If you’re looking to eat healthier but are not ready for the restrictions of the vegan lifestyle, going vegetarian is the way to do it.
By definition, vegetarian cooking differs from vegan because it uses meat by-products that are not a result of animal slaughter. Eggs, dairy products, and honey are examples of these.
But contrary to what you might think, there’s more variety to vegetarian dishes than these ingredients. Most vegetarian cookbooks now have gone beyond these staples by emphasizing organic, farm-to-table philosophies. This means more recipes that draw influences from other plant-based culinary cultures from around the world.
A good vegetarian cookbook will showcase this wonderful variety. It will go beyond using tofu or nutritional yeasts and highlight the nutrition of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables.
The best ones will teach you how to do it right, complete with illustrations or step-by-step photos to guide you along. From how to prepare them to the many different ways they can be used, these books will show you that vegetarian cooking need not be complex in order to be flavorful and satisfying.
The right one will help ease you into healthy eating. Whether you’re in it for the long haul, or just want to try out some fool-proof vegetable-forward dishes, a vegetarian cookbook is a handy book to have in your home kitchen. Here are my top ten recommendations on Amazon.
While we're on the topic, you could also look at vegan cookbooks. These have more ingredient restrictions than vegetarian cookbooks, but all the meals are still vegetarian friendly. Or, if you want less work, how about trying a vegetarian meal kit?
Table of Contents
- Best Vegetarian Cookbooks
- 1. The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well With 700 Foolproof Recipes Paperback – Illustrated
- 2. The Vegetarian Family Cookbook: 100 Simple Kid-Friendly Recipes to Enjoy Together Paperback
- 3. The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone: A Cookbook Hardcover
- 4. Taste of Home Vegetarian Made Easy
- 5. Chez Panisse Vegetables Hardcover – Illustrated
- 6. Vegetarian Meals in 30 Minutes: More than 100 delicious recipes for fitness Paperback
- 7. Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes
- 8. On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen Hardcover – Illustrated
- 9. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition Hardcover – Illustrated
- 10. The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table Paperback
- Top Pick
Best Vegetarian Cookbooks
- The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well With 700 Foolproof Recipes Paperback – Illustrated
- The Vegetarian Family Cookbook: 100 Simple Kid-Friendly Recipes to Enjoy Together Paperback –
- The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone: [A Cookbook] Hardcover
- Taste of Home Vegetarian Made Easy
- Chez Panisse Vegetables Hardcover – Illustrated
- Vegetarian Meals in 30 Minutes: More than 100 delicious recipes for fitness Paperback
- Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes
- On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen Hardcover – Illustrated
- How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition Hardcover – Illustrated
- The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table Paperback
1. The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well With 700 Foolproof Recipes Paperback – Illustrated
Tested by the American’s Test Kitchen (ATK), these recipes are a diverse collection of vegetarian dishes that cover main dishes, soups, salads, snacks, and appetizers. There’s a good mix of basic and ambitious dishes that should impress anyone.
Recipes are laid out in the standard ATK style, with lots of sidebars and boxes that contain relevant info on techniques and ingredients. There are more than 300 fast recipes that can be done in 45 mins or less (there’s a quick guide for locating them), 500 are gluten-free and 250 that are vegan. All these are accompanied by nearly 500 color photos that illustrate the key steps as well as techniques and tips on vegetable prep.
Readers like the short blurbs that explain the logic of the recipes and why specific techniques should be used for them. Overall, they found this a great reference cookbook for both newbies and experienced home cooks.
2. The Vegetarian Family Cookbook: 100 Simple Kid-Friendly Recipes to Enjoy Together Paperback
This cookbook features family-friendly vegetarian recipes that are ideal for anyone looking to add a few meat-free dishes to their family meals or if you’re a vegetarian eater looking for new dishes.
Recipes are labeled conveniently into 30-minute, 5-ingredient, one-pot, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and vegan recipes. They’re easy to follow and use ingredients that are pantry staples or are easy to procure. They’re also customizable for non gluten and dairy free eaters.
The book also comes with simple strategies for planning meals and what pantry staples one should buy. Each recipe comes with nutritional info and an ingredient substitution list.
Readers liked that the cookbook has some suggestions for recipes that kids can easily make. It’s a great way for them to pick up basic kitchen skills. Readers also liked the simple tips for cooking in advance and how to re-use leftovers.
3. The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone: A Cookbook Hardcover
This is an updated edition of a classic vegetarian cookbook from American’s leading authority on vegetarian cooking. It has a new introduction and more than 200 new recipes added to the existing 1,600 recipe collection. It has also expanded its information on vegetarian and vegan ingredients.
There are not many photos in the book but the recipes are well written and easy to follow. There are equivalents/substitutions for ingredients as well as suggestions on multiple uses for the recipes. The author clearly understands the dynamics of a meal and how each ingredient interacts to produce a flavorful dish.
Readers liked that the book reads more like a kind person coaching you how to cook. One noted that the fats section has more information than most cookbooks. They also like the fact that the recipes are flexible and don’t require strict adherence in order to have a great tasting dish. Serious vegetarian eaters will find this book an essential kitchen companion.
4. Taste of Home Vegetarian Made Easy
This book has more than 335 vegetarian dishes collected by the editors of Taste of Home magazine. It covers everything from slow cooked dishes to Instant Pot recipes.
