recipes for Living Well
The Mediterranean is well-known for its longevity-promoting diet, but this cookbook translates the Mediterranean diet through the vegetarian lens and opens readers up to the vast range of cuisines that make up this highly diverse part of the world.
For example, it highlights traditional ingredients and dishes from countries like Spain, Greece, Syria, Morroco and Lebanon, so readers get a taste of a variety of flavors and cuisines.
You'll also get cooking shortcuts, shopping guides on what to look for at local farmers' markets and groceries, and quick tricks to enhance the flavor of your meals.
10. Fresh from Poland: New Vegetarian Cooking from the Old Country
This vegetarian cookbook from Saveur award winner Michael Korkosz features recipes passed down from his Polish mother and grandmother. Although vegetables take the spotlight in his dishes, Korkosz uses a heavy hand with butter, flour and sugar, which he says gives food more life.
Prepare to feast on dishes like Spinach and Goat Cheese Pierogis, Barley Risotto With Asparagus Cider and Sweet Blueberry Buns With Streusel. We're already salivating.
11. Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day
Award-winning and best-selling author Meera Sodha celebrates Indian cuisine with sumptuous recipes that you'll want to make time and again.
Made with easy-to-find and budget-friendly seasonal ingredients, you'll get easy midweek meals, such as fresh matar paneer and daily dosa with coconut potatoes. This cookbook also includes batch recipes to freeze like moong dal with a garlic and cumin tarka and sweet potato vindaloo.
12. Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food: Deliciously Doable Ways to Cook Greens, Tofu, and Other Plant-Based Ingredients
From dumplings to shumai and congee and crispy noodles, the recipes in this cookbook make it easy to enjoy vegetarian Chinese cuisine in the comfort of your own home.
Author Hsiao-Ching Chou also provides tips on essential pantry ingredients to always keep on hand, an explainer on how to season and maintain a wok and a guide to cooking with Chinese produce, such as bok choy, bamboo shoots and daikon.
13. The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes From Omma's Kitchen
Author Joanne Lee Molinaro takes cookbook writing to the next level by sharing moving stories about her family's immigrant experience and how it relates to food. After giving up animal products at the age of 37, Lee Molinaro had to learn how to adapt the meaty Korean dishes she grew up eating into plant-based meals.
Filled with stunning food photography and unbelievably flavorful, authentic Korean dishes, this cookbook will not only make you fall in love with vegan cooking but inspire you to think about your own cultural connection to food.
14. Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation: 100 Full-Flavored Vegetarian Dishes That Prove You Can Stay Slim While Eating Pasta and Bread
There's nothing more comforting than a bowl of pasta, and this cookbook from dietitian Alexandra Casparo Lenz, RD, proves you can enjoy the comforts of Italian food without busting any diet goals. And no, you don't have to give up pasta for chickpea noodles.
"For vegan and vegetarian Italian recipes, I recommend this cookbook because it's filled with so many flavorful pasta recipes and there are also plant-based versions of Mediterranean-inspired basics like cashew cream, protein-packed pesto and tofu ricotta," says Stephanie McKercher, RDN, plant-based food blogger and author of The College Vegetarian Cookbook.
You'll not only find vegetarian versions of classics, like lentil bolognese, portobello carbonara and pumpkin fettuccine alfredo, but you'll also want to dog-ear recipes for homemade pasta, soups and stews and antipasti.
"One of my favorite dishes is the Easy Brussels Sprouts Penne — it's vegetarian comfort food at its finest," McKercher says.
15. Vegetarian Soul Food Cookbook: 75 Classic Recipes to Satisfy Your Cravings
With recipes like Creamy Stone Ground Grits and Baked Mac and Cheese, you'll never miss the meat in your dishes.
Throughout the book, author Alexia Wilkerson shares more about her Southern roots and the history of soul food, and how to adapt it to a vegetarian lifestyle. We also like that it also shares basic seasonings, spices, and vegetables commonly used in soul food cooking.
