The Best Vegan Soul Food: 37 Southern-Inspired Comfort Recipes

two white plates with homemade grits, tempeh sausage and leafy greens on a table next to a towel

Let’s break the misconception that hearty and satisfying comfort meals require animal-based ingredients! This mouth-watering selection of the best vegan soul food recipes will have you drooling in no time – and it can be your foot in the door when trying to make any meat-eater acquire a taste for plant-based food.

Even though we’re doing our best on this blog to showcase the fact that a vegan diet isn’t just granola, chia pudding and salads all day long, there’s still this idea that, if there are no animal products in a particular meal, it cannot be satisfying.

“Something’s just missing,” is what we often hear.

Well, if you know how to compose a delicious meal, it doesn’t matter whether or not it has meat or cheese in it – it’ll just be tasty and flavorful comfort food.

Creating a chewy texture thanks to ingredients like jackfruit, tofu or seitan, these vegan soul food recipes don’t make anyone miss their carnivorous counterparts! 

This article was made to share the deep flavors originating from Southern American cuisine fused with traditional African American soul food dishes “made vegan”.

What is Soul Food?

For some, it’s just another term for comfort food or really, really delicious and extravagant meals. However, the term actually finds its roots in  African American culture. According to The Spruce Eats, the 1960s saw the term “soul” become ubiquitous among African Americans across the United States.

This soul spirit found its way into everything. Titles like “soul sister” spread, “soul music” found mainstream success, and, of course, our beloved “soul food” hit dinner tables all around the US.

Of course, the actual “soul food” itself wasn’t new at the time – staples like black-eyed peas and collard greens had been in African American kitchens for generations – but its popularization and eventual widespread acceptance means that soul food of all kinds is now available across the globe – and in many different forms and flavors!

To showcase how fantastic these flavors and combinations are, we’ve collected some drool-worthy vegan soul food dinner and dessert inspo for you to enjoy and share!

woman sitting in nature next to mountains and enjoying her tea while smiling

What are Typical Soul Food Recipes?

When thinking of the term “soul food,” many of the dishes that may come to mind are heavily animal-laden: fried chicken, pork ribs or ham hocks are just a few examples. 

But let’s not forget about the many plant-based recipes and ingredients often found in cuisine from the American South!

You’ve got stewed greens (mostly mustard, turnip or collard), sweet potatoes, beans (especially black-eyed peas), okra, tomatoes, corn, yams, pecans, bananas and baked goods!

Our Take on Vegan Soul Food

Truth be told, we’re neither native Southerners nor did we grow up with the smell of hush puppies coming from the kitchen. Soul food to us means pretty much the same thing as comfort food – which can easily be made vegan, as you will see below.

For this article, we had to rely on research to figure out what kind of recipes should be included when talking about vegan soul food. It turns out that modern soul food has even more flavors than we previously thought!

That’s why this list has a little bit of everything: vegan takes on the original soul food dishes born in African American kitchens in the 1960s (and still cooked to this day!), other classic snacks from the American South and so much more!

Some recipes are even slightly infused with Mexican and Southwest flavors! This delicious combination of comfort food is what you’ll find in our hand-selected list of goodness below.

The 37 Best Vegan Soul Food Recipes

As much as we love soul food, some of the classics of Southern cuisine can be heavy, fat-laden and really unhealthy. Luckily, there are amazing health-conscious food bloggers who can turn everything from fried veggies to beef stews and even comforting pasta dishes like mac and cheese into delicious and guilt-free meals!

Let’s get to the soul food-inspired, easy and plant-based recipes!

Vegan Grits, Tempeh Sausage & Brussels Sprouts

two white plates with homemade grits, tempeh sausage and leafy greens on a table
Recipe by The Full Helping

Smoky flavors contrasted with creamy grifts, chewy tempeh and tender Brussels sprouts – this is the culinary joy you’ll find in this recipe! Instead of Brussels sprouts, you can use any leafy greens – including collard greens, another traditional staple in vegan soul food land. This flavorful and healthy comfort meal is ready in about 30 minutes! 

Spicy Vegan Gumbo

two bowls with delicious plant-based gumbo and some rice which makes for some great vegan soul food
Recipe by The Nut-Free Vegan

Let’s get some meaty vegan goodness on your dinner plate! This spicy gumbo is a wonderful comfort dish and a vegan take on soul food that calls for store-bought meat alternatives. Together with lots of deep flavors like garlic, thyme, parsley and red pepper, the flour and oil mixture still allows you to get that deep dark gumbo roux.

