These Japanese vegetarian recipes showcase the brilliance of Japanese cooking without any meat involved.
Anybody here obsessed with Japanese food? I’m with you! Japanese recipes aren’t just about wagyu and raw fish.
From colorful maki to hearty ramen to delectable teriyaki, Japanese cuisine is indeed in a league of its own.
But while I’d kill for a slice of A5 Kobe beef, these Japanese dishes are also just as mouthwatering.
From salads to pancakes, this list has it all. They’re so scrumptious, it still surprises me that they’re vegetarian!
From the same creative minds that gave us anime and sushi, here are 20 vegetarian recipes Japan has to offer.
1. Souffle Pancakes
These towering souffle pancakes take the popular breakfast item to a whole new level. Japan has done it again!
In this recipe, the light and fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth pancakes are made even more heavenly with fresh berries and whipped cream.
I’ll be honest that it took me a few tries to nail this one. But one look at these jiggly beauties, and you can already tell they’re worth it.
2. Japanese Rice
If you love rice as much as I do, you’d better learn to make it yourself! With this easy recipe, you’ll get the job done in no time.
Unlike some European cuisines that call for running rice through a sieve to drain water, Asian countries have a much simpler, fool-proof method.
Just remember the 1:1 ratio, and you’re one step closer to perfectly steamed white rice.
3. Teriyaki Sauce
With the perfect balance of sweet and savory, this teriyaki sauce is a kitchen must-have.
Whether you use it as a sauce or a marinade, it will make any food taste a thousand times better.
This sticky glaze is typically used to flavor salmon and chicken, but it’s also perfect for vegetables!
I can’t get enough of grilled teriyaki eggplant.
It has a pretty impressive shelf-life, too, so go ahead and make a huge batch!
4. Miso-Glazed Carrots
Miso paste is commonly used in many Japanese dishes.
Its unique umami flavor has the power to make anything significantly more amazing. Case in point: these miso-glazed carrots.
By simply roasting carrots alone, the vegetable will develop a deep caramelization and become perfectly awesome.
Add miso to the picture, and it’ll blow your mind.
The combination of sweet and crunchy carrots and umami-packed miso is a match made in heaven!
Carrots have never been this addictive.
5. Yaki Udon
Who can say no to the goodness of yaki udon?
Thick, starchy noodles are coated with an umami-rich sauce and loaded with colorful vegetables. It’s 100% impossible to resist.
While yaki udon typically contains meat, this recipe is a vegetarian-friendly version that, trust me, is just as terrific.
After all, it’s not the meat that’s the star of the dish. It’s those chunky, chewy noodles that make it iconic.
6. Miso Soup
Miso soup is a staple in a Japanese bento. Don’t let its clear broth fool you! This soup is insanely rich in flavor.
The broth is made of dashi, which is an umami-packed soup base made of edible kelp and bonito flakes.
This alone will make your taste buds fall in love.
Adding even more flavor is miso paste, a popular Japanese flavoring that’s also bursting with umami.
Tofu cubes, seaweed, and sliced scallions complete the dish.
7. Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)
Onigiri or omusubi are Japanese rice balls wrapped in nori.
Onigiri comes in many shapes and sizes, but it all starts with perfecting the Japanese rice.
This recipe teaches you everything you need to know.
They may be filled with sweet or savory stuffing or enjoyed on their own.
This recipe uses umeboshi or salted plum, but feel free to make it your own.
8. Japanese Cucumber Salad
Japanese cucumber salad is a refreshing side dish brimming with flavor.
Juicy cucumber slices are marinated in a mix of honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil.
It results in a playful contrast of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors.
Pro-tip: you’ll want to let the cucumbers sit in the marinade for at least 20 minutes so they’ll absorb the flavors. It’s worth the wait!
9. Teriyaki Tofu
Tofu cubes are baked and coated in a sticky teriyaki glaze. Top them on a bed of rice and prepare to be mind blown.
It’s perfect if you can’t eat meat but also can’t stop thinking about it.
