Nothing quite beats a dish of comforting soul food. Whether your definition of soul food is a creamy bowl of soup or a hearty stew, you might be surprised to know that you don’t have to include meat or dairy in a recipe to make a great recipe.
In fact, it’s really easy to vegan-ize popular soul food recipes, and you don’t have to miss out on any flavor or nutritional value.
So, if you’re a vegan looking for new cooking inspiration or if you’re interested in eating more plant-based foods, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are 28 amazing vegan soul food recipes to soothe your soul!
Known as the official state dish of Louisiana, gumbo is arguably one of the most popular Southern soul foods. Traditionally, gumbo contains meat and shellfish, but it’s so easy to make a vegan gumbo.
This gumbo recipe consists of okra, beans, mushrooms, and herbs and spices, making for a hearty and healthy dish.
Not only is it vegan, but this is a fat-free and gluten-free recipe for all to enjoy! Serve with rice or crusty bread.
Just because you can’t have dairy on a vegan diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the true bliss of mac and cheese.
Mac and cheese can be easily turned vegan with a creamy potato-based sauce that doesn’t actually taste all that different from cheese – especially if you sprinkle some vegan cheese over the top.
This recipe uses broccoli, but you can include other vegetables if you have some left over.
Let’s be real – the best part about regular Southern fried chicken is the flavor, not the chicken itself. So, it’s easy to make this soul food dish vegan with cauliflower rather than chicken, and we promise you won’t be able to tell the difference.
This recipe makes a batch of crispy, tender, flavorful, and satisfyingly spicy cauliflower wings that are fried in double batter. These are best served with fries, hot sauce, and kitchen roll for messy fingers!
4. Vegan Chili
Nothing quite beats a homemade chili, whether or not it’s got meat in it. In fact, you don’t need to include meat to make a fantastic chili.
This vegan chili recipe is rich in flavor and velvety in texture, featuring beans as the key ingredient as opposed to ground beef. While the ingredients list is fairly long, each item is designed to enhance the flavor.
Serve with a bowl of rice and your favorite toppings.
Pot pie is a classic comfort food that can be easily made plant-based. It’s creamy, rich in protein (thanks to a vegan chicken alternative), and filled with goodness.
It’s the type of meal you can make at any holiday – to the point where you could make it for your meat-eating family members and they won’t tell the difference.
Serve alone or with steamed vegetables or creamy mashed potatoes.
One of the best soul food side dishes is the humble coleslaw. While coleslaw is a vegetarian side dish, it traditionally contains dairy and eggs, making it not vegan-friendly.
So, this is a great vegan option for everyone to enjoy! Instead of regular mayonnaise, you’ll need vegan mayo to bond the cabbage, carrots, and other flavorings together.
This is a perfect side dish for grills, parties, or even just a weekday dinner.
Southern bowls are a healthy and delicious mixture of rice, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and more, making for a nutritious and tasty lunch or dinner.
In fact, most Southern bowls are vegan and can be enjoyed by everyone. This recipe is great for those who have never made a Southern bowl before, and is especially good for using up spare vegetables.
What’s more, it only takes 30 minutes to make a Southern bowl!
A popular lunchtime soul food is a plate of chicken and waffles, which you can easily vegan-ize. This plant-based chicken and waffles recipe uses tofu instead of chicken, which is a staple in a vegan’s diet for protein.
Not only is it nutritious and delicious, but these tofu nuggets are surprisingly similar to the texture of actual chicken.
You can’t beat cornbread. Cornbread is the heart of Southern soul food, and can be easily made alongside virtually any dish.
Plus, you can easily make vegan cornbread by replacing dairy milk with an unsweetened dairy-free alternative, and you won’t be able to tell the difference. It also uses canola oil instead of eggs.
Hush puppies are a cornmeal bread side dish that traditionally accompanies a fried fish dish.
