60 Vegan Dinner Recipes | The First Mess
Featuring everything from creamy pastas to hearty grain bowls, stuffed vegetables, satiating salads, pizza, protein rich tofu and tempeh recipes and more! This roundup of my 60 best vegan dinner recipes is sure to inspire your plant-based meals.
Cooking wholesome vegan meals is delicious, fun, and honestly easy once you have a handle on the basics. I am a firm believer in having 5 to 6 go-to vegan meals in your rotation that you can endlessly riff off of, depending on the season. I have made vegan dinner ideas the focus of my work on this site because it does seem to be the most common stumbling block for folks! The old “What’s for dinner?” question, but with a vegan remix 😉
So with that, I’ve got 60 of my best vegan dinner recipes right here for you. Most of these are great on their own, while some would be ideal with a simple green salad or a basic roasted veg side. A lot of these vegan meal ideas are naturally gluten-free or easy to make gluten-free if need be! Whether you’ve been a vegan forever, you’re considering trying the plant-based way for the first time, you’re looking at Veganuary on the horizon, or you just enjoy partaking in Meatless Monday from time to time, I know that you’ll be able to find some inspiration here.
The First Mess Cookbook
Easy vegan dinner recipes and so much more plant-based inspiration features heavily in my cookbook. The recipes span sides, breakfast, soups, dessert, snacks and more.
I’ve divided these into categories for easy navigating and meal planning. Just click on whichever category that you’d like to be taken to below:
- Casseroles & Bakes
- Stuffed Veggies
- Tofu & Tempeh
- Patties, Meatloaf & Meatballs
- Main Course Salads & Veg-Focused Meals
- Stews & One Pot Meals
- Pizza & Savoury Pies
Casseroles & Bakes
Vegan Stuffed Pepper Casserole with Spicy Sunflower “Cheese” Topping. This vegan, gluten-free and nut-free casserole is cozy and full of flavour. Hearty with quinoa, black beans, corn, and a spicy vegan “cheese”topping. It’s simple to throw together and makes excellent leftovers.
French Onion Shepherd’s Pie with Lentils and Cauliflower Potato Mash. “I made this shepherds pie for Christmas dinner and I can’t even put into words how delicious it is. It was well worth the effort. Such a rich flavor and yet still feels kinda healthy, and it’s a great vegan twist on a classic. Even my lentil-hating sister said it was good. Thank you for this amazing recipe!” –Anya
Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon Pot Pie. This is such a cozy and flavourful vegan meal. Great for the Winter months! I also love to make just the filling with this one and serve it with mashed potatoes–just so heavenly, satisfying, and rich.
Sweet Potato & Broccoli Rabe Sheet Pan Dinner with Ginger Peanut Sauce. Tender chunks of sweet potato, chickpeas, blistered cherry tomatoes, and slightly bitter broccoli rabe come together with a creamy peanut sauce for a sheet pan flavour bomb! I love to serve this with some simple warm rice or farro. This is just one of those naturally vegan dinner recipes that’s easy to remix based on what you have on hand.
Cozy Vegan Enchiladas with Potatoes, Lime Cream & Cheesy Pumpkin Seed Crumble. “I made a mess of the kitchen and dirtied every pot and pan. However, this dish is totally worth it! Delicious!!! My family loved it. My husband said this is the dish to serve when company comes over. Even if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, you will go crazy for these enchiladas.” –Robin
Mushroom Gravy Pie with Garlicky Kale Mashed Potatoes. I always double the amount of mashed potato topping because it just makes me happy! This is a great vegan dinner idea for the plant-based skeptics. It’s so hearty and flavourful!
Pesto Quinoa and White Bean Bake with Spring Vegetables. Sub in any roasted vegetables that you like to make this appropriate year round! Naturally gluten-free and super simple to make if you’re able to buy some vegan pesto at your local grocery store.
Creamy Truffle Pasta with Balsamic-Roasted Broccoli Rabe. So much flavour contrast here! It’s creamy and satisfying, there’s the bitter edge of broccoli rabe, a little acidic sweetness from the balsamic, and of course the earthy deliciousness of truffle oil. Zucchini and raw cashews come together for this dreamy-textured sauce.
Hearty Mushroom & Beet Bolognese. “I was in search of a great sauce to go over pasta or spaghetti squash and this exceeded all of my expectations! This turned out to be one of the best sauces I’ve made with many compliments from those lucky enough to join me for dinner. […] Cannot express how amazing this came out – so flavorful! Thank you for the incredible recipe, I’ve shared it out with all of my friends.” –Emily
Creamy Olive and Arugula Pesto Pasta. A lovely 10-ish ingredient vegan pasta dinner with lots of flavour from salty olives and peppery arugula in the pesto. Sub in any seasonal vegetable that you like in place of the zucchini!
