15 Flavorful Vegetarian Japanese Recipes

Soba with Toasted Sesame Seed Sauce on a white plate
Photo: naples34102

With Japanese cuisine, it's easy to find wow-worthy vegetarian dishes. Plenty of dishes are centered around vegetarian-friendly options like rice, soy, noodles, and vegetables, leading to plant-based favorites like onigiri and soba noodle bowls. So skip the takeout this week and recreate your Japanese favorites at home with some of our top-rated vegetarian recipes.

01 of 15

Cucumber Sunomono

Cucumber Sunomono on a bamboo mat

Sunomono, also referred to as "namasu," are rice-vinegar-based dishes that are briefly marinated for a quick pickled result. Here, thinly sliced cucumbers are given the same treatment in a blend of vinegar, salt, sugar, and fresh ginger.

02 of 15

Japanese-Style Sesame Green Beans

Japanese-Style Sesame Green Beans on a dark plate
Ranjit R.

This side highlights how you don't need a long list of ingredients to create a delicious dish. Pan-fried in a bit of sesame oil, the crisp-tender green beans are then tossed with a dash of soy sauce and pinch of sesame seeds.

03 of 15

Perfect Sushi Rice

Veggie sushi on a blue plate
Arie Ardasis

Getting the correct consistency for sushi rice can make or break your meal. Too loose and your rolls will crumble apart, but too sticky and the end result is mush. This helpful recipe takes away the confusion and shows how to make perfectly seasoned and textured sushi rice every single time.

04 of 15

Sweet Potato Tempura

Sweet Potato Tempura on a paper towel
Princess Cindy

Delightfully light and crispy when fried, tempura batter is a beloved Japanese cooking technique. This recipe uses one sweet potato, just the right size for a share-worthy appetizer.

05 of 15

Soba with Toasted Sesame Seed Sauce

Soba with Toasted Sesame Seed Sauce on a white plate

Soba noodles have distinct nutty flavor due to being made with buckwheat flour. For this dish they're tossed in a tangy soy sauce with steamed broccoli florets.

06 of 15

Konbu Dashi

Konbu Dashi in a white bowl
Buckwheat Queen

A key ingredient in Japanese cuisine, dashi is often made with fish products, making it not vegetarian-friendly. This recipe makes a plant-based alternative by switching in a type of kelp, konbu (also known as kombu), to make a boldly flavored broth.

07 of 15

Tamagoyaki with Mushroom and Mozzarella Cheese

Tamagoyaki with Mushroom and Mozzarella Cheese on a paper towel

A Japanese version of the omelet, tamagoyaki is fried egg rolled in on itself to create fluffy layers. In this recipe it's topped with savory mushrooms and mozzarella for an unusual combination that ends up tasting irresistible.

08 of 15

Japanese Restaurant Cucumber Salad

Japanese Restaurant Cucumber Salad on a white plate

Sweet, sour, and spicy, this refreshing cucumber salad hits on all the tastes. A spoon of chili paste adds heat and bit of color, while a drizzle of sesame oil provides a nutty flavor.

09 of 15

Pumpkin and Tofu Miso Soup

Pumpkin and Tofu Miso Soup in a white bowl
Linda T

Miso, fermented soybean paste, is an umami-rich ingredient that adds depth to vegetarian dishes. Be sure to double check the ingredients list when purchasing, as some brands of miso contain fish. Here it's used to create a salty broth, combined with buckwheat noodles, fresh pumpkin, and tofu.

10 of 15

Vegetarian Nori Rolls

Vegetarian Nori Rolls on a green plate

Filled with garlic-honey marinated tofu, along with julienned veggies like carrots, cucumber, and avocado, each bite of these nori rolls is bursting with flavor. Reviewer Lindsah says, "Perfect recipe to get me over my fear of making sushi! Colorful, flavorful, and easy."

11 of 15

Vegan Japanese Spinach Salad

Vegan Japanese Spinach Salad on a white plate
Soup Loving Nicole

Pre-made seaweed salads, like the kind you find in store sushi containers, isn't always vegetarian as some varieties contain fish products. Instead, get your daily dose of greens with this side dish prepared in a similar manner. Spinach is quickly blanched before getting drizzled with a sweet soy sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

12 of 15

Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

onigiri on a red plate
Zoie Harrison

These nori-wrapped rice balls are a beloved lunchbox staple in Japan. If you're looking for extra flavor, you can stuff the inside of each onigiri with a little pickled veggies and baked tofu, or feel free to roll the rice in your favorite seasoning blends.

13 of 15

Japanese Tofu Salad

Japanese Tofu Salad in a white bowl with chopsticks

Made with the trio of tofu, tomatoes, and red onions, this Japanese-inspired salad is drizzled with a tangy sesame and soy dressing that makes it a real stand apart recipe. And as a bonus, this vegetarian dish boasts 17 grams of protein in each tasty serving.

14 of 15

Japanese Zucchini and Onions

Japanese Zucchini and Onions
Soup Loving Nicole

Recreate this beloved Japanese steakhouse side dish at home with this simple recipe. Thinly sliced zucchini and onion are simmered until just tender in a blend of sesame seeds, teriyaki, and soy sauce.

15 of 15

Cucumber and Avocado Sushi

cucumber and avocado sushi rolls

A little creamy, a little crunchy, putting avocado and cucumber together in sushi makes for a contrast of tastes and textures. Serve with a little soy sauce and wasabi on the side for dipping and you're all set!

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