The 8 Best Vegetarian Cookbooks of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Meatless meals made easy and delicious

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Research shows people who frequently cook at home eat healthier, balanced diets. Preparing your own meals can be an empowering step towards optimizing your health, and incorporating plant-based meals takes it up another notch. While there are many accessible recipes online, we find there is something about a cookbook that really inspires us to get creative in the kitchen. 

Whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking to incorporate more veggies into your diet, these cookbooks are the perfect addition to your kitchen. They contain nutritious, delicious veggie-forward recipes covering the basics to more advanced gourmet options. Move over, meat: Plants are taking center stage.

Here, the best vegetarian cookbooks.

Best Overall: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi, By Yotam Ottolenghi

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi, By Yotam Ottolenghi
Courtesy of Walmart

Yotam Ottolenghi is a world-renowned Israeli chef known for his Mediterranean-focused restaurants and markets in London that serve up some of the most creative vegetarian dishes and unique flavor profiles. Pick up Plenty, and transport yourself into one of Ottolenghi’s kitchens to learn how to create his perfectly balanced plates at home.

Each section of the book is dedicated to a central grain, legume, or vegetable, with recipes that reinvent the star ingredient with supporting flavors. We love the chapter dedicated to eggplant, showcasing the variety of texture and flavor profiles of this nutritious, versatile ingredient. Flip to the ‘Pulses’ chapter for plant-powered protein inspiration.

Some delicious legume recipes include Chickpea Saute with Greek Yogurt and Fried Lima Beans with Feta, Sorrel, and Sumac. When you have a little extra time on your hands, treat yourself to one of the homemade pastas featured in the back of the cookbook—the Lemon and Goat Cheese Ravioli do not disappoint.

Best Comprehensive: How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, By Mark Bittman

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition, By Mark Bittman
Courtesy of Walmart

If you're feeling like a vegetarian diet is limiting, look no further than this book for endless inspiration. Legendary New York Times food journalist and author of thirty books, Mark Bittman delivers a comprehensive guide to all things vegetables in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

This impressive compilation has over 1,000 recipes, showcasing the limitless varieties of plant-based cooking. We named this best comprehensive for a good reason—it covers almost everything you could think of, including teas, smoothies, pastas, grains, plant-based proteins, desserts, sauces, and more. It also offers vegan substitutions for different staples used throughout the book to make recipes easily adaptable, and there are step-by-step guides to the principles of cooking.

Best Gourmet: On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen, By Jeremy Fox

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen

Courtesy of Walmart

Jeremy Fox applies the “nose-tail” cooking approach to vegetables in his book On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen. This book will inspire you to use all parts of the vegetable in unique and creative ways, leaving no waste behind. We love all the attention to detail in these recipes that result in beautifully plated, delicious, restaurant-worthy plates.

The introduction section breaks down key tips for the storage, purchasing, and basic preparation skills for over 30 vegetable varieties, which comes in handy for a quick reference guide to set you up for the recipes the book has to offer. You’ll apply techniques to vegetables that are usually reserved for meat, like braising, which yields a complex depth of flavor.

Our savory favorite is the Potato Beignets, Romesco, and Charred Scallion, and for a sweet treat, try the Peas, White Chocolate, and Macadamia Blondie. This book is for the adventurous home-cook looking to expand beyond the simple roasted vegetable and experiment with innovative approaches to plant-based meals.

Best Back to Basics: EatingWell Vegetables: The Essential Reference

EatingWell Vegetables: The Essential Reference

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

EatingWell’s Vegetables: The Essential Reference serves as an encyclopedia of vegetable preparation and cooking methods. It’s perfect if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to cook up whatever veggies might be in your refrigerator.

The book is laid out as an A to Z reference guide of over 40 vegetables, providing market tips, cooking basics, nutrition facts, and simple preparations for each vegetable. Additionally, there are a few sample recipes in each vegetable section, showcasing the different ways to incorporate them into your cooking.

We consider this book a kitchen staple, referencing it whenever we need a quick tutorial on some basic prep and cooking methods for our vegetables.

Best Budget-Friendly: Plant-Based on a Budget, By Toni Okamoto

Plant-Based on a Budget: Delicious Vegan Recipes for Under $30 a Week, in Less Than 30 Minutes a Meal
Courtesy of Amazon 

Eating plant-based doesn’t need to be an expensive endeavor, and Plant-Based on a Budget is proof. The introduction section walks you through vegan cooking basics, pantry essentials, and general tips on how to save money on food and how to navigate grocery aisles.

Each recipe includes "Toni’s Tips" to troubleshoot common cooking pitfalls and to modify recipes based on your tastebuds and what’s in your pantry. Flip to the one-pot meal section for easy, affordable, everyday dinners you’ll cook on repeat. Try the Stovetop Blueberry Oatmeal for a satisfying breakfast with an antioxidant boost or the Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl for a hearty, nutritious start to your day.

