20 Easy Japanese Vegetarian Recipes (2023)

These Japanese vegetarian recipes showcase the brilliance of Japanese cooking without any meat involved.

Anybody here obsessed with Japanese food? I’m with you! Japanese recipes aren’t just about wagyu and raw fish.

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From colorful maki to hearty ramen to delectable teriyaki, Japanese cuisine is indeed in a league of its own.

20 Easy Japanese Vegetarian Recipes (1)

But while I’d kill for a slice of A5 Kobe beef, these Japanese dishes are also just as mouthwatering.

From salads to pancakes, this list has it all. They’re so scrumptious, it still surprises me that they’re vegetarian!

From the same creative minds that gave us anime and sushi, here are 20 vegetarian recipes Japan has to offer.

1. Souffle Pancakes

These towering souffle pancakes take the popular breakfast item to a whole new level. Japan has done it again!

In this recipe, the light and fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth pancakes are made even more heavenly with fresh berries and whipped cream.

I’ll be honest that it took me a few tries to nail this one. But one look at these jiggly beauties, and you can already tell they’re worth it.

2. Japanese Rice

If you love rice as much as I do, you’d better learn to make it yourself! With this easy recipe, you’ll get the job done in no time.

Unlike some European cuisines that call for running rice through a sieve to drain water, Asian countries have a much simpler, fool-proof method.

Just remember the 1:1 ratio, and you’re one step closer to perfectly steamed white rice.

3. Teriyaki Sauce

With the perfect balance of sweet and savory, this teriyaki sauce is a kitchen must-have.

Whether you use it as a sauce or a marinade, it will make any food taste a thousand times better.

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This sticky glaze is typically used to flavor salmon and chicken, but it’s also perfect for vegetables!

I can’t get enough of grilled teriyaki eggplant.

It has a pretty impressive shelf-life, too, so go ahead and make a huge batch!

4. Miso-Glazed Carrots

Miso paste is commonly used in many Japanese dishes.

Its unique umami flavor has the power to make anything significantly more amazing. Case in point: these miso-glazed carrots.

By simply roasting carrots alone, the vegetable will develop a deep caramelization and become perfectly awesome.

Add miso to the picture, and it’ll blow your mind.

The combination of sweet and crunchy carrots and umami-packed miso is a match made in heaven!

Carrots have never been this addictive.

5. Yaki Udon

Who can say no to the goodness of yaki udon?

Thick, starchy noodles are coated with an umami-rich sauce and loaded with colorful vegetables. It’s 100% impossible to resist.

While yaki udon typically contains meat, this recipe is a vegetarian-friendly version that, trust me, is just as terrific.

After all, it’s not the meat that’s the star of the dish. It’s those chunky, chewy noodles that make it iconic.

6. Miso Soup

Miso soup is a staple in a Japanese bento. Don’t let its clear broth fool you! This soup is insanely rich in flavor.

The broth is made of dashi, which is an umami-packed soup base made of edible kelp and bonito flakes.

This alone will make your taste buds fall in love.

Adding even more flavor is miso paste, a popular Japanese flavoring that’s also bursting with umami.

Tofu cubes, seaweed, and sliced scallions complete the dish.

7. Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

Onigiri or omusubi are Japanese rice balls wrapped in nori.

Onigiri comes in many shapes and sizes, but it all starts with perfecting the Japanese rice.

This recipe teaches you everything you need to know.

They may be filled with sweet or savory stuffing or enjoyed on their own.

This recipe uses umeboshi or salted plum, but feel free to make it your own.

8. Japanese Cucumber Salad

Japanese cucumber salad is a refreshing side dish brimming with flavor.

Juicy cucumber slices are marinated in a mix of honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil.

It results in a playful contrast of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors.

Pro-tip: you’ll want to let the cucumbers sit in the marinade for at least 20 minutes so they’ll absorb the flavors. It’s worth the wait!

9. Teriyaki Tofu

Tofu cubes are baked and coated in a sticky teriyaki glaze. Top them on a bed of rice and prepare to be mind blown.

