Regardless of whether you're an inspiring or experienced vegetarian, a vegetable-filled cookbook is a great way to experience new flavor combinations and build up your knowledge of cooking techniques. Plus, meat-lovers can also enjoy them, since they're a great way to learn how to spice up your veggie side dishes and add a little more nutrition into your diet.
Of course, it can be difficult to find the right book that best suits your needs. In this guide, we’ll talk about the different things to look for in a vegetarian cookbook and how to choose the best one. We’ve also listed 10 recommendations, including our favorite, Deborah Madison's The New Vegetarian, to help you get started.
Here are our ten favorite vegetarian cookbooks to help you start your search for the perfect book.
|Highlights||Burmese noodles, empanadas|
|Highlights||Honey whole wheat pizza dough, cashew sour cream|
|Highlights||Israel, South Africa-inspired dishes|
|Highlights||Latin American section|
|Formats||eBook, paperback, hardcover|
|Highlights||Extensive bean recipes|
|Highlights||Roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes with a caper sauce, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare|
|Highlights||Butternut squash casserole, filo turnover samosas with spicy tomato jam|
|Highlights||Asian, Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern-inspired dishes|
|Highlights||Rice cakes with vegetables, tortilla soup|
|Highlights||Cheddar style cheesy sauce, cashew chantilly cream, seitan roast|
The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Love Real Food
Vegan: The Cookbook
The Plantiful Table
Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian
The PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Vegetarian Cookbook
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
International Flavors and Over 1,600 Recipes
Make Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, and Vegan Dishes
Well Organized and Robust Recipes From Around the World
Perfect for the Whole Family
Filled With Legume Recipes and Personal Stories
Haute Cuisine Inspired by the Middle East
Cook According to the Seasons
Quick Meals For the Busy Vegetarian
Start From the Very Beginning
For the DIY Vegetarian
|Formats||eBook, hardcover||eBook, hardcover||Hardcover||eBook, hardcover||eBook, paperback, hardcover||eBook, hardcover||Hardcover||eBook, paperback||eBook, hardcover||eBook, paperback|
|Recipes||1600+||100+||Around 500||125+||650+||120+||250+||240+||Not provided||150+|
|Highlights||Burmese noodles, empanadas||Honey whole wheat pizza dough, cashew sour cream||Israel, South Africa-inspired dishes||Latin American section||Extensive bean recipes||Roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes with a caper sauce, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare||Butternut squash casserole, filo turnover samosas with spicy tomato jam||Asian, Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern-inspired dishes||Rice cakes with vegetables, tortilla soup||Cheddar style cheesy sauce, cashew chantilly cream, seitan roast|
Introducing Our Expert
Jacqueline Bodnar is an ethical vegetarian. She is also a writer, an influencer, and a mother of two small vegetarians. She loves to read, write, eat, and be in nature. She appreciates a good veggie meal, but she, like many of us, is caught up in the relentless current of a busy life.
And yet, she finds the time to help her family eat well. She also finds the time to combine the two great passions of her life—writing and vegetarianism—and pen her own blog. There, she reviews products, shares cooking, discusses vegetarianism, and, at times, simply muses.
Different people cook in different ways. Maybe you need to cook for the whole family, or maybe you just need something quick and easy. In either case, make sure to take your own needs into consideration when choosing a cookbook.
Instead, look for a book that has everything from breakfast to snacks to dessert. This holds especially true for new vegetarians, since you’re just learning to plan out your meals and balance your diet.
With a big, general book, you’ll be sure to find a recipe that fits your changing needs. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, which Jacqueline touches on below.
If you are going to something like a potluck or celebrating a special meal, you want to have some specialized cookbooks on hand to find some recipes for those events. If there’s something you really want to specialize in, you want to make sure you have a cookbook just for that topic.
Being able to have quick recipes—such as for casseroles, soups, and pastas—is important for those who are busy or just transitioning to vegetarianism. Also, it’s a great idea to have at least one good vegetarian crockpot cookbook in your collection so you can get the ingredients on in the morning and then it’s ready in the evening.
For a lot of people, when switching to a vegetarian diet, the biggest concern is ensuring that meals are well balanced. It’s surprisingly pretty simple to do, and there are a few things to look for in a cookbook to help you achieve balance.