Vegan Penne Pasta with Rosé Sauce and Kale. “Thank you so much for this recipe Laura. I have made this more times than I can count and it’s my favourite vegan dish – PERIOD. Love, love, love it!” –Nara
Creamy Vegan Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash and Mustard Miso Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Orzo is amazing for weeknight dinner plans! It cooks fast, has that satisfying pasta kinda vibe, but eats like rice, and it’s just so great here with a creamy butternut sauce and crispy Brussels sprouts.
Avocado Pesto Pasta with Crispy Kale. I was honestly so against even entertaining the idea of avocados and pasta together, but when you combine them with pesto-like flavours, it’s really tasty and satisfying! Also, this easy vegan dinner recipe is super quick and made with 12-ish ingredients. Huge bonus!
Spinach & Mushroom Pasta. This creamy pasta is simple to prepare, satisfying, flavourful, and requires only 12 key ingredients! Our creamy spinach sauce is totally dairy-free, made rich with cooked white beans, pine nuts, and sautéed zucchini. Once the sauce is done, this cooks up in 30 minutes.
Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Garlic and Roasted Tomatoes. “My husband and I are not vegan, and we absolutely loved this pasta! It was so satisfyingly rich and creamy without feeling heavy like a cream based sauce. We will definitely keep it in our dinner rotation.” –Ana
Lemon Orzo with Broccoli and Chickpeas. The quick cooking magic of orzo strikes again in one of my more popular vegan dinner recipes! This is such a comforting and simple weeknight meal–I turn to it often! Lots of options to play around with seasonal veg with this one.
Creamy Eggplant Pasta with Walnuts & Spiced Bread Crumbs. “I didn’t really internalize this recipe when I added the ingredients to my grocery list since I blindly make all new First Mess recipes without thinking twice. When I came back to make it, I was like…ummmm cumin, dill, and eggplant….together?! I was skeptical but it really was delicious! You should definitely make this!” –Kelsey
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Cauliflower Rice, Crispy Tofu Bits & Poblano Cream. Lots of flavour and texture going on with this protein rich vegan dinner. The spice-coated bits of crispy tofu really are the best part! Perfect with a simple green salad on the side.
Grilled and Stuffed Mini Peppers with Spiced Walnut & Lentil Crumble. Olives and spices pack an umami punch with the wholesome lentil and walnut filling here. These would also be great with full size bell peppers, and you could definitely roast them if you don’t have a grill.
Grilled Pizza Portobellos with Lemony Cashew “Ricotta”. Using these juicy stuffed portobellos as a veggie burger is a power move! So much flavour with some pretty simple ingredients. I also offer roasting instructions in the recipe notes of this one.
Stuffed Eggplant with Sunflower Romesco Sauce. Depending on what grain you choose for your filling, this is a naturally gluten-free vegan main that also happens to be nut-free! The toasted sunflower seed-based romesco sauce is such a winner. I often make double batches to serve with roasted vegetables and grilled tofu.
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas & Garlicky Arugula Cream. “This recipe is absolutely amazing and definitely a new favorite! It’s was super easy to make – I had everything done plus the dishes washed in the 45 minutes it took to cook the squash. And it also tasted great. It’s a perfect blend of sweet and bitter and all of the ingredients go perfectly together. It’s easily one of our new favorite recipes!” –Ryann
Twice Baked Potatoes with Buffalo Chickpeas and Cauliflower. Spicy and tangy chickpeas and cauliflower are loaded into cozy salted potato boats. What’s not to love? This one hovers around the 10 ingredient mark too, which is always nice! A simple side salad with this makes such a great meal.
Tofu & Tempeh
Sticky Ginger Tempeh with Coconut Rice. This recipe is super pantry-friendly, extra flavourful, and honestly one of my favourite ways to prepare tempeh. All the little crumbles are coated in the gingery sauce and the coconut rice is such a nice compliment.
Crispy Sesame Garlic Tofu. This tofu is pressed, marinated AND frozen to get the best texture possible. The end result is crispy chewy tofu perfection served simply with a sesame garlic sauce, some warm rice, and vegetables of your choice.
