Looking for the best vegetarian main dishes? These healthy, easy to make, and seriously delicious entrees are guaranteed crowd pleasers.
Hi there. We’re Alex and Sonja, and we love to cook vegetarian recipes. In fact, we literally wrote the book on pretty simple plant-powered cooking! Together we’ve spent years researching the best vegetarian main dishes that make satisfying meals, sans the meat. (Yeah, it’s kind of a dream job.) Are you looking for vegetarian main dishes that are healthy, easy to make, and seriously delicious? You’ve come to the right place.
Now when it comes to vegetarian entrees, what does best mean, anyway? Here at A Couple Cooks, we’re unabashedly obsessed with balancing these three variables:
Delicious: Most importantly, it has to taste great.
Easy: Even better if it’s pretty simple to make.
Nourishing: Why make a recipe if it doesn’t at least have a pinch of healthy?
The best vegetarian main dishes, the ones you want to make again and again, balance these three things. Scroll down for what we find to be the “best of the best”. And if you like these, we’ve got many more in our cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking.
Recipes that are easy to make
Everyone is always asking us for the same thing these days: easy main dish recipes! And we get it. We know you’re not lazy. There’s just a lot going on, and you need recipes that will please everyone at the table but not take your entire evening to make. What does easy mean? All of these recipes use basic kitchen skills, dirty a moderate amount of pans, and are relatively fast to make.
The other thing everyone asks for? Healthy vegetarian main dishes. Healthy means different things to different people. Here’s what healthy means to us: whole food recipes that are full of vegetables and whole grains, use healthy oils like olive oil, and focus on filling plant-based proteins. All of these recipes are vegetarian and vegan, and many of them are naturally gluten-free too. Get started with the best vegetarian main dishes below. If you’re looking for more, head to our Healthy Dinner Recipes.
All the best vegetarian main dishes (from quickest to longest!)
A feature readers love from our cookbook is that each chapter lists recipes in order from fastest to longest total time to prepare. That way, as you page through a chapter you know the quickest recipes are at the beginning, and the later recipes gradually longer to prepare. Due to popular demand, we’ve done the same thing with our best vegetarian main dishes below! So let’s start with the fastest…
Can dinner really be made in 5 minutes? We set out to prove this challenge, and you've got to try it to believe it with this one. Dinner will materialize before your eyes! These tacos are filled with our famous "chorizo eggs", which turn eggs into a meaty texture and flavor in a flash. Top with salsa fresca, red onion slivers, cilantro & hot sauce, and prepare to be amazed. It's kind of a miracle, making it fitting for the top spot in our best vegetarian main dishes.
This vegetarian sandwich recipe is unanimously voted "best vegetarian sandwich" by everyone who tries it: and how could you not love it? It tastes like a healthy version of a Big Mac (yep!). The secret? Our easy Russian Dressing, which is basically Big Mac sauce. Combine that with our Best Creamy Coleslaw and melty Swiss cheese on a toasted pretzel bun, and well...it's pretty much heaven. This one gets high marks from carnivores and plant-eaters alike.
Oh hey there, creamy pesto mac and cheese! This seriously cozy comfort food is just as gooey as it looks, and adding a swirl of bright green basil pesto takes it to genius status. This is one of our best vegetarian main dishes because everyone who tastes it becomes a believer. The way that the Havarti cheese melts in makes the creamiest sauce. Try it with a fancy pasta to mix it up (we used a pasta called gigli).
This chickpea curry is the perfect blend of quick, easy, and knock-out delicious! It can be made in just 20 minutes, a speed record for sure. But there are no flavor shortcuts: it's bursting with garlic, ginger, cumin, and curry powder, with a bit of coconut swirled in for a creamy body. Serve with basmati rice and it's a true gem.
Here's the ultimate vegan burrito, chock full colorful healthy veggies and nutrients! Something about all those tasty fillings snuggled cozily into a tortilla makes a burrito irresistible. This one is packed with flavor from Spanish rice (aka Mexican rice), seasoned black beans, peppers and onions, and mashed avocado. Even better, step it up with a zingy vegan sauce!
Ready for the best vegetarian stir fry recipe? Of course, that’s our humble opinion! What steals the show is our homemade teriyaki sauce: it has just 4 ingredients and comes together in 5 minutes! It’s naturally sweet using maple syrup, and it brings just the right flavor to this stir fry. It's a far cry from the over-salted and sugary takeout stir fries that you might be used to!
Cuban black beans and rice is a very humble, straightforward dish. But these Cuban black beans? They taste like 1 million bucks. We've used canned beans to make a quick version of this Cuban staple, sauteeing onion, green pepper, jalapeño and garlic in butter to mimic some of the richness of the traditional ham hock. It cooks down into a silky smooth, luxurious sauce that tastes infinitely better than the sum of its parts.
