Favourite Vegan Recipes And Cookbooks For Beginners

Here is everything you need to get started for a more plant-based life.

Vegan recipes

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

Plant-based eating doesn't have to be a stress - being vegan allows you to get creative in the kitchen. Plus, you don't have to skip out on any of your previous favourite dishes. You can make omelettes with chickpea flour and vegan fried chicken with oyster mushrooms. The best way to find creative ways to cook is to find recipes through YouTube, Blogs or Instagram - you'll be surprised by all the amazing ways you can prepare vegetables. To get you inspired, here are our favourite vegan recipes, an essentials shopping list and our top five vegan cookbooks to help you get started.

If you are interested in veganism, are looking to eat plant-based or have food intolerances, becoming a vegan chef extraordinaire doesn't happen overnight. You will learn skills and recipes to add to your arsenal over time with patience and experimenting with foods you like.

When I discovered I was intolerant to dairy and eggs, among other foods, I had no idea what I was going to eat. However, the free-from and vegan food industries have exploded over the last few years, so finding plant-based substitutes is easier than ever.

After consuming a mostly plant-based diet over the last few years, I have learnt how to get creative in the kitchen and learn how to cook vegan with basic ingredients rather than needing to buy replacements every time. Here is my go-to vegan shopping list that includes all the essentials you need to start making plant-based recipes.

My vegan shopping list for beginners:

Dairy substitutes:

Plant-based milk – oat, almond, soy, coconut, etc

Canned coconut milk, Oat cream, blended raw cashews

Vegan protein substitutes:

Nuts - peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans etc.

Nut butter - almond, peanut, sunflower, etc.

Legumes - Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, etc

Tofu, tempeh, seitan, packaged imitation vegan meats

Sauces, oils and flavour:

Oils like sesame, coconut, olive oil etc.

Vegan vegetable stock or bouillon

Rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, liquid smoke

Sweeteners like agave, maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of honey

Nutritional yeast for cheese flavour

Sauces - Soy sauce or coconut aminos, Siracha, ketchup, mustard, vegan mayo

Umami flavour - capers, olives, tomato puree, tahini, miso etc.


Apple cider vinegar and liquid sweeteners like agave, maple syrup

Egg substitutes - Flaxseed, chia seeds, aquafaba (chickpea brine), chickpea flour, mashed bananas and apple puree

Snacks and sweets:

Dried fruit – mango, apricots, dates, etc.

Vegan chocolate chips, Oreo cookies and vegan biscuits, dark chocolate, gelatine-free sweets etc

Popcorn, crisps, pretzels, lentil crisps, rice cakes, bread etc.

My top five favourite vegan recipes

To get you started, here are my favourite easy vegan recipes that aren't daunting to make and are always crowd-pleasers. Not to mention you can find all the ingredients in your local supermarket.

Recipe 1: Mushroom Stroganoff

Welsh plant-based chef and Youtuber Gaz Oakley, also known as the Avant-Garde Vegan, has an enormous collection of vegan recipes to try. This is one of my absolute favourites as it is very versatile. It is soy, gluten, dairy, egg and meat-free, so it is an excellent choice to serve at a dinner party with those with food intolerances. You can even pair it with potatoes, rice or pasta so you can whip this up without pantry basics.


Servings: 4

Cook time: 20 mins


Two tbs Olive Oil 
450g Chestnut or Closed Cap Mushrooms (large ones cut small)
One Onion, chopped fine
Two cloves Garlic, minced 
Few Springs Thyme
One tbs Plain Flour/GF Flour 
Juice & Zest Lemon 
One tbs Wholegrain Mustard 
1/2 cup/125ml Vegetable Stock 
One cup/250ml Oat Crème Fraiche/Non Dairy Cream/Coconut Milk 
Big Handful Fresh Parsley 
Serve with rice or pasta and Toasted Almonds


  1. Add the oil to a large saucepan placed over a high heat. When the pan is hot add the mushrooms, and sauté for 6-8 minutes, stirring often. You want the mushrooms to get golden & release lots of their water.

  2. When the mushrooms are golden, turn the heat down & add the butter, followed by the onion, garlic & thyme. Cook for a few minutes until the onions have softened.

  3. Stir in the flour, then deglaze the pan with the stock, oat cream, lemon & mustard. Turn the heat down low.

  4. Pop a lid on the pan and let the stroganoff bubble away for 15 minutes.

  5. Just before serving stir through chopped parsley.

  6. Serve with rice or pasta, I like to garnish with toasted almonds.

Check out the video tutorial here: Plus, some other tasty meals, such as no-egg fried rice and plant-based cauliflower cheese.

