Easy Vegetarian Japanese Recipes

Vegan Potstickers With Mushroom and Tofu on a plate

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Japanese food has plenty to offer for the vegetarian and vegan diner. So many traditional dishes have long been plant-based, while others can easily be adapted to vegan or vegetarian versions. Here are some of our favorite Japanese food recipes to make at home—or to order the next time you eat out.

  • 01 of 21

    Vegetable Tempura

    Tempura recipe

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

    Vegetable tempura, or fried vegetables with a light and crispy batter, appears at most Japanese restaurants. Because it only fries for a minute or two, the veggies stay crisp. Japanese tempura batter traditionally contains eggs, but you can make yours vegan by omitting the egg.

  • 02 of 21

    Gyoza (Mushroom and Tofu Potstickers)

    Vegan Potstickers With Mushroom and Tofu on a plate

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Japanese cuisine calls these little vegan mushroom and tofu potstickers gyoza. They're usually pan-fried on just one side in Japanese cuisine. You can often find them in the frozen food section of supermarkets, but they make a fun project to create at home. If you want to try making your own, try this version with mushrooms, tofu, and scallions.

  • 03 of 21

    Udon Noodle Soup

    Japanese Vegan Udon Noodle Soup

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

    Vegetarian udon noodle soup gets its inviting aroma from ginger, vinegar, and soy sauce simmered together with slippery udon noodles, scallions, and fresh cilantro. Chinese broccoli adds nutrition and color, while peanuts give it some crunch.

  • 04 of 21

    Japanese edamame

    Edamame soy beans with a dusting of sea salt

    Mixa / Getty Images

    Japanese edamame are often served as a dinner appetizers, and they also make the perfect anytime snack. No recipe needed–just boil or steam, add a bit of salt, and enjoy. If you like a little heat, try sprinkling a little crushed red pepper over the top before serving,

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  • 05 of 21

    Garlic Miso Soup

    Garlic Miso Soup

    ​The Spruce/Emily Hawkes

    Easy, delicious miso soup works great for vegetarian diets because it usually contains no animal products. The preparation doesn't require many ingredients: just miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, and tofu—plus a kick of garlic—to flavor the simple broth. Use any kind of tofu you like; the firmness will determine its texture in the soup.

  • 06 of 21

    Tonkatsu Sauce

    Tonkatsu Sauce (Katsu sauce) in a white bowl

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Originally created to accompany breaded, deep-fried pork cutlets, tonkatsu sauce is perfect for drizzling over tofu, tempeh, or even veggie burgers on the grill. It will up just about any protein game. Our version couldn't be easier. It uses ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and Dijon mustard.

  • 07 of 21

    Mitarashi Kushi Dango (Skewered Rice Dumplings)

    Mitarashi Kushi Dango

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Crispy on the outside, chewy and tender on the inside, the Japanese snack mitarashi kushi dango is typically topped with a sweet soy glaze. Many home cooks have their own recipe, but this basic one will get you started.

  • 08 of 21

    Miso Salad Dressing

    Vegan miso salad dressing

    The Spruce

    Add some Japanese flare to any vegetable or grain salad with this simple miso, ginger, and soy salad dressing. Making your own salad dressing lets you control the flavor and avoid artificial ingredients, plus it takes only a few minutes.

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  • 09 of 21

    Inari Sushi (Rice Stuffed Tofu Pockets)

    Rice Stuffed Tofu Pockets (Inari Sushi)

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    These simple inari tofu pockets have a crispy exterior that just begs for a savory rice stuffing. For a simple snack, starter, or Japanese side, give these easy portable pockets a try. You can find them at Asian grocery stores or online,

  • 10 of 21

    Kappamaki (Cucumber Sushi Roll)

    Kappamaki (Cucumber Sushi Roll)

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    When most of us think sushi, we envision fish, but cucumber makes a cool and refreshing sushi roll filling called kappamaki. If you can't find Japanese cucumbers, try Persian or English cucumbers instead. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.

