10 of The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Beginners


Let’s say that you have a friend who is interested in exploring a plant-based lifestyle and wants to start by trying some simple vegetarian recipes at home. What are the best vegetarian cookbooks for beginners you would recommend? Well, we asked this exact question of our amazing community, The Peas and Carrots Society and we have some awesome recommendations to share with you. 

Whether you’re looking for some great new cookbooks to explore or, you just want a solid list of vegetarian cookbooks for beginners, you’ll find 10 of the best here! 

You can listen to us discuss the books here or read on for a summary of what our community recommends. 

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Table of Contents

What’s the Difference Between A Vegetarian and a Vegan Diet?

Before we talk about our list of the 10 best vegetarian cookbooks for beginners, let’s do a bit of level-setting by quickly summarizing the difference between a vegetarian and vegan diet.

In short, a vegan diet excludes all animal and animal-derived foods including eggs, dairy, and honey. 

Vegetarians typically will consume some eggs and dairy.

What Are The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Beginners?

The “best” vegetarian cookbook to buy is the one that you will actually use! Like many people, I have a pretty good collection of cookbooks collecting dust because I simply don’t use them.

Perhaps I don’t use them because the recipes were too difficult (beyond my skill set) or because the recipes don’t suit my taste. The best vegetarian cookbook to buy, especially if you’re a beginner, is the one that suits your taste, current culinary skill level, and household situation (single or family; all plant-based or mixed omnivore/plant-based eaters).

The books we’ve included in our list of best vegetarian cookbooks were selected because they provide a good amount of guidance for getting started with plant-based cooking and contain recipes that are relatively easy, and with no hard-to-find ingredients.

By the way, if you’re new to plant-based cooking, one place you can start learning some new skills is Rouxbe’s Culinary Rx online cooking course. I took this course in 2021 and it’s a great way to gain an understanding of healthy plant-based cooking. You can read my review here

Culinary Rx Cooking Course by Rouxbe

This online instructional cooking and nutrition course, taught by leading chef educators and medical professionals, empowers students through their transition to a more health-supportive diet and lifestyle. Completing the course provides individuals with the tools, resources, and culinary confidence to take control of their lives through food and cooking.

Learn More

10 of The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Beginners

book with 10 of the best vegetarian cookbooks for beginners

Without further ado, we now present to you our carefully curated list of 10 of the best vegetarian cookbooks for beginners as recommended by us along with our community, The Peas and Carrots Society

These are in no particular order so be sure to browse them all to ensure you find one that is right for you.

1. The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen

Our list of the best vegetarian cookbooks for beginners starts with The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen

What I love about this cookbook is that it includes quite of information other than just vegetarian recipes. This book includes a list of essential equipment, seasonings, and an introduction to vegetarianism.

It includes 300 recipes that take less than 45 minutes from prep to finish, It also includes 500 gluten-free recipes and 250 vegan recipes. 

The recipes cover:

  • Rice 
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Soy
  • Soups
  • Snacks
  • Salads
  • Appetizers
  • Vegetable mains

As you would expect from America’s test kitchen, there are a ton of photos and guidance about proper technique. 

2. The Forest Mediterranean Feast

Back in episode 329, we interviewed author Erin Gleeson of The Forest Feast who had just come out with her book, The Forest Feast Mediterranean

For years, readers of The Forest Feast blog have been transported to Erin Gleeson’s picturesque cabin in the woods through her stunning photography of magic gatherings and vibrant vegetarian cooking.

Her book, The Forest Feast: Mediterranean will transport readers to France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy via recipes inspired by her trip to this part of the Mediterranean. This isn’t just a cookbook, it’s an adventure!

3. The Moosewood Cookbook

The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen was recommended by our friend Jessica R. in the Peas and Carrots. Jessica says,” Moosewood is a classic, and a cookbook every vegetarian should cook from.” 

Indeed, Mollie Katzen has been writing vegetarian recipes for a very long time. In 1974, she hand-wrote and self-illustrated her first spiral notebook of vegetarian recipes.  

