Need some easy vegan weeknight dinner recipes? These are some of the go-to meals for busy evenings that my whole family loves.
Every afternoon at around 4pm, Dave and I start the inevitable text exchange that begins with, "What's for dinner?" Some nights, one of us will have a specific idea in mind, but on very busy evenings, it's more about ease than anything. On those nights, we tend to choose from our mental list of vegan weeknight dinner recipes.
These are those dinners.
Dinner Recipe Video
Want a preview of four of the recipe ideas below? This video shows you how to make them!
Easy Vegan Weeknight Dinner Recipes
This list is not meant to be a comprehensive roundup of vegan meal ideas. These are the actual vegan weeknight dinners that my family eats. I'd love to hear about your go-to meals for hectic evenings in the comments!
1. Mashed Potato Bowl
We call this a "comfort bowl" in my house. It's sort of like a deconstructed shepherd's pie, but much quicker to make. Here's what's involved:
- Start with a base of vegan mashed potatoes. Cook your potatoes however you like, then mash them up until they're fluffy with some vegan milk and oil or vegan margarine.
- Add a protein. Let's be honest, y'all: my protein is almost always Air Fryer Tofu, because what could be easier?
- Add a veg. This can vary depending on what's in the fridge. Our favorites are steamed broccoli, kale salad, or stovetop greens.
From there, we top with sauces. My kid loves vegan mayo to dip his tofu. I tend to go for hot sauce over the whole thing. And Dave usually opts for no sauce at all.
If you want a fully-formed mashed potato bowl recipe, this one is a fave at my house.
2. Vegan Chicken Stew
This is a newer fave of ours, and I love when my family requests it. The active cooking time is approximately 10 minutes, then I get to kick back until it's time to stir in the baby spinach and serve.
The written recipe includes Instant Pot and stovetop directions, so you can make this no matter what your kitchen gadget situation is.
3. Air Fryer Tofu and Potato Scramble
Breakfast for dinner, y'all! This Air Fryer Scramble is another recipe with very little active cooking time. If you don't have an air fryer, it's still quick and easy to make a tofu scramble on the stovetop. The filling for these Breakfast Tacos would work well.
What I love about a scramble is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand. Feel free to mix things up, so you don't have to stop at the store on your way home!
4. Spaghetti and Meatballs
Classic! My husband can't do tomato sauce, so we toss our cooked pasta with olive oil and a little bit of garlic powder. Of course, you can do this with tomato sauce, instead.
I never feel like a meal is complete without something green, and spinach is our go-to green for this meal. Rather than stand over the stove, I pile uncooked baby spinach into the colander while the spaghetti is cooking. The boiling water cooks the spinach right in the colander, when you drain the pasta. ?MAGIC!?
We use Gardein Meatless Meatballs cooked at 400F for 8 minutes in the air fryer, but you can also cook them according to package directions, if you don't have an air fryer.
5. Sushi Bowls
I love sushi, but on a busy night, taking the time to roll it feels out of the question. That's where a sushi bowl comes in! Like the mashed potato bowls above, you can choose your own adventure when making your sushi bowl. Here's the general roadmap:
- Sushi Rice - You can make your sushi rice on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot.
- Fillings - What would you put into your ideal sushi roll? Pile that into your sushi bowl! We like shredded carrots, shredded lettuce, cashews, baked tofu or prepared adzuki beans, mango, avocado and sliced cucumber. The best part is that you can let each person choose their own favorite fillings.
- Seaweed - Get that sushi taste by adding sliced seaweed snacks to your sushi bowl!
- Sauce - My kid loves plain mayo, and I tend to go for sriracha mayo.
- Pickled Ginger - This is optional, but I love how the pickled ginger spices up a big ol' bowl of ricey goodness!
6. Mac and Cheese with Veggies and Tofu
My kid is obsessed with mac and cheese, so we make it often. We love making my Baked Mac and Cheese, but that's a little bit more time-consuming than we are after on a hectic night.
I always pair it with broccoli or kale and a side of air fryer tofu.
7. Burrito Bowls
What can I say - my family loves a bowl meal! A burrito bowl is a great way to use what you have, though of course you can follow a recipe, too. Here's the general burrito bowl layout:
- Rice - white, brown, Spanish, a mix - you do you! You can also use quinoa or other whole grains as the base, if your family is into it.
- Beans - Black and pinto are natural choices, but you can certainly mix things up.
- Veggies - This is a great fridge-, pantry-, and freezer-dump opportunity! For our burrito bowls, we like to add corn, lettuce or spinach, cooked broccoli or kale, carrots, cucumbers, black olives, sliced tomatoes, and avocado or guacamole. Air Fryer Plantains are a nice addition to a burrito bowl, too.
- Sauce - A burrito bowl is a great chance to bust out your favorite guacamole (I like to use my Pickled Jalapeno Guacamole!), vegan sour cream, jarred or homemade salsa, or your favorite hot sauce.
Try these easy burrito bowls next time you're on the hunt for simple vegan dinner recipes: Cadry's Lentil and Black Bean Burrito Bowl, Amy's Quinoa Burrito Bowl, or Sophia's Chipotle-Lime Burrito Bowl.
I know, it's cliche for a vegan to suggest eating salad, but I actually love salad, and so do my guys! And when it comes to vegan weeknight dinner recipes, nothing says simple like a salad.
Chances are, you know how to make a salad, but if you want your dinner salad to be satisfying, here's my go-to hearty salad outline:
- Greens and/or Grains - Raid that fridge! You can do lettuce, spinach, massaged kale, shredded cabbage...whatever greens you've got. Toss those with cooked grains of your choice to make this bowl heartier.
- Protein - I know you'll be shocked to read that air fryer tofu is our protein of choice when making salad, but I'm just living my most authentic life. Of course, you can use other proteins, like beans, seitan, tempeh, or nuts and seeds. Or choose a couple! We love tofu and cashews on our salads.
- Bonus Raw and Cooked Veggies - Pile on that corn, sweet potato, winter squash, onion, mushrooms, etc. Use what you have!
- Fruit - You don't have to put fruit into your salads, but it's a nice touch to make a standard salad more exciting. Sliced strawberries or mango are good options, as are dried cranberries or apricots or Air Fryer Plantains.
- Dressing - For me, a good salad is all about that dressing. You can keep it simple with a squeeze of lemon, oil and vinegar, or a bottled salad dressing. If you want to get fancier, try making a quick blender dressing like my Cashew Ranch or 5-Minute Peanut Sauce.
Sometimes, it's nice to have a jumping-off salad to help you get started. Amy at Veggies Save the Day has a ton of great salad inspo. My Strawberry Spinach Salad and Crunchy Broccoli Salad are both great vegan weeknight dinner recipes, too, if you add some cooked quinoa or rice to the mix.
Of course, there are tons of simple, vegan weeknight dinner recipes out there - these are just some of my family's faves. What are your default meals when time is of the essence?