The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Quick Recipes
16. The Simply Vegetarian Cookbook: Fuss-Free Recipes Everyone Will Love
It includes recipes with just five ingredients or can be made in 30 minutes or less or in one big pot for extra ease.
Plus, you can easily adapt the recipes to be completely vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free, or include animal-based foods for family members who aren't vegetarian.
17. Deliciously Ella Making Plant-Based Quick and Easy: 10-Minute Recipes, 20-Minute Recipes, Big Batch Cooking
Ella Mills, the creator behind the wildly popular Deliciously Ella food blog, released her sixth cookbook in the summer of 2020, and just like her others, it's ideal for vegetarian cooking.
In her new book, Mills dives into batch cooking with 10- and 20-minute recipes. No one has time and energy to cook a gourmet meal every night, and her recipes recognize that without sacrificing flavor. The book is divided into seven sections, including breakfast, lunches, dips and dressings, big-batch cooking, sweets and weekend recipes that cater to larger crowds.
Fit for any palate, this cookbook features recipes that touch on every craving. There's a mocha and peanut butter smoothie, turmeric and zucchini pancakes, spicy fajita bowls, peanut and sesame veggie noodles and so much more.
18. The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Delicious Meals for Busy People
Made for busy weeknights when you just need to get something on the table, this cookbook delivers 100 delicious and super-quick recipes from a variety of cuisines.
To save you the work of sifting through the cookbook, the recipes also come with special labels for those who are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free or vegan. And you'll get a helpful chart with protein comparisons of animal-based versus plant-based protein sources, a guide on how to prep and cook vegetables, as well as vegetarian ingredients to stock your pantry.
19. Instant Pot Vegetarian Cookbook: Fast and Healthy Recipes for Your Favorite Electric Pressure Cooker
The Instant Pot is one of the most popular multicookers, and many argue that no kitchen is complete without one because of its convenience.
In this cookbook, a lifelong vegetarian and author Srividhya Gopalakrishnan created more than 75 veggie-based recipes you can make in the Instant Pot and breaks down all the special features, pressure levels and modes this multicooker has to offer.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $10.99
20. The Weekday Vegetarians: 100 Recipes and a Real-Life Plan for Eating Less Meat: A Cookbook
This cookbook is made for those who are interested in a vegetarian diet to improve their health and help save the planet but don't like the all-or-nothing approach. Jenny Rosenstarch, founder of the blog Dinner: A Love Story, created this cookbook so she could eat vegetarian during the week and enjoy meat on weekends.
With delicious dishes like Pizza With Cheddar, Caramelized Onion & Egg and Cauliflower Cutlets With Ranch Dressing, giving up meat during the week is easy.
The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Budget-Friendly Meals
21. The College Vegetarian Cookbook
Don't let "college" make you think that this cookbook is geared just for the vegetarian coeds. It's a great resource for anyone looking to budget while following a plant-based diet.
Filled with 150 budget-friendly and delicious recipes, you'll learn how to transform vegetarian staples, like legumes, whole grains, vegetables and nuts, into comforting, wholesome meals. The book also comes with helpful shopping lists, meal storage tips, cooking techniques and a breakdown of pantry essentials.
"Most of the recipes in this book require less than 10 ingredients and an hour of time to prep and cook. There are so many classic college meals with plant-based twists, including buffalo tofu sandwiches, vegan queso and crispy eggplant BLTs," McKercher says. Yum.
22. The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook: 500 Inspired, Flexible Recipes for Eating Well Without Meat
America's Test Kitchen makes a second appearance on this list for their plant-based cookbook, which caters to both vegans and vegetarians. It includes 500 recipes, which can be easily adapted to your own dietary preferences to help you meet your nutritional and budget-related needs.
We love that it's also inclusive of different cuisines and offers tips on how to boost the umami flavor of your dishes with accessible ingredients. There are also extensive explainers on how to cook the perfect plant-based burger and the different types of plant-based milks and yogurts.