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 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.
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
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.