~ These wildly popular, healthy vegetarian meals are perfect for Meatless Monday … or any day! Easy vegetarian recipes that’ll even keep meat-lovers happy – perfect for the whole family! When someone asks me what are the best vegetarian recipes, this is the post I refer them to! (Originally published August 18, 2016; fully updated with many new recipes, photos, and additional tips.) ~
How We Picked the BEST Vegetarian Dinners
Way back in 2016, we polled hundreds of other food writers and bloggers, asking them to share the one – just one! – absolutely, positively most popular healthy recipe from their entire site.
We sorted through those submissions to choose the most outstanding of all for our very first collection of 13 Best Healthy Vegetarian Meals.
But 2016 was a long time ago (at least in the Internet world), and soooooo many other amazing vegetarian recipes have popped up since then!
Search Our Site for MORE Healthy Vegetarian Recipe Ideas! Here’s How …
So, more than 4 years later, we reached out again – to hundreds and hundreds of food writers and blogging friends, asking them to share their ONE (and only ONE!) most popular vegetarian main dish. The very best vegetarian dinner recipe they had.
The response was overwhelming! But once again, we’ve narrowed it down to the very best of the best, and added about 40 new, inspiring and healthy vegetarian recipes to our lineup.
And we think you’ll agree … there’s absolutely no doubt why all these recipes are so incredibly popular!
These easy meatballs are packed full of traditional Italian spices, fresh herbs, and two types of cheese! They have a beautiful crispy exterior and tender, flavorful interior – and you'll never even miss the meat! (Gluten free option, too!)
This recipe was featured on The Doctors tv show on CBS ... and has nearly 400 reviews! It's the PERFECT vegan mac and cheese, with no soy, fake cheese, or nutritional yeast. Just creamy comfort food goodness! Jenn promises, "You will not believe how good this is!" (Soy free, gluten free, vegan.)
A thick and hearty lentil soup packed full of flavor – and so easy to make! Karen says that, after she shared this Instant Pot soup back in 2017, it's been one of her top-most-visited (and top-rated!) recipes ever since. A must-try!
This rich and creamy dish features cubed paneer cheese in a tomato, butter and cashew sauce (known as makhani gravy). Try it with naan bread, roti or steamed rice ... and see why it's been rated nearly a perfect 5 stars in more than 300 reviews!
Whether it's a holiday, or just a typical weeknight dinner, there's nothing more comforting than delicious, savory vegan meatloaf with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy. No doubt, this healthy vegetarian dinner is pure homestyle comfort food!
These Chick-fil-A style nuggets combine agave sweetness and briny pickle juice for a unique yet familiar flavor. Plus everything is oil-free! So fantastic served with a vegan honey mustard dipping sauce. With more than 100 ratings, these are definitely worth a try!
A low-carb vegan dinner recipe that only requires 5 main ingredients – so quick, nutritious, and easy to make! Plus, it's got loads of vitamins and minerals from the spaghetti squash and kale, a boost of flavor from the sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic, and some protein and lovely crunch from the walnuts.
Mexican food lovers, rejoice! This easy quinoa recipe is a protein- and veggie-packed meatless dish that's ready in under 30 minutes (in just one pan). Swapping quinoa for rice really bumps up the protein, and this dish is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, too!
If you're a fan of Middle Eastern and North African flavors, you’ll love this shakshuka! Eggs are poached in a savory, soul-satisfying spicy red tomato sauce base – a simple recipe that's infinitely flexible and so satisfying.
This veg-focused meal is a celebration of a few simple, unadorned flavors that shine brilliantly when they’re combined. Nourishing and delicious! For an extra-hearty protein boost, try serving it with a fried or poached egg on top.
This cheesy quiche is loaded with veggies, all baked in a low-carb, gluten free, and deliciously seasoned cauliflower crust. Lynn says, "Just 2 months after I originally published this post, Huffington Post picked it up and plopped it into a roundup of recipes using cauliflower in unconventional ways. ... Needless to say, this recipe has received some pretty great reviews from folks who have made it."
Sheet pan dinners are all the rage – and for good reason. You literally throw everything onto one pan, bake, and enjoy! Everyone in the family will love this easy-to-make, easy-to-clean-up dinner that's naturally plant-based, vegan, gluten free, and bursting with delicious flavor!
This skillet recipe is an easy, healthy vegan dinner recipe, with plenty of flavor! Quickly chop up an onion and bell pepper, and get 'em sizzling in a skillet while you whip up a speedy sauce for the seitan. Before you know it ... you have dinner ready!
This healthy vegetarian meal is a meatless version of Brazil’s national dish. Loaded with plant-based protein and fiber, this recipe also happens to be vegan and gluten free. Instructions included for making it in a slow cooker, Instant Pot, and on the stovetop.
This delicious, cheesy vegetable casserole is a unique spin on a French summer vegetable stew. It features flavorful tomato-bell pepper sauce with sliced zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes ... all topped with perfectly melted, golden cheese.
