Pasta, pizza, pesto and paninis! These vegan Italian recipes are adapted from classic Italian recipes to be completely plant-based! Your whole family will love these recipes!
With its use of cheese in so many dishes, you might think creating healthy and delicious vegan Italian recipes would be difficult.
Don't worry, it's not!
Check out my best vegan Italian recipes below!
What are vegan Italian recipes?
Vegan Italian recipes are classic recipes from Italy that are either naturally vegan or have been "veganized".
Italian cuisine can be easy to make vegan because it is characterized by just a few, simple ingredients.
But Italian recipes can also be difficult to make vegan because they often use dairy products... I'm looking at you, cheese!
Fret not! There are plenty of vegan substitutions for the dairy and meat-based ingredients. View my vegan substitutions for commonly used animal-based Italian ingredients below.
Popular Vegan Italian Dishes
When I think of Italian dishes that are vegan, I think of the numerous Italian pasta recipes, pizza (of course!), pesto dishes, soups, and delicious bread.
Vegan Italian Ingredients
Many Italian ingredients are vegan. Vegan Italian ingredients include:
- Pasta / Noodles - spaghetti, rigatoni, linguine
- Sauces - marinara, simple tomato sauce, pesto (without parmesan), aglio e olio
- Legumes - chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans, fava beans
- Leafy Greens - spinach, arugula, lettuce, kale
- Fruits & Vegetables - olives, peppers, eggplant, cherry tomatoes
- Fungi - mushrooms
- Oils and Vinegars - olive oil, balsamic vinegar
- Herbs, Spices and Leaves - basil, Italian parsley, garlic, cilantro / coriander
Non-Vegan Italian Ingredients
Even with its emphasis on few and simple ingredients, there still are a few ingredients that you'll need to watch out for if you're trying to make a vegan Italian recipe.
Meats such as sausage, pepperoni, and chicken are often found in Italian pasta dishes. Other Italian meats, such as prosciutto, salami and bologna are popular in Italian sandwiches or as finger foods. If the dish contains meat, it is not vegan.
Italy is surrounded by the sea on three sides, so seafood is also commonly found in Italian dishes. If the dish contains seafood, it is not vegan.
Pesto is a sauce common in Italian dishes, but one of its base ingredients is a hard cheese, so pesto sauce is not vegan. But you can easily make it vegan with my Classic Vegan Pesto Sauce Recipe!
To find vegan substitutes for these ingredients, see below.
How To Make Italian Recipes Vegan
Again, if you're cooking for yourself at home, it's easy to make a vegan version of popular non-vegan Italian dishes.
For a vegan substitute for meats commonly found in Italian pasta dishes or on pizzas, I would recommend buying store-bought vegan faux-meats. We like Impossible Meats, Beyond Meats, or Field Roast.
For a vegan substitute for parmesan cheese, try my vegan parmesan cheese recipe.
As for a vegan substitute for other cheeses, try store-bought versions from Miyoko's, Daiya, Violife and Field Roast.
If you're looking for a vegan alternative to Caesar dressing, try my dairy-free Vegan Caesar Dressing.
Love pesto? I've got two vegan pesto recipes - my Classic Vegan Pesto Sauce recipe and my Vegan Pumpkin Seed Pesto recipe - for you to try!
Need to use butter in your vegan Italian recipe? Try Earth Balance.
Food Regions of Italy
Did you know that each region of Italy has its own distinct recipes, flavors and taste? If you're interested in learning more about what makes each region different (and want to impress your friends by creating a vegan Italian menu from a certain region), check out this article on the food regions of Italy on Wikipedia.
Shapes of Italian Pasta
I'm fascinated and amazed by all of the different shapes and textures of pasta that there are in Italian pasta dishes! Here is a helpful article from Country Living on the different types and shapes of pasta that you can experiment with in your vegan Italian dishes.
13 Healthy Vegan Italian Recipes List
Pasta, pizza, pesto and paninis! These vegan Italian recipes are adapted from classic Italian recipes that your whole family will love!
Vegan Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Made with fresh basil and beautiful pumpkin seeds, this Vegan Pumpkin Seed Pesto can take any meal from boring to delicious!
Vegan Vegetable Lasagna Recipe
This lasagna is thick and creamy and has so much great texture. You've got the chewy noodles, the creamy tofu "ricotta" filling, the crunchy vegetables and the rich pasta sauce. All of those elements combined make for an amazing, flavorful meal!
One-Pot Creamy Marinara Pasta
Whip up a healthy, comforting meal in no-time with this pantry-friendly One-Pot Creamy Marinara Pasta that is both vegan and gluten free!
Classic Vegan Pesto Sauce Recipe
Packed with fresh basil and cheesy nutritional yeast, this Classic Vegan Pesto Sauce Recipe is one you'll want to make all year round!
Vegan Pink Pasta Sauce
Enjoy the perfect blend of marinara and white sauce with this rich and creamy Vegan Pink Pasta Sauce.
4 Ingredient Italian White Bean Pasta Salad
Made using store bought bruschetta and canned beans, this 4 Ingredient White Bean Pasta Salad is the easiest summer hosting dish!
Vegan Sausage Pesto Pasta with Broccoli
When you want a flavorful, well-balanced meal without much work, whip up this 8 ingredient Vegan Sausage Pesto Pasta with Broccoli recipe!
Whole Wheat No-Yeast No-Rise Vegan Pizza Dough
This 5 ingredient, Whole Wheat No-Yeast No-Rise Vegan Pizza Dough is a quick, easy and healthy alternative to take-out pizzas that you can make any night of the week!
Easy Vegan Pizza Bread
Stuffed with rich tomato sauce and melted vegan cheese, this easy vegan Pizza Bread makes for a delicious entree or appetizer!
Vegan Pizza Panini
Stuffed with spicy Italian sausage and melty vegan cheese, this Vegan Pizza Panini is a fun and unique way to satisfy your pizza craving!
Vegan Pizza Soup
With a base of hearty vegetables and spicy Italian vegan sausages, this Vegan Pizza Soup is a delicious meal for anytime of year.
Vegan Caesar Dressing
Creamy, rich and zesty, this Vegan Caesar Dressing is something you'll want in your fridge all year round!
Vegan Parmesan Cheese
Made with 4 pantry staple ingredients and 10 minutes of hands-on time, you'll want to have this Vegan Parmesan Cheese on hand all-year-round!
Vegan Italian Recipes FAQ
Yes, the basic ingredients of marinara sauce are tomatoes, garlic, onions, and a few spices. It can be made with or without oil.
Yes! Check out my Super Simple Oil Free Marinara Sauce.
It depends! Healthy Italian food is made from whole-food, plant-based ingredients that are naturally delicious. But Italian food can also be loaded with butter, oils, cheeses and meats that are high in calories, saturate fats, and cholesterol in which case it would not be considered healthy.
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