5 Vegan Recipes for Beginners

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reader who told me about her husband’s decision to go vegan. As the primary cook in the family, she was struggling with adapting. She had always taken great pleasure in turning out delicious traditional dishes – especially around the holidays – and was feeling like this change had sucked the joy right out of her time in the kitchen.

She asked for five of my favorite vegan recipes – my go-to plant-based recipes that are simple, straightforward, and don’t have a bunch of unrecognizable ingredients.

I thought this was a perfect idea for a new blog post – a list of 5 Vegan Recipes for Beginners. Essentially, recipes that might just help you – and those around you – dip their toe into vegan waters without having to resort to “foo foo bean sprout tofu,” as my carnivorous guy likes to say.

And most meat-eaters or dairy-and-egg-eating vegetarians should be able to embrace these relatively normal recipes, too. Score!

5 Vegan Recipes for Beginners

1. Slow Cooker Quinoa, Sweet Potato, & Black Bean Chili from Kitchen Treaty

First off, chili! I’m of the mind that chili is the single most easy way to go vegan without knowing (or possibly even caring, for that matter). With endless possibilities and familiar ingredients, veggie chili is where it’s at for someone easing their way into being vegan.

I especially love quinoa in chilis because it adds heft – both nutritionally and texture-wise. For another quinoa chili, also try this Slow Cooker Quinoa White Chili with Roasted Poblanos. Or, if quinoa isn’t your thing, here are a couple of vegan chilis with even more mainstream ingredients: Slow Cooker Black Bean Pumpkin Chili, My Favorite Vegan Chili with Vegan Sour Cream from Oh She Glows, or Vegan Beer Chili from Minimalist Baker.

2. Vegan Vanilla Cashew Smoothie from Kitchen Treaty

If you think you’ll miss milkshakes when you 1) embark upon a weight loss plan, 2) go vegan or 3) both, this is the smoothie for you. It tastes just like a vanilla milkshake!

When you eat vegan, the smoothie options are endless. If the recipe calls for milk, just swap the dairy for almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk.

Another common smoothie ingredient, yogurt, might thicken and add protein – but it’s not usually necessary. You can try store-bought coconut yogurt, or leave the yogurt out altogether and still have a great result.

This vanilla cashew smoothie relies on a surprisingly rich combination of cashews and water, plus a banana, for its creaminess.

So when you’re dipping your toe into veganville, smoothies are a great place to start.

3. Vegan Spiced Carrot Muffins from Oh My Veggies

If you think vegan baked goods are dry and tasteless, think again! Just make a few simple ingredient swaps and you’re good to go.

This recipe relies on flax “eggs” – simply ground flaxseeds and water mixed together – along with coconut oil in lieu of butter.

Almond milk in place of cow’s milk also works well in many vegan baked good recipes.

Flaxseed meal, coconut oil, and almond milk may not seem like the most mainstream ingredients ever, but they’re pretty straightforward and, these days, rather easy to find at most grocery stores.

More favorite vegan baked good recipes: Zucchini Applesauce MuffinsVegan Lemon Coconut Doughnuts and Super-Moist Vegan Banana Bread Muffins. Yum!

4. Black Beans & Quinoa from Kitchen Treaty

With protein-rich quinoa, this simple recipe makes for a satisfying – and easy – dinner. If you’re not sure about quinoa, rice will always work in its place. Perfect when served with a side of steamed broccoli! Here’s another simple-yet-luscious vegan legume recipe:  Mashed White Beans with Spinach and Lemon.

5. One-Pot Sesame Noodles & Veggies from Oh My Veggies

It’s easy for vegans to get in on the one-pot pasta action with this veggie-packed version. Others to try: One-Pot Vegan Pasta from Minimalist Baker, Summer Vegetable Paella from Eats Well with Others, or the vegan variation of my One-Pot Creamy Pumpkin Pasta.

Craving more?

My favorite vegan cookbooks

The Oh She Glows Cookbook and Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon – full of approachable, creative recipes that I turn to again and again

Chloe’s Kitchen and Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli – happily packed with delicious, accessible vegan recipes that don’t rely on meat substitutes or obscure ingredients to make it happen

The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner – so many wonderful ideas for making homemade staples the vegan way

More on the Web …

Be sure to visit the complete directory of all of my vegan recipes or check out these easy tweaks for living a little more plant-based. I also shared a bit about my experience going dairy-free in my blog post “How I Live I Life Without Cheese.

And here are some of my favorite vegan blogs:

  • Oh She Glows – Angela is just straight-up inspiring – not to mention seriously innovative. She also wrote my favorite cookbook of 2014 (also linked above). Such a great book for newly minted vegans to, um, sink their teeth into.
  • Minimalist Baker – Not strictly a vegan blog, but with so many unfussy vegan recipes, I have to include them in this list.
  • Connoisseurus Veg – Alissa consistently churns out the most incredibly creative (and seriously delicious) vegan goods.

More wonderful vegan blogs:

Another great resource is Finding Vegan – the website or on Facebook.

5 Vegan Recipes for Beginners!

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Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.