One of the perks of cooking at home is getting to control exactly what’s in your meals—and that’s especially beneficial if you’re vegetarian. While many Chinese dishes that are popular in the U.S.—like hot and sour soup, potstickers, and kung pao chicken—are made with meat, Chinese cuisine has a vast repertoire of plant-based and vegetarian dishes that have long gone overlooked in the United States. And it’s time to give these dishes some love.
Rounded up here are vegetarian Chinese food recipes to try at home, from dishes that are naturally plant-based to veggie-fied versions of your favorite takeout picks. As you’ll see, tofu is a common meat swap-out, so be sure to have that on hand. All the recipes are veggie-forward too, which means your fiber base will be covered no matter which one you choose to make for dinner.
Keep reading for 7 vegetarian Chinese food ideas you can make at home
Photo: The Woks of Life
Making the perfect bowl of hot and sour soup has absolutely nothing to do with meat (or egg for that matter). It’s really all about the perfect combination of dried chili peppers, sesame oil, soy sauce, and a teensy bit of sugar. Add tofu as this recipe does for protein.
Get the recipe: Hot and sour soup
Photo: China Sichuan Food
Potstickers are a Chinese appetizer fave, but most of the time they’re filled with meat. Not these. Instead, mushrooms are the meat substitute, and scallions, ginger, and sesame oil all amp up the flavor. Included with this recipe are instructions for whipping up a light dipping sauce too, made with six ingredients.
Get the recipe: Vegan potstickers with mushrooms
Photo: The Plant-Based Wok
This is a classic Chinese recipe that’s a staple of easy weeknight cooking for many. Instead of egg, this vegan version uses tofu skin to mimic the same texture while being totally plant-based.
Get the recipe: vegan stir-fried tomato and “egg”
Photo: The Spruce Eats
Although kung pao is usually made with chicken, swapping the poultry out for tofu tastes just as delicious. The tofu works as a sponge for the sesame oil, ginger, vegetable broth, and hot sauce also included in this recipe. There are also lots of veggies included too, making this dish just as rich in fiber as it is in protein.
Get the recipe: Kung pao tofu
Photo: Omnivore’s Cookbook
Also called Buddha’s Delight, lo han jai is traditionally made with 18 different vegetables. This recipe gives tips on how to scale it down while still ensuring the dish turns out as deliciously as it should. In southern China, this dish is enjoyed for the Lunar New Year, but it’s something that can be enjoyed any time.
Get the recipe: Lo han jai (Buddha’s delight)
Photo: Veggies Don’t Bite
If you like Chinese food that’s more sweet than spicy, this recipe is for you. Cauliflower is baked in the oven with a crispy coating and covered in a tangy sauce made with citrus juice, tamari, and maple syrup. You’ll be licking your fingers to get every last drop of its orange goodness.
Get the recipe: Vegan orange cauliflower
Photo: Cup Full of Kale
When a craving for chow mein hits, nothing else will do—and it’s actually super easy to make at home. This recipe not only shows what veggies and spices to stir-fry the chow mein noodles with, it also gives instructions for making an easy chow mein sauce. Everything comes together quickly making it a great weeknight dinner to have up your sleeve.
Get the recipe: Vegetable chow mein
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