People often think of a vegan lifestyle as being restrictive, but cutting out animal products doesn’t mean cutting out flavor and variety. It also doesn’t mean having to spend extra time in the kitchen whipping up complicated meals with obscure ingredients. On the contrary, there are tons of easy vegan dishes out there to try, and they can be just as quick, easy, nourishing, and indulgent as their non-vegan counterparts. To prove it, we’ve gathered our favorite vegan dinner ideas, including easy vegan meals for beginners that even the omnivores among us can cook and enjoy.

Ready to tie up those apron strings and get to work? Here are 26 easy vegan main dishes and sides that definitely deserve a space on your meatless meal rotation. 

What Can I Feed a Vegan for Dinner?

Maybe you’re hosting a dinner party and you have a vegan guest to cater to. Or maybe you’re the vegan and you’re plain out of inspiration for things to make. In either case, it helps to have a good idea of the foundational ingredients you can use to cook quick and easy vegan meals at home.

Vegan Proteins

No meat? No problem. There are so many vegan proteins to base your meal around, including:

  • Lentils
  • Beans (black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, butter beans, and more)
  • Peas
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Soy curls
  • Plant-based “meat”
  • Whole grains (quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet, wild rice, and brown rice)
  • Spirulina
  • Oats
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Protein-rich vegetables (broccoli, artichoke, sweet potatoes)
  • Protein-rich fruits (guava, bananas, blackberries)

Vegan Cooking Substitutions

  • Instead of meat, use: Eggplant, jackfruit, mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, or plant-based meat substitutes
  • Instead of butter, use: Vegan butter, vegetable oil, or coconut oil
  • Instead of cheese, use: Vegan cheese or nutritional yeast
  • Instead of sour cream, use: Plain non-dairy yogurt or silken tofu
  • Instead of beef or chicken broth, use: Vegetable broth or vegetable bullion
  • Instead of eggs, use: Egg replacers, chia seeds, flax seeds, or aquafaba
  • Instead of dairy milk, use: Soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, or hemp milk
  • Instead of honey, use: Maple syrup or agave syrup

Vegan Main Dishes

The secret to a rich and creamy vegan pasta sauce? Cashews, nutritional yeast, and tons of fresh herbs.

You’ve got the building blocks, so now let’s look at how you can put them all together. Any of these main dishes can stand on their own if you’re looking for vegan dinner ideas, or you can pair them with one or more of the easy vegan side dishes below for a multi-course meal.

1. Vegan Spinach Alfredo Skillet Lasagna

Can vegans eat pasta? Of course! This vegan main is made extra creamy thanks to a cashew-based alfredo sauce, and it all comes together in one skillet for minimal cleanup.

2. Vegan Korean BBQ Tacos

Tacos are one of the quintessential vegan dinners. These Korean BBQ tacos take on a nice spice from red pepper flakes and garlic and are best topped with an ample amount of slaw, sliced avocado, and fresh-squeezed lime juice.

3. Vegan Shrimp with Bang Bang Sauce

Vegan shrimp? Hear us out. These decidedly un-fishy shrimps are actually breaded king oyster mushrooms, and they’re an excellent base for the real star of this dish, which is a spicy, creamy, borderline addictive bang bang sauce.

4. Malfouf, aka Lebanese Cabbage Rolls

If you’ve never heard of malfouf, now is the time to add it to your vocabulary—and your dinner table. These cabbage rolls are full of traditional Lebanese flavors like garlic, mint, and pomegranate molasses, and they’re a great introduction to vegan Mediterranean cooking.

5. Vegan Arroz Valenciana

Arroz Valenciana is the vegan paella-inspired dish you didn’t know you were missing in your life. It uses vegan “chicken” and “chorizo,” but you could just as easily skip the faux meats and go full veggie.

Vegan Side Dishes

butternut squash
This roasted butternut squash dish is a standout vegan side that’s as fit for a holiday table as it is for a weeknight meal.

Side dishes that are also fit for main meal status.

6. Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pecan “Parmesan”

Roasted squash is a no-brainer for easy vegan side dishes, especially when combined with fresh chopped kale and a salty pecan parmesan (sans actual parm, of course).

7. Cheesy Cauliflower Rice

This is one of those easy vegan dishes that’s a cinch to adapt to your individual tastes. It also pairs great with bigger entrees or a side salad, and it’s a great introduction to the wonders of vegan cheese.

8. Classic Vegan Broccoli Salad

Coconut “bacon” replaces the real stuff in this vegan twist on a traditional broccoli salad. Serve it at a BBQ and bask in the glory of getting asked for the recipe over and over again.

9. Smoky Southern-Style Black Eyed Peas

We’re not sure what’s better about this recipe, its amazing flavor or the fact that it comes together right in the Instant Pot with minimal work. Hot sauce is optional but highly recommended.

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Ideas for an Easy and Quick Vegan Dinner

burritto bowl
We don’t think it can get any quicker or easier than a yummy vegan burrito bowl.

Easy vegan main dishes that only taste like they took you all day.