Perfect for meal prep or for an easy weeknight dinner. These bowls are loaded with protein, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and a slew of micronutrients. And, you can customize the ingredients to include any produce or grain you have on hand. Vegan, gluten free, and equal parts nutritious and delicious!
Just 20-minutes (chopping included!) is all you need to make this delicious vegetarian pasta dinner that beautifully highlights the fresh vegetables. It's light and fresh without cream, and really lets the veggies shine!
This recipe is extremely flexible and also freezer-friendly! Flavorful peppers are stuffed with rice, lentils, and vegetables for a wholesome, filling meal!
Two Healthy Kitchens’ Favorite Vegetarian Meals
While we’re talking healthy vegetarian recipes and veggie-centric meal ideas, check out a few of our own personal favorites here at THK. These are all recipes I make again and again for my own family that we just love … and I’m pretty sure your family will love, too!
Oven-roasted cauliflower and broccoli make this easy pasta recipe deeply flavorful. It’s deceptively simple … just a few ingredients that add up to surprisingly big, big flavors! Plus, with all those roasted veggies, it’s a meal-in-one with no vegetable side dish needed – perfect for busy nights!
The beloved flavors of 7-Layer Dip … in a delicious Mexican Avocado Toast recipe! Piled high with big flavors and great nutrition, this turns typical breakfast avocado toasts into a perfect option for lunch, dinner, or even game day noshing!
This Easy Zoodles Recipe is the perfect way to try Zucchini Noodles and ease your family into the idea of spiralized veggies! (Although, honestly, we make this all the time now.) Ready in about 15 minutes, it’s a fun way to step up your pasta game and add more veggies into dinnertime!
This quick, incredibly delicious, and very healthy vegetarian chili recipe is ready in about 30 minutes, and is made almost entirely with pantry staples. It’s loaded with so much depth of flavor, and also with nutritional powerhouse ingredients. So fantastic, yet so easy! We don’t miss the meat one bit!
This vegetarian pasta recipe packs big, big flavor in a super-quick (less than 30 minutes, start-to-finish) package! It's the perfect quick dinner on busy weeknights (served straight from the skillet), but it dresses up for dinner parties, too. Fast, easy and so delicious!
The Vegetarian Meal Trend
The current meatless trend is undeniable: even non-vegetarians are embracing the benefits of subbing out at least one meat-focused meal each week, in exchange for a vegetarian dinner.
Meatless Monday? Yup! It’s totally a thing!
And for good reason – vegetarian meals can be a terrific way to work more nutritious ingredients into your weekly dinner rotations.
But they’ve gotta taste amazing, right? So amazing that your family (even those meat lovers!) won’t care one bit about leaving out the meat and trying a vegetarian recipe instead.
Well, if all those recipes above aren’t inspiration enough … we’ve also got some tips that can make truly delicious, ultra-satisfying veg meals completely do-able!
Making Healthy Vegetarian Meals Satisfying
If you aren’t eating a lot of vegetarian meals yet (and you’re sort of in a “beginner vegetarian” phase) … or if you’re a vegetarian who’s looking for ideas that your non-vegetarian friends will like, too … you might keep stumbling against this question: What are some strategies for making healthy vegetarian recipes that taste just as delicious and satisfying as meals that include meat?
As you’ll see from our lineup of recipes above, there are lots of different ways to achieve this!
• Some “all veggie meals” directly swap the meat for protein-rich “meat substitutes” like soy crumbles, tofu hot dogs or sausages, and other plant-based meat “look alikes” (think of examples like Boca Burgers, Beyond Burgers or Impossible Burgers).
• Other recipes don’t really attempt to fake you out by tricking you into thinking you’re eating meat. They simply focus on high-protein ingredients like quinoa (one of the only plants that has all the amino acids needed to be a complete protein), or legumes such a beans and lentils.
• And some recipes basically just skip the meat altogether, focusing instead on satisfying grains, pastas, and loads of flavorful veggies.
Whichever path you choose, I would argue that the most important goal is to make sure there are interesting textures and, especially, to make sure those vegetarian diet recipes are hugely flavorful.
• You might focus, for example, on coaxing lots of flavors out of your veggies by grilling or roasting them (one of my favorite techniques!). The caramelization that happens yields big flavor!
• Or, layer on lots of flavors with terrific sauces and condiments. Maybe you’re shooting for rich, cheesy, homey flavors … or bright, citrusy, summer notes … or spicy Mexican or Latin flair … or … well, you get the idea! Huge, totally vegetarian flavor can come through your sauces and condiments and make your dish, ultimately, very delicious and satisfying (with or without meat).
• One of the things many vegetarian-based meals miss out on is the umami flavor profile found in meat. But, that umami flavor profile can also be achieved through things like mushrooms, soy sauce, cheese and tomatoes.
Lots of little techniques to try, along with so many great new recipe ideas!
Oh … and to keep that veggie-momentum cranking all year long, we’ve even got specific collections of vegetarian and vegan meals just for the holidays: