15+ Easy Vegan Vegetable Side Dishes
5 from 2 votes

If you’re trying to eat more vegetables or to create more balanced and complete meals, these 15+ easy vegan vegetable side dishes are for you! No matter which type of vegetables you love to eat, you’ll find a low-stress recipe to add color, flavor, and texture to your plate.

An overhead image of a bowl of steamed green beans, which are topped with a small row of sliced almonds.

As a recipe developer, I tend to place a lot of emphasis on meals. When I wrote my cookbook Power Plates, that was actually the whole hook: a book in which each “recipe” was a balanced meal.

The reasoning behind this choice is simple: practicing as a dietitian has shown me that many people are prone to skimping or skipping out on a macronutrient when they build a meal.

Specifically, they might craft a plate that’s got plenty of carbs and healthful fats, but not enough (or any) plant protein.

Or perhaps there are carbs and protein, but the meal is lacking a sauce or vinaigrette, some avocado, some nut butter, or another source of fat.

As busy individuals with demanding lives, we need breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas. The more balanced they are—the more they supply the macronutrients that keep us energized and healthy—the better.

Yet we need to eat our vegetables, too. That’s what today’s roundup of easy vegan vegetable side dishes is all about!

The value of a vegetable side dish

Sometimes an easy side dish is the difference between a meal that feels incomplete and a meal that’s wonderfully satisfying.

Some of this satisfaction is physical—in other words, our felt sensation of fullness. Vegetables are great sources of dietary fiber, and research suggests that fiber can help to keep us feeling full.

A close up image of a cross-section of cut red cabbage.

Some of it is sensory. Vegetables add color and beauty to our plates.

They provide texture contrast, too, whether that’s the creamy interior of a baked sweet potato, the crunch of a crisp salad, or the tenderness of oven roasted beets.

Finally, vegetable sides can instantly uplevel the nutritional quality of our meals.

The fiber that helps us to feel full is also beneficial for our digestive health, and it’s associated with cardiac health as well.

Regular consumption of phytonutrients, which are the plant-based pigments that give vegetables their brilliant colors, is associated with reduced rates of a number of chronic diseases.

A diet rich in varied phytonutrients—which is to say, a diet that’s visually colorful—may also help to offset some of the biological stress associated with aging.

Raw, unpeeled red beets are resting in a white serving bowl.

All of this is good reason for vegetables to be well-represented on one’s plate. In fact, the USDA’s MyPlate tool suggests that about half of one’s plate should be fruits or vegetables.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I like MyPlate overall, but I don’t always recommend that it be followed strictly.

Those in recovery from eating disorders and disordered eating, for example, often have a habit of relying on vegetables excessively because they know that vegetables tend to be high in fiber and low in calories. A plate that’s 50% carbohydrate, with a smaller portion of vegetables, is often the more healthful choice for them.

Folks with delicate digestive systems may also need to aim for more modest portions of vegetables. Fiber benefits digestion in some ways, but a lot of it can be irritating for IBS, IBD, and those with sensitivities to fermentable carbohydrates.

In other words, the point of this post isn’t for me to dictate how much vegetables any individual should be eating, or to suggest that more is always better. As an RD, I know that appropriate vegetable consumption, along with every other dietary choice, varies from individual to individual.

With that said, research shows that many Americans eat too few fruits and vegetables.

I’ve observed time and time again—with myself as an occasional case study!—how vegetable consumption can dwindle in the face of a hectic schedule and limited time to cook.

That’s why it’s so important to have vegetable side dish recipes that are quick and easy.

An overhead image of vibrant green, steamed baby broccoli, resting on a white surface.
Drying and cooling the broccolini helps to preserve its crispness and allows it to soak up dressing or sauce more easily.

Low stress sides

When I’m home, trying to feed myself after a long day, I need vegetable side dishes that are uncomplicated.

My goal is to augment the nutrition and add to the abundance of my meal without creating too much extra work.

Of course I always aim for my recipes to have some layering of texture and flavor. But these days I need to strike a balance between culinary finesse and convenience.

This list will include such easy options as a butter lettuce side salad, oven-roasted beets that require almost no effort, and two steamed green vegetable dishes that come together in about fifteen minutes.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

In the time I’ve spent cooking and doing weekly vegan meal prep, I’ve learned a few overall best practices, if you will, for making low-stress vegan vegetable side dishes.

Here are some of the tips that I think are most important.

A parchment lined baking sheet is topped with raw vegetables in a buttery glaze.

Tip #1: Let the oven do the work

Roasting is an easy, hands-off way to add lots of flavor to vegetables.

Tip #2: Rely on frozen vegetables as much as you’d like to

I love frozen vegetables. They’re fast, convenient, and forgiving.

Whereas there’s a decent chance that fresh vegetables might expire on my watch during a busy week, frozen vegetables will wait patiently in my freezer until I’m ready to prepare them.

An overhead image of a silver colored oven baking sheet, which is topped with roasted cauliflower.
When the florets finish roasting, they should be browning on the exterior and very tender.

Roasted frozen cauliflower florets might be the type of frozen vegetable that I make the most often. But I also microwave a lot of frozen broccoli florets, green beans, peas, and mixed vegetables.

A little vegan buttah, salt, and pepper is all I need in order to enjoy any of the above, but salad dressing can be a nice topping, too.

Tip 3: Sauces and dressings are your friend

Speaking of dressing, many people are scarred by childhood memories of bland, un-dressed, mushy vegetables.

A wonderful sauce or salad dressing can be transformative. Tahini dressing turns humble steamed broccolini into a dish that’s memorable enough for entertaining.

Miso butter makes my all-time favorite roasted Brussels sprouts come to life.

A vinaigrette-style marinade transforms roasted beets into a versatile side dish or grain bowl component.

Vegan yellow cheese sauce is one of my favorite things to spoon over baked potatoes or steamed broccoli.

If you’re scratching your head about how to make a seemingly plain vegetable come to life, look no further than a drizzle of your favorite dressing or sauce.

Step 4: Be realistic about what you buy

We’ve all been there: the container of salad greens that we optimistically thought we’d turn into a salad has turned into a wilted, soggy mess after going unused all week long.

This is why it pays to be realistic about the vegetables that you purchase.

If I had to identify the two or three main lessons that I’ve gathered from my work as a dietitian, it’s that most of us cling to fantasy in a way that ultimately holds us back.

We plan for the lives we wish we were living, rather than the lives we’re actually inhabiting.

This shows up in a lot of ways. It can look like bookmarking recipes that are overly elaborate and then not making them.

It might take the form of refusing to place a grocery order for delivery, even though we don’t have time to get to the store.

Or perhaps we create a meal prep plan that’s far too ambitious, and ultimately we do zero meal prep as a result of our self-imposed overwhelm.

As someone who is all too prone to an excess of optimism in the planning stages of any task, I understand these patterns all too well.

I’ve also learned that the best cooking or meal prep plan is the plan that will actually happen.

To make a long story short: if you continually buy delicate vegetables that are likely to expire quickly, like salad greens, consider vegetables with a longer shelf life.

These include:

  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Turnips and rutabaga
  • Onions
  • Winter squash

And of course, bags of frozen veggies will last for months.

Are there vegetable side dishes that I can freeze?

This is a great question. If storage is a priority for you, then it may be helpful to freeze prepared vegetables.

In spite of being a person who freezes nearly anything and everything, I don’t often freeze vegetables that I’ve already prepared. Vegetables have a high water content, so freezing and defrosting can impact their texture considerably.

However, there are some vegetables that I have no qualms about freezing, once prepared. They include:

  • Braised red cabbage
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Baked or roasted sweet potatoes
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Roasted beets

What makes these vegetable side dishes vegan?

Of course, you may be wondering whether “vegan vegetable side dish” is sort of a redundant classification.

Actually, though, a lot of vegetable side dish recipes include cheese, butter, or yogurt. I’m often surprised at how tough it can be to find flavorful, fun vegetable side dish recipes online that don’t include dairy.

The list I’m sharing today is both dairy and egg-free.

This doesn’t mean that there can’t be creamy or buttery qualities in these side dish recipes. For example, you can always use vegan butter in place of dairy butter.

You can use all-purpose cashew cream, vegan yogurt, or vegan sour cream in place of their non-vegan counterparts.

When it comes to replacing cheese, there are plenty of excellent commercial vegan cheeses nowadays. But I also have a whole section of this blog dedicated to homemade vegan cheeses.

My favorites? 10-minute vegan ricotta cheese, cashew parmesan cheese, vegan feta cheese (made with tofu), and go-to cashew cheese.