Recipe 2: Coconut and lentil dahl

Deliciously Ella has been on the plant-based scene since 2015, and her first book was the best-selling debut cookbook ever in the UK and a NY Times Best Seller. Her recipes are simple and straightforward but inventive. When I was in university, I made this dish on repeat. I love that it is a spin on the classic dhal with green lentils instead of red lentils and is paired with avocado and coconut yoghurt. It is refreshing, delicious, hearty and perfect for freezing for times when you need a nourishing meal in a pinch.


Serves: 4

Cook time: 1 hour


400g green lentils, washed and drained
Two x 400g cans coconut milk
Three garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Two large tomatoes, cut into small pieces
One tsp ground cumin
One tsp curry powder
One tsp paprika
One tsp hot chilli powder
One tsp chilli flakes, optional
Serve with rice, potatoes or naan


  1. Place a pan over medium heat.

  2. Add the chopped garlic with olive oil and salt and let that cook for 1-2 minutes before adding all the spices, followed by the chopped tomatoes.

  3. Stir well, letting the garlic and spices fry together for a few minutes before stirring through the lentils, followed by the coconut milk.

  4. Bring the mix to the boil, before reducing to simmer over a low temperature.

  5. Leave to cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour until thick and creamy – making sure to stir it every 10-15 minutes, ensuring it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and adding a splash of water if it feels like it's drying out.

  6. Once cooked, stir through a little more salt and serve. We love it with avocado, chilli flakes and coconut yoghurt.

Recipe 3: Five-bean chilli

Olive Magazine's five-bean chilli is one of the easiest recipes you can make with a big impact. The chipotle paste gives it a rich smokey flavour, and all the ingredients can be found in your kitchen cupboard. It's cheap, easy and absolutely delicious.


Serves: 6

Cook time: 50 mins


Two tbsp rapeseed oil
One large onion, finely chopped
Two sticks of celery, finely chopped
Three red peppers, finely chopped
Two cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Two tsp ground cumin
500ml passata
200ml vegetable stock
400g tin of each black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans and haricot beans, drained and rinsed
Two tbsp chipotle paste
Two tsp smoked paprika
½ tbsp cocoa powder
½ tbsp cider vinegar

To serve

800g cooked brown rice
A handful of leaves of coriander
One avocado, chopped
Six tbsp yoghurt or dairy-free alternative


  1. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and fry the onion, celery and peppers for 20 minutes until very soft and tender. Add the garlic, chilli and cumin, fry for a minute more, then tip in the passata, stock, all of the beans, the chipotle paste, paprika, cocoa and vinegar. Season well.

  2. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes until thickened slightly, then taste for seasoning. Serve over the brown rice, topped with some coriander, avocado and yoghurt.

Recipe 4: Lentil bolognese

One of the most basic vegan recipes of them all is the humble lentil bolognese. This recipe from BBC Food is very basic and perfect for absolute beginners. Made with the same base as a traditional bolognese, this recipe uses red lentils as the protein of this recipe. Red lentils are cheap, filling and also low-calorie and low-fat if you are looking to eat lighter meals before going to bed or at lunch.


Serves: 6

Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins


Three tbsp olive oil
Two onions, finely chopped
Three carrots, finely chopped
Three celery sticks, finely chopped
Three garlic cloves, crushed
500g bag dried red lentils
Two x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
Two tbsp tomato purée
Two tsp each dried oregano and thyme
Three bay leaves
One vegetable stock cube
500g spaghetti
Parmesan or vegan cheese, grated, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook gently for 15-20 mins until everything is softened. Stir in the lentils, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, herbs and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 40-50 mins until the lentils are tender and saucy – splash in water if you need. Season.

  2. If eating straight away, keep on a low heat while you cook the spaghetti, following pack instructions. Drain well, divide between pasta bowls or plates, spoon sauce over the top and grate over some cheese. Alternatively, cool the sauce and chill for up to 3 days.

Recipe 5: Chilli peanut noodles

The Happy Pear have an excellent YouTube channel that is high energy and makes vegan cooking fun. This is one of my absolute go-to's when it comes to having friends over for dinner. It looks and tastes impressive but is super easy to cook. You can use wholewheat noodles like the recipe calls for or rice noodles to make it gluten-free. You can use coconut aminos to make it soy-free or tamari for gluten-free - plus, you can switch up any vegetable if you need to clear out your fridge.

Chilli peanut noodles

Serves: 2


300 g noodles whole wheat or rice noodles
1 whole aubergine large
200g mushrooms
1 whole carrot
5 tbsp soy or coconut aminos
4 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp chilli powder
50g baby spinach


  1. Cook the noodles in a pan of boiling water as per the instructions on the back of the packet, then drain and rinse.

  2. Chop the aubergine and mushrooms into small bite-size pieces and grate the carrot. Put a large, wide-bottomed pan on high heat and leave to heat up. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and leave to heat up. Once hot, add the aubergine and mushrooms and cook for eight minutes, stirring regularly. If they start to stick, add two tablespoons of water and, using your wooden spoon, ‘deglaze’ any caramelization from the bottom of the pan and incorporate.