Recipes are easy to follow and use common pantry staples or easy to source ingredients. There are lots of photos for each recipe. This book also contains info on different kinds of vegetarian diets, a substitution list for meat dishes, and a breakdown on nuts, grains, rice, and beans.
Readers liked its no-frills approach to vegetarian cooking. Anyone interested in expanding their culinary repertoire of veggie dishes will find this book practical and useful.
5. Chez Panisse Vegetables Hardcover – Illustrated
This is not only a cookbook but also an excellent recourse for selecting and serving fine vegetable produce. The Chez Panisse resto is well known for its gourmet farm-to-table dishes and this book is a reflection of their fine reputation.
There are more than 40 vegetables featured in the book with detailed descriptions about the seasonal availability, proper look, flavor, and instructions on how to prepare them. They are accompanied by 250 recipes that are simple and easy to follow. Instead of photos, each page is filled with colorful linocut illustrations.
Sections are arranged alphabetically by vegetable. Each chapter gives an overview of the vegetables, followed by the recipes and suggestions on what the dish should go with. Readers love it for the simplicity and reliability of the recipes. This is a great resource cookbook to have especially when one is prone to get carried away at your local farmers market.
6. Vegetarian Meals in 30 Minutes: More than 100 delicious recipes for fitness Paperback
This is a book that functions both as a nutrition guide and a cookbook. It’s useful for those looking for vegetarian recipes to support their exercise or sports training goals.
It opens with a section on sports nutrition and covers topics such as what to eat before and after exercise. It’ll also give you info on how much protein you will need and what supplements actually work.
The recipes are a diverse selection of breakfast and dinner meals, burgers, salads, soups, stews, dessert, and snacks. Each recipe is easy to follow and uses pantry staples for its ingredients. Each dish is accompanied with a calorie, carb, fat, fiber, protein and sugar breakdown. There is also a side note that lists suggested substitutes to turn the dish into vegan.
Readers liked the evidence-based nutrition advice presented in the book because it’s easy to understand and grounded in science. One liked the usefulness of the book’s Variation section which shows you alternative ways on how to make the recipe.
7. Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes
This book features vegetarian dishes that use whole food ingredients like seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Unlike most cookbooks which organize the contents into meal types, this one presents baseline recipes and then several variations. The author presents some key recipes and teaches you reliable techniques, before providing a substitution list to allow you to vary the dish according to your dietary needs.
Readers love the variety of creative and healthy recipes and the Instagram-worthy photos of the dishes. They also found the sections on meal prepping and planning to be useful. If you’re looking for a cookbook that will allow your body to get used to the whole food diet lifestyle, this is for you.
8. On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen Hardcover – Illustrated
This is a restaurant cookbook that features 160 vegetarian recipes developed using creative methods and featuring ingredient combinations designed to highlight texture and flavor.
The experienced home cook will find the recipes somewhat haute cuisine but doable. Some recipes may use a few obscure ingredients and some readers noted that the ingredients are those that you would find in California which has a longer growing season and more varied crops.
The recipes are accompanied by gorgeous photographs and most of the meals require a bit of prep work, which shouldn’t be a problem for skilled cooks. Readers liked the book for its photos and design. The last part of the book which gives you recipes for the number of base items and ingredients was also interesting for one reader.
This is not a family cookbook but it's a good option for home cooks eager to challenge themselves.
9. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition Hardcover – Illustrated
This is an updated edition of the cookbook which includes more vegan recipes and a brand new chapter on smoothies, teas, and more. Recipes are now accompanied by color photos, while charts, variations, and other key information has been updated.
Bittman’s cookbooks are a valuable reference guide for cooking. There’s lots of information about the ingredients, and the basic recipes are simple and easy to follow. The side notes on alternative versions of the dish and recipe additions are also useful.
Readers love the meal planning section and the modular approach to cooking. They like it that it promotes cooking that is flexible and less recipe-driven. This is an essential read for newbies and experienced cooks.
10. The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table Paperback
Southern cooking is known for its emphasis on meat but this cookbook features creative and flavorful recipes that make vegetables the highlight of the dish instead of meat.
There are recipes here that are meat-free replicas of well-known Southern dishes but there are also modern recipes that evoke traditional Southern cooking.
The book gives you an overview of what a well-stocked Southern vegetarian pantry should have and provides you a list of essential kitchen tools. The rest of the chapters are organized into meals: breakfasts and brunches, appetizers, soups and sandwiches, mains, desserts, drinks, and the ‘basics’ (sauces, doughs, crusts, salsas.)
Readers liked the flavor combinations of the recipes that they have tried in this book. Much of it will require more work than usual in the kitchen, which shouldn’t be a problem for those who don’t mind cooking for long hours in order to produce a great dish.
THE COMPLETE VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK: A FRESH GUIDE TO EATING WELL WITH 700 FOOLPROOF RECIPES PAPERBACK – ILLUSTRATED by the American Test Kitchen
This is a comprehensive book that should be useful for a newbie cook and for an experienced one. It’s informative but not condescending and the explanations are easy to understand.
It also features a wide variety of vegetables in every category and the dishes are an equal mix of the easy and the complex. It covers just about any kind of vegetarian staples with enough room to inspire some culinary creativity..
One can always rely on an ATK edited book because the recipes have undergone extensive ingredient, equipment, and method testing. For the average home cook or for anyone just dipping into the vegetarian lifestyle, this means fool-proof recipes that will help you encourage to cook more vegetarian dishes.