The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks
There’s something incredibly satisfying about cooking a meal that contains no meat. There’s an arrogance and a smugness in knowing that your dinner is a completely wholesome affair that’s almost guaranteed to be good for you. Okay, you could quite easily be eating a mountain of penne and cheddar but I’m talking more about dishes that have actual vegetables in them.
Learning how to cook vegetables is an essential part of becoming more comfortable in the kitchen. Finding out how to properly caramelise a carrot or sauté a cabbage can teach you a great deal about the Maillard reaction and how you can best utilise a vegetable’s strengths and weaknesses. Because the truth is that vegetables are actually a lot more interesting than meat and vegetarian food can be some of the most vibrant and delicious food there is. If you don’t find yourself excited by the idea of eating a fully vegetarian meal for lunch or dinner then you simply haven’t had any good vegetarian cooking. I’m here to help you with that.
We’ve got an astonishing number of vegetarian-friendly recipes on this website and most of them are perfect for whatever level of experience you’ve got. On the other hand, we haven’t got every single potential vegetarian recipe under the sun, so if you want to source some other tasty vegetarian recipes that have been tested till they’re perfect, you need to get yourself a solid vegetarian cookbook. We’ve already discussed some of the best vegan cookbooks as well as the best restaurant cookbooks and your favourite chef’s cookbooks. Now it’s time for the veggies to have their day.
Discovering a vegetarian cookbook that’s rammed with recipes for meat-free curries, traybakes, and a load of other dishes can change your life. And change the way you consider ingredients in the kitchen. To usher you in the right direction, I’ve rounded up some of the best vegetarian cookbooks out there. These are the cookbooks you should turn to when you’re in need of something that tastes great but doesn’t require cooking anything in chicken schmaltz. Enjoy.
Mark Bittman – How To Cook Everything: Vegetarian
The strapline for this book is “simple meatless recipes for great food”, and that’s exactly what this cookbook contains. How To Cook Everything: Vegetarian is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in working out the ins and outs of cooking without having to rely on any meat. Illustrative line drawings help bring it to life but it’s Mark Bittman’s crisp descriptions and instructions that make this such a must-buy. Everything from salads to spreads for bruschetta is included in this comprehensive cookbook. Buy it and consult it often.
Chetna Makan – Chetna's Healthy Indian: Vegetarian
Containing over 80 brilliant Indian and Indian-inspired recipes, Chetna’s Healthy Indian: Vegetarian is a fine addition to any cookbook hoarder’s collection. Even if you’re not au fait with Indian cuisine, you should definitely consider giving this cookbook a try. The recipes are all extremely home cook-friendly and simple to execute. Work your way through this and you will come out of the other side of it as a better cook with a much better understanding of the various vegetarian and vegan dishes found in Indian cooking.
Rohit Ghai – Tarkari
Filled with vegetarian and vegan Indian dishes with “heart and soul”, Rohit Ghai’s Tarkari is a real good way to level up your skillset. Inside the book, you’ll find recipes for various rassa, chakna, and sabzi like lotus root kofta and jackfruit masala. It’s an expansive book that’s probably best for those who already have a little experience under their belt. Even the title “tarkari” means “vegetable” in Urdu, you can rest assured this is a delicious showcase of what makes veg so special.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage – Flavour
Flavour-forward, vegetable-based recipes are what make up the bulk of this excellent cookbook. Flavour is focussed on not only teaching you how to create certain dishes but trying to get you to understand why particular ingredients pair with others. There are over 100 recipes inside of this cookbook and most of them are highly approachable, regardless of your level of skill. There are plenty of weeknight-friendly recipes with a scattering of more audacious weekend projects on there, too. No vegetarian will have any complaints about this cookbook.
Madhur Jaffrey – World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking
A classic. Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking was a revelation when it was first released in 1981 and it remains a permanent fixture on shelves to this day. Containing 400 recipes that span across the continent of Asia and the Middle East, it’s a cookbook that shows the sheer depth and breadth of vegetarian cooking. If you know someone who thinks that all veggie dishes are just pulses and rice, then you need to introduce them to the work of Miss Jaffrey. A cookbook that’s rich with worldly aromatics and enticing flavour combinations.
Rukmini Iyer – The Green Roasting Tin
Easy, affordable, and nutritious, Rukmini Iyer’s The Green Roasting Tin is a foolproof vegetarian cookbook. This is the sort of cookbook that you should buy for anyone that wants to start cooking more but isn’t sure where to start. Page one of this cookbook is where to start. From umami miso aubergines to tomato and bay orzo, there’s an array of mouthwatering recipes to found in The Green Roasting Tin. It’s a bestseller for a reason, Mob.
Nigel Slater – Tender
It was pretty difficult deciding on which Nigel Slater cookbook to include on this list of the best vegetarian cookbooks. The man is not only prolific but he’s also written some of the most subtle and considerate odes to vegetables. Either of his Greenfeast cookbooks could have made the cut but I’ve singled out Tender on this instance. It is a book about a cook and his vegetable patch, and it is stuffed with around 400 recipe ideas and anecdotes from Nigel’s bucolic life. You don’t even need to cook anything from this cookbook if you don’t want to. Simply reading it is a joy in and of itself.
Anna Jones – One: Pot, Pan, Planet
This cookbook doesn't just come complete with delicious recipes and tips on how to incorporate more plants into your diet, it comes with a mission statement of teaching you how to live a more sustainable life. The recipes in One: Pot, Pan, Planet are all packed with flavour but also make sure to keep sustainability and seasonality in mind. If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to give your diet an upheaval and start thinking more about what you put in your body (and where it comes from) I couldn’t recommend this cookbook enough. Plus, even if you’re not into helping out the planet, the recipes in this are so tasty that it’s worth purchasing for access to them alone.
Deborah Madison – The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
This 1997 cookbook from Deborah Madison reads just as fresh today as it did back then. The revised edition of The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone features new recipes and a new introduction by the author but it’s got the same strong, solid bones that made it an instant classic. Expect over 1,600 recipes that will show you how to nail the classics as well as introduce you to ways of cooking vegetables that you’ve never even thought of before.
Did you really think I’d write a list of the best vegetarian cookbooks without including a plug for our MOB Veggie cookbook? Of course not. Buy a copy of this today. It’ll help make sure that my salary gets paid on time.