The 8 Best Vegetarian Cookbooks in 2021

Eat the rainbow

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

This book's recipes not only look delicious, but they also come with key photos to walk you through tricky techniques.

Best Basic: Meatless

Per usual, Martha Stewart’s guidance in the kitchen is much appreciated, especially when it comes to vegetarian cooking.

Best for Beginners: The Simply Vegetarian Cookbook at Amazon

Rest assured there are plenty of simple recipes for the many different scenarios that arise during busy weeks.

Best in a Time Crunch: The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook at Amazon

An introduction section compares animal proteins to plant-based proteins on a per-gram basis, so you know exactly how much you’re getting with your swaps.

Best Blog-Turned-Cookbook: Love Real Food at Amazon

This book covers it all—from breakfast all the way to happy hour and desserts.

Best Mediterranean: Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook at Amazon

These 125+ recipes showcase Mediterranean classics, like eggplant moussaka and spanakopita, as well as inventive dishes that may surprise you.

Best Celebrity: Ultimate Veg at Amazon

Jamie Oliver's dishes, including veggie pad Thai and veggie chili, will appeal to vegetarians as well as omnivores who just want to go meatless occasionally.

Best Photography: Plenty More

These refined, elegant, and restaurant-worthy dishes prove "vegetarian" goes way beyond basic salads.

We all know that eating more veggies is good for our wallets and the environment. These books will make plant-based eating easy and appealing for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Whether you're a beginner or looking for a specific type of dish, this list has you covered with the best meatless recipes in a variety of categories.

Here are the best vegetarian cookbooks.

Best Overall: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

What We Like
  •  A-Z veggie guide

  • Kitchen tools care included

  • Photos for tricky techniques

What We Don't Like
  • Limited breakfast options

America’s Test Kitchen does it again with another comprehensive (700 recipes) and trusted resource for those seeking vegetarian recipes. To sweeten the deal and appeal to a very wide audience, 300 of those recipes require 45 minutes or less, 500 are gluten-free, and 250 are vegan-friendly—all clearly labeled within the book. Packed full of photos, these recipes not only look delicious, but also come with key photos to walk you through tricky techniques.

The introduction details pantry and equipment essentials, offers knife lessons, and includes a lengthy produce guide. Whether you’re a strict vegetarian or not, recipes like summer vegetable gratin; twice-baked potatoes with broccoli, cheddar, and scallions; and frittata with asparagus and goat cheese will have you returning to this book time and time again.

Number of Recipes: 700 | Pages: 472 | Date Published: 2015

Best Basic: Meatless

What We Like
  • Grain cooking chart

  • Many small plate recipes

What We Don't Like
  • No section specifically for breakfast or lunch

Per usual, Martha Stewart’s guidance in the kitchen is much appreciated, especially when it comes to vegetarian cooking. An informative introduction covers “protein powerhouses” to educate readers about the many sources of plant-based proteins.

The 200-plus recipes are even grouped into suggested themed menus, such as "Fall Harvest Feast" (featuring stuffed acorn squash with quinoa and pistachios, plus mushroom, spinach, and scallion tart) or “Summer Farmer’s Market Lunch” (featuring smooth tomato gazpacho and zucchini “pasta” with tomatoes and walnuts)—perfect for those days when you’re having a hard time deciding what to make or which dishes pair best together.

Number of Recipes: More than 200 | Pages: 384 | Date Published: 2013

Best for Beginners: Simply Vegetarian Cookbook

What We Like
  • Quick meals

  • Produce prep information

What We Don't Like
  • Few photos in beginning sections

The name of the game here is simplicity, because, as author Susan Pridmore puts it, “There are enough things to be stressed about in life. Dinner shouldn’t be one of them.” Instead of organizing by meal course, the book is divided up by type of ease (such as five-ingredient recipes, 30-minute max recipes, and slow cooker and pressure cooker recipes), so you can rest assured there are plenty of simple recipes for the many different scenarios that arise during busy weeks.