It’s perfect if you can’t eat meat but also can’t stop thinking about it.

The tofu really does a good job of recreating the consistency of meat.

The teriyaki sauce brings it to life with its sweet and savory flavors.

10. Spicy Edamame

If you’re having guests over for an impromptu get-together, this 15-minute recipe will save the day.

Crisp and crunchy edamame pods are coated with chili sauce. It sounds so basic, but wait until you hear about the sauce.

Sauteed with sesame oil, garlic, and a bit of salt, this sauce has all the flavors you can ask for.

It’s salty, spicy, and packed with umami!

11. Ohitashi (Boiled Spinach)

Boiled spinach – okay, I know this doesn’t sound at all exciting, but come on, when have I ever failed you?

Yes, this spinach salad is simple, but it delivers. The secret is ohitashi.

Ohitashi is a Japanese cooking method where vegetables are steeped in dashi sauce.

The technique gives the humble spinach a subtle, yet wonderful umami flavor.

This side dish is a great component of any Japanese bento because its flavor isn’t overwhelming.

12. Kombu Dashi

Dashi is traditionally made of bonito flakes and baby anchovy… so as you may have guessed, it’s not vegetarian-friendly.

Thanks to this alternative, though, you can still enjoy the goodness of the umami-rich broth without breaking your diet.

Dried shiitake mushrooms and kelp are soaked in water to create a rich and flavorful broth!

It may not be as flavorful as traditional dashi, but it’s still pretty fantastic.

13. Japanese Miso Eggplant

My first encounter with the miso eggplant was at a Japanese restaurant, where I saw a waiter bringing the gorgeous dish to the table right across from mine.

I had no idea what it was then, and I was already stuffed with what I had ordered.

When I finally got to experience the dish, I was floored. I never thought eggplant could look and taste that good!

This miso eggplant recipe tastes even better than the one I had at that restaurant, so you can just imagine my glee.

14. Simmered Daikon

Daikon, or white radishes, are cooked in soy-based broth. Here’s another simple-looking dish that will pleasantly surprise your taste buds.

What’s great about radishes is that while they’re bland on their own, they do a fine job absorbing the flavors of whatever they’re soaked into.

In this dish, a blend of dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and salt lends flavor to the radish.

You can enjoy it as is or top it with a bit of wasabi to give the delicate dish a nice kick.

15. Japanese Watercress Salad

Watercress salad has a wonderful combo of sweet, savory, and nutty. Enjoy it as a snack or a side dish for any Japanese meal.

Watercress is a dark and leafy vegetable similar to spinach. Its leaves are tender while its stems are crunchy.

Just like other greens, it takes on the flavor of whatever coats it.

In this recipe, the watercress gets flavor from a mix of peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and mirin. Yum!

The best part? It’s mega-loaded with vitamin K, fiber, and antioxidants!

It’s a great ally if you’re looking to add more nutrition to your diet.

16. Sugar Snap Pea and Carrot Soba Noodles

Let’s take a moment to appreciate how lovely the colors are in this dish!

Carrots and sugar snap peas really make soba noodles even more appetizing.

The ginger sesame sauce makes it sensational.

With a combination of soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, sesame oil, honey, miso, ginger, and garlic sauce, it’s simply to die for.

17. Cucumber Sushi

This recipe is a crunchy take on classic sushi. Cucumber rings are stuffed with avocado, bell pepper, and spicy mayo.

From the color to the crunch and flavor, this sushi variation is definitely a must-try.

18. Japanese Cream Soda

Melon-flavored soda is turned into a delectable dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

While cream sodas aren’t new to us, you might find the green soda a bit unusual.

Melon-flavored soda is a popular carbonated drink in Japan, and it’s really tasty!

19. Honey Toast

A thick block of crunchy, fluffy, honey-coated toast is topped with mini-Oreos, strawberries, chocolate chips, and ice cream.

This is the dessert of my dreams!

