Do you want to incorporate a few meat-free meals into your weekly menu planning as a way to save money, eat more humanely, cut back on calories?
We support and appreciate all of the many reasons why you may want to reduce your meat consumption!
Anticipating the initial challenge of introducing more vegetarian mains to the household, especially ones that meat lovers who may be cautious and skeptical will enjoy, we’ve come prepared to rouse the crowd.
Carnivores may balk at the idea – at first! – that they should sit down to a meal without any meat.
While we can’t guarantee that they will fail to notice this obvious omission entirely, we are excited to share 15 hearty homemade dishes that we’re confident they will actually enjoy – and maybe even come to crave!
When you’re ready, try one of our delicious meatless recipes for your next meal. All of the recipes you’ll find here feature vegetarian ingredients that are dynamic and satisfying. We’ve gathered our favorites from Foodal in this roundup, like a classic and comforting minestrone soup, and super cheesy veggie enchiladas.
We suggest starting small by introducing one recipe per week to your menu. From there, you might find yourself increasing this number sooner than you might have expected. Chances are, you won’t even miss the meat!
We already know these recipes are tasty – now it’s time to convince even the most resolute of meat lovers in your household.
15 Meatless Meals Even Meat Lovers will Enjoy
- Arugula Dijon Salad with Figs, Pistachios, and Pea Shoots
- Black Bean Burgers
- Classic Minestrone Soup
- Crispy Baked Falafel
- Garlic Ginger Vegetarian Tacos
- Gruyere Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Red Peppers
- Mini Mushroom Lasagna Cups
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake
- Sauteed Mushroom and Thyme Pine Nut Butter Sandwiches
- Slow Cooker Vegetarian White Bean Chili with Butternut Squash
- Spaghetti Squash with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Feta
- Spinach Ricotta Calzones
- Stacked Vegetable Enchiladas
- Vegetarian Borscht
- Vegetarian Burrito Bowls
1. Arugula Dijon Salad with Figs, Pistachios, and Pea Shoots
Light and lovely, with a short ingredient list, this fresh salad is simple to put together when you need a quick lunch that doesn’t skimp on bold flavors.
With peppery arugula leading the lineup, the other ingredients need to stand out – and they certainly do here!
You’ll find a fun mix of vibrant pea shoots, meaty fresh figs, and crunchy pistachios, all lightly coated in a quick Dijon mustard and lemon dressing.
2. Black Bean Burgers
Say hello to your go-to veggie burger recipe!
Although there are multitudes of pre-made veggie patties available to purchase at most grocery stores, making them fresh at home is easy – and they can be customized to suit your flavor preferences and diet.
We love this black bean burger recipe – the hearty and moist patties don’t fall apart while they’re cooking, and they include a tasty blend of seasonings.
Adapting this recipe to your repertoire is easy for those who follow a gluten-free or vegan diet as well. You can easily replace the bread with your favorite gluten-free option, or make it vegan by replacing the egg with a flaxseed substitute.
Sear the patties in a pan until golden brown, and serve them with your favorite buns and burger toppings!
3. Classic Minestrone Soup
And there’s nothing that fits this description better than our classic minestrone!
The tomato-based broth is loaded with a serious arsenal of assorted vegetables, aromatics, pasta, and beans.
Where do we even begin?
Onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, orecchiette pasta, cannellini beans, green beans, baby spinach…
It’s all there. And that’s only a portion of the ingredient list.
This intensely nourishing soup has it all – everything but the kitchen sink!
4. Crispy Baked Falafel
Falafel is a dish typically made with chickpeas or fava beans that are well-seasoned and formed into small balls or patties.
They are often deep-fried, resulting in a light and crispy crust on the outside and a tender interior.
In this healthier version, we bake the falafel in the oven at a high temperature. Even without frying, you can still produce a perfectly crispy, golden-brown outcome!
Anyone will fall in love with them!
5. Garlic Ginger Vegetarian Tacos
When Taco Tuesday rolls around, ground beef doesn’t stand a chance against our veggie-packed recipe!
Want to create an extreme wow factor at dinnertime? Our garlic ginger vegetarian tacos have an insanely vibrant filling of mixed veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms sauteed with ginger and garlic.
But if you think that’s all, you are sorely mistaken. The fun has only just begun.
We warm and lightly char the tortillas before adding the tender taco filling. And then we top it with a sweet and spicy creamy cabbage slaw and mashed avocado.
Okay, now we’re done.
6. Gruyere Quiche with Caramelized Onions and Red Peppers
Love ordering quiche from your favorite brunch spot?
If you’d rather stay home this weekend, but you still want to enjoy an amazing brunch-style meal, you can make this savory pastry at home!
Needless to say, there are endless options for the fillings you could use here. But our meatless version will undoubtedly rise to the top of the list.
We bake a custardy blend of eggs, milk, caramelized bell peppers, red onions, and leafy greens in a pastry crust.
And with plenty of shredded Gruyere cheese, your brunch dreams will all come true – no bacon necessary.
7. Mini Mushroom Lasagna Cups
If you’re looking for big lasagna flavor, but without the work or the HUGE casserole format, our mini mushroom lasagna cups will lend you a helping hand.
With a few clever tricks up its sleeve, like lining a muffin pan with wonton wrappers to create individual servings, this recipe is a true magician in the art of effortless vegetarian cookery.
