These vegan Chinese recipes smack with flavor. From bao buns to dumplings to Kung Pao and General Tso. Plus vegan Chinese noodles, sauces and delicious stir fries. These are the plant based Chinese recipes you’ve been looking for!
If you’re vegetarian or vegan – or you’re committed to the Meatless Monday thing, a trip to the takeout spot can be confusing. Which Chinese dishes are vegan? What about the Chinese sauces… which of those are plant based?
While I can’t help you with your specific takeout order, I’m excited to share with you 21 of my favorite easy Chinese food recipes. And they’re all plant based.
There’s Nothing Missing in These Easy Vegan Chinese Recipes
Many of these vegan recipes are already in the Chinese cooking lexicon. That means they’re meatless by design – and have been so for centuries.
But there are obviously Chinese dishes that traditionally use meat.
Don’t worry! It’s so easy to make ingredient substitutes.
- Chopped mushrooms do a wonderful job of standing in for ground pork.
- Textured vegetable protein (TVP) bears a striking resemblance to ground meat as well.
- Bean curd can be braised, stir-fried, air-fried, deep-fried and baked. The texture can be anything you want it to be. And tofu has the added advantage of eventually tasting like whatever spices and sauces you prepare it with.
- You can swap out sauces for their vegan counterparts as well. For example, plant based oyster sauce is totally a thing.
- But let’s not forget the vegetables themselves. They’re already great as-is. And you can add a ton of texture to dumplings and bao buns with things like diced bamboo shoots, lotus root and water chestnut. The options are limitless.
The point is, there’s a lot to love about Chinese cuisine. And these easy vegan Chinese recipes are sure to be a hit whether you’re following a plant-based diet or are a full on omnivore!
Smacked Cucumber With Chili Oil
This Sichuan smacked cucumber is simple to make – and is all things salty, sour and spicy. But you may also find it a nice outlet for the stressors of the day. Because the smacked bit isn’t a euphemism. You literally smack your English cucumber with your palm against the flat side of your knife. See how in this video here. Then top with a fiery, salty hot chili oil. One of my favorite vegan Chinese food recipes of all time.
Sichuan Cucumber Recipe Video
Vegan Chinese Lotus Root Salad
Simple, delicate and so pretty to look at. Lotus has a pleasing, fibrous crunch. And it’s covered in a simple dressing made of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Top with sesame seeds and chopped green onions. Make this lovely Chinese lotus root salad in 15 minutes from start to finish.
Vegetable Bao Buns (包子)
Hey chef. Are you a little nervous about making bao buns at home? Don’t be. I was a little overwhelmed by the idea at first too. But once I got going, it was really quite a straightforward process. The toughest part is the spongy buns themselves. However, just like any recipe that calls for flour, yeast and baking powder – it’s all about getting the measurements right. The finished buns are so airy and light! I filled mine with bamboo shoots, napa cabbage, shiitake mushrooms – and seasoned the filling with sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and ground white pepper. Omg, yum.
Easy Homemade Wonton Soup (馄饨汤)
When it comes to ordering food at Chinese restaurants, wonton soup is typically the first thing my eyes gravitate to on the menu – yet is so rarely plant based. Because even if the broth and wonton filling is vegan, the wonton wrappers rarely (if ever) are. However, Nasoya makes vegan wonton and egg roll wrappers (sold at Ralphs, Safeway, Target, etc.). And that opens things up considerably! This savory Chinese-American classic is chock full of pillowy wontons stuffed with finely chopped cabbage, carrots and scallions. Plus I’ve got step-by-step instructions on folding wontons.
Mushroom Cabbage Dumplings
Making dumplings at home has always been a food project I can enjoy while watching Korean dramas with my mom. Once you get into the swing of things, it becomes almost meditative. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through the entire process. These fresh and savory dumplings are filled with a simple combination of mushrooms and cabbage. And the best part: you can steam them or pan fry them. Whichever you like best. If you’re 100% plant based, make sure your dumpling wrappers don’t contain egg. As for dipping, just look below. You’ll LOVE the dumpling sauce recipe that follows 🥟
The Best Dumpling Sauce Recipe
Get your dip on. This vegan Chinese dumpling sauce is a simple combination of chinkiang vinegar (aka: black vinegar), soy sauce, chili oil, garlic and scallions. But the flavor is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s bold, savory, tart and a little spicy. Basically, it tastes like you’re at your favorite dim sum spot, ordering steamers of har gao from the pushcart. Make this stuff and keep it on hand for
emergencies all your dumpling dipping needs.
