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

Meatless meals made easy and delicious

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

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—especially if you’re cooking up wholesome, plant-based meals. 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 Vegetarian Cookbooks

Skill Level: Look for a cookbook that feels approachable and suits your comfort level in the kitchen. For example, if you’re new to the kitchen, 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 the recipe list 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 include gluten-free grains or offer easy modifications. Even if you are buying the book online, many online retailers give you the option to take a peek before purchasing.

Equipment: 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.

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.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wolfson JA, Bleich SN. Is cooking at home associated with better diet quality or weight-loss intention? Public Health Nutr. 2015;18(8):1397-1406. doi:10.1017/S1368980014001943