July 8, 2022

Looking for the best plant-based cookbooks that today’s chefs have to offer?

You’re in the right place.

The recipes in these vegetarian and vegan cookbooks range from simple and approachable to complex and luxurious. Chosen by some of Escoffier’s Chef Instructors, there’s something here for the amateur at-home cook, the professional chef, and everyone in between.

For Raw Foodies: Raw by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor Nick Howard considers Raw to be a must for raw food vegans. Legendary chef Charlie Trotter and “living foods” expert Roxanne Klein help the home chef to coax complex flavors and textures out of raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts through blending, dehydration, and juicing techniques.

A raw crudite plate with green goddess dressing in a green bowl

A raw crudité plate with green goddess dressing from Escoffier’s plant-based program

For Seasonal Southern Fare: Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons by Steven Satterfield

James Beard award-winning chef Steven Satterfield gives each part of the plant its due in Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons. Escoffier Chef Instructor Sarah Gunderson calls it, “An eye opening exploration of ways to cook vegetables. This is a book every chef should have on their shelf.”*

Organized by seasons, Root to Leaf makes it easy to craft a delicious meal with the produce you can find at your local southern farmer’s market.

Butternut squash puree topped with seeds in a white bowl

Butternut squash puree with cubed squash and roasted seeds by Escoffier plant-based culinary arts student Andrew P.H.

For Hearty Family Pleasers: Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between by America’s Test Kitchen

For flavorful, filling dishes, Escoffier Business Writing Instructor Lindsay Noll Branting likes Vegan for Everybody by America’s Test Kitchen. It’s chock-full of rich dishes like vegetarian lasagna and hearty meat-free burgers, plus baked goods like vegan cakes and cookies.

“I love this book and it has a lot to do with the fact I’m not a chef. Because ATK thoroughly tests each recipe (and explains the reasons behind their decisions), everything I make from the book turns out well. AND I get to learn something in the process. It’s my go-to vegan cookbook–it makes me look good.”*
Lindsay Noll Branting, Escoffier Business Writing Instructor

For the Offbeat Veggie-Lover: Thug Kitchen by Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis

Many vegan and vegetarian cookbooks have a lovely wellness vibe…think fresh green juice and yoga studios. But that doesn’t resonate with everyone. The authors of Thug Kitchen take a different approach, encouraging people to eat more vegetables with a real-world, laid-back attitude.

Escoffier Chef Instructor Nick Howard says, “Thug Kitchen is a bit more modern and a little edgy. It has some great recipes that pack flavor even without animal products in it. And they are super hardcore. They make their own nut butters to use in their baking.”*

Word of warning: the language in this book is for adults only!

For the Adventurous Culinarian: On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen by Jeremy Fox

Escoffier Chef Instructor Sarah Gunderson calls On Vegetables, “An absolutely inventive take on vegetables, their flavor combinations, and how you can transform them! One of my all-time favorite cookbooks, hands down.”* That’s a pretty ringing endorsement!

While some of these recipes can be complex, they explore the versatility of veggies. To cook this way proves that a vegetarian diet is anything but boring.

Chia pudding with banana-coconut-cashew cream in clear cups

Chia pudding with banana-coconut-cashew cream, by an Escoffier plant-based culinary arts student

For Seasonal Simplicity: The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons by Laura Wright

Laura Wright has worn many hats in the culinary world, including recipe developer, food blogger, cook, and food photographer. As of 2017, she added cookbook author to the list.

Chef Sarah Gunderson loves the vegan dishes in Wright’s The First Mess Cookbook. It includes meals from breakfast through dinner (including snacks and drinks), highlighting the best produce of each season. These simple-to-make recipes are sure to become favorites.

carrots and pomegranate seeds plated on a dark grey tray

A seasonal fall dish of carrots and pomegranate seeds by Escoffier Boulder Culinary Arts student Anne H.

For Multi-Course Vegan Feasts: Great Chefs Cook Vegan by Linda Long

Chef Instructor Tammie Barnhill’s all-time favorite vegan cookbook is Great Chefs Cook Vegan by Linda Long. In it, Long compiles great vegan recipes from 25 of the world’s best chefs, including Charlie Trotter, Thomas Keller, Cat Cora, and Anne Quatrano.

Each contributor provided recipes for a three- or four-course vegan meal, so you can serve up an entire menu from your favorite chef!

Tamme Barnhill“I have used numerous recipes from [Great Chefs Cook Vegan] and the illustrations are beautiful.”*
Tamme Barnhill, Escoffier Chef Instructor and Owner, The Cake Artistry

For the Vegan on a Budget: Dirty Vegan: Proper Banging Vegan Food by Matt Pritchard

In a similar vein to Thug Kitchen, Matt Pritchard’s Dirty Vegan takes a fun and relaxed approach to vegan cookery. This Welsh skateboarder, triathlete, and chef makes tasty plant-based dishes that won’t alienate the everyday cook.

Chef Instructor Jennifer Kempin loves Dirty Vegan because “It is super approachable. It has fun names for the recipes, and the food is really satisfying. Most of the ingredients are easy to find as well, which is always a big challenge with vegan cooking.”*

For Plant-Based Soulfood: The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy by Afya Ibomu

Certified Holistic Health Counselor Afya Ibomu wrote more than a cookbook when she wrote The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy. It includes guides to vegan nutrition and shopping, tips for dining out, plus over 60 delicious recipes with no white flour, white sugar, or white rice.

Escoffier Chef Instructor Adele Ledet loves the recipes for mac ‘n cheese, greens, cornbread, and even desserts like brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Adele Ledet“Chef and Holistic Nutritionist Afya Ibomu takes you on a cultural journey through vegan soul food, providing a remix of traditional soul food dishes with healthy substitutions. These recipes prove that eating healthy is neither bland nor boring.”*
Adele Ledet, Escoffier Chef Instructor and Owner/Executive Chef, Creole Vegan

For the Instapot Devotee: Vegan Under Pressure: Perfect Vegan Meals Made Quick and Easy in Your Pressure Cooker by Jill Nussinow

Cooking without meat doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the trusty pressure cooker. These kitchen helpers let cooks save precious time when trying to get a meal on the table—especially handy when you’re working with slow-cooking beans or grains.

Vegan Under Pressure is a favorite of Chef Instructor (and Escoffier Pastry Arts alumna) Megan Irvine. “For those looking to unravel the mystique of Instapots or pressure cookers,” she says, “Vegan Under Pressure provides guides, recipes, and specifications on the preparation of dishes from braised artichokes, to pozole chile, seitan and beyond; all items made exclusively in a pressure cooker!”*

Chef standing in kitchen with ingredients laid out in front of them as they open a pressure cooker

It’s a Great Time to Be a Plant-Based Chef!

Thirty years ago, the bookstore clerk would have looked at you askance if you’d asked for a vegan cookbook. But these days, there are thousands of options available to the veggie-loving cook or chef.

Dreaming of writing your own plant-based cookbook one day? Or of starting your own vegan or vegetarian restaurant? With plant-based culinary school, you could take your first steps on a path of healthy, delicious, sustainable cooking. Contact us for more information about the curriculum, tuition, and our online programs!

If you found that article useful, here are more resources about plant-based cooking:

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.