Vegan Fried Chicken & Sourdough Biscuits

baking tray with some homemade healthy friend vegan chicken and biscuits as a southern inspired dish
Recipe by Vegan Yack Attack

Have you ever made your own plant-based fried chicken? This recipe shows you how easy it can be, using accessible foods such as wheat gluten, chickpea flour, soy curls and a couple of spices. You can even make it oil-free by using an air fryer! Together with some sourdough biscuits, this is the perfect hearty and flavorful comfort food.

Oil-Free Oven-Fried Okra

wooden table with a bowl of healthy oil-free oven fried okra and a simple tomato-based dip
Recipe by Fat-Free Vegan

We go to great lengths to make our own recipes on the blog completely oil-free – which is why we get super excited when we find other healthy, tasty and easy oil-free recipes to share! This oven-fried okra is gluten-free, crunchy, golden and delicious. No oil needed! Okra can be found in a ton of soul food – thank goodness, because it’s a vegetable of which we definitely don’t eat enough! 

Cajun Black-Eyed Pea Burgers

white plate with a colorful cajun black-eyed pea burger that can be enjoyed for some vegan soul food
Recipe by Connoisseurus Veg

Featuring corn, bell peppers, onion and garlic, these meatless black-eyed peas burgers are so scrumptious! Perfectly seasoned with zesty Cajun spices, they pack awesome vegan soul food flavor into a bun. The burgers are grillable and assembled with fresh veggies as well as a creamy vegan remoulade.

Muffins, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

white plates with vegan mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and homemade muffins next to the ingredients
Recipe by Veeg

In the mood for some traditional Southern comfort food? Here are some gluten-free Southern-style stuffing muffins with nutrient-packed healthy mashed potatoes and gravy made with creamy tahini. Secretly healthy, this scrumptious meal makes for a wonderful addition to a holiday feast or a delicious weekend dinner option.

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

white baking dish with creamy vegan cauliflower mac and cheese for a healthy comfort food
Recipe by V Nutrition and Wellness

Pasta bakes won’t get much healthier and cozier than this! This buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and incredibly creamy thanks to cashew nuts. In combination with cauliflower and fresh spinach, it’s a delicious way of eating more vegetables, all of which are seamlessly incorporated into this pasta dish.

Air Fryer Zucchini Chips

white bowl with healthy homemade air fryer zucchini chips
Recipe by Keeping the Peas

Let’s make some more crispy “fried” veggies that are flavorful and secretly healthy! Featuring whole wheat breadcrumbs, almond flour, flaxseeds plus a few seasonings, these crispy snacks are oil-free and a lovely addition to any colorful vegan soul food bowl!

Hearty Bean Chili

Detail shot with shallow focus of woman holding bowl of vegan bean chili and dipping spoon into the food
Recipe by Nutriciously

We don’t know about you, but nothing quite says “comfort meal” to us than a warm bowl of bean chili! Using mainly budget-friendly pantry staples, this is an easily customizable and nutrient-rich everyday dinner option for anyone wanting to go meatless. For a traditional Southern touch, serve with some cornbread (recipe below!)

Flaky Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits

five freshly baked vegan buttermilk biscuits stacked on top of each other, two of which are half-eaten
Recipe by Ve Eat Cook Bake

Interested to see how Southern buttermilk biscuits can be made not just fully vegan but also whole food plant-based? You’re in luck – these biscuits turn out perfectly soft and flaky but without any oil or butter. You’ll love the airy, flaky layers that are wholesomely achieved with two secret but totally accessible ingredients. Check the recipe for more!

Crispy Air Fried Pickles

white bowl on a table which is filled with a traditional southern vegan soul food: healthy air fried pickles
Recipe by Veganosity

These crispy Southern-style fried pickles can either be traditionally deep-fried or made oil-free with an air fryer! The authors say that this is one of the best vegan Southern appetizers they’ve come across and that it has become a family favorite (especially during football season!). Made with just a handful of pantry staples, this easy recipe requires only 10 minutes of cooking time!