10. Vegan Burrito Bowls

Burrito bowls are one of the best quick and easy vegan meals for beginners, especially since a lot of the meal prep can be done in advance. This recipe includes vegan carnitas, black beans, and fajita veggies, but you can mix it up however you like based on your preferences (and what’s in the fridge).

11. Easy Vegan Pad Thai

This dish looks a lot more complicated than it is. Add texture by using a super-hot wok or cast iron pan to sear your veggies and tofu, and if you don’t have vegan fish sauce, sub in soy sauce or tamari instead.

12. Vegan Chickpea Caesar Wraps

One thing that all quick and easy vegan meals have in common: a great sauce. This homemade Caesar dressing definitely doesn’t disappoint, and it’s so versatile that it’s worth storing extra in the fridge for other easy meals during the week.

13. Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

The magic of cashews strikes again, this time to add creaminess to a simple and savory tomato soup. Pair with a vegan grilled cheese sandwich.

What to Eat for a Healthy Vegan Dinner

Make a rainbow falafel salad that’s bright, healthy, and almost too pretty to eat.

Fortunately, healthy and vegan usually go hand in hand.

14. Rainbow Falafel Salad with Tahini Dressing

This healthy vegan salad can stand on its own as a main dish thanks to the addition of protein-packed falafels. If you want to bulk it up, stuff it into warm pitas or wraps and serve alongside fresh pickled veggies.

15. Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Bowl with Pumpkin Seed Pesto and Chickpea Pasta

There’s a reason this dish is called The Glow Bowl. There’s a lot going on here, but it all comes together into one harmonious and nourishing bowl of vegan goodness that’s guaranteed to leave you glowing—and fully satisfied.

16. Chili Con Carne with Lentils

Caramelized veggies form a complex base for this chili con carne recipe, which offers tons of protein by means of lentils and kidney beans. Kick it up a notch with crushed red pepper flakes or a healthy squirt of hot sauce if you like your chili con carne extra hot.

17. Vegan Southwestern Tofu Scramble

You can never go wrong with breakfast for dinner. Case in point: this tofu scramble, which is as good as any scramble you’d find at a fancy brunch spot but with nary an egg in sight.

18. Black Bean Nourish Bowl With Creamy Ginger Sriracha Dressing

This black bean bowl is as nutritious as it is yummy, featuring ginger garlic black beans atop rice and whatever veggies you’d like. Just don’t skimp on the dressing, since it ties the whole thing together into one super-tasty dish.  

Simple Vegan Meals

vegan pizza
Homemade dips + bread = super easy vegan meals that can feed a crowd.

For those nights when you want homemade food but don’t want to put in a ton of work.

19. Grilled Sourdough Flatbread with White Bean Basil Spread

Okay, so making your own sourdough flatbread from scratch isn’t exactly the simplest of endeavors, but you can easily use pre-made flatbread and top it with this no-fuss white bean basil spread for a simple and nutritious vegan meal.

20. Teriyaki Tempeh and Veggies

It doesn’t get much simpler than a single sheet pan dinner. This mouthwatering recipe comes to life with a homemade teriyaki glaze, but we promise not to tell if you use store-bought sauce instead.

21. Vegan Lobster Rolls

Take a trip to the coast of Maine, vegan style, with these creative “lobster” rolls made with hearts of palm, crushed seaweed, and a hefty splash of lemon juice. For a little more decadence, opt for pretzel or Hawaiian buns instead of standard hot dog buns.

Filling Vegan Meals

Source: Instagram
Few things are more filling than a warm and comforting bowl of stew.

Vegan food gets indulgent with cozy meals that you’ll keep coming back to.

22. Spanish Chickpea Stew

With so much depth of flavor, it’s hard to believe that this hearty stew comes together in just half an hour—and with just ten ingredients. And as a bonus, it’s as good the next day as it is right off the stove.

23. Vegan One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

If you thought being vegan meant you had to give up chili—or, gasp, mac and cheese—think again. You’ll be digging into this filling vegan entrée again and again… if you can make it last that long.

24. Creamy Vegan Ranch Pasta

Comfort food goes vegan in a tangy pasta that can be enjoyed hot or cold. Sweet corn and broccoli round out the meal making it deceptively healthy, and, as is true of most foods, it all gets better covered in ranch.  

25. Green Pea Buckwheat Risotto with Mint

This riff on a vegan risotto is fresh and full of flavor. It’s also a sure-to-impress entrée for your next vegan dinner party, though make sure to give yourself enough time to hydrate the buckwheat groats prior to cooking since it’s a process that takes at least a few hours.

26. Seitan Buffalo Wings

Seitan is a gluten-based meat substitute that holds up well to bold flavors and can crisp up nicely, making it an obvious choice for these saucy wings. Don’t forget the vegan blue cheese dip!  

Get Inspired with Vegan Cooking

You don’t need to be a full-time vegan in order to enjoy these dinner ideas. Use them as inspiration to add a few more meat-free meals into your week, or test out your skills by taking foods that you didn’t think could be made without animal products and then creating vegan versions that are even better than the real thing. 

You’ll find plenty of recipes above to get you started, and you might just be surprised by how easy it is to cook delicious, filling, and simple vegan meals right at home.

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Written by:

Laura Mueller