However, they can be easily made vegan to accompany a plant-based meal instead! Instead of relying on milk and egg, which are the key ingredients in hush puppies, this recipe calls for a plant-based milk alternative and an egg alternative, such as flaxseed and water.
Serve alongside a vegan dish for a perfect soul food side dish!
Southern black eyed peas is a true soul food dish that is made by families across the country.
Every home has their own way of making Southern black eyed peas, but if you want to make this popular dish without meat, this is the recipe for you. This is a ridiculously easy recipe to follow that makes a creamy and filling dish within 45 minutes.
Serve with rice or as a side dish alongside a meal of your choice.
Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern New Year’s dish consisting of beans, rice, and meat.
However, you can easily make this dish vegan without compromising the smoky flavors of the meat. Instead, this stew consists of black eyed peas, various vegetables, and an accumulation of spices to replicate the smokiness of bacon or ham.
This Hoppin’ John is best served with a bowl of fluffy rice. Happy New Year!
Picture this – you’re sick, trying to keep warm in the cold, or you’re simply having a bad day.
The one thing that will make it better is a hearty and creamy bowl of warm soup, and that’s where this vegan potato soup comes in. This recipe creates a creamy and thick bowl of soup that will warm and fill you up for hours on end.
We recommend topping the soup with vegan bacon for a hint of smokiness!
Baked beans are a true staple side dish at a barbecue or Southern dining experience.
Not only are they easy to make, but these vegan baked beans are deliciously smoky and rich in flavor, making for a perfect side dish. Alternatively, you can serve these beans on toast or a bed of rice for an easy dinner or lunch!
You can top these beans with a sprinkle of vegan cheese.
You just can’t beat a batch of freshly baked, flaky biscuits. Turns out, you can easily make vegan biscuits without having to compromise on the flaky, buttermilk-like texture!
Instead of buttermilk, this recipe calls for a mixture of apple cider vinegar and soy milk, and lots of vegan butter instead of dairy butter.
Serve with any dish, especially the ones in this list!
16. Vegan Beef Stew
Just because you’ve adopted a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favorite meaty meals.
Beef stew is known for its delicious, melt-in-the-mouth beef, but this can be easily replaced with a vegan alternative like seitan. The rest of the recipe is fairly similar to a regular beef stew, just make sure to cook it for a long time at a low temperature.
Serve alongside mashed potatoes and biscuits to mop up the liquid.
Looking for a soul food snack or finger food? These vegan fried pickles are soon to be your guest’s favorite snack during game day or a grill party.
While fried pickles typically rely on eggs or buttermilk as the bonding agent, this recipe only calls for plant-based milk to adhere the breadcrumbs to the pickles.
You can fry these pickles in a frying pan filled with oil or an air fryer. Serve with homemade vegan ranch dipping sauce.
18. Vegan Fried Okra
You either love or hate okra (a member of the mallow family), but everyone is bound to love this vegan fried okra recipe. This is a classic Southern side dish that can also be made as an appetizer.
These fried bites are most popular for their satisfying crunch, which can only be achieved by frying its deliciously seasoned batter.
Serve with some sriracha and vegan mayonnaise for dipping.
Jambalaya is a traditional Cajun and American Creole dish that typically features chicken and chorizo, however, you can easily make a plant-based jambalaya.
This vegan jambalaya recipe is the epitome of soul food – it’s healthy, nourishing, and packed with flavor.
Plus, when you make a large batch, it keeps for up to 5 days when refrigerated. Perfect for batch-cooking at the start of the week!
You don’t get more American than a burger. However, a burger doesn’t have to be made of meat to be delicious.
This vegan burger is proof of that, with the patty consisting of black eyed peas, various vegetables, and seasonings to make for a satisfyingly spicy Cajun burger.
Make sure to serve these vegan burgers in fluffy burger buns and with a side of fries and vegan slaw.
Fritters are a quick and easy snack, side dish, or lunchtime meal that typically consist of frying various vegetables into a patty-like shape.