An educational introduction breaks down vegetarian protein sources, provides carb swaps, and includes a produce cooking guide. Recipes like butternut squash and barley risotto, chickpea and coconut curry soup, and more will appeal to vegetarians and omnivores.

Number of Recipes: More than 100 | Pages: 228 | Date Published: 2018

Best in a Time Crunch: The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook

What We Like
  • Easy-to-find ingredients

  • Vegetarian protein chart

What We Don't Like
  • Little to no advanced cooking information

Vegetarian or not, most people don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. These 100 recipes will ensure you have a delicious, satisfying meal on the table in under 30 minutes (quicker than delivery in most cases), leaving you plenty of time to go about your day. Even better? These meals also cap around 10 ingredients, so you’re not stuck with any excessive grocery lists.

From breakfast to dessert, this book covers it all. An introduction compares animal proteins to plant-based proteins on a per-gram basis, so you know exactly how much you’re getting with your swaps. Nobody will miss the meat when you serve up recipes like mushroom spaghetti Bolognese, kidney bean and pumpkin chili, and raw pistachio and cashew halva. Better yet, you’ll have even more time on your hands to enjoy them.

Number of Recipes: 100 | Pages: 220 | Date Published: 2019

Best Blog-Turned-Cookbook: Love Real Food

What We Like
  • Dietary substitutions

  • Food ingredient information for dogs

What We Don't Like
  • Not a photo for every recipe

The popular blog Cookie + Kate has gotten the cookbook upgrade, and the result is not disappointing. Author Kathryne Taylor focuses on vegetarianism and even includes some advice on making food for dogs. (Cookie, her dog, is a large part of her popular site and book.)

This book truly covers it all; from breakfast all the way to happy hour and desserts, recipes like apple crisp breakfast parfaits, butternut squash chipotle chili, and spicy cucumber margaritas will keep you coming back for more. There are even suggested menus if you’re having trouble figuring out which dishes pair together well, such as “Fall Game Days” and “Prep-Ahead Party Options.”

Number of Recipes: More than 100 | Pages: 272 | Date Published: 2017

Best Mediterranean: Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook

What We Like
  • Grocery shopping tips

  • Low price point

What We Don't Like
  • Minimum photos throughout

Mediterranean cuisine and vegetarianism go hand in hand, so a cookbook that combines the two makes perfect sense. More than 125 recipes from Sanaa Abourezk showcase Mediterranean classics, like eggplant moussaka and spanakopita, as well as inventive dishes that may surprise you, like sweet and sour beet dip and lentil and mushroom lasagna. The book also offers readers a comprehensive introduction to Mediterranean cooking, explaining Mediterranean basics, like key pantry ingredients, and offering shopping tips.

Number of Recipes: More than 125 | Pages: 202 | Date Published: 2020

Best Celebrity: Ultimate Veg

What We Like
  • Numerous food categories

  • Easy-to-follow instructions

What We Don't Like
  • Small font

British celebrity Jamie Oliver created "Ultimate Veg" to highlight “brilliantly easy, delicious, and flavor-packed vegetable recipes.” Dishes such as veggie pad Thai, summer spinach pancakes, and veggie chili will appeal to vegetarians as well as omnivores who just want to go meatless a few nights each week.

Oliver himself declares this book “is not just for vegetarians.” There are plenty of vibrant photos to show off these veggie-forward recipes as well as pictures of Oliver’s culinary travels and adventures around the globe. There’s even a chapter of "One Pan Wonders" for those nights you simply don’t want to spend a long time cleaning. 

Number of Recipes: More than 100 | Pages: 312 | Date Published: 2020

Best Photography: Plenty More

What We Like
  • Stellar photos

  • Unconventional recipes

What We Don't Like
  • Not organized by meal type

Following up the award-winning "Plenty," Yotam Ottolenghi published another stunning vegetarian cookbook full of vibrant photography that will inspire anyone to get in the kitchen and eat more vegetables. The book is organized by cooking method, with chapters like “Braised,” “Grilled,” and “Tossed."

