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!
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 SproutsRecipe 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 GumboRecipe 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 BiscuitsRecipe 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 OkraRecipe 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 BurgersRecipe 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 & GravyRecipe 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 CheeseRecipe 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 ChipsRecipe 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 ChiliRecipe 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 BiscuitsRecipe 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 PicklesRecipe 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 GritsRecipe 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 CornbreadRecipe 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 JambalayaRecipe 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 PiesRecipe 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 WafflesRecipe 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 StewRecipe 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’ JohnRecipe 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 WafflesRecipe 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 PeasRecipe 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 SoupRecipe 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 CheeseRecipe 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 FrittersRecipe 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 BakeRecipe 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 SoupRecipe 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 GreensRecipe 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 PuppiesRecipe 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 BeansRecipe 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 JoesRecipe 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 BiscuitsRecipe 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 PieRecipe 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 PuddingRecipe 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 SconesRecipe 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 CobblerRecipe 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 CrumbleRecipe 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 PieRecipe 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 FudgeRecipe 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!