The 13 Best Vegetarian Cookbooks of 2021

Spice up your plant-based diet with these good reads

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The Rundown

Best Overall: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

"If you want an excellent overview of the possibilities of vegetarian cooking, this book covers 700 recipes."

Best Overall Runner Up: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

"The tone is personable and practical, and the directions are straightforward."

Best for Beginners: The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners

"The author includes a shopping list and advice for how to stock your pantry with plant-based staples for easy meals."

Best for Kids: The Vegetarian Family Cookbook

"If you’ve got picky eaters, this book will help you break through with recipes they'll want to eat."

Best Healthy: Love Real Food

"This cookbook includes tons of creative spins on old favorites like carrot cake and granola."

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Vegetarian Cookbook

"If you love your Instant Pot, this cookbook will guide you through more than 75 vegetarian dishes."

Best Mexican: La Vida Verde

"From tortilla soup with cream to coconut flan, the dishes go well beyond simple tacos."

Best Indian: Vegetarian India

"This cookbook, includes all the Indian flavors you love — but without the meat."

Best Japanese: Vegan JapanEasy

"Shake up your vegetarian fare with vegan twists on classics such as ramen, tempura, and gyoza."

Best Mediterranean: Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook

"This cookbook contains more than 100 recipes that focus on foods celebrated in a range of Mediterranean cultures, from Spain to Syria."

Best Photos: Plenty and Plenty More

"With gorgeous images like these, you’ll want to dive right in and create these dishes yourself."

Best Single Focus: Brassicas

"Think cabbage and Brussels sprouts are boring? Think again with this amazing collection of 80 recipes."

Whether you’re trying to add more plant-based dishes to your menu for environmental reasons or simply spice up your everyday meal planning, vegetarian cooking offers a whole new world of flavors and variety. If you’re not sure where to start, vegetarian cookbooks offer guidance and inspiration for every type of cuisine across the globe. With plenty of new ideas for whipping up breakfast, lunch, and dinner (snacks and desserts, too!), we promise that you’re not going to get bored by having to eat sprouts at every meal or make the same dishes over and over.

Just as importantly, eating more plants is just plain good for you. Plant-based diets may lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Vegetarian diets do require planning to ensure you’re getting a balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients, such as B12. But in reality, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Swapping out a few vegetarian dishes here and there for traditional meat-based meals each week will have health and planetary benefits you may not have expected.

Below, you'll find Treehugger's list of the best vegetarian cookbooks.

Best Overall: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

Best Overall: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

If you want an excellent overview of the possibilities of vegetarian cooking, this book covers 700 recipes that include mains, sides, soups, and appetizers. A huge section is devoted to recipes that can be prepared in 45 minutes or less. From polenta casserole to enchiladas, you’ll find hearty meals that won’t make you miss the meat.

In addition, every recipe is tested methodically by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen. The recipes are delicious and varied, with an easy-to-search index and great photos included for many dishes. However, some users feel the “quick” recipes have too many steps.

Best Overall Runner Up: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Cover of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

The revised version of Mark Bittman’s classic cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, is full of beautiful photographs and includes new recipes with ingredients that are becoming increasingly easy to find (like jackfruit for bbq sandwiches). Many of the recipes are vegan or easily made vegan if you’re trying to avoid eggs and dairy as well as meat. The tone is personable and practical, and the directions are straightforward.

Best for Beginners: The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners

The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

This cookbook is geared toward anyone new to plant-based eating. The author includes a shopping list and advice on how to stock your pantry with staples for easy meals.

Although the recipes are vegan-focused, they’re flavorful and varied enough to appeal to anyone who wants to add more plant-based meals to his or her daily lineup. It’s a great introduction to plant-based eating and includes 75 tasty recipes.

One note on format:

Although many of these cookbooks are available in digital form, most people find it’s difficult to leaf through a digital copy casually or find specific recipes. If you plan to use your cookbook regularly, investing in a hard copy may be a better option.

Best for Kids: The Vegetarian Family Cookbook

The Vegetarian Family Cookbook
Courtesy of Barnes & Noble.