  3. Put the tamari, maple syrup, vinegar, peanut butter and chilli powder into a jug along with six tablespoons of water and 1⁄2 teaspoon of black pepper and mix until smooth. Reduce the heat to medium, then add half the sauce to the pan of aubergines and mushrooms and cook for further four minutes, stirring regularly.

  4. Add the noodles, baby spinach, grated carrot and the remaining sauce to the pan and stir using a circular motion to mix and incorporate everything. Cook for two minutes.

  5. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Add more chilli if you like it hot, and enjoy!

My top 5 vegan cookbooks

One of the best ways to get inspired if flipping through a cookbook. Whether you follow a recipe to a tee or like to flip through for inspiration, here are my top five vegan cookbooks that helped me on my plant-based journey.

The best vegan cookbook for beginners
Deliciously Ella
Price: $30.00

From the best-selling author, Ella Mills, known as Deliciously Ella, this recipe book has a collection of 100 straightforward dishes from breakfasts, dinners and desserts. This book is also a great choice for those with any food allergies or intolerances, as the book states whether a dish is gluten-free and what allergens it contains.

The best vegan cookbook for food intolerances
Oh She Glows
Price: $18.76

Oh She Glows, Angela Liddon's vegan cookbook is stacked with beautifully presented plant-based dishes such as her famous GLO bakery bars, chilled chocolate espresso torte and sweet potato, black bean and avocado crema dish. The book is also great for those who have food intolerances or are gluten-free, as there are many allergen-free recipes. Whether you are trying Veganuary or are a full-time vegan, this book is a vegan staple.

The best vegan cookbook for quick recipes

Rrp: $22.99

Price: $13.99

Best-selling authors Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, known as the BOSH! boys are renowned for their upbeat YouTube and social media videos showing how to create vegan meals. In their fourth Sunday Times Bestselling novel, Speedy Bosh, there are one-hundred plant-based recipes that you can cook up in less than 30 minutes. There are many delicious dishes, from low-carb and healthy plates to hearty and warming recipes such as stews and curries, to whip up for the winter months.

The best vegan cookbook for feeding a family

Radio host and presenter Fearne Cotton has written a plant-based cookbook that is suitable for the whole family. With simple recipes, tips and tricks and flexible options, the book has everything from delicious classics and lunch on the go to yummy party food. It is food that everyone will make everyone happy.

The best vegan cookbook for simple and inventive recipes
Happy Pear
Price: $33.24

Twins and best-selling vegan chefs Dave and Steve Flynn have created an inclusive plant-based recipe book with step-by-step guides and useful tips. Known for their 5 minutes recipe videos and upbeat energy, the duo have created easy, fun and delicious recipes for this book, such as homemade vegan pizza and coconut granola.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is both the name of a non-profit charity and the month-long campaign that “encourages people worldwide to try vegan for January and beyond.”

The Veganuary charity is very clear about its mission: it wants a world free of animal farming and slaughter, emissions and land damage, and to help improve health.

As with similar month-long campaigns like Movember, Dry January and Stoptober, Veganuary has grown in popularity as an event to get involved in for all people – not just those dedicated to the specific causes. For example, many see the doubling-up of Veganuary and Dry January as the perfect excuse to detox after an indulgent festive period, feeling support in the comradery of others doing the same.

What are the health benefits of eating plant-based foods?

Eating a balanced vegan diet is a very healthy practice, providing your body with all the nutrients it needs. This is true for many carefully maintained diets, though there are some areas where veganism naturally excels. Here are a few areas where studies show the benefits of a vegan diet:

Increased intake of nutrients – Studies have shown that eating a plant-based diet can increase the intake of vitamin A, C and E. Vegan diets are also higher in fibre, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Your body relies on these nutrients, including digestion, blood pressure and sugar regulation, energy creation and immune function.

Weight management – First things first: we do not advocate counting calories. However, it’s a fact that a healthy and balanced vegan diet delivers the same (or more) nutritional value as a meat-based diet in fewer calories. With correctly sized portions and while still hitting a healthy caloric intake, a vegan will typically consume considerably fewer calories than other diet types (up to 600 fewer, according to some studies). This, coupled with healthy exercise, quality rest and general well-being, can help manage weight.

Lower risks of type 2 diabetes – According to studies, vegans have lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Be aware that you can cancel this benefit out if you rely too heavily on carbohydrates, sweetened plant milk, fruit juices and ready-made meals.

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