15+ Easy Vegan Vegetable Side Dishes

Without further ado, here are the vegan vegetable side dishes that have filled my plates with color, made my taste buds happy, and flooded my body with micronutrients through hectic weeks, slow weeks, and all of the weeks in-between.

Braised Red Cabbage
This is my favorite recipe for braised red cabbage! It's tart, salty, and a little sweet, thanks to the addition of sliced apples.
An angled photograph of braised red cabbage, resting on a white surface.
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Miso Butter Brussels Sprouts
These miso butter Brussels sprouts are the best roasted Brussels sprouts I've eaten! They're salty, sweet, and savory, thanks to vegan miso butter and maple syrup. The Brussels sprouts are a perfect side dish for the holiday season or winter gatherings.
A white, ceramic bowl is filled with glazed miso butter Brussels sprouts. It rests on a white surface.
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Simple Oven Roasted Beets (No Peeling Required!)
Roasted beets are one of my favorite vegetables to meal prep. This is my go-to method and simple recipe for roasting beets in the oven—and there's no peeling required.
Red, roasted beets have been meal prepped are are held in a clear, glass storage container.
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Marinated beets
This is my go-to recipe for marinated beets. The beets are sweet and tangy, made with a simple vinaigrette. They’re a perfect component for adding to grain bowls or salads, and they also make a nice side dish.
A small, round white bowl has been filled with marinated beets.
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Simple Steamed Broccolini with Tahini Dressing
Simple steamed broccolini with tahini dressing is one of my favorite, quick and easy vegetable side dish to whip up at a moment's notice. The broccolini becomes crisp tender and mildly sweet with steaming. You can choose your favorite tahini dressing to add flavor, a creamy sauce, and healthful fats—and I provide lots of dressing options to help inspire you!
An overhead image of bright green, steamed broccolini resting on a white, round plate. The broccolini is drizzled with a creamy white tahini dressing.
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Roasted Frozen Cauliflower Florets
If you've ever wondered whether you can roast frozen frozen vegetables directly from the bag, then this recipe for roasted frozen cauliflower florets is for you! The florets are savory and super tasty, and they're incredibly easy to make. Consider this recipe a perfect last-minute vegetable side dish.
An overhead image of a white bowl, which is filled with roasted frozen cauliflower florets that are topped with flaky sea salt.
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Oven Roasted Eggplant Cubes with Balsamic Vinegar
This oven roasted eggplant with balsamic vinegar is my favorite simple way to prepare eggplant. It's hands-off, flavorful, and versatile. You can serve the eggplant as a simple side dish, add it to grain bowls or salads, or fold it into your favorite pasta dish. If you're a little intimidated by cooking eggplant, this is the starter recipe for you!
A white, ceramic bowl is filled with roasted vegetables and tiny leaves of fresh, green basil.
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Crunchy Red Cabbage Apple Slaw with Tahini
Nothing beats a great slaw recipe, and this crunchy red cabbage apple slaw is so unique! It features a tahini-based dressing, rather than vinaigrette or mayonnaise. The slaw also has shelled hemp hearts for protein and texture.
An overhead image of a crunchy slaw of apple and red cabbage, which is held in a small white bowl.
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Tahini Mint Kale Salad
This tahini mint kale salad features a bright, creamy, colorful dressing that's made with a tahini and fresh mint base. It's sweet, savory, tangy, and herbaceous—plus, it's so simple to make!
A white, rimmed salad plate has been piled with kale, chickpeas, raisins, and a creamy, tahini-based dressing.
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Spice Roasted Cabbage Steak Wedges
These spice roasted cabbage steak wedges will add flavor, nutrition, and substance to your plant-based plates! They're made with a spice blend of turmeric, coriander, cumin, and black pepper. The cabbage wedges steam cook before they finish roasting, which gives them incredible, tender texture. Serve them with whole grains, a vegan protein, and a drizzle of sauce for a wholesome meal.
A wedge of spice-roasted cabbage steak is resting on a small, round plate, drizzled with some white creamy sauce.
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Colorful, Crunchy Turmeric Slaw
This colorful, crunchy turmeric slaw is a celebration of plant-powered nutrition! Cabbage, carrots, collard greens, sprouts, and cilantro are brought together by a golden-hued turmeric tahini dressing. The slaw is a perfect accompaniment to sandwiches, wraps, soups, whole grains, and noodle dishes.
An overhead image of a bowl of colorful turmeric slaw, prepared with mixed vegetables and garnished with sesame seeds.
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My Favorite Butter Lettuce Side Salad
This is my favorite, quick and easy butter lettuce side salad. It's the perfect fresh, green accompaniment to any lunch or dinner. The salad features round, tender butter lettuce leaves and a simple Champagne vinaigrette. It's versatile, crowd-pleasing, and nutritious.
An overhead image of a round white bowl, which has been filled with a fresh green butter lettuce salad.
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Whole Roasted Lemon Tahini Cauliflower and Sauce
This whole roasted lemon tahini cauliflower is tender, flavorful, and incredibly easy to make. It's also the most elegant and impressive centerpiece for entertaining, and it can be enjoyed by everyone: vegans, gluten-free eaters, and enthusiastic omnivores! The secret of the recipe is a tangy lemon tahini dressing with a hint of harissa spice.
Whole roasted lemon tahini cauliflower is resting on a round, marble serving platter. The platter is on a white surface.
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Crispy Broccoli Caesar Salad
This vegan crispy broccoli Caesar is a fun, flavorful, creative spin on the classic recipe! It features roasted broccoli, fresh bread crumbs, and vegan parmesan for loads of flavor.
An angled shot of a vegan crispy broccoli Caesar salad, with fresh bread crumbs scattered over the marble surface.
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Radicchio Brussels Sprout Salad
This colorful radicchio Brussels sprout salad with cranberries and pistachios will add cheer to any holiday table—along with flavor, crunch, and nutrition!
A white salad plate has been topped with a colorful, crunchy radicchio and Brussels sprout salad. It rests on a white surface.
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Quick Steamed Green Beans with Dijon Vinaigrette
If you're rushing to get dinner on the table and need an easy vegetable side dish to pair with it, then these quick steamed green beans with Dijon vinaigrette are for you! Ready in about fifteen minutes, this is one of my favorite low-key side dishes, and it's packed with good nutrition.
An image of a white ceramic bowl, which has been filled with brightly colored green beans and topped with sliced almonds and a vinaigrette.
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Quick Steamed Green Beans with Dijon Vinaigrette

