These easy vegetarian recipes for beginners are delicious ways to eat plant based meals, from easy dinner ideas to breakfast essentials.
Looking for ways to eat more vegetables? Your quest is exactly why we started this website. Years ago, Alex and I got married and wanted to start eating healthier foods. Back then, we read a book that talked about how eating more veggies is good for the planet and good for your health. Today, the story is no different! In fact, our new podcast episode talks how what we eat relates to climate change. So whether you’re looking to be gentler on the planet or eat healthier, here’s a list of our favorite easy vegetarian recipes for beginners. Some are easy dinner ideas, some are breakfast essentials, and some are cookies because: why not? Keep reading for our easy vegetarian recipes for beginners.
This may be the fastest dinner recipe we’ve created: a 5 minute gnocchi sauce, which comes together into a meal in 15 minutes flat. How, you ask? The romesco gnocchi sauce is a delicious blend of almonds, tomatoes, and red peppers in 5 minutes. At the same time, boil your gnocchi, those delicious pillows of pasta cook in just 2 to 3 minutes. Then use our favorite trick: use the pasta water to quickly wilt spinach instead of cooking it in a separate pot. Stir it all together and you’re done! It’s lightening fast and oh so delicious. Omit the feta for a fully plant based dinner.
Another fast and easy dinner recipe for your arsenal: BBQ bean tacos with pineapple salsa! Yes, these tacos are vegan / plant based and full of flavor, and done in 25 minutes. Simply simmer pinto beans in BBQ goodness, then use that time to chop up your pineapple, red onion and cilantro for a quick salsa. It’s one of our go to’s for quick weeknights! The salsa uses canned pineapple, so many of the ingredients can be kept in the pantry for easy access when you need a fast dinner. There’s no real difficulty in cooking methods here, making this top of the list in our easy vegetarian recipes for beginners.
If we’re talking easy vegetarian recipes for beginners, this one is probably the easiest breakfast you’ll ever make. Promise. Yes, it’s instant oatmeal that’s homemade, so you don’t have to buy those storebought packets that have additives and sugar! The instant oatmeal mixes up in just 5 minutes, and makes enough for breakfasts throughout the week. Just add water and microwave for 2 minutes! It’s a genius life hack that makes for simple mornings.
With all of our vegetarian recipes for beginners, we try to make them so delicious that you feel totally satisfied without meat. This is the case with our tomato coconut cauliflower curry! People have been making it for years, and it’s one of the recipes that we hear makes it into the weeknight rotation for readers and followers. This one requires a bit more chopping: sweet potato, cauliflower and onion. But once you’ve chopped the veggies, it’s a breeze to simmer up: and you can clean as you go.
Let’s go back to super simple again for moment, shall we? This 5 minute pesto arugula breakfast sandwich is a fitting vegetarian recipe for beginners because it shows how thoughtfully flavored food doesn’t have to take hours to make. Pesto is one of our tricks to adding big flavor in no time (you can make your own or purchase a jar). Slather pesto on an English muffin, quick wilt some arugula, top with an egg and you’re in business! Though it’s called a breakfast sandwich, we often eat these sandwiches for dinner.
This recipe is relatively new but we’ve started to recommend it as one of our top vegetarian recipes for beginners. Why? In just 25 minutes, you have a fresh bowl of delicious vegetables that’s smothered in a tangy lemon tahini sauce. If you’re just starting to eat plant based recipes or have been eating them for years, this one is a truly tasty way to eat your veggies. Pro tip: we used couscous in this bowl because it’s so quick to cook: bring it to a boil and then turn off the heat for 5 minutes! It’s the perfect side dish for fast and easy dinner ideas.
This one’s a treasure: a silky smooth tomato basil soup floating with doughy gnocchi pasta! It requires only a bit of chopping to get big flavor, and the vibe is extra cozy. Here, the tangy flavor comes from both the tomatoes and deglazing the pan with a bit of white wine vinegar before simmering the soup. Deglazing? Yes, our vegetarian recipes for beginners can teach age old cooking techniques at the same time! This one is vegan and plant based if you buy vegan gnocchi; the Parmesan cheese is optional!