The tofu really does a good job of recreating the consistency of meat.
The teriyaki sauce brings it to life with its sweet and savory flavors.
10. Spicy Edamame
If you’re having guests over for an impromptu get-together, this 15-minute recipe will save the day.
Crisp and crunchy edamame pods are coated with chili sauce. It sounds so basic, but wait until you hear about the sauce.
Sauteed with sesame oil, garlic, and a bit of salt, this sauce has all the flavors you can ask for.
It’s salty, spicy, and packed with umami!
11. Ohitashi (Boiled Spinach)
Boiled spinach – okay, I know this doesn’t sound at all exciting, but come on, when have I ever failed you?
Yes, this spinach salad is simple, but it delivers. The secret is ohitashi.
Ohitashi is a Japanese cooking method where vegetables are steeped in dashi sauce.
The technique gives the humble spinach a subtle, yet wonderful umami flavor.
This side dish is a great component of any Japanese bento because its flavor isn’t overwhelming.
12. Kombu Dashi
Dashi is traditionally made of bonito flakes and baby anchovy… so as you may have guessed, it’s not vegetarian-friendly.
Thanks to this alternative, though, you can still enjoy the goodness of the umami-rich broth without breaking your diet.
Dried shiitake mushrooms and kelp are soaked in water to create a rich and flavorful broth!
It may not be as flavorful as traditional dashi, but it’s still pretty fantastic.
13. Japanese Miso Eggplant
My first encounter with the miso eggplant was at a Japanese restaurant, where I saw a waiter bringing the gorgeous dish to the table right across from mine.
I had no idea what it was then, and I was already stuffed with what I had ordered.
When I finally got to experience the dish, I was floored. I never thought eggplant could look and taste that good!
This miso eggplant recipe tastes even better than the one I had at that restaurant, so you can just imagine my glee.
14. Simmered Daikon
Daikon, or white radishes, are cooked in soy-based broth. Here’s another simple-looking dish that will pleasantly surprise your taste buds.
What’s great about radishes is that while they’re bland on their own, they do a fine job absorbing the flavors of whatever they’re soaked into.
In this dish, a blend of dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and salt lends flavor to the radish.
You can enjoy it as is or top it with a bit of wasabi to give the delicate dish a nice kick.
15. Japanese Watercress Salad
Watercress salad has a wonderful combo of sweet, savory, and nutty. Enjoy it as a snack or a side dish for any Japanese meal.
Watercress is a dark and leafy vegetable similar to spinach. Its leaves are tender while its stems are crunchy.
Just like other greens, it takes on the flavor of whatever coats it.
In this recipe, the watercress gets flavor from a mix of peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and mirin. Yum!
The best part? It’s mega-loaded with vitamin K, fiber, and antioxidants!
It’s a great ally if you’re looking to add more nutrition to your diet.
16. Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles
Let’s take a moment to appreciate how lovely the colors are in this dish!
Carrots and sugar snap peas really make soba noodles even more appetizing.
The ginger sesame sauce makes it sensational.
With a combination of soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, sesame oil, honey, miso, ginger, and garlic sauce, it’s simply to die for.
17. Cucumber Sushi
This recipe is a crunchy take on classic sushi. Cucumber rings are stuffed with avocado, bell pepper, and spicy mayo.
From the color to the crunch and flavor, this sushi variation is definitely a must-try.
18. Japanese Cream Soda
Melon-flavored soda is turned into a delectable dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
While cream sodas aren’t new to us, you might find the green soda a bit unusual.
Melon-flavored soda is a popular carbonated drink in Japan, and it’s really tasty!
19. Honey Toast
A thick block of crunchy, fluffy, honey-coated toast is topped with mini-Oreos, strawberries, chocolate chips, and ice cream.
This is the dessert of my dreams!
20. Condensed Milk Bread
Condensed milk bread gives me so much joy. It’s as soft and fluffy as can be, and its sweet, buttery flavor is to die for.
Yes, making bread from scratch requires a bit of time and effort, but it only takes one look at this beauty to know it’s worth it.
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