Sweet & Spicy Grilled Tofu and Pineapple with Herbed Cauliflower Rice. “Made this tonight (I actually had all the ingredients without planning, lol) and we loved it! The sauce definitely has some kick to it which was great – even my husband loved it and he doesn’t always like “heat”. I used parsley and lime basil in the cauliflower rice – very tasty! Thanks for another keeper, Laura!” –Cynthia
Maple Mustard Tempeh. If I’m having tempeh, it generally needs to be super saucy and this recipe fits the bill! White wine, thyme, chili, garlic, two types of mustard and maple syrup make this dish so flavourful. Perfect with some roasted veg and maybe some fluffy cooked grains on the side.
Summer Veg & Tofu Skewers with Blueberry BBQ Sauce. This one is all simple grilled goodness with an extra tasty and unique blueberry BBQ sauce that you can make ahead of time for maximum ease.
The Best Marinated & Grilled Tempeh. A blend of 8 spices and mostly pantry ingredients makes for a flavourful and simple tempeh preparation! You can definitely sear this tempeh in a pan if you don’t have a grill.
Sesame Garlic Noodles with Broccoli, Basil & Crispy Tempeh. Thin slices of tempeh are seared until browned and crisp and then tossed with cooked noodles, broccoli, chopped fresh basil, and a simple sesame garlic sauce that’s spiked with fresh lime. Comes together in about 40 minutes!
Patties, Meatloaf & Meatballs
Lemony Oregano Vegan Meatballs. These vegan meatballs are naturally gluten-free and filled with wholesome ingredients like walnuts, oats, flax seeds, plenty of spices, and white beans. They can be served so many ways, making them a great dinner starting point.
Squash Patties with Mixed Herb Salsa Verde. This take on a veggie patty is super flavourful, hearty with lentils, oats, pecans and millet, and also perfectly balanced with the fresh and zesty salsa verde on the side. Naturally gluten-free and easily made nut/soy-free as well.
Spicy Vegan Buffalo Meatloaf Minis. All the comfort of classic vegan nut/bean loaf but with the added excitement Buffalo-style hot sauce. We also keep the ketchup glaze here because it’s absolutely key! 🙂
Sweet Potato Cake Patties with Lemony Slaw. “This recipe is truly incredible. I love making a batch and eating on them throughout the week, for any meal! I also add whatever sounds good to the patties, and have had success with finely chopped kale and beet greens/stems when I don’t have parsley. […] Exquisite. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe…one of my all-time vegan favorites!” –Annie
Giant Vegan Mushroom Meatballs & Garlic Bread. This is one of my personal favourite vegan dinner recipes! I just can’t resist the allure of anything with marinara honestly. I have them with garlic bread in this recipe, but spaghetti is clearly also a winner to be served alongside!
Bloody Mary Veggie Burgers. This chickpea and quinoa patty features sun dried tomatoes, spices, lemon, and Worcestershire. Extra flavourful, fun to make, and extra good with some kale slaw and burger sauce on top.
Vegan Eggplant Meatballs with Kale Pesto. Sometimes I struggle to find new things to do with eggplant and this recipe is a reflection of one of those times! The meaty texture of roasted eggplant just works for a vegan meatball.
Golden Split Pea Patties. This recipe is made up of mostly pantry stock! Lots of spices, potatoes, carrots, split peas, lemon, chickpea flour, and tamari give us a patty that’s great as a veggie burger or served on top of a hearty salad or grain bowl.
Main Course Salads & Veg-Focused Meals
Vegan Kale Cobb Salad. This salad has it all! It’s a hearty main course with seriously flavourful add-ins like smoky almond “bacon” bits, homemade red wine vinaigrette, chickpeas, avocado, crunchy vegetables, and crumbled vegan cheese.
Romesco Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Herbed Tahini Cream. “Laura, you know how to develop & pair flavors SO well! I made this last night and it was spectacular. The flavors had so much depth, it was truly a unique dish. I served it with some brown rice and it was perfect.” –Megan
Grilled Asparagus and French Lentil Niçoise-Style Salad. This is an extremely vegan take on a niçoise with French lentils as our main protein, blanched green beans, potatoes, and some fresh touched with radishes and grilled asparagus. All topped with my fave caper shallot dressing!
Napa Kale Slaw with Crunchy BBQ Cauliflower & Pickled Jalapeño Ranch. I still make the ranch recipe from this salad every other week or so! It’s just so good on so many things. But it’s especially great with battered and baked cauliflower that’s coated in BBQ sauce, hearty greens, and chickpeas. A seriously satiating salad!
Grilled Cabbage Steaks with Jalapeño Chimichurri Lentils and Maple Mustard Tahini. “OH MY GOSH THIS IS SOOOOO GOOD! All three components of the recipe can be used elsewhere. Delicious, intense, thoroughly satisfying. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” –Catherine
Stews & One Pot Meals
Farro Chickpea Skillet with Kale, Tomatoes, Cardamom & Lime. This skillet meal is so flavourful, hearty, pantry-friendly, and it cooks up in 30 minutes. We top this one pot meal with a tangy vegan yogurt sauce that’s fragrant with lime zest and juice.
