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14 best vegan cookbooks to inspire your plant-based culinary repertoire

Tried and tested for taste, clarity and simplicity, these are the vegan titles to devour

Suzie McCracken,Lois Borny
Tuesday 09 January 2024 11:20 GMT
<p>Whether you’re health-conscious, looking to reduce food waste or cooking on a budget, we have the cookbook to suit your needs </p>

Whether you’re health-conscious, looking to reduce food waste or cooking on a budget, we have the cookbook to suit your needs

Our Top Picks

It doesn’t matter whether you’re completely new to vegan food or your plant-based meal rotation has lost its sparkle (sorry tomato pasta) and you’re looking for some new material, even just one great vegan cookbook can offer some very welcome guidance.

Constructing a plate of food without everything on it orbiting around meat, fish or dairy of some description can be daunting. So, having one in the first instance can help you to get your bearings – especially once the novelty of the plant-based section in the supermarket has worn off.

There are vegan cookbooks doing brilliant things with vegetables, while others are putting their twist on vegan meat and cheese alternatives. Some even offer guidance on how to make your own plant-based mozzarella or a vegan fried egg, while others help to scratch an itch that only simple and slightly nostalgic dishes can.

Whether you’re looking to follow these cookbooks to the letter or flick through for inspiration on how to whip up memorable meals for guests, cook more mindfully by reducing food waste or what to put in your sandwiches, these are some of our favourites.

As well as fairly new arrivals we’ve included cookbooks that have got us through years of weeknight meals, dinner parties and special occasions aplenty, with vegans and meat eaters alike leaving our home satisfied (well, they at least pretended to be).

How we tested

For many of the cookbooks below, we have been testing them for numerous years. For the newer releases, we gave at least two recipes a go and judged them on simplicity, clarity and, of course, tastiness. We also judged them on how vegan they were – our favourite books tend to be vegan-friendly rather than vegan-exclusive examples, but we understand that the stress of having to substitute foods, or parse an ingredients list before you get going, is not for everyone. However, we tend to think vegetarian and meat-eating chefs often do plant-based food the best, and as you become a more accomplished vegan cook, you often learn what things you can substitute most successfully, so we’ve included both sorts in our review.

The best vegan cookbooks for 2024 are:

  • Best overallI Can Cook Vegan’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: £22.99, Blackwells.co.uk
  • Best for budget meals – ‘Broke Vegan: Over 100 plant-based recipes that don’t cost the earth’ by Saskia Sidey: £9.29, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best authentic vegan recipes – ‘Nistisima’ by Georgina Hayden, £26, Blackwells.co.uk
  • Best for reducing food waste – ‘The Whole Vegetable’ by Sophie Gordon, £22.59, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for family meals – ‘Bosh!’by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby: £8, Amazon.co.uk

‘I Can Cook Vegan’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, published by Abrams

i can cook .jpg
  • Best: Overall
  • How vegan: Completely
  • Easy ingredients: Mostly, some specialist shopping required

Brilliantly doable when you’re looking for recipes that won’t require too much commitment, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s I can Cook Vegan is an accessible, inspired guide to vegan home cooking and for that, we love it. There are soups, sides, sandwich inspiration, pasta dishes and more, including a fair few familiar meals which make it great for finding your bearings when your kitchen is suddenly without cheese, and so on – from paid thai to Mexican-style chilli and macaroni and cheese.

The recipes we tried also just really worked, and we got the feeling there could have been room for error without much chaos ensuing. The ranch dressing tossed into a salad with baked buffalo cauliflower was every bit as good as it sounds, while a batch of lentil walnut bolognese was happily devoured for three days in a row without becoming boring, the walnuts providing bite our vegan spag bol had always been missing. We think any home cook will be glad to have this tome on hand when inspiration for weeknight meals, lunches and more is sorely needed.

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‘Nistisima’ by Georgina Hayden, published by Bloomsbury

best vegan cookbook
  • Best: Authentic vegan recipes
  • How vegan : Almost completely except some use of honey (substitutes are always suggested)
  • Easy ingredients : Yes

Illustrated with gentle photography with the same feeling of warmth as her writing, Georgina Hayden’s third cookbook, Nistisima, is a joy. Its namesake is a Greek word meaning foods that can be eaten throughout fasting periods within the Orthodox faith, when both meat and dairy are given up for mainly plant-based foods. Alongside the Greek-Cypriot recipes (Hayden’s family is from Cyprus) the dishes hail from the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, from Romania to Russia to Egypt.

We loved the sweet, sticky and chewy Ghapama loaf cake (safe to say it didn’t last long in our house) while the salty tang of the salatet malfouf (cabbage coleslaw) had an addictive kick that kept us coming back and took just minutes to make. Pulled together with a good deal of thought and research behind the recipes inside it, Nistisima is an enriching read. Authentically vegan, it’s also perfect for home cooks who prefer natural ingredients to plant-based alternatives.