Easy Vegetable Egg Rolls
My husband is an egg roll junky. And anytime I make these veggie egg rolls, I have to make EXTRA. Because what’s not to love about fresh shredded veggies, quickly stir fried with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and white pepper? Vegans will want to track down plant-based wrappers. Then you can pan fry a batch to your heart’s content. Or why not try making egg rolls in your air fryer. Oh, if you like dipping your egg rolls in duck sauce, I’ve got a recipe for that iconic Chinese-American condiment a little further down on this page!
Szechuan Potatoes With Vinegar and Chili Oil
Sure, shredded spicy potatoes may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to traditional Chinese food. But this is as real-deal as it gets. Salty, sour, nutty and just spicy enough to make your lips tingle – these vegan Chinese potatoes are one of the first things I make when whipping up a feast at home. And I order them from the amazing takeout spot in our neighborhood when I don’t feel like cooking. Ready in less than 20 minutes from start to finish. YUM.
General Tso Tofu Recipe
Oh, that iconic sweet, savory, spicy glaze on General Tso anything. Sure, it’s best known with chicken or shrimp. But tofu does a stellar job as the protein in this vegan version. Because when you get a crispy exterior on tofu cubes, the silky soft interior has the perfect counterpoint texturally speaking. And once you hit the final dish with some chopped scallions (and maybe a few dried chilis for good measure), you know dinner is going to be epic.
Kung Pao Cauliflower
A delicious alternative to classic Kung Pao Chicken. Cauliflower results in a taste that is just as smoky and satisfying. The key is to get a char on the cauliflower florets in your wok or a large pan. Then it’s a choose your own adventure when it comes to the heat. I like it spicy, so I add chopped chili – but leave it out if you prefer it mild. What’s not optional are the garlic and soy sauce. Use Shaoxing wine or dry sherry for a little extra oomph – and don’t forget the peanuts. And you can sub out cauliflower for bean curd if you’d like. Kung pao tofu would be yummy as well!
Basic Congee – 粥
Absolute comfort food. Congee is rice porridge simmered to (almost) disintegration in water or broth and ginger. It’s eaten for breakfast across Asia – and is basically Chinese chicken soup for the soul. Best part: the basic recipe leaves a whole lot of room open to add the toppings you like best. Personally, I almost always top with fried shallots and chopped scallions – maybe a little chili crisp if I’m feeling feisty. What’s your favorite congee topping? Tell me about your faves in the comments. Regardless, make this silky, savory Chinese classic with just a few humble ingredients. It’s so satisfying.
The Best Vegan Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)
I say this all the time, but chopped mushrooms make the perfect substitute for the ground meat you’d typically find in a traditional Sichian mapo tofu. And that’s because mushrooms have a deep level of umami. I’m using both dry shiitake mushrooms (rehydrated) – and regular button mushrooms. When rehydrating the shiitakes, make sure you keep the water! That becomes a savory, earthy mushroom stock that levels up the flavor in this spicy vegan Chinese dish to a solid 11 out of 10.
Stir Fry Veggies With Garlic Sauce
Clear out that overloaded vegetable crisper, and fire up your wok! This simple veggie stir fry is garlicky, savory and perfect. Cooking quickly on high heat allows the vegetables to soften a bit, without losing all of their crunch. And the three ingredient stir fry sauce barely qualifies as a recipe at all, but packs that archetypal savory wallop you get from your favorite Chinese stir fries. A final touch of sesame oil sends this easy dish into overdrive. Serve with a side of steamed rice for the full experience.
Tofu Chow Fun With Watercress
Need a chow fun fix? These vegan Chinese noodles will definitely do the trick. And the key to the whole thing is the simple stir fry sauce. You’ll marinate medium firm tofu cubes in half the sauce for 20-30 minutes. The other half is reserved for the last minute when you add your chow fun rice noodles to the wok. And, if you’re able to impart a little wok hei to your stir fried noodle dish all the better!