Ginger Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Stew with Lentils & Kale. “this stew is literally stupendous. I’m a potato girl, sweet potato is just not my thing, never has been but my husband asked if I could make use of the sweet potatoes that keep persisting in our spring CSA boxes for dinner. I made this tonight. perfection. comforting, balanced, interesting, and not too sweet — more gingery actually. Standing ovation from down here in Louisiana!” –Roe
Mushroom Brown Rice Bake with Caramelized Shallots, Lentils & Gremolata. It’s earthy, cozy, meaty, super satiating, and brightened up by a finishing touch of gremolata. This one has old school mushroom casserole vibes to me and I truly do love it.
Smoky and Spicy White Bean Stew with Potatoes & Kale. I seem to always have the ingredients on hand for this stew that definitely sticks to your ribs. The satiating magic of white beans and potatoes combined with a spicy tomato-y broth, some extra veg, and chopped kale is so appreciated in the colder months.
Vegan Skillet Lasagna with Almond “Ricotta”. It’s a pasta but it’s also a meal that’s contained within one pot so that’s why this vegan dinner recipe is here! I’m at the point where I almost prefer the rustic freeform skillet lasagna over the traditional layered one! It’s fun and easy to throw together, and extra good with creamy bits of homemade vegan ricotta.
Creamy French Lentils with Mushrooms & Kale. “I found this on a dark and rainy January afternoon and made it immediately. I used beluga lentils that i cooked in my instant pot and I only had cremini mushrooms on hand. This is absolutely fantastic. It’s rich and filling. Very hearty. Like an old fashioned stew. I will make this again and it is good enough to serve at a dinner party. Simple ingredients that get along well together. I can’t wait to taste it after it has had a chance to sit overnight. Well done!!” –Lori
Jammy Sun Dried Tomato White Beans with Crispy Caper Breadcrumbs. A skillet of sauce beans is one of my favourite comfort foods! These ones are topped with crispy and salty caper breadcrumbs. Perfect with with a simple salad or some roasted broccolini on the side.
Vegan Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto. This super simple Instant Pot recipe is made extra flavourful with a big dab of miso. Spinach is wilted in at the end for a touch of green too! I love the simplicity of this one and turn to it often on week nights. Extra tasty with some homemade vegan “parm” sprinkle.
Braised Harissa Eggplant with Chickpeas. “Laura, when I read this post this morning I knew immediately that I was going to make it for dinner tonight […] This is SOOOO good! It was quick to put together and your treatment of the eggplant was brilliant. The lemon juice and the caraway seeds added so much flavor. This is definitely going into the rotation.” –Kim
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Stew with Farro & Kale. This warming stew hovers around 10 ingredients and comes together so fast if you include farro in a bit of weekly meal prep (or you have some that’s cooked on hand). For this recipe, I boost the vegetable stock with dried mushrooms for an extra bump of rich flavour.
Pizza & Savoury Pies
Vegan Spinach Artichoke Pizza. This pizza has all the creamy and flavourful qualities of the classic dip with lots of garlic, lemon, and chili, but it’s all packed up in a fun pizza package 🙂
Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza. We do this like a white-sauced pizza with a roasted onion cream. Then it’s topped with lightly battered and baked bits of cauliflower coated in Buffalo-style hot sauce. Finishing with a bit of vegan ranch is essential in my opinion! And by a bit I mean LOTS.
Vegan Butternut Galette with Apples, Shallots & GF Black Pepper Crust. “I have to say.. this was a crowd pleaser! I was a little worried about how the mustard would play in with the apples and butternut but BOY was this delicious! […] the flake and sweetness of this dish tied together so beautifully. Every slice got eaten and I’m the only vegan! They all loved it 🙂 thanks as always for your inspiration!” –Marlena
Spicy Vegan Sausage Calzones with “Ricotta” and Broccoli Rabe. A little folded up pizza situation with cooked up vegan sausage (there are so many great brands now!), wilted broccoli rabe and a homemade, super creamy vegan “ricotta” cheese. So fun to make, and a bit easier to make if you buy pre-made dough 🙂
BBQ Mushroom Flatbread with Chive Cream & Homemade Spelt Dough. This grilled flatbread is so fun to make. It’s loaded with sautéed mushrooms that we smother in BBQ sauce. Thin red onion slices and peppery arugula on top provide a bit of sharp contrast. It’s all finished with a slightly onion-y chive cream. The spelt flour in the dough has a nice nutty flavour too.