Mollie has written twelve books and has been given a lot of credit for making plant-based cooking more mainstream. 

The book starts out with some pantry notes and also kitchen essentials. The recipes include:

  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Sauces and dips
  • Sandwiches
  • Entrees
  • Desserts

4. Quick-Fix Vegetarian

The Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson is a really great book for fast vegetarian meals. There are about 150 recipes in this book that take 30 minutes or less so it’s great for busy families. 

The book provides some basic guidance with respect to grocery shopping, menu, planning, using leftovers, and batch-cooking.

Amy G. of The Peas and Carrots Society says, “I used this one heavily when we got started. Not every recipe is a winner but they’re all simple, quick, and easy.”

5. River Cottage Veg

River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall wasn’t written as a “vegetarian” cookbook per se but rather a “vegetable” cookbook. So, you won’t find any meat recipes but you will find 200 vegetable recipes to include:

  • Comfort food & Feasts
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Breads
  • Pantry Suppers
  • Tapas

Joanne Roach of The Foodies (who we interviewed in episode 392) recommends River Cottage Veg. Joanne says, “This is the one I find most accessible and appealing to omnivores making changes and after ten years or more since it came out, it’s still one of the books I cook from most often.”

6. Ultimate Veg by Jamie Oliver

Ultimate Veg by Jamie Oliver is the American adaption of the UK version Veg. The difference is the American Measurements.

Jamie Oliver has 24 best-selling books on cooking so he definitely knows cooking. He also has many successful restaurants around the world. 

In Ultimate Veg, Jamie Oliver takes some simple family favorites and simply makes them vegetarian! 

Chapters include:

  • Soups
  • Brunch
  • Pies & Bakes
  • Curries & Stews
  • Salads
  • Burgers & Fritters
  • Pasta
  • Rice & Noodles
  • Traybakes

7. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman was originally published in 2002 but was rereleased in 2012 with a lot of updates. 

Mark is not a vegetarian but, much like the Jamie Oliver book, I like that his book illustrates how easy it is to make traditional meat dishes into vegetarian dishes.

The book contains over 1000 recipes and the first few chapters cover some cooking basics, including techniques like using a chef’s knife. This is something I learned in the Rouxbe Forks Over Knives Cooking course and had no idea how important technique was to making the cooking experience more enjoyable.

8. The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook

The 30-Minute Vegetarian contains over 100 easy recipes that were created by Lisa Turner Page who founded Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen at Foodandspice.com

In addition to 100 quick and healthy recipes, Lisa includes handy prep tips for meal prepping and stocking your pantry.

9. Love Real Food

One of our favorite go-to vegetarian food blogs is Cookie and Kate by Kathryne Taylor. If you’re not familiar with her blog, “Cookie” is her “jaunty spotted mutt” who is her “crumb catcher.” 

Love Real Food comes from the approach that eating good food doesn’t need to be difficult. The book contains over 100 meatless recipes with 36 of the recipes offering “Change it Up” tips for how to modify recipes with seasons. 

Kathryne also includes some special features such as:

  • Cooking tips and flavor boosters
  • My favorite ingredients
  • Foods for dogs
  • Five steps to creating an epic salad
  • Cooking cheat sheet: tape it inside your kitchen cabinets
  • Menus and helpful recipe lists

10. The Simply Vegetarian Cookbook

We’re wrapping up our list of the best vegetarian cookbooks for beginners with The Simply Vegetarian Cookbook by Susan Pridmore who is a chef and creator of The Wimpy Vegetarian blog. 

Susan shares vegetarian recipes that are easily adjustable for mixed families of omnivores. 

The recipes in the book are grouped by type of cooking ease which is really helpful when you’re short on time.

In addition to the recipes, Susan includes some nutritional basics like balancing the vegetarian plate. She also includes a section on flavor building and “speed cooking” (which is essentially meal-prepping tips).

Added: We hope this list of 10 best vegetarian cookbooks for beginners has inspired you to explore some new vegetarian dishes. Remember, making any permanent changes starts with small steps so be sure to celebrate any progress!

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