If a no bake cookie and a peanut butter cup had a baby, it would be these bliss bites! Chocolate peanut butter heaven, right here. This one is a vegetarian recipe we recommend to everyone: not just beginners. Also gluten free, vegan and plant based, it’s our most popular recipe to date! They’re such a fan favorite that we even made sure to include them in our cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking. We tend to make the “mini” version of bliss bites using a mini muffin tin, to keep the portion size smaller. And then you can eat more of them!
These refried black beans are seriously simple, and you can use them in all sorts of ways to make fast and easy dinner recipes! Simply simmering black beans with garlic brings big flavor, and they’re done in just 15 minutes. Serve these black beans with eggs, or in tacos like these Refried Bean Tacos with Chipotle Tahini Sauce. Also try them in our authentic Mexican homemade sopes!
Here’s another of our vegetarian recipes for beginners that’s so flavorful, you don’t miss the meat. This one features Moroccan spices: cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon, and it’s finished off with a squeeze of lemon. With the contrasting sweetness of the sweet potatoes, it’s complex and cozy all at the same time. Keep it vegan and plant based and serve with quinoa, or if you’re vegetarian add a dollop of Greek yogurt for a creamy sauce to bring it all together.
Quesadillas are top on our list of vegetarian recipes for beginners because they’re so simple to whip up, and this recipe is our most delicious quesadilla to date. If you’ve got leftover sweet potatoes from our Thai style sweet potatoes (below), use them to make these loaded veggie quesadillas! Pro tip: adding mashed sweet potato brings in a gooey, creamy texture to a quesadilla that’s also full of nutrients. This quesadilla also features cumin-scented black beans and spinach, so it’s full of colorful veggies and full of flavor.
A good simple pasta is a must for vegetarian recipes for beginners, and this creamy vegan pasta marinara does not disappoint! The tomato based sauce is mixed with a dollop of creamy cashew sauce for a delicious, protein filled vegan pasta. It has all the cozy feelings of a pot of spaghetti, with a flavor that’s developed and more complex.
These Thai style baked sweet potatoes are one of our easy vegetarian favorites, because of the big flavor in this simple concept. If you have an Instant Pot, you can use it here to get perfectly cooked, moist sweet potatoes. Otherwise, simply roast the sweet potatoes in the oven while you prepare the toppings: a fresh, crunchy Thai-style pepper and cabbage slaw and a creamy peanut sauce. We’ve heard from many readers and followers that this one is a family favorite!
While we’ve been focusing on main dishes in this list of vegetarian recipes for beginners, we wanted to throw this side dish idea out there! This seriously simple three bean salad is a fantastic way to add protein to a vegetarian meal. When you’re eating primarily vegetarian recipes for a meal, it’s important to make sure the meal is satisfying and filling by including beans, legumes, nuts, and cheeses for protein. This one takes just 15 minutes to whip up, and you can eat off of it for a few days.
This vegetarian recipe for beginners is a popular one from our cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking! Instead of simmering for hours, you can get big flavor in just over 30 minutes. The secret here is adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilis: it brings in a smoky flavor without adding too much heat! Topped with homemade crunchy tortilla strips, you won’t be able to stop eating it.
We need another sweet recipe in here, no? These vegan no bake cookies are an even simpler version of the bliss bites above. Featuring dark chocolate, tahini (sesame paste), maple syrup, and sea salt, they’re a salty sweet combination that you’ll go crazy over. We’ve served them at parties and they disappear in a flash! Pro tip: both no bake cookies recipes require the cookies to stay cool, so they’re best right out of the refrigerator. You can also freeze them.
Who says fried rice needs…rice? This vegetable packed quinoa fried rice is big on flavor and vegetables: we’ve packed in all sorts of veggies to help you get your greens in the most delicious way. Garlic and ginger make this one taste just like takeout! It’s one of our favorite vegetarian recipes for beginners since it’s so flavorful and a great way to use up leftovers.
About the Authors
Cookbook Author and writer
Sonja Overhiser is an acclaimed vegetarian cookbook author and cook based in Indianapolis. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food website 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.
Cookbook Author and photographer
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 food 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.