  • 11 of 21

    Easy Miso Soup

    Easy Vegetarian Miso Soup

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

    Simple yet satisfying, miso soup makes a lovely start to a Japanese meal or a light lunch on its own. This recipe has just a handful of ingredients and also contains no gluten if you leave out the soy sauce or replace it with a gluten-free version. Silken tofu has a soft, velvety texture but you can use a firmer preparation for sturdier cubes.

  • 12 of 21

    Sabaizu Tsukemono (Japanese Pickle)

    Tsukemono
    Erin Archuleta

    Japanese meals often feature pickled vegetables, called tsukemono, alongside other savory dishes. While many pickling methods and seasonings exist, the most common uses sabaizu, a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and rice wine vinegar. Radishes, daikon, Tokyo turnips, and sea grapes work well in this recipe.

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  • 13 of 21

    Konnyaku (Spicy Japanese Yam Cake)

    Spicy Konnyaku: Japanese Yam Cake on plates

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    With its distinct springy, jelly-like texture and exceedingly mild flavor, konnyaku, or yam cakes, have as many fans as they do haters. In this version, chile pepper and soy sauce add pep to the cakes.

  • 14 of 21

    Stir-Fried Eggplant

    Vegan Stir-Fried Eggplant

    The Spruce

    Eggplant works great for stir fry because it soaks up sauce like a sponge. Make this recipe vegan by swapping out fish sauce for soy sauce and using vegetarian oyster sauce for the signature flavor. Small, narrow Japanese eggplants are ideal, although you can dice any type of eggplant to work with the recipe. Serve with white rice.

  • 15 of 21

    Kinoko Gohan (Mushroom Rice)

    1-Kinoko-Gohan-Mushroom-Rice.jpg
    Japanese Mushroom Rice (Kinoko Takikomi Gohan). © Judy Ung

    Mushrooms give this hearty, umami rice dish an earthy character, complemented by dashi, soy, mirin, and sake. Just about any mushrooms will work, but shiitake, shimej, maitake, hiratake have the best texture and aroma.

  • 16 of 21

    Swiss Chard and Tofu Stir Fry

    Swiss Chard and Tofu Stir-Fry

    The Spruce/Diana Chistruga

    This Swiss chard, mushroom, and tofu stir fry not only tastes and looks great, but brings lots of vitamins and minerals to the table in a quick and easy preparation. Because stir fry cooks up quickly, prep all of your ingredients ahead of time.

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  • 17 of 21

    Ozoni (New Year's Soup with Rice Cake)

    Vegan Ozoni (Japanese New Year's Soup With Rice Cake)

    The Spruce / Stephanie Goldfinger

    Traditionally enjoyed for breakfast at New Year's celebrations, this simple ozoni soup contains mochi, or rice cake, kelp, daikon, mizuna, and carrot. Non-vegetarian versions may also feature chicken, fish, or seafood.

  • 18 of 21

    Shiitake Kombu Dashi

    Make Kombu Shiitake Dashi (Stock)

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

    Dashi is a light broth that's a staple for much of Japanese cooking; it can serve as the base for one-pot meals or simmered dishes, as well as an addition to ponzu sauces or miso soup. It's traditionally brewed with a seaweed called kombu and dried bonito fish flakes. For a vegan version, this dashi recipe employs shiitake mushrooms in place of the fish flakes. Shoyu and ginger add even more umami flavor and aromatics.

  • 19 of 21

    Anmitsu

    Anmitsu

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    As pretty to look at as it is delicious to eat, anmitsu features kanten jelly (or agar-agar), any sweet fruits you like best, and a coarse, sweet red bean paste called anko. Canned fruit cocktail often features heavily, as do canned mandarin oranges or peaches, but feel free to use fresh in-season produce too.

  • 20 of 21

    Coffee Jelly

    Japanese Coffee Jelly in glasses

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    A simple but elegant dessert made from black coffee, gelatin, and a little sugar, coffee jelly will end a meal on a lightly sweet note. Top it with whipped cream for a pretty presentation and to cut the bitterness a bit.

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  • 21 of 21

    Mizu Yokan

    Mizu yokan recipe

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Made from red azuki beans, agar, and sugar, mizu yokan makes a refreshing chilled dessert during the summer or anytime. Other variations include matcha, chestnut, fruit, or sweet potato flavors.