Cajun Soy Curls & Creamy Jalapeño Grits

two white bowls filled with homemade vegan grits which are topped with cajun flavored soy curls
Recipe by The Curious Chickpea

Ready for the creamiest grits you’ve ever had, topped with chewy, mouth-watering soy curls? The recipe is brunch goals and the ultimate pantry-friendly vegan soul food. You have tender grits made with cashew cream and spiced up with jalapeños, cooked into a thick porridge. The soy curls are a gluten-free and meatless protein source, which this recipe has you season to perfection.

Healthy Gluten-Free Cornbread

Top view of gluten-free corn bread on parchment paper next to glass jar of mango chutney, rosy cloth and knife
Recipe by Nutriciously

Remember that bean chili we just talked about? Serve it with this freshly baked cornbread! Fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, it pairs wonderfully with a warm pot of veggies and beans. Both dishes are actually very meal-prep friendly and can be prepared in advance and frozen for an upcoming plant-based dinner!

Satisfying Vegan Jambalaya

glass of red wine and a linen towel on which a bowl of hearty vegan jambalaya is placed
Recipe by Plant and Vine

With roots in African, Spanish and French cuisine, jambalaya is a filling rice-based dish that usually includes animal products such as sausage, shellfish, chicken or pork. This vegan soul food recipe adds a delicious twist by omitting the meat and going for satiating beans as well as some vegan sausage. It also pairs well with some freshly baked cornbread, and you can even find some wine recommendations in the article!

Veggie Pot Pies

black baking dish filled with some hearty vegan pot pie with a serving taken out and put on a black plate
Recipe by Happy Healthy Mama

Another great recipe made with pantry and freezer staples is vegetable pot pies. Using frozen vegetables, canned beans and a premade pie crust, they only require 10 minutes of hands-on time – one of the easiest plant-based dinners imaginable! This is a really nutrient-rich and versatile recipe for which you can use pretty much any veggies you have on hand.

Vegan Chicken and Waffles

two white plates with some homemade vegan soul food which is some healthy chicken and waffles over which maple syrup is being poured
Recipe by Emilie Eats

This recipe offers savory and gluten-free waffles topped with baked tofu chicken – and everything’s completely prepared from scratch. This decadent brunch or “brinner” is surprisingly wholesome and a truly family-friendly recipe! It does require some more time compared to other meals, but if the occasion ever calls for it, definitely give it a try.

Jackfruit Beef Stew

large pot with freshly cooked vegan jackfruit beef stew as a hearty southern inspired comfort food
Recipe by My Pure Plants

Loaded with veggies and tons of flavor, this hearty and filling stew gets its beefy bite from the added jackfruit chunks! Stews are kind of the epitome of vegan soul food, and this gluten-free plant-strong version is no exception. It’s a warm, flavor-infused bowl of perfectly cooked vegetables in a thick brown sauce that tastes spicy and sweet at the same time.

Vegan Hoppin’ John

white plate with vegan cooked greens, rice, beans and a biscuit which is a traditional southern soul food
Recipe by Sweet Potato Soul

Speaking of traditional Southern meals turned into completely vegan soul food, this beautiful plate has all the components you need! From homecooked black-eyed peas to long grain rice, collard greens, biscuits and fried cauliflower “chicken,” this recipe is one huge flavorful and satisfying plant-based bowl of goodness.

Mashed Potato Cheese Waffles

white plate of 4 mashed potato cheese waffles on top of each other with avocado, tomatoes, rocket and maple syrup being poured over everything
Recipe by My Goodness Kitchen

If you’re in need of some ninja-like cooking skills to hide vegetables in your family’s meals, this recipe will greatly help you out! These sneaky waffles are cheesy, soft on the outside and crunchy on the inside – not giving away at all that they are actually made with a medley of vegetables and buckwheat flour. Serve with some leafy greens, avocado and maple syrup!

Power Green Salad With Black-Eyed Peas

black bowl with a colorful southern vegan salad consisting of kale, red cabbage, black eyed peas, bell pepper and more plant-based food
Recipe by Cotter Crunch

The opposite of hiding veggies is to be totally upfront about them – just like in this rainbow salad. It features either collard or mustard greens, purple cabbage, black-eyed peas and shredded carrot, and you can even throw in some cooked quinoa for added protein and other nutrients!

