Here are the best vegetarian meals for meat eaters to satisfy even the most passionate carnivores. They may even ask for seconds!
Are you cooking for meat eaters? We get it, making vegetarian meals that please the staunchest of meat eaters is quite the challenge! When Alex and I first started eating more vegetarian and plant based recipes, our meat-and-potatoes families thought we were crazy. So it became a challenge! We set out to convince even the most passionate meat eaters that eating vegetables can be seriously delicious.
Did it work? Absolutely! Not all of our family members eat vegetarian recipes on the regular. But they are now convinced that eating meals without meat can taste good. Here we’ve put together a collection of starter vegetarian meals for meat eaters. These are the top recipes that we know will go over well: they’re super satisfying and rich. Even better: Each one has been tested on our friends and family and come away a winner.
And now: our best vegetarian meals for meat eaters!
First up in our vegetarian meals for meat eaters? Pizza! And this pizza in particular is a front runner in our most well-loved category. This one skips the taco meat, but with all the flavor going on you won't miss it. It's topped with a slather of refried beans, gooey cheese, crunchy veggies, black olives, and crunchy tortilla chips. The best part? It's all drizzled with Homemade Ranch.
Next up: this magical vegetarian BBQ sandwich! Oddly enough, this one is so convincing it might fool you into thinking you're eating pulled pork: when in reality it's actually jackfruit! It's covered in a boozy, tangy bourbon barbecue sauce that coats it in mega-flavor: and the jackfruit texture is almost just like meat. We suggest being upfront about it, of course: but the flavor and texture are truly divine. This one's a surefire winner as a vegetarian meal for meat eaters.
Another vegetarian meal for meat eaters: our best vegetarian meatloaf! Here cheese, nuts, herbs, and mushrooms combine into a loaf that has a convincing meaty texture and flavor: it's almost magical! May I just say that my meat-loving mother is obsessed with this one? She always asks if we can make it on special occasions.
Here's a quick and easy vegetarian meal that meat eaters love: we know because we've gotten lots of feedback on it! Why? It tastes like a Big Mac. Well, start with our best coleslaw ever. Add a melty cheese on top of a salty pretzel bun. What puts it over the edge is our secret sauce: Russian dressing, the star ingredient in a Reuben sandwich and, it turns out, the Big Mac.
What meat eater doesn't love a good mac and cheese? This one is rich and creamy, with a thick sauce made of melty gouda cheese. The best part? A crunchy herbed breadcrumb topping seals the deal. It has such a satisfying, savory flavor that no one misses the meat.
This hearty vegetarian chili is another meal we hear that meat eaters love! It's packed with flavor from a load of chili powder, a trio of beans, and bulgur wheat stands in as a meaty texture. Stir in lots of sour cream and cheese as the garnish, and it's a seriously satisfying bowl...without the meat.
Here's a comfort food that's typically made with sausage, turned into a vegetarian brunch for meat eaters! Yes, if you're a lover of biscuits and gravy they don't need to be made with meat (or dairy, for that matter). Turns out, vegan biscuits and gravy are damn good. A thick, peppery mushroom gravy coats impossibly flaky biscuits. All we can say is: wow.
Yes, you can make these tacos in 5 minutes! (If you're speedy.) And yes, they're the perfect vegetarian meal for meat eaters. Why? The filling makes meat magically out of eggs! Add a load of chili powder, garlic powder and cumin, and these eggs turn into "chorizo eggs" in no time. Top with the traditional taco toppings, and they're an instant hit.
Here's a super savory and satisfying skillet: skillet enchiladas! There's no going wrong with a bold red enchilada sauce that buries everything in garlicky, smoky goodness! Add to that tortilla strips, gooey cheese, black beans, corn and cilantro, and you've got one very crowd-pleasing dinner.
And last but certainly not least in our vegetarian meals for meat eaters: skillet eggplant marinara! This one involves no breading or frying eggplant. Instead bake it and layer in a skillet with a tangy high quality marinara, mozzarella cheese and feta. It comes together into gooey goodness. Serve with spaghetti or garlic bread for a satisfying meal.
This vegetarian taco pizza is topped with refried beans, cheese, romaine, crumbled tortilla chips, and of course — ranch. In a word: WOW.
- 1 ball Best Pizza Dough (or purchased dough)
- 1/3 cup refried pinto beans, canned
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 green onions
- 1 handful canned sliced black olives
- 1/2 romaine heart
- 1/2 tomato or 3 cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Homemade Ranch Dressing
- 3 organic corn tortilla chips
- Hot sauce, for the garnish
- Kosher salt
- Semolina flour or cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel
- Make the pizza dough: Follow the Best Pizza Dough recipe to prepare the dough. (This takes about 15 minutes to make and 45 minutes to rest.)
- Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. OR preheat your pizza oven (here’s the pizza oven we use).
- Prepare the toppings: Taste the refried beans: if needed, mix in a pinch or two of cumin and a pinch of kosher salt. (Ours were already well seasoned.) Thinly slice the green onion. Chop the romaine lettuce. Chop the tomatoes. Make the Homemade Ranch.
- Bake the pizza: When the oven is ready, dust a pizza peel with cornmeal or semolina flour. (If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can use a rimless baking sheet or the back of a rimmed baking sheet. But a pizza peel is well worth the investment!) Stretch the dough into a circle; see How to Stretch Pizza Dough for instructions. Then gently place the dough onto the pizza peel.
- Spread the refried beans over the dough using a spatula to create a thin layer. Add the cheddar cheese, then top with black olives and half of the green onions. Top with a pinch of kosher salt.
- Use the pizza peel to carefully transfer the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake the pizza until the cheese and crust are nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes in the oven (or 1 minute in a pizza oven).
- Top with the reserved green onions, chopped tomatoes and romaine, and crumbled tortilla chips. Drizzle with ranch dressing and if desired, sprinkle with hot sauce. Slice into pieces and serve immediately.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Fusion
Keywords: Vegetarian Recipes for Meat Eaters, Taco Pizza
A few more vegetarian and plant-based recipe resources
If you’re looking to make a switch to eating more meatless vegetarian meals, it takes time to work it into your lifestyle! Here are a few of the resources we’d recommend if you’re just starting out:
- 28 Day Vegetarian Meal Plan
- Easy Vegetarian Recipes for Beginners
- Easy Vegan Recipes for Beginners
- Fast & Easy Dinner Ideas
- Plant Based Diet for Beginners
- Whole Food Plant Based Diet: Guide & Recipes
- 12 Plant Based Recipes Perfect for Dinner
About the Authors
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.