Best for Everyday Meals: At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well, By Amy Chaplin

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen : Celebrating the Art of Eating Well

Courtesy of Walmart

When it comes to everyday cooking, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen is our go-to cookbook. Part One of this book sets the stage with a pantry stocking guide, simple recipes for daily nourishment, and meal planning guidelines and tips for living a whole food lifestyle. Part Two is packed full of delicious plant-based recipes. We love the pantry meal section which offers up some tasty combinations utilizing basic ingredients you likely have on hand in your kitchen. 

Recipes range from light, fresh salads and soups to heartier stews, grain bowls, veggie burgers and casserole dishes—you’ll find a veggie dish that will satisfy any mood or craving. Check out the "Snacks, Nibbles and Drinks" section to inspire a health forward “mocktail party”—and we promise, you won’t miss the meat and cheese plate.

Best Seasonal: Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables, By Joshua McFadden

Six Seasons

Courtesy of Amazon

If you’re looking to cook with the seasons, Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables is your pick. As the title suggests, this book is organized by season: Spring, Early Summer, MidSummer, Latesummer, Fall, and Winter.

In this great reference, you’ll learn about seasonal harvesting and highlighting the flavors of peak-picked produce. We love the "Sauces, Dips and Dressing" section for recipes to elevate any simply roasted vegetable, like the Caper Raisin Vinaigrette and the Salsa Verde variations. 

Local, in-season produce typically contains higher nutrient contents as it’s harvested at peak ripeness and has reduced transit time—go to your local farmer’s market or join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to stock up on ingredients for the Six Seasons recipes.

Best Vegan: Sweet Potato Soul, By Jenne Claiborne

sweet potato soul cookbook
Courtesy of Sweet Potato Soul.

Jenne Claiborne’s Sweet Potato Soul cookbook is our top pick for flavorful, innovative vegan dishes. The introduction provides a brief history of southern cooking and soul food and a breakdown on adapting this way of cooking to a vegan diet. Her vibrant recipes highlight southern flavors, including smokey, sweet, and spicy.

Pair the Date BBQ Jackfruit Sliders with the Coconut Collard Salad for a comfort meal packed with nutritious ingredients. Vegans, Vegetarians, and omnivores will delight in these thoughtfully-crafted dishes.

Final Verdict

Plenty tops our list with its crave-able Mediterranean-style, veggie-focused dishes. If you’re looking to cover your bases with foundational vegetarian cooking, go for How to Cook Everything Vegetarian or EatingWell Vegetables: The Essential Reference.

What to Look for in a Vegetarian Cookbook

Skill Level

Look for a cookbook that feels approachable and suits your comfort level in the kitchen. If you’re a newer cook, go for one of the introductory or comprehensive cookbooks. If you’re confident with the fundamentals of cooking with vegetables, push yourself out of your comfort zone and go with an elevated, gourmet, vegetarian cookbook. Bottom line: flip through the pages and go with what inspires you most.

Ingredients and Recipe Lists

Before you purchase a cookbook, take a look at the recipe list, which is generally located in the table of contents. Review it to ensure that the recipes appeal to you and that they use ingredients that fit your dietary requirements. For example, if you avoid gluten, the recipes should include gluten-free grains or offer easy modifications. Even if you are buying the book online, many retailers give you the option to take a peek before purchasing.


Take a look at the kitchen tools you will need before investing in a cookbook. Many cookbooks feature quick, easy, and nutritious recipes that can be incredibly convenient—but only if you have the kitchen equipment needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

    Vegan means eating a diet consisting of 100% plant products, and excludes meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, and fish. A vegetarian diet is primarily plant-based, but may include dairy and eggs. Some vegetarians include fish in their diets as well. 

  • How nutritious is a vegetarian diet?

    Research shows that a vegetarian diet can offer many health benefits. Vegetarians are at a reduced risk for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. A vegetarian diet consists primarily of plant-based foods, which contain healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants.

    One study showed lower total cholesterol in individuals who followed a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet is also more sustainable and less harmful to the environment than a meat-based diet. 

  • How hard is it to be a vegetarian?

    It is not difficult to follow a vegetarian diet. As plant-based styles of eating become more common, vegetarian foods are even easier to find in grocery stores and restaurants. Many restaurants offer a variety of vegetarian options, or accommodate substitutions with few issues. You may want to consult with a registered dietitian to ensure you are meeting all of your dietary needs and eating a well-rounded diet. 

What Experts Say

"Everyone can benefit from adding a vegetarian cookbook to their collection. Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Start simply by trying out Meatless Monday, or swapping one meal for a vegetarian dish once a week."
Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian, Anne Carroll uses her clinical expertise to cut through marketing claims and get down to the science. These are all products that she has researched, vetted, and would recommend to her clients in private practice and incorporate into her own cooking.

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