I know that I shared these lovely, crisp tender green beans only a few weeks ago. But, when I saw that a good friend had made and loved them just before Christmas, I knew that I wanted to feature them in this roundup.

Green beans are so underrated, if you ask me. They’re inexpensive and easy to find at many times of year where I live.

You can purchase green beans fresh, frozen, or in one of those handy “steam-in-bag” packages that’s meant for the microwave.

An overhead image of a whitish gray, rimmed ceramic bowl.
Aim to steam your green beans until they’re tender, yet still a bit crisp, and their bright green color is preserved.

My favorite method for cooking green beans is to steam them. And my favorite way to serve the cooked beans is with a zippy, French-inspired Dijon vinaigrette, along with some toasted, sliced almonds.

This is an easy vegan vegetable side dish that you can make year-round, whether you’re busy or relaxed, cooking for one or serving a group.

I’ve won even stubborn green bean skeptics over with this simple recipe. I hope that it will win you over, too.

An image of a white ceramic bowl, which has been filled with brightly colored green beans and topped with sliced almonds and a vinaigrette.
5 from 2 votes

15+ Easy Vegan Vegetable Side Dishes: Quick Steamed Green Beans with Dijon Vinaigrette

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces green beans, regular or French style, trimmed (360g)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon champagne, sherry, or white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • A few turns freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced or slivered toasted almonds (30g)

Instructions

  • Fill a pot with a few inches of water and fit it with a steamer insert. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add 12 oz trimmed green beans and steam for 5-6 minutes, or until the beans are entirely tender, but not mushy. Remove the beans from the steamer insert and place them onto a serving dish (or in a storage container, if you're meal prepping). 
  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper. Pour this over the green beans and mix them in order to distribute the dressing. Top the green beans with the sliced almonds. Serve or store for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

There’s a new year around the corner. Whether you already eat plenty of plants or are trying to eat more of them, I hope that this roundup will give you new ideas.

Even as I was writing it, I realized how repetitive I can become with my own vegetable side dishes, and I felt inspired to rediscover other favorites.

Wishing everyone rest and hope as this week wraps up and we move into 2024!

xo

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Categories: Uncategorized, Side Dishes
Dietary Preferences: Vegan
Recipe Features: 30 Minute or Less

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