How many times have you spotted a mouthwatering meatless recipe only to flee in panic after one glance at the seemingly endless ingredient list?
Cooking shouldn't—and doesn't have to—overwhelm you. You don't have to use every seasoning and spice in the cabinet to make a meal that's packed with flavor, even if it's vegetarian.
The 20 recipes below require five or fewer ingredients, showing that when it comes to making meals that are satisfying and healthy, less really can be more.
The key to cooking with minimal ingredients? Choosing those that have complex and striking flavors. This buckwheat noodle dish is a great example: Antioxidant-rich honey adds sweetness, while tangy rice vinegar adds a sour flavor. Plus, sliced cucumbers provide crunch with every bite of noodles. This dish is anything but bland.
Bursting with fresh peas and juicy cherry tomatoes, this bright and beautiful pasta is as fun to look at as it is delicious. A minimal "sauce" (if we can even call it that) of olive oil, salt, and pepper lets the flavors of the vegetables shine—and trust us, produce that's fresh and in season has a lot of flavor.
Stirred with salsa and served right in the shell (so cute!), this spaghetti squash dinner won't give you the carb coma that a big bowl of pasta might. But don't worry that you'll be hungry again an hour later—the egg, along with half an avocado per serving, gives these boats plenty of vitamin-packed healthy fats to keep you full.
4. "Hungry Guy" Burgers
They weren't given this name by accident. Stuffed with black beans, oats, and whole-wheat bread, these hearty, protein- and fiber-rich patties (10 and 8 grams per serving, respectively) are filling enough to satiate even that friend who insists a meal isn't complete without meat. For an extra-filling meal, serve them on buns or on top of greens for a lighter option.
OK, so the 30-minute marinating time for the sauce in this crispy (but not fried) tofu dish does require a bit of extra planning, but it doesn't complicate the actual cooking process, and it's totally worth the wait. The best part? Even if you cook a side of brown rice with it, you're still clocking in at less than five main ingredients overall.
Use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables here to save on chopping time while still packing in the vitamins, fiber, and of course, color. Using brown rice and whisking in a few eggs adds extra protein to this better-for-you take on takeout.
Just a few sprigs of rosemary and some fresh (not canned!) Parmesan take a frittata from a casual breakfast-for-dinner option to an elegant, 5-ingredient evening meal. Meanwhile, chickpeas add even more protein to the egg dish, shutting down any lingering myths that vegetarians don't get enough of it.
The addition of spinach upgrades this simple but popular restaurant side to a more balanced, entrée-level dish. Plus, the combination of rice and beans counts as a meat-free complete protein, meaning it's not just a delicious and quick meal to put together, but also provides all the essential amino acids you need.
Call it cheating or a much-needed convenience, prepared crust is your friend in this recipe. Top it with some sautéed kale, mushrooms, and an entire head of roasted garlic (one of the most delicious ways to enjoy the cancer-fighting veggie!) before baking for a simple spin on pizza night.
Who says Mexican food needs to be loaded with sour cream and cheese to taste good? Cumin and a jar of salsa have more than enough spice and tang to make this vegan entrée mouthwatering, while quinoa is the protein- and calcium-rich alternative to rice.
While the recipe calls for either frozen hash browns or fresh Russet potatoes for the spud element of this soup, we recommend going for the latter to avoid any hidden trans fats lurking in that deep-fried, processed stuff. With cheddar cheese and Cajun seasoning going into the pot too, there'll be no lack of flavor—even if you use the plain potatoes.
If you're looking for an easy and flexible recipe that can suit a variety of diets, consider this four-ingredient take on a Mexican favorite. Going gluten-free? Choose corn or brown rice tortillas. Eating vegan? Sprinkle on some soy cheese. Plus, with avocado and hummus, it's pretty much a given that anyone will enjoy these.
If you have access to even the most basic of pantries, you likely already have everything you need to make this vegan fettuccine dish. With flavorful ingredients like lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and garlic, it turns out you don't need much else to whip up this rich—and healthy—dinner.
A single-serving dinner that needs just 16 minutes and a handful of ingredients? We're in. In a fun departure from regular stuffed white spuds, this sweet potato recipe provides more vitamin A, while its natural sweetness complements the saltiness of the feta and hummus. You don't have to share—dig in!
These fritters are the foodie equivalent of that old saying, "Good things come in small packages." Each little pancake contains a dollop of each of your daily macronutrients, like protein from the eggs, carbohydrates from the flour, and some healthy fat thanks to the good glug of vegetable oil they're cooked in.
Forget hours of simmering—this soup comes together in just 20 minutes. The black beans have you covered in the protein, fiber, and disease-fighting antioxidant departments. Throw in some onion and a few dollops of salsa verde for a hefty punch of flavor.
Yes, a fragrant and rich coconut curry can be made with just five ingredients! The coconut milk and red curry paste combo provides a mouthful of flavor, while a supporting cast of broccoli and chickpeas brings the healthy benefits of zinc, iron, and an assortment of vitamins.
Running low on your fiber intake for the day? Turn to this recipe—four of the five main ingredients are veggies. Sautéed in some olive oil and topped with basil, this dish is proof of how easy, satisfying, and delicious plant-based eating is. It can be ready in 15 minutes.
We're game for trying anything if the word "pizza" is involved. In this case, it's oatmeal! While it's a whole-grain alternative to a refined-flour crust, and you're mixing in the ingredients rather than layering them, treat this bowl like you would any regular pizza, from the marinara sauce to your favorite meatless toppings.