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‘The Whole Vegetable’ by Sophie Gordon, published by Penguin Michael Joseph

best vegan cookbook
  • Best: For less food waste
  • How vegan: Completely
  • Easy ingredients : Yes

Putting them front and centre with a sustainable slant, Sophie Gorgon’s debut cookbook is an ode to vegetables, and a genuinely helpful guide when it comes to being more mindful of waste in the kitchen. Everything’s broken down into chapters based on which vegetables and fruit are in season, with recipes trying to use as much of the produce as possible (so the leaves, stalks, pods, and other bits we might usually chuck).

Tips peppered throughout help stretch your leftovers further – which will come in handy if you tend to get bored when eating leftovers in the same format – while ingredient substitutions make the most of what you have. As a fan of sweet and savoury pairings we were loving the cauliflower pate with salted pear on bruschetta, and will absolutely be making the zesty, warming coconut, white bean and celery soup topped with garlicky homemade croutons again. And, if you want to try your hand at making your own basics from scratch, there’s also a section on how to make vegan cheese, milks, dressings and then some.

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  1. £22 from Amazon.co.uk
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‘Veganistan’ by Sally Butcher, published by Pavilion Books

best vegan cookbooks
  • Best: For Middle Eastern cooking
  • How vegan : Completely
  • Easy ingredients : Some specialist shopping required

Having eaten at Sally Butcher’s Persian restaurant Persepolis in Peckham (go, if you can), we were keen to get a look into her kitchen via Veganistan. This is the latest of Butcher’s plant-based books (by which we mean vegetarian, though Veganistan is indeed also vegan) with meals and more from the Middle-East and beyond, from Cyprus to Morocco to Iran. Expect a familiar, humorous tone across helpful notes and inspiring pairings aplenty (tahini and Marmite just works).

There are breads, tagine, stew and aspirational lunches following on from vibrant meze and salads and starters that you might look to when entertaining friends. Part of the meze, we were bewitched by the carrots with mint sherbet, a sweet glaze which we then drizzled over salads. Then flip to the back and there’s a section for conserves, fermented foods and pickles which you might reach for when you want to easily elevate snacks and meals mid-week. As for desserts, the sweet potato, date and tahini cake turned out to be the best cake ever to emerge from our oven.

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‘Anything you can cook, I can cook vegan’ by Richard Makin, published by Bloomsbury Publishing

best vegan cookbook
  • Best: For inventive recipes
  • How vegan: Completely
  • Easy ingredients : Some specialist shopping required

There are a few things which, as a vegan, we thought we wouldn’t eat again for the forseeable. Namely, those distinctly non-vegan and difficult to re-create flavours you wouldn’t find in the plant-based orbit of the supermarket. So naturally, we love Richard Makin’s Anything you can cook, I can cook vegan.From crispy fried “eggs” to seared salmon fillets (no fish was involved despite bearing slightly uncanny resemblance) this inventive book re-creates the stuff you might sometimes miss.

Playing with food is obviously acceptable in Makin’s kitchen with recipes ranging from glossy breakfast and brunch foods to sushi and nostalgic desserts. And for those cooks who want to build their meals from scratch, there’s even a section on how to make your own vegan meat and cheese. If this all sounds like hard work, following along with Makin’s recipes is straight-forward and often a hoot, and they come complete with difficulty ratings so less confident (or tired) cooks can know what they’re in for.

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  1. £20 from Hive.co.uk
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'Vegan Africa’ by Marie Kacouchia, published by The Experiment

best vegan cookbook
  • Best: For African cuisines
  • How vegan : Completely
  • Easy ingredients : Yes

Lovingly written with refreshingly simple instructions, Marie Kakouchia’s Vegan Africa fondly shares both traditionally vegan and plant-based twists on classic dishes from 13 different African countries. From Ghanian street food to Ethiopian dishes to those shaped by Kakouchia’s growing up on the Ivory Coast, the focus falls on superfoods and natural ingredients (of which the lists are short) with Kakouchia making a point to consider nutritional value from the outset.

There are salads, soups and small bites which make for a fresh selection of starters ahead of rice-based dishes and heartier, longer haul meals like stews and casseroles. Eaten piping hot and straight from the pan we loved the savoury Mauritian crêpes served with satini cotomili, a zesty cilantro chutney, which were so addictive and easy to make that we ate three batches in the space of a week, while a warming bowl of plantain and egg-plant stew was doable for a Sunday afternoon and completely delicious.