Loaded sweet potatoes feature prominently in our best vegetarian recipes partly because of nostalgia. They were one of the first vegetarian entrees we ever made together! What we love about them is the balance of sweet, roasty potatoes against savory toppings. These sweet potatoes are accessorized with a Thai-style peanut butter sauce and a tangy cilantro and bell pepper slaw that always gets rave reviews from readers. You can make the sweet potatoes in an Instant Pot, or bake them in the oven—both ways come out delicious.
If we're talking best vegetarian main dishes, don't forget the meatballs! This vegan meatballs recipe is uniquely delicious; the meatballs are made of oats, cashews, spices, and grated potatoes! Roll the dough into ball and pan fry them until crisp, then serve them over spaghetti with your favorite marinara. If you're feeling fancy, top with a bit of vegan Parmesan for the coziest meal.
This jackfruit BBQ sandwich tastes just like pulled pork, in a tangy, savory BBQ sauce. In fact, your friends and family won’t believe it’s vegan. You could fool a few people with this recipe! We were a little wary of jackfruit at first. Fruit that stands in for meat? But after tasting it, we’re 99.9% sure you’ll also be on the jackfruit BBQ train, too.
Now a list of best vegetarian main dish recipes wouldn't be complete without chili! This healthy chili we make time and time again, and it's always a favorite with whoever is around the table. The secrets? Three beans for plenty of protein, quinoa for texture, and a bunch of savory spices complexity and nuance. Top with sour cream or cashew cream and crunchy pepitas as a healthy garnish. (Got an Instant Pot? Try our Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili.)
Yes, we're pulling out the expletives because this one is so delicious, you won't even remember that you're doing your body. You'll just feel like you're wrapped in a cozy hug. Did we mention it's a totally plant based main dish recipe, too? This vegan lentil soup is ready to amaze you. Take it from our readers, Sarah: "I made your Best Damn Lentil Soup and totally agree with the title of the recipe! Delicious!" We can't argue with that.
What's the best vegetarian burger recipe? This one! This burger is hearty, has a sturdy texture and big flavor. Miraculously, it stands up on a grill (which is a feat for a veggie burger!). Plus it looks just like a meaty burger. Slather it with our Homemade BBQ Saucewhile cooking, and it comes out smoky and tangy.
A good pan of enchiladas are the way to any vegetarian's heart! And these artichoke enchiladas are a stroke of genius. Adding artichoke to the filling gives them a meaty, almost chicken-like texture and flavor—which makes these vegetarian enchiladas super satisfying for meat eaters! And they're stuffed with quinoa so they’re a filling, satisfying vegetarian main dish. Add salsa verde and lots of cheese, for the win.
This creamy wild rice soup is a huge fan favorite, making a big splash over on our Instagram. And we couldn't be more thrilled, because this truly is one of the best vegetarian main dishes out there. Intensely cozy and comforting, it features chewy wild rice, savory veggies and white beans, swimming in a naturally creamy sauce that you'll never believe has no dairy. (The secret? Cashews!) It's pretty magical. Serve with buttermilk biscuits or homemade cornbread.
And last but not least, the best of the best vegetarian main dishes: this Healthy Pizza! It's authentic Italian style, baked with our Easy Thin Crust pizza dough. It's slathered with our Easy Pizza Sauce; you'll be amazed at how much flavor comes from a 5-minute blender pizza sauce. Then it's topped with caramelized peppers and onions, fresh arugula, and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese. It's all about fresh, delicious vegetables: and it turns out 1/3 the calories of a typical delivery pizza.
This one takes a while to bake, but it's 100% worth it. Just WOW! Alex and I eat dairy, but we agree: this is our favorite lasagna, period. No matter how you eat, this vegan lasagna will be a hit. Promise. We had a few friends over to try it, and here’s what we heard: “This is so good. I can’t stop eating it. I need another piece!” It's smothered in a zesty marinara sauce, layered with spinach, mushrooms, and our secret ingredient: hummus! Top with a sprinkling of "Parmesan" and it will please everyone at the table...we guarantee it.
Meal plans & more
Looking for more? Here are some additional recipes organized into meal plans, Instant Pot resources, and more!
In a medium bowl, whisk together the 4 eggs. Add the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and kosher salt, and whisk until combined.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the eggs and cook over medium low heat, scraping as the eggs solidify, about 3 to 4 minutes total. As you scrape, they’ll start to form together into a meat-like texture. Don’t scrape too much or you’ll make too small of pieces: just enough for that it comes together!
If time, warm and char the tortillas by placing them on an open gas flame on medium for a few seconds per side, flipping with tongs, until they are slightly blackened and warm. (See How to Warm Tortillas.)
Top with salsa fresca (drain extra liquid before serving), thin sliced red onions, torn cilantro leaves, and hot sauce.
Keywords: Vegetarian Main Dishes, Vegetarian Entrees, Vegetarian Entree Recipes
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.