These vegan fritters consist of grated zucchini, sweetcorn, shallots, chilies, garlic, and dill, making for flavorful fritters that can be baked within 20 minutes.
Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice – though a spicy vegan mayo or hot sauce is particularly good.
Southern collard greens are typically served with a hock of ham, but you can easily make a vegan version of this Southern side dish.
While these greens take an hour and a half to cook at a low heat, the results are worth it with the creamy, nicely seasoned greens.
These collard greens are best served as a side dish for any of the above recipes, especially mac and cheese or a vegan burger.
One of the most beloved side dishes of all time, mashed potatoes are notoriously creamy, buttery, and oh-so good.
While they typically require dairy milk and butter to make the potatoes smooth and velvety, you can easily substitute these for plant-based alternatives. You can even add roasted garlic to add more flavor.
This side dish is perfect for virtually any vegan soul food meal, such as vegan beef stew or black eyed peas.
Purple sweet potato is a classic soul food dessert made in fall. While regular sweet potato pie is yummy, the purple sweet potatoes are distinctly sweeter – plus, they make for a beautifully colorful pie!
This vegan purple sweet potato pie recipe takes you through how to make the crust and the filling, making for a flavorful and satisfying dessert.
This pie is best served with coconut whipped cream or ice cream.
25. Vegan Pecan Pie
Pecan pie is another classic soul food dessert that is a staple for fall. It’s sweet, creamy, and surrounded by a satisfying crumbly crust that can be either made by hand or bought at the grocery store.
Plus, it’s easy to make without dairy and eggs, making it the perfect vegan dessert!
This recipe calls for silken tofu and coconut oil in replacement for eggs and dairy products.
Nothing quite beats a bowl of warm fruity cobbler, especially in the colder months of winter and fall. =
Fruity desserts are also common in the South, aka the home of soul food, so it only makes sense to make a vegan version of the humble blackberry cobbler. =
Blackberries are a fall fruit, making this vegan blackberry cobbler recipe ideal for later in the year.
Serve with vegan vanilla or coconut ice cream and enjoy!
Banana pudding is a light Southern dessert typically served on a hot day after a large meal. It’s basically the equivalent of a banana cream pie, except in smaller portions and without the pastry. =
This vegan banana pudding can be enjoyed by everyone, and you won’t be able to tell that it’s not got dairy in it.
Banana foster is a popular Southern dessert most commonly served during summer. This is a great way to make your kids eat bananas if they’re fussy eaters (though it’s not exactly a healthy option!). =
The key to making the glaze for the bananas is to add rum, a classic Southern touch that brings a beautiful rich flavor. Don’t worry, the alcohol is burned off!
The best thing about this recipe is that it only takes 6 minutes to make! Serve with vegan ice cream of your choice.
So, there you have it! Soul food is the heart of Southern cuisine, and turns out, it’s easy to make the most popular comfort meals vegan. Happy cooking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Soul Food Be Vegan?
Yes, soul food can be vegan! It’s actually very easy to turn any staple soul food dish into a plant-based meal without compromising the hearty flavors and nutritional goodness.
The key difference is that meat and animal products aren’t included in the recipes, but they instead come with vegan substitutes. In fact, you might not even recognize that the soul food is vegan in the first place.
What Is A Good Soul Food Meal?
Soul food is a cuisine created by African Americans in the South, designed to make the soul happy.
Traditional soul food mostly consists of meat, such as fried chicken, meaty gumbo, jambalaya, or fried fish. However, a common misconception is that vegans can’t enjoy soul food, but the reality is that most soul foods can be easily turned vegan.
Some vegan soul food examples include:
- Vegan mac and cheese
- Vegan burger
- Fried cauliflower wings
- Pecan pie
- Banana foster
- Vegan chicken and waffles
- Southern bowl
- Vegan chili
- Vegan gumbo
- Vegan jambalaya
- Vegan pot pie
- Black eye peas
- Vegan beef stews
- Candied yams
- Southern collard greens