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  1. £28 from Amazon.co.uk
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‘East’ by Meera Sodha, published by Fig Tree

east .jpg
  • Best: For weeknights, but not as you know them
  • How vegan: Entirely vegetarian with plenty of well-labelled vegan or vegan-adaptable recipes
  • Easy ingredients : Mostly, some specialist shopping required

Sodha’s East has been our most-used cookbook since it came out in 2019 – consulting its pages to write this piece made us realise that it’s more splattered than volumes we’ve had three times as long. Vegans often look to Asia for inspiration, as plenty of dishes from the continent are plant-based anyway. But this isn’t merely a collection of traditional favourites – East is a truly modern take on everyday cooking.

There are no duds here, but the standout recipes include the forbidden rice salad (the miso cashew dressing is incredible), shiitake pho with crispy leeks, udon noodles with red cabbage and cauliflower (so, so easy) and the black dal. There is a section on eggs that will go ignored, of course, but the standard here is so high that it’s more than forgivable. Most of the recipes are completely conquerable on a weeknight, but there’s also a few more special ones (like the smoked tofu dish that results in bright pink, beetroot-dyed noodles) that will really wow guests.

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  1. £15 from Amazon.co.uk
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‘Much More Veg’ by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury

veg.jpg
  • Best: For vegetables
  • How vegan: Completely
  • Easy ingredients : Yes

When our mum bought us this book, we had our eyebrow firmly raised above its usual position. Is Hugh not the lad that owns all those farm animals he slaughters? Also, surely he’s not very, well, cool? Well, we were an idiot.

This is a great book by someone who loves vegetables, and owning it has brought us back to a style of food that we’d mostly abandoned since becoming vegan – ie, British. We don’t mean it’s all fish and chips; there’s just a lot of wintery food in this, and it focuses on seasonal produce. We keep returning to a creamy, nutty gratin of greens and leeks, a tomato dahl that can be made just from cupboard ingredients, and a celery soup recipe that’s topped off with a slice of fried pear.

Everything feels unhurried and casual – a squash and cauliflower soup with sage demands that even the cauliflower stems and leaves are roasted too, before being bunged into a pan and jooshed up with a blender. Perfect for people who love soups and roasted veg more than anything (although there are excellent salads in here too).

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  1. £19 from Amazon.co.uk
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‘One: Pot, Pan, Planet’ by Anna Jones, published by Fourth Estate

one pot .jpg
  • Best: For unexpected combinations
  • How vegan: Mostly
  • Easy ingredients: A big supermarket will suffice

Anna Jones has long been a go-to author for vegetarians and vegans in the UK, and the collective cheer that went up across the nation when it was announced her newest book was to be based around one-pot meals was positively deafening… well, in our house at least.

We trust Anna implicitly, and One: Pot, Pan, Planet features thoughtful updates on classics we’ve come to expect from this modern cook: a tamarind and sweet potato dahl is a glorious showpiece-dinner wrapped in a weeknight meal’s clothing, while her Persian soup is a complete revelation – how she squeezes so much flavour out of so few ingredients, we’ll never know. These are recipes that just work too, so you can feasibly attempt one when time is tight and you’re barely concentrating and yet, magically, something delightful will emerge.

Unexpected combos abound, but without the time investment you might expect: a carrot soup with tahini and rosemary, or a miso and caramelised banana rice pudding, are fabulous examples. This book also features advice from Anna on eating sustainably – a useful chapter for those undertaking Veganuary.

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‘Flavour’ by Yotam Ottolenghi, published by Ebury Press

flavour .jpg
  • Best: For show-offs
  • How vegan: 45 out of 100 recipes are vegan, and another 17 are easily adaptable
  • Easy ingredients: Some specialist shopping required

Look, it’s an Ottolenghi. You know what you’re getting yourself into. Every recipe requires one new spice jar? Tick. Sides that take more work than a main? Tick. Ingredients lists that are the length of your fibula? Tick. But if none of that puts you off, you’ll be heavily rewarded.

Highlights include oyster mushroom tacos with all the trimmings, rainbow chard with tomatoes and green olives, cardamom tofu with lime greens, and a mushroom ragu. The latter is absolutely spectacular, and although takes a long time, doesn’t actually require that much work. We had some pals around for a dinner party and knocked their little meat-eating socks off with it, serving it with some comically large pasta ribbons and a chicory salad.

Speaking of soirees, Yotam does at least have the good sense to include suggestions of how to put all these recipes together into cohesive, multi-course meals, and that helps considerably in making it a more navigable volume. Our only warning is that it’s not often hugely specific about how best to adjust for your veganity, so we wouldn’t say it’s for beginners. But if you’ve been around the (Violife) block a few times, and are confident in your substitution skills, you’ll be able to make some very tasty plates indeed.