We fill the wrappers with a mixture of sauteed mushrooms and onions, sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese before baking until they’re hot and bubbling.
8. Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake
Or maybe you are looking for a perfectly rustic and casual homemade casserole dish? Our roasted pepper pasta bake is all yours.
No cute little individual portions here. This cheesy baked pasta dish is a filling combo of ricotta and mozzarella cheese mixed with rigatoni and a roasted red pepper sauce, flavored with basil and garlic.
It’s an extraordinary meal with epic flavors!
9. Sauteed Mushroom and Thyme Pine Nut Butter Sandwiches
A sandwich provides an easy way to layer up bold and fresh ingredients.
How can a meatless meal be boring when you can play with all kinds of different flavors and textures?
In this particularly unique sandwich – if we do say so ourselves, and we do – we stack slices of toasted bread with a homemade thyme pine nut butter, spicy sauteed cremini mushrooms, sharp Asiago cheese, and crunchy, peppery greens.
Choose a hearty bread like ciabatta, focaccia, or sourdough – all of these can stand up to the layers of bold ingredients.
10. Slow Cooker Vegetarian White Bean Chili with Butternut Squash
Take a break from standing over your stove, and bring out the slow cooker to make your next meatless meal.
We couldn’t possibly put together a list of vegetarian meals without including a chili recipe! Our easy slow cooker vegetarian white bean chili includes cubes of butternut squash for added heartiness.
You can cook it on high for 4 hours to get it on the dinner table faster, or you can cook it low and slow for up to 8 hours.
Just be sure to set aside time to soak the dried beans overnight before you begin!
11. Spaghetti Squash with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Feta
You need to have a certain strategy when replacing meat with vegetarian substitutes: find healthy, flavorful, minimally processed ingredients that can mimic those hearty textures you know and love.
Sun-dried or oven-dried tomatoes possess all those things – and more – on their impressive resume.
Meaty and chewy with a slightly sweet and acidic taste that can be used in a multitude of recipes, they are the ideal candidate!
Try them in our perfect weeknight dinner recipe: tender roasted spaghetti squash strands tossed with caramelized red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and salty feta crumbles.
12. Spinach Ricotta Calzones
Calzones are front and center with a fun veggie-centric makeover!
Play with some pizza dough and make these fluffy spinach ricotta calzones tonight.
Our meatless half-moons hold a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth blend of ricotta, mozzarella, and tender fresh spinach.
Brushed with melted garlic and parmesan butter just after they come out of the oven, everyone will go completely crazy over the enticing aroma! These are destined to be served with a side of marinara at your next game night or fun family dinner.
Ready to make this for dinner? Find out what to do here.
13. Stacked Vegetable Enchiladas
Make dinner super easy, simple, and cheesy with our stacked vegetable enchiladas.
This is an easy twist on your usual rolled and stuffed enchiladas made with meat. Instead of rolling individual tortillas, we layer the wraps and the filling flat on top of each other.
And there are layers! Alternate between corn tortillas, a bean/vegetable mix, and shredded cheese to make this crazy-good casserole.
You can make this for an easy weeknight Tex-Mex meal to feed a large and hungry crowd.
14. Vegetarian Borscht
A hearty stew can certainly find a happy home in the vegetarian kingdom.
Case in point: our delightful vegetarian borscht.
A big bowlful of this stew will leave you with a full belly, wanting nothing more than to just sit back and relax.
And maybe take a long nap.
You’ll love the big bites of perfectly crisp-tender cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and beets. And you’ll be mesmerized by the gorgeously deep magenta color.
A splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice provides the perfect tangy finish, while a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped dill have “Perfect Garnishes” written all over them.
The recipe is simple! Learn how to make it now.
15. Vegetarian Burrito Bowls
When you need a fast and simple Meatless Monday meal, our vegetarian burrito bowls save the day.
Cooking and assembling this fast recipe requires minimal effort, and you only need 30 minutes tops.
We use brown rice as the base of the bowls. While that cooks, prep and saute the red onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic along with some earthy cumin. After mixing in the black beans and tomato salsa, you’re ready to assemble!
Divide the brown rice and vegetables among bowls and garnish with avocado slices and parsley. You can serve this as is for a vegan meal, or bring in some cheddar cheese and plain Greek yogurt or sour cream for additional garnishes.
This Is Just the Start!
We hope this gives you the inspiration you need to continue your new cooking adventure, inviting more meatless recipes into your home.
You’ll soon unveil a wide world of soups, stews, sandwiches, one-pot meals, appetizers, casseroles, and more.
And there will be at least one recipe that will make a convert out of the staunchest meat lover! You just have to find it.
What’s your favorite and most satisfying meatless meal that you love to cook at home? And what are you planning to make for dinner tonight? Let us know in the comments.
Beans play a major role in a vegetarian diet. Their hearty texture and mild flavor are so versatile in the kitchen, for dinner and dessert! Learn more about this ubiquitous ingredient by reading one of these informational articles next:
- Getting to Know Garbanzo Beans
- Canned vs. Dried: A Battle of the Beans
- The Power of Pulses, Beans, and Legumes in Your Diet
Photos by Meghan Yager, Kelli McGrane, Fanny Slater, Nikki Cervone, Raquel Smith, and Felicia Lim, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on February 7, 2015. Last updated on January 5, 2023.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.