If you’ve got a picky eater, this book will help you break through with recipes that include easy-to-find ingredients. There’s a helpful primer on how to cook grains, as well as recipe labels that help you find dishes that can be made in 30 minutes, with five ingredients, or in one pot. The recipes are simple to follow and full of flavor and a good starting place to introduce all ages to meat-free meals.

Best Healthy: Love Real Food

Love Real Food

Courtesy of Walmart

This cookbook focuses on foods that are familiar and flavorful, such as homemade instant oatmeal, burrito bowls, and healthy pizzas. The author, who writes the popular blog, Cookie+Kate, includes tons of creative spins on old favorites such as carrot cake and homemade granola. The recipes are super-creative without using hard-to-find ingredients, and the book includes lots of great photos for inspo.

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Vegetarian Cookbook

Instant Pot Vegetarian Cookbook

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

If you love your Instant Pot, this cookbook will guide you through more than 75 vegetarian dishes you can make in a hurry, including everything from hummus to brownies. Author Srividhya Gopalakrishnan also shares helpful basics for how to use your multi-cooker if you’re a newbie to this popular countertop appliance. Many of the dishes are vegan, and some are inspired by the author's South Indian background.

Best Mexican: La Vida Verde

La Vida Verde

Courtesy of Walmart

If you love Mexican cuisine, La Vida Verde should be in your kitchen. The author, chef, and founder of a catering company in Los Angeles includes traditional recipes with a plant-based focus. From tortilla soup with cream to coconut flan, the dishes go well beyond simple tacos. The recipes are easy-to-follow and accompanied by beautiful photos, though a few ingredients may be hard to find in some parts of the country.

Best Indian: Vegetarian India

Vegetarian India

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

Vegetarian India, written by a seven-time James Beard award-winning author, includes all the Indian flavors you love — but without the meat. You’ll find over 200 recipes from across India, including curries, stir-fries, grains, and breads. We like the fact that the recipes are forgiving if you don’t have one or two ingredients on hand.

Best Japanese: Vegan JapanEasy

Vegan Japan Easy

Courtesy of Barnes & Noble

If you’re looking for recipes to shake up your vegetarian fare, this book offers vegan twists on classics such as ramen, tempura, and gyoza. There’s also a section that thoroughly breaks down Japanese ingredients and flavors. Authored by a MasterChef winner, the cookbook even includes some fun drink and dessert options such as watermelon mojitos and soy sauce butterscotch brownies.

The book is a great primer on Japanese flavors and is beautiful inside and out, with clever writing and simple but delicious recipes.

Best Mediterranean: Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook

Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook

Courtesy of Walmart

This cookbook contains more than 100 recipes that focus on foods celebrated in a range of Mediterranean cultures, from Spain to Syria. The recipes use ingredients you can find at most supermarkets, though suggested substitutions are given, too. From eggplant moussaka to orange and almond cake, you’ll find regional recipes for every meal of the day. The directions are easy to follow for dishes that are authentic and delicious.

Best Photos: Plenty + Plenty More

Yes, we know cooking shouldn’t be about the photos, but with gorgeous images like these, you’ll want to dive right in and create these dishes yourself. Plenty and Plenty More (view on Bookshop.org), both authored by the celebrated chef Yotam Ottolenghi, focus on glorious, seasonal produce and how to prepare it. Ottolenghi is famous for his surprising and delightful flavor profiles, but beginners may find his recipes to be a bit complicated.

Best Single Focus: Brassicas

Brassicas

Courtesy of Walmart

Think cabbage and Brussels sprouts are boring? Think again with this amazing collection of 80 recipes featuring super-food brassicas such as cauliflower, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and leafy greens. If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a surplus of kale in your garden or CSA box, this cookbook will show you how to bring out the best of its flavors. These delicious recipes will inspire you to incorporate more of these nutrient-dense veggies in your meals.

Final Verdict

Our top pick is The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well with 700 Foolproof Recipes (view on Bookshop.org) for its tested recipes and thorough presentation.

If you’re looking for creative dishes that incorporate more simple but antioxidant-rich foods such as kale and cabbage, we suggest Brassicas (view on Bookshop.org) for an in-depth look at these super-foods.

Why Trust TreeHugger?

We want to inspire readers to prepare healthy, flavorful meals with variety when adding more plant-based foods to their diets. Arricca SanSone specializes in writing about home, food, shelter and gardening.