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  1. £15 from Amazon.co.uk
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‘The Green Roasting Tin: Vegan and Vegetarian One Dish Dinners’ by Rukmini Iyer, published by Vintage Publishing

roasting tin .jpg
  • Best: For unconfident cooks
  • How vegan: Half vegan, half vegetarian
  • Easy ingredients: Yes

Rukmini Iyer’s books, which are always based around one-tin dinners, are a phenomenon for a reason. This vegetarian and vegan title from the series came out in 2018, and we still haven’t found a better gift for the plant-based person in your life that never has time to cook. Although some of the dishes are a little lacking when it comes to complexity of flavour, it’s because, well, they aren’t complex to make, and they certainly still amount to more than the sum of their parts.

Highlights include roasted cauliflower with chickpeas, spring greens, lemon and tahini; crispy gnocchi with mushrooms, squash and sage (gnocchi in the oven, who knew?); miso aubergines with tofu, sesame and chilli; and crispy tamarind sprouts with peanuts and shallots. The all-in-one roasted tomato and bay orzo with black pepper gives you the comforting feeling of having ingested one of those instant pasta packs, but it’s actually nutritious. A fabulous book for beginner cooks and the terminally tired alike.

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‘Broke Vegan: Over 100 plant-based recipes that don't cost the earth’ by Saskia Sidey, published by Hamlyn

broke vegan.jpg
  • Best: For budget meals
  • How vegan: Completely vegan
  • Easy ingredients : Yes

When you start off being vegan by stocking up on meat alternatives and bougie ingredients a la Ottolenghi, it can feel like the supermarket shop is quickly getting out of hand. But in reality, the bills calm down when you’ve found your rhythm. And Saskia Sidey’s book can help you find that rhythm much more quickly than you would have otherwise, via a range of delicious, simple meals.

Examples span from five-minute feasts (pimped instant ramen) to weeknight curries (sesame aubergine) and examples of worthwhile, investment cooking – confit tomatoes made over a couple of hours go on to provide the building blocks for a caramelised shallot and tomato tart (made with pre-bought pastry, don’t panic!) that will be happily inhaled. This volume, which, by the way, is cutely dinky, also includes the most foolproof hummus recipe we’ve ever encountered.

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  1. £9 from Amazon.co.uk
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‘Bosh!’ by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, published by HQ

bosh.jpg
  • Best: For family meals
  • How vegan: Completely
  • Easy ingredients: Yes

The country needed a vegan version of Jamie Oliver, and we’ve got it in the Bosh! boys – the YouTubers for whom it all got a wee bit out of hand. Now as easily spotted on the telly as they are flogging nooch in your local Sainsbury’s, it’s hard to begrudge these lads their success when their recipes are so consistently reliable.

In our 2020 round-up of vegan cookbooks, IndyBest gave a gong to the duo’s Speedy volume, which is fabulous, but for this year we’re returning to the 2018 book that started things off. We keep coming back to it for the basics, and the absolute state of the puttanesca page in our copy (a tomato-sauce-based crime scene) is testament to the versatility of this tome. The creamy mac and greens is a blinder, as is the rogan bosh! (we see what they did there) and the pesto lasagne – we’ve made this latter recipe many times now for friends and family, and it has never gone wrong.

While we’ve never been brave enough to try their savoury cakes (burrito, mezze), the breakfast section is a welcome addition for amateur vegans that feel bereft of their weekly fry up. These are simple recipes explained clearly, and we think this collection would be particularly well-loved by families that rely on a rotating weekly menu.

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‘Asian Green: Everyday plant-based recipes inspired by the East’ by Ching He Huang, published by Kyle Books

aisan .jpg
  • Best: For the health-conscious
  • How vegan: Completely
  • Easy ingredients: Some specialist shopping required

We really took a shine to this new addition to the pantheon of vegan cookbooks. It’s very easy to follow, and has a little bit of a healthy-eating bent, but in a way that’s quite subtle and certainly not shaming. Each recipe is clearly labelled in terms of prep and cooking time, as well as calories. The East Asian recipes are the stars, with our favourites including a super simple chow mein, a gochujang spinach, gem lettuce and radish salad, and the yuxiang aubergine with shiitake mushrooms.

Despite the methods being incredibly simple – anyone that’s not a total beginner will be happy here – there’s plenty of respect for the reader’s adventurousness, along with an appreciation for meat replacements such as seitan. There’s also some fun surprises… the blueberry and lychee buckwheat pancakes, for instance. A lovely, playful and tasty book.

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  1. £18 from Amazon.co.uk
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The verdict: Vegan cookbooks

When it comes to finding inspired recipes that both the seasoned and less confident home cook could master on a weeknight, we think Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s I Can Cook Vegan will be perfect for finding your plant-based feet.

If you find yourself craving distinctly non-vegan foods then Richard Makin’s Anything you can cook, I can cook vegan needs to be in your kitchen. And if exquisitely good, authentically vegan food from the Mediterranean and beyond sounds like your kind of cookbook, Georgina Hayden’s Nistisima makes for some mouth-watering essential reading.

We tried Tyme’s plant-based food subscription to see if it could bring flavour to our lunch hour

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