17 Classic Comfort Food Recipes Get a Meatless Makeover

Chef John's Meatless Meatballs
Photo: catherine.drew

When meat prices spike or you're trying to get more plants into your diet, turn to these top-rated meatless recipes. They're vegetarian versions of classic comfort food recipes, and they're as hearty and delicious as the originals you love. Make way for some new dinner favorites!

01 of 18

Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup

Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup
Zoric-Krajnovic Marija

Perfect for when you're under the weather or wanting to warm your bones on a wintery evening, this comforting soup will satisfy. Chickpeas, noodles, and vegetables all cook together in a savory meatless broth.

02 of 18

Spinach Enchiladas

Spinach Enchiladas
Melissa Goff

These cheese, spinach, and sour cream enchiladas make for a hearty dinner and they're also a great delivery system for getting healthy spinach into kids.

03 of 18

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie II
Beth

Hearty lentils, crunchy walnuts, chewy barley make up the base for this meatless shepherd's pie. Yeast extract spread, like Marmite or Vegemite, is the secret ingredient to the recipe having a deep umami taste.

04 of 18

Chef John's Meatless Meatballs

Chef John's Meatless Meatballs in a white bowl
catherine.drew

If you love classic Italian-American spaghetti and meatballs, you'll love Chef John's meatless version. Chef John explains the simple genius of this recipe: "Thanks to a thorough browning, mushrooms provide more than enough savoriness. The garlic, cheese, and parsley do the rest. What really blew me away was how close the texture was to actual meatballs. They are officially approved for use on spaghetti!" Strict vegetarians may want to replace the Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) in the recipe, since it traditionally contains rennet.

05 of 18

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes 163867 CCLoves2bake 422585
Photo by CCLoves2bake.

When ground beef is a a no-go, let these saucy meat-free sandwiches come to the rescue. Tempeh stands in heroically for ground beef or turkey. And if you can't find tempeh, do what reviewer Jonny's Girl does: "I like to substitute extra firm tofu for the tempeh and use a full can of tomato sauce," she says. "Fantastic recipe! Even my carnivore husband loves it."

06 of 18

Air Fryer Vegan Buffalo Tofu Bites

Air Fryer Vegan Buffalo Tofu Bites
Buckwheat Queen

By freezing and thawing the tofu, you'll get a perfectly chewy texture for imitating buffalo wings. This technique creates ice crystal pockets, making it perfectly spongey for soaking up marinades and sauces, just like the buffalo sauce in this recipe.

07 of 18

Guaco-Tacos

Guaco-Tacos
Guaco-Tacos | Photo by CookingBug.

These guacamole-based tacos with black beans and homemade salsa are a more-than-worthy alternative to the meaty versions. "I love this. I would never think of having any type of tacos or Mexican food without meat, but I am sold," says Steve. "This was great!" You might also like these black bean tostadas.

08 of 18

World's Best (Now Vegetarian!) Lasagna

World's Best (Now Vegetarian!) Lasagna
World's Best (Now Vegetarian!) Lasagna | Photo by Doug.

Gooey layers of cheese, meatless crumbles, and a spiced tomato sauce make this meatless lasagna irresistible. Strict vegetarians may want to replace the Parmesan in the recipe, since it traditionally contains rennet.

09 of 18

Imitation Meatloaf

Imitation Meatloaf
Alberta Rose

"Brown rice, lentils, bread crumbs, onions and tomatoes are baked into a vegetarian version of a mealtime favorite," says recipe creator sal. Enjoy this for dinner one evening, then stuff it into sandwiches for lunch the next day.

10 of 18

Lentil Bolognese

Lentil Bolognese in a ceramic bowl
Lentil Bolognese. Buckwheat Queen

Bolognese is a classic slow-cooked meat sauce. In this meatless version lentils, mushrooms, red wine, nutmeg, tomatoes, and fresh herbs build a big, bold-flavored bolognese. "Delicious vegetarian sauce for pasta, so tasty, and as nice as a meat bolognese," says reviewer sorchaspud. "It can also be served with potatoes."

11 of 18

Baked Black Bean and Spinach Flautas

Baked Black Bean and Spinach Flautas
Baked Black Bean and Spinach Flautas | Photo by My Hot Southern Mess.

These black bean and spinach flautas are baked, making them an even healthier take on traditional flautas. Top with the works! Shredded cabbage, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and chopped cilantro add a fresh taste.

12 of 18

Homemade Veggie Pizza

pizza with vegetables
catherine.drew

The recipe includes everything -- crust, sauce, and veggie toppings. "The sauce is so easy and hearty everyone will think you were in the kitchen all day cooking this up," says Bird.

13 of 18

Veggie Chili Cornbread Casserole

Veggie Chili Cornbread Casserole in a blue bowl
Chef Mo

Give this protein-rich, meatless chili casserole a try when you need a comforting meal. It features diced tomatoes, three kinds of beans (black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans), corn, and chili seasonings. You'll love the simple jalapeño cornbread topping, too.

14 of 18

Meatless Monday Lasagna

Here's a hearty lasagna that gets its heft from tofu and lots of vegetables. "We are always looking for recipes to add to our Meatless Monday rotation," says Kristin. "Bumping up the protein is important for our 3 kids, so adding tofu to the cheese mixture of vegetarian lasagna works great. Use the excess tofu to make a high-protein salad dressing."

15 of 18

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka
Mama Rho

Seasoned lentils take the place of meat in this Greek-inspired comfort food classic. "Very tasty, an excellent blend of flavors," says mistril. "Grilling the vegetables instead of frying was a great idea, tasted great and a time saver." Strict vegetarians may want to replace the Parmesan in the recipe, since it traditionally contains rennet.

16 of 18

Carole's Chili Mac

Carole's Chili Mac
*Sherri*

Rich meatless chili, melty cheese, and comforting pasta all combine for this kid-friendly dinner. Set up everyone's favorite chili toppings — such as sour cream, guacamole, and crushed tortilla chips — for dressing up their bowl of chili mac.

17 of 18

Vegetarian Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust

Vegetarian Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust
Bibi

"A mix of fresh and frozen vegetables in a lively sauce forms the filling for this vegetarian pot pie," says Bibi. "The top crust couldn't be easier, since it is a sheet of thawed puff pastry, draped over the top of the dish. Make this a vegan dish by substituting your favorite vegan butter, if you wish."

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