Spinach & Mushroom Polenta Pie with Almond “Ricotta”. A cozy polenta crust is stuffed with sautéed garlicky mushrooms, spinach, big dollops of almond ricotta, and marinara sauce. This centrepiece is naturally gluten-free too!
Spicy Vegan White Pizza with Broccoli Rabe & Truffle Cream. All of my favourite pizza flavours PLUS shiitake mushrooms, pepperoncini peppers, and sun dried tomatoes. Every bite is creamy, spicy, umami-packed, super fresh, and flavourful.
Green Goddess Bowls with Pepita Lime Sauce. “I made this somewhat skeptically over the weekend since steaming broccoli and kale isn’t my favorite way to eat those veggies, but WOW!! The flavors of the veggies and the pepita lime sauce combined beautifully to create one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in a long time. […] Even my husband, who is still a bit skeptical of anything predominantly vegetable that is not laden with cheese and sour cream, raved about it. So thank you! This recipe is definitely a keeper!” –Bethany
Harissa Chickpea Bowl with Potatoes, Lemony Tahini & Greens. I love to remix a grain bowl with potatoes! Honestly I love to remix any dish with potatoes haha. This one has all of my favourite foods: spicy chickpeas, crispy potatoes, fresh greens, herbs, and a creamy, lemony tahini dressing.
Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut Sauce. This is a vintage TFM recipe! All the flavours are still so lovely together though. The strands of squash mingle with steamed kale and broccoli and a flavourful tahini sauce. You can add any protein that you like to this to fill it out a bit more, although I find it quite satiating as-is.
Grilled Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls with Cumin Garlic Sauce. This is another one of those oldie recipes that I still make some version of all the time. Roasting the sweet potatoes and strips of bell pepper is definitely an option if it isn’t grilling season where you are!
Golden Coconut Broth Bowls with Crispy Tofu. “This recipe turned out beautifully and so delicious! For us two, it made enough for one meal – with seconds (you’re going to want seconds!). I was surprised how well the tofu turned out! Often times I make “crispy tofu” per a recipe and the final result is either a mushy interior or being overly dredged in arrowroot/cornstarch and ends up flaking off. I will be using your method for tofu in MANY other recipes now!” –Maclean
Vegan Dinner Recipes: Crispy Sesame Garlic Tofu
This flavourful crispy tofu is perfect served simply with some warm rice and steamed veggies. Plus, check out 55+ additional vegan dinner recipes!
Servings: 2 -5
Tofu & Marinade
- 1 lb (454 grams) firm or extra firm tofu
- ¼ cup gluten-free tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce, optional
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic, finely grated with a Microplane
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
- ground black pepper, to taste
Sesame Garlic Sauce
- ¼ cup gluten-free tamari soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons well-stirred tahini (or peanut butter/almond butter)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely grated with a Microplane
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus extra for garnish
- warm cooked rice
- steamed broccoli or other veg
- sliced green onions or chopped cilantro
Press the tofu for 15 minutes. Then, transfer it to a freezer-safe sealable bag or container. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tamari, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, and garlic. Pour the marinade over the tofu. Tightly seal the bag and place it in the freezer for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
The next day, remove the tofu from the freezer and allow it to thaw completely in the refrigerator, about 8 hours. If you can, flip the tofu around every few hours so that all sides of the tofu block can soak up the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the tofu from the bag and pat it dry. Discard the remaining marinade. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place in a medium bowl. Toss the tofu cubes with the 2 teaspoons of avocado oil to coat. Then, toss with the arrowroot starch and pepper until evenly coated.
Arrange the tofu cubes on the prepared baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast until deep golden brown, about 30-35 minutes, flipping the cubes over at the halfway point.
While the tofu is roasting, make the sesame garlic sauce. In a sealable jar, combine the tamari, maple syrup, tahini, lime juice, sesame oil, garlic, and sesame seeds. Shake the jar to combine and set aside.
Serve the tofu hot with cooked rice/noodles, sautéed/steamed vegetables, or greens. Drizzle sesame garlic sauce on top to finish.
- The pressing is the key to your success. I purchased a tofu press recently and it has been a game changer for us. It gets so much more water out than my previous stacked books/pots method and it’s a lot safer too.
- Corn starch will substitute for arrowroot starch.
- I tend to not use leftover marinades once they’ve been exposed to high protein foods. When I took a food safety course, this was something they went on about quite a bit in context to food borne illness, and it instilled the fear big time.