Vegan Dan Dan Noodles
Are these dan dan noodles spicy, nutty, tangy and savory? You bet they are. Don’t proper Sichuan dan dan noodles usually have pork in the recipe? Usually – but this recipe is 100% plant based. Um… will that be a problem? Absolutely not. Because mushrooms. In fact, I now prefer this version to the classic. The sauce has a gingery zing which is amplified with a bit of chili oil (you can increase or decrease based on your tolerance to spice). Soy sauce and rice vinegar do their push / pull and deliver a balance of brightness and earthiness. And, oh yeah – peanut butter. If I could only make one recipe from this list, this would be the one. Seriously.
Spicy Vegan Sichuan Noodles
8 ingredients. 10 minutes. That’s all you need to whip up these fiery vegan Chinese noodles. And, since we’re using rice noodles, there’s no sneaky egg in sight. Now, this recipe calls for Korean gochujang (hot chili paste) to bring some heat and a whole bunch of savory funk. That’s counterbalanced with the inclusion of (practically fruity) chinkiang vinegar. If you have any leftovers from dinner, they’ll be gone before morning. Because someone in the house is gonna be compelled to have a spicy midnight snack 🔥
Easy Vegan Fried Rice
There are (almost) no rules to fried rice. You can load it up with whatever ingredients and flavors you’re partial to. Yet, when it comes out of the wok, it’s typically fairly recognizable as fried rice. And that applies to the grains as well. Like Japanese rice? Jasmine rice? Brown rice? Go for it. But that’s precisely where a (very informal) rule comes in to play. If you use leftover rice that’s had a bit of time to dry out in the refrigerator, it won’t get soggy when it absorbs liquid ingredients like soy sauce in the hot wok. This recipe works with freshly cooked rice as well, so don’t worry if you don’t have leftover rice. I’m using brown rice in this plant based fried rice. What’s your favorite grain to use in fried rice? Let me know in the comments!
Baked Tofu With Black Pepper Sauce
When cooking with bean curd, texture is a big deal. Baking and air frying tofu imparts a super crispy exterior, while keeping the inside pillowy soft. But the real draw to this crispy tofu is the black pepper sauce. It’s savory and has got some heat from the black pepper, but isn’t volcanic. If you like whole peppercorns, this one is for you!
Hot Sichuan Chili Oil
This stuff is magic. Basically, this smoky, garlicky, salty and hot oil is the condiment that gives a ton of our favorite Sichuan recipes their irresistibility. It’s a mixture of Sichuan chili flakes and peppercorns mixed with shallots, garlic and neutral oil. Then it’s perfumed with star anise, cinnamon, cloves and a bay leaf. Use it on noodles, veggies, rice… whatever. If you try it once, you’ll start to get nervous once the jar gets low. No problem though, it’s easy to make another batch!
Black Bean Sauce
Of all the vegan Chinese sauces out there, I probably turn to this one the most often. Because there’s no better way to dress up a simple stir fry with loads of flavor than using Chinese black bean sauce as a ready-made stir fry sauce. Just add it to the wok and *poof* that pile of food is seasoned. Chinese black beans are fermented, giving them a pungent, salty, earthy funk. And shallots and garlic deliver an aromatic fragrance to the mix. If you’re looking for a way to cook restaurant quality stir fries at home without reinventing the wheel, this is your all-in-one solution.
Confession: I love the Day-Glo, marmalade-sweet duck sauce you get alongside egg rolls at many Cantonese restaurants in North America. However, my husband does not. So I went on a mission to create a duck sauce that retained some of the sweetness, but leaned a little heavier on the tangy aspect – and introduced a little heat. In fact, it’s so easy to mix these four base ingredients together, you’ll be hard pressed to find any reason whatsoever to not make it. The #1 reason to whip it up: it’s delicious and makes egg rolls and fried veggie wontons absolutely sing. So, does the hubby like it too? Yep. And now we have a jar in the fridge at all times. Because you never know when the crushing need for spring rolls will hit.
Have you tried any of these easy vegan Chinese recipes? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below.