One of the biggest concerns people have when going vegetarian is whether or not they’ll be able to get all the nutrients (particularly protein) their bodies need. For peace of mind, you can look for a cookbook that includes nutritional information either about a vegetarian diet in general or for each specific recipe.
There are also cookbooks dedicated to specific nutritional needs and diets. Additionally, some vegetarian cookbooks seem like they’re side dish cookbooks. But as a vegetarian who needs to get all of their nutrients from plant fare, you’ll need more than that. So you want to look for a cookbook that includes recipes hearty enough to stand alone.
I ensure my family is eating well by trying to incorporate meals that offer a good source of whole grains, served up with a lot of fruits and vegetables. We aim to get a variety of nutrients by eating different types of vegetarian foods.
Having a healthy vegetarian protein source is important, so we like to have dishes that include beans, quinoa, lentils, tofu, nuts, or some vegetarian meat substitutes.
There are a ton of vegetarian ingredients available that might sound interesting to use and cook, but if you can’t find them, then you won’t be able to use them! So make sure that the cookbook you choose has things that you can actually find.
Since produce loses nutrients over time, it's also better if they’re locally grown, because then they’re guaranteed to be fresh.
Another thing to consider is seasonality. While most fruits and veggies are available year-round thanks to air transport, there will still be times when it’s hard to find certain produce items. So it might be good to search for a cookbook that has recipes that are seasonally appropriate or contains recipes for them all: fall, summer, winter, and spring.
You are likely getting more nutrients, better tasting food, and lowering your carbon footprint by opting for foods that are more in season. Produce will often taste better the closer to home you purchase it, plus you can speak with the farm regarding their practices using chemical fertilizers.
The down side to sticking to seasonal produce or foods grown closer to home is that you will limit yourself to, naturally, the seasons. Balancing it, by opting for mostly seasonal foods and including a few other items here and there, is a good way to go.
If you’re new to cooking, it might be a little difficult to just jump into a recipe from a seasoned professional. To help you along, you want to look for a cookbook that includes a section on technique that will teach you how to make your ingredients taste as good as possible.
If you are a visual learner, you can start with the info in the book and then log online to find a video of someone demonstrating the technique. I’ve found technique information in cookbooks and in online videos to be very helpful in learning how to prepare various things.
The cooking techniques are similar, but the ingredients you use in ethnic foods often vary. It can be fun to try a new ethnic recipe and learn the ingredients. And whether you liked it or not, you at least expanded your horizons and tried something new.
Although you have taken the step to cut out meat from your diet, you may still be cooking for people who do eat meat, and so you want to find recipes that will appeal to them too.
First, approach fake meats with caution. While you might have acclimated yourself to them, people who are used to eating meat will likely compare it unfavorably to the bite and juiciness of beef.
There are ways you can fry and season tofu so that it’s as succulent as meat, but it’s difficult to pull off—a feat meant only for those with unwavering confidence in their culinary skills.
Second, find a cookbook that focuses on umami. One of the key things that people love about meat is its hearty, savory, umami flavor. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to achieve that with vegetarian ingredients too! Mushrooms, cheese, dried tomatoes, and fermented vegetables are some umami-adding examples.
When serving meat eaters, I stick to something that is simple and they can understand and relate to. Serve things they are used to eating, but make those dishes vegetarian. Then, as they become more used to those flavors, start to incorporate things like tofu, mock meats, etc.
Even if they never completely go vegetarian, they will most likely increase their intake of vegetarian meals, which is a great thing.
There are plenty of different types of diets that people are taking on to make a positive change in their lifestyles. Of course, this often requires a taking a new approach to preparing food—which naturally means they'll need new recipes! So if you or a loved one if looking for diet-specific cookbooks, take a look at the links below!
With the rising popularity of plant-based eating, there are more and more vegetarian cookbooks coming out everyday that are meant to suit all kinds of palates and people from all walks of life.
If you're running low on time and don't want to cook, sometimes you just want a quick and easy premade snack to eat while you hurry out the door. To make snacktime a little healthier with a focus on vegetables, consider this bag of treats recommended by nutritionist Kara Swanson.
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