Recipes such as ricotta pancakes with gooseberry relish create delicious ways to use fruits and veggies in early breakfasts, all the way until your evening dessert of meringue roulade with rose petals and fresh raspberries. These refined, elegant, and restaurant-worthy dishes will expand your horizon, showing vegetarianism goes way beyond basic salads.

Number of Recipes: More than 150 | Pages: 352 | Date Published: 2014

Final Verdict

Beginner and vegetarian vets alike will get much use out of "The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook" (view at Amazon). While "Love Real Food" (view at Amazon), in addition to "Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook" (view at Amazon), include supplemental material and resources likely to be beneficial to plant-based eaters.

What to Look for in a Vegetarian Cookbook

Cost

Set a maximum spend limit prior to shopping, as cookbook prices vary greatly. New print copies can be as low as $13, but some cost as much as $40. Used texts and ebooks can be more affordable alternatives worth hunting for when sticking to a budget is a top priority.

Recipe Count

It’s usually preferable to get as much “bang for your buck” as possible. The average number of recipes in most cookbooks ranges from 70 to 200. That said, it can also be wise to take note of other information included that might be helpful to home cooks, like whether it contains sample grocery shopping lists or alternative ingredient and cooking instructions that omit common allergens, such as peanuts, wheat, dairy, soy, etc.

Author

Cookbook authors are often popular food bloggers, professional chefs, certified nutritionists or cooking challenge champs. Knowing more about the writer’s background can indicate how useful the book is going to be long-term. If the person has more of a “Meatless Monday” approach to vegetarian food, opting for a book created by someone who primarily eats plant-based may be a better call in terms of reliable content.

FAQs

What exactly is a vegetarian diet?  

Vegetarianism exists in myriad forms. The main description of this dietary lifestyle is abstinence from certain animal-derived foods, but some types meat or other ingredients may be permissible depending on the specific kind of vegetarian one is. Examples include: lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who consume dairy products and eggs, but not poultry, fish, or red meat; lacto-vegetarians, who adhere to the same dietary plan as lacto-ovo-vegetarians, but don't eat eggs; ovo-vegetarians, who will eat eggs, but no dairy products, like cheese or milk; and pescatarians, who only eat fish, fully omitting red meat and poultry from meals and snacks.

What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian diets?

Vegans do not consume animal byproducts in any form. This includes meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, all dairy products, and honey.

While vegetarians also abstain from eating meat, some still incorporate eggs or dairy products, like milk and cheese, into meals. Vegetarian diets are more flexible, and there are several subsets of the diet, which are defined by which animal products are eaten (as described above).

 How do you get protein as a vegetarian? 

“Getting enough protein and essential nutrients are vital when eating a vegetarian-style diet. Try pairing budget-friendly sources of protein, like dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt) and pulses (beans, lentils, and peas) with grains and vegetables,” says Taste Nutrition Consulting founder Tessa Nguyen, who is also a chef and registered dietitian. “This helps keep you feeling satisfied and also makes sure you're getting a nutritionally diverse and adequate nutrient intake. Swapping out brand name products for store or generic brands is also a way to keep your budget and vegetarian needs achievable.”

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a cookbook enthusiast herself, collecting dozens over the years and always turning to them for inspiration, whether it’s a time-consuming weekend baking project or just a quick Monday night dinner. Having worked in the cookbook publishing world in the past, she knows what it takes to create a quality book that delivers something new and exciting to readers—particularly in an increasingly online world.

This piece was updated by Rachel Werner, an eco-conscious vegan and culinary writer who regularly creates content related to plant-based eating. Her product reviews, food styling and photography have also been featured in a variety of regional and national publications, such as TheKitchn, Fabulous Wisconsin, BRAVA and Hobby Farms Magazine. Keep tabs on Rachel’s work “behind the camera” via the vegan lifestyle Instagram account @trulyplanted.

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