Creole Okra Corn Soup

bowl of tomato, okra and corn soup on a wooden table next to some herbs and tomatoes
Recipe by The Vegan 8

This soup is made for all you veggie-loving Southerners! The great thing is that it requires almost only shelf-stable ingredients like corn kernels, canned tomatoes and frozen sliced okra – along with hefty pinches of different spices to give it its traditional flavor.

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

white baking dish with creamy vegan sweet potato mac and cheese and a spoon
Recipe by Zen and Zaatar

Yes, we already featured a baked mac and cheese – but there’s no such thing as too many pasta bakes in our books. This sweet potato version is free from gluten, oil and nuts while still managing to be incredibly creamy and comforting! We love the combination of sweet potato and tahini for the cheesy sauce.

Corn and Zucchini Fritters

piece of parchment paper on a wooden table with six vegan corn and zucchini fritters stacked on top of each other
Recipe by The Minimalist Vegan

One bowl, a grater, knife, pan and some measuring spoons – that’s all the equipment needed for these super easy and quick corn fritters! If you’re looking for a healthier version of this Southern comfort food, this gluten-free and veggie-rich version is the way to go. Ready to eat in under 30 minutes, they also freeze well and can be used for meal prepping.

Southwestern Cornbread Veggie Bake

two black plates with some vegetables and a slice of vegan cornbread each
Recipe by Ve Eat Cook Bake

This healthy vegan soul food recipe combines the convenience of a quick and accessible meal with a huge amount of nutrients and a true comfort food experience. Using mostly plant-based staple foods, it’s easily customizable and super flavorful – this recipe can even be made into muffins or a casserole!

Hearty Vegan Potato Soup

white bowl with some creamy vegan potato soup as well as vegan cheese and a spoon
Recipe by Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen

This flavorful and creamy soup takes comfort food to the next level! Not just your average potato soup, it’s made super creamy with lots of non-dairy milk, and on the flavor side, it’s perfect – onion, garlic, sage, smoked paprika and veggie stock are used to make this recipe extra cozy. Optional toppings include vegan bacon, vegan cheese and green onions!

Easy Southern Collard Greens

stone table top with different white bowls containing rice, lemon and steamed southern collard greens with kidney beans
Recipe by Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures

When you want to treat your taste buds to a totally rocking flavor-packed meal, this southern collard greens recipe is just the ticket! Packed with veggies and wholesome ingredients, this is healthy soul food that breaks away from traditional Southern recipes by being fully vegan and gluten-free.

Vegan Baked Oil-Free Hush Puppies

white plate on a red towel with around a dozen small vegan hush puppies
Recipe by The Vegan 8

Something that was completely new to us were these fluffy little clouds called hush puppies. This whole food vegan version offers all the traditional comfort and flavor while being oil-free, gluten-free, baked and somehow really soft and moist at the same time! Brandi managed to turn these little grease balls into a good-for-you Southern snack.

Best Ever BBQ Baked Beans

big pot with hearty vegan soul food sonsisting of beans, vegan sausage and more southern-inspired comfort food flavors as well as two spoons
Recipe by Vegan Travel Eats

If you’re looking for an epic fully vegan BBQ spread, you definitely want to add these baked beans to your list! Together with some grilled corn and mac and cheese, they make for the perfect Southern soul food experience. Deep flavors and hearty add-ins won’t let anyone recognize these baked beans are free from all animal products!

Vegan Sloppy Lentil Joes

white plate with vegan lentil sloppy joes on a wooden table
Recipe by Veggie Inspired

This delicious 30-minute meal is the vegan version of a sloppy joe – by replacing meat with lentils, this sandwich becomes a wonderfully smoky, tangy, messy, sweet dish able to please any meat-eater in your life. If you’re looking for healthy soul food dishes, this sandwich is lower in fat and calories and higher in minerals and vitamins than its meaty counterpart!

Buttery Sweet Potato Biscuits

black pan with eight golden vegans sweet potato biscuits on a white table
Recipe by A Virtual Vegan

Is there such a thing as too many biscuits? This flaky and tender sweet potato variety certainly had to make our list of the best vegan soul foods. These biscuits are naturally sweet, easy and quick to make, have a warm orange color and work with both savory or sweet toppings. We really love this recipe!

