Over the last month, I’ve spent a lot of time breaking down some of the best sources of vegan protein. Dishes like seitan, pasta, vegan BBQ, and vegan burgers are great main dishes. However, the main dish is always better with an awesome side dish to compliment the flavor!
Thankfully, some of the most popular side dishes in the world are already vegan. Think of sides like bread, roasted veggies, and rice… Dishes like these are almost always vegan, to begin with.
However, there are also some creative ways of turning non-vegan favorites like mac n cheese or nachos into vegan-friendly sides as well.
Whether you’re making a large side dish for a party or you just need something small for your next at-home dinner, you’ve come to the right place! Below, I’ll show you some of the best vegan side dishes that are simple, easy, and fun to make.
Best of all? They’re guaranteed to impress.
The Best Vegan Side Dishes For Potluck
I love potluck dinners. I have about seven really close vegan friends who live in my city. Every month, we all try to get together at one of our houses and we each bring a dish to contribute to the party. That way, everybody eats well and we all get to taste something new and different!
So, with that in mind, here are the best vegan side dishes to take to a potluck dinner.
1) Vegan Mac’n’Cheese
Mac’n’Cheese was always a family favorite growing up and used to be the main reason I said that I was “never going vegan” as a teenager. Then, I learned about vegan mac n cheese!
It might sound complicated, but I promise you that vegan mac n cheese is actually one of the simplest, fastest vegan sides that you can cook.
If you think about mac n cheese, there’s really only one thing that’s not vegan – the cheese. The pasta shells are just made of water, wheat flour, and salt, so they’re completely vegan. This means you just have to find a way of substituting the cheese for a vegan, dairy-free cheese alternative!
To start with, just boil and strain some pasta shells. Then lay them out in a large oven dish.
While the shells are still hot, cover them with a vegan cheese sauce, and layer in slices of vegan cheddar (yes, there are different types of vegan cheese). This will give you an incredibly cheesy vegan mac n cheese.
I’m a big fan of the flavor, though. So after I mix the cheese into the noodles, I like to sprinkle in a healthy amount of nutritional yeast along with a few of my favorite seasonings, like cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a dash of lemon pepper.
Last but not least, I put the final product in the oven and broil the top on high for about 5 minutes. This gives it a slightly crispy char on top that makes it taste authentic.
2) Tofu Fried Rice
Fried rice is a classic Chinese side that’s filling, savory, and enjoyed by almost everybody. It’s also very easy to make at home and is a lot healthier than the oil-heavy fried rice that you’ll get from your local delivery spot.
To start with, boil your favorite rice. I typically use jasmine rice or basmati rice, as they have a subtle floral flavor that I really enjoy.
Once the rice is all cooked, you’ll toss it into a frying pan with a bit of oil and your favorite savory sauce. Then, fold in some small squares of firm tofu for protein. I like to use Coco Aminos, a savory soy-like sauce that’s made from distilled coconut flowers in Indonesia.
It’s that simple.
From here, you can add your own seasonings or just keep it basic!
3) Vegan Nachos
Bringing vegan nachos to the potluck will make you one of the most popular guests at the party! I mean, who doesn’t like nachos?
The best part is that they’re super easy to make, and there are tons of different ways to make them, so you can customize your vegan nachos to your heart’s desire.
To start with, you’ll need your favorite tortilla chips (which are almost always vegan). Next, you’ll want to lay them out on a baking sheet so that the toppings can spread out evenly.
The main topping I put on my vegan nachos is vegan nacho cheese. Then, I start adding extra toppings to spice it up and add texture and flavor. My favorite nacho toppings include:
- Black beans
- Diced jalapenos or serrano peppers
- Chopped vegan “meat” like Beyond Meat
- Diced tomatoes
- Hot sauce
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Jackfruit BBQ
Once I put all of my toppings on the nachos, I put them on broil in the oven for about six or seven minutes. This is just enough to heat up the cheese without burning the other ingredients!
Here’s another great vegan nacho recipe to follow at home:
Easy Vegan Side Dishes For BBQ
Now, it’s time to show you some easy vegan side dishes for BBQ! These classics are bound to impress anybody who appreciates traditional BBQ flavor.
4) Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potato fries are super easy to make and are actually a healthier alternative to regular French fries. You can deep fry them in oil or air fry them. Personally, I like to air fry them, as they’re not quite as heavy and have a lighter flavor to them.
To start with, you’ll need to wash and peel a few sweet potatoes. Then, you can either use a knife or a special fry slicer to cut the potato into thin strips that resemble fries.
From here, you’ll want to put them in a large container, cover them with water, and let them sit overnight. This process is called blanching.
The next day, take them out of the fridge and cook them! I liked to drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of them and cook them in my air fryer. Once they’re out of the oven, you can top them with a bit of seasoning salt or nutritional yeast for a cheesy kick.
5) Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are incredibly simple and are a BBQ classic. The only thing that makes vegan mashed potatoes different is that they don’t contain any dairy or butter. Instead, you’ll use vegan butter and oat milk to make your mashed potatoes creamy.
All you need to do is boil a bunch of potatoes till they’re extra-soft, then mash them in a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of your favorite vegan butter and a bit of oat milk. Then, add a bit of salt for seasoning!
The Best Vegan Side Dishes For Pasta
Pasta is one of my favorite Italian dishes and it deserves a great-tasting Italian side to compliment it. So, here are some of the best vegan side dishes for pasta!
6) Baked Bread With Olive Oil & Red Pepper Dip
One of the easiest sides is simple toasted bread and olive oil appetizer. To start with, you’ll want to bake a loaf of your favorite vegan bread or some type of whole grain bread that doesn’t contain any dairy or white sugar.
Just put the loaf in the oven for five or ten minutes and it should be perfect – crisp on the outside, soft on the inside.
For the dip, I like to pour a bit of extra virgin olive oil into a dipping tray and sprinkle some crushed red pepper and oregano on top. Cut the bread into thin slices and dip it in your homemade olive oil dip!
7) Chopped Olive Salad
Chopped olive salad is simple, easy, and incredibly savory! To start with, get two different types of olives, dice them up, and put them in a bowl. Then, dice up a pepperoncini pepper, a small pickled onion, a clove of garlic, a few slices of tomatoes, and add some capers.
Next, pour a few teaspoons of fresh extra virgin olive oil over the mixture and squeeze a whole lemon over the olive salad to give it a flavorful kick. From here you can serve it or add more seasonings to give it a spicier kick!
Conclusion – What’s The Most Versatile Vegan Side Dish?
I’d have to say that vegan nachos are the best vegan side dish! Not only are they incredibly fast and easy to make but you can also customize nachos and make them in a bunch of different ways, depending on the ingredients you’re working with.
Plus, everybody likes nachos.
If you’re looking for a great main dish to go with your side, I definitely recommend checking out my list of the best vegan plant burgers next!