Vegan Bourbon Pecan Pie

white pie form with a whole food plant based vegan pecan pie of which a piece has been cut out and placed on a small plate next to it, topped with vegan whipped yream
Recipe by My Quiet Kitchen

Let’s move on to some sweet vegan soul food! This scrumptious pecan pie is free from eggs, butter and corn syrup, using a spritz of Bourbon for deeper flavors (totally optional!) – it’s the perfect vegan twist on a Southern classic. Rich, sweet and nutty, it is made with dates, maple syrup and lots of pecans.

Self-Saucing Vegan Banana Pudding

white baking dish with crispy baked vegan banana cinnamon pudding with dairy free ice cream
Recipe by Full of Plants

Truth be told, bI had never heard of this traditional Southern dessert before writing this article – but my oh my, it sounds like it’s just made for me. Banana, cinnamon and caramel sauce topped with vegan vanilla ice cream – uhm, yes, please! There are no words to add here other than “go make it today.”

Baked Chocolate Chip Skillet Scones

black skillet with vegan chocolate chip scone and a piece taken out of it and placed on a small white plate
Recipe by Veeg

Need something to share with your loved ones at a get-together or at home? These vegan baked chocolate chip scones are the way to go! Each bite of these mouth-watering scones delivers the taste of delicious dates, berries and chocolate chips. This gluten-free sweet vegan soul food will soon become a family favorite!

Blackberry + Blueberry Cobbler

small round white baking dish with a vegan southern blackberry cobbler topped with ice cream
Recipe by Bakerita

Meet these gluten-free vegan cobblers that are both healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast and also sweet enough to be dessert! With their perfect crisp and gooey topping, this berrylicious Southern recipe offers all the different textures and flavors you could wish for in a comfort food.

Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Crumble

white baking dish with some vegan sweet potato casserole and pecan crumble, some taken out by a spoon
Recipe by Vegan Huggs

Yet another traditional recipe we just had to add to this list was this sweet potato casserole topped with a delicious pecan crumble. Cozy spices meet a creamy and starchy filling. It’s perfectly sweetened and can be served either for dessert or as a scrumptious side.

Vegan Sweet Potato Pie

one slice of delicious vegan sweet potato pie on a white plate with vegan whipped cream
Recipe by Loving It Vegan

Let’s just keep the sweet potato theme rolling with this wonderfully rich and flavorful pie – trust us, it definitely deserves a spot on this list! Not only is it extremely simple to make, but it also slices beautifully and tastes like heaven. This epic vegan soul food is one of our favorites and is best served with some coconut whipped cream or dairy-free ice cream!

Delicious Vegan Chocolate Fudge

several vegan chocolate fudge squares on top of each other on a white plate
Recipe by Happy Kitchen

Is chocolate fudge a traditional Southern treat? We don’t know, because to be honest, what could be more comforting and soul food-ish than some wonderfully sweet and delightfully gooey chocolate goodness? Made with vegan chocolate, dates, tahini, coconut milk and a few other add-ins, this is our new favorite dessert!

We hope you liked our list of the best vegan soul food recipes! Have you tried any of them? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to Pin this article here!

Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist (CPD) who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.
dark grey spotted bowl with a variety of vegetables next to small bottle of green smoothie isolated on light background

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2 thoughts on “The Best Vegan Soul Food: 37 Southern-Inspired Comfort Recipes”

  1. Everything but the gumbo looked fantastic! So, what was wrong with the gumbo? Where to begin… First off, the roux. All good gumbo starts with the roux. It needs to have butter, obviously in this case vegan butter, or olive oil. Vegetable oil will not suffice. It needs to be constantly stirred and carefully monitored until it becomes the color of mocha. Then, you add your onions, celery, carrots, peppers, etc. and go from there.

    A key ingredient that this recipe did not include is okra. The word “gumbo” literally means “okra”, and the “slime” that tends to put many people off is what thickens the soup/stew, so it needs to be properly measured and rinsed with cold water after it has been sliced. Some recipes also call for “gumbo file” (ground sassafras root), and some opt for this OVER the addition of okra…see above. Also? Where are the tomatoes? Sorry, but the “gumbo” here is more akin to a Creole-style vegetable soup. Admittedly, it sounds tasty, but a gumbo it is not.

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for putting this list together, I just want to live of it, everything looks and sounds amazing! <3

    Reply

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