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20. Condensed Milk Bread

Condensed milk bread gives me so much joy. It’s as soft and fluffy as can be, and its sweet, buttery flavor is to die for.

Yes, making bread from scratch requires a bit of time and effort, but it only takes one look at this beauty to know it’s worth it.

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20 Best Japanese Vegetarian Recipe Collection

From colorful maki to hearty ramen to delectable teriyaki, these Japanese vegetarian recipes bring an authentic taste of Japan to your table.


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20 Easy Japanese Vegetarian Recipes (4)

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20 Easy Japanese Vegetarian Recipes? ›

Vegetable tempura

One of Japan's most popular foods, tempura always has plenty of vegetable options to choose from. Depending on the season, you could enjoy crispy sweet potato, eggplant, green beans, kabocha (pumpkin) and others deep-fried to perfection.

What is a famous vegetarian food in Japan? ›

Vegetable tempura

One of Japan's most popular foods, tempura always has plenty of vegetable options to choose from. Depending on the season, you could enjoy crispy sweet potato, eggplant, green beans, kabocha (pumpkin) and others deep-fried to perfection.

What does a vegetarian eat in Japan? ›

For more inspiring Japanese cuisine, there are a few dishes you can try, such as vegetable tempura, tsukemono (pickled vegetables), tofu and tofu skin, nasu dengaku (miso-marinated grilled eggplant), zaru soba (boiled and chilled buckwheat noodles), kappa maki (seaweed sushi rolls with cucumber), takuan maki (daikon ...

What is the most famous vegetarian dish? ›

Here are 10 of the best vegetarian dishes from around the world:
  • Falafel. ...
  • Spanakopita. Country: Greece. ...
  • Ratatouille. Country: France. ...
  • Käsespätzle. Country: Austria and Germany. ...
  • Humitas. Country: All across South America! ...
  • Khachapuri. Country: Georgia. ...
  • Zaru Soba. Country: Japan. ...
  • Trofie al pesto. Country: Italy.

What is the most eaten vegetable in Japan? ›

Excluding processed foods (i.e., potato chips or boxed juices), it turns out the most consumed vegetable in Japan is the daikon, measured by absolute weight. Based on the survey, on average Japanese people eat about 33. grams of this vegetable daily.

When did Japan stop being vegetarian? ›

In 1872, Japanese diets took a fast swerve toward meat. That year, on January 24, a feminine-looking, poetry-writing emperor Meiji publicly ate meat for the first time, giving the nation permission to follow his example.

Is Bread in Japan vegetarian? ›

Bakeries in Japan are very popular and offer a variety of bread and baked goods, like curry-filled buns and pillow-like white loaves. However, the majority of bread in Japan contains dairy products and is therefore not vegan-friendly. For those craving bread, the loaf pictured above is a smart option.

Are McDonald's fries vegan in Japan? ›

There are no vegan burgers or desserts. McDonald's in Japan uses beef (presumably lard) to fry their items in, so the fried items like hot apple pie, hash potato and french fries all contain beef. Some of the flavored “Shaka Shaka Potatoes” (fries with seasoning) also contain additional animal ingredients.

Which country has the most vegetarian food? ›

India is thought to have the most vegetarians globally, with up to 42% of the population avoiding meat products.

What is the national vegetable of Japan? ›

Daikon (giant white radish)

Daikon is a very popular and versatile vegetable.

Who is the king of vegetarian? ›

Answer: The Vegetable King is Brinjal: We all require vegetables in our diets, and they are, without a doubt, helpful to our health. None of us would have ever considered which vegetable has earned the title of “King of Vegetables”.

What is a junk food vegetarian? ›

What is a Junk Food Vegan? A junk food vegan is a vegan who regularly consumes highly processed foods that are primarily made in science labs. Some popular choices are the famous Oreo biscuits as well as a variety of vegan “cheeses.”

Who is world's largest vegetarian? ›

According to the Stats of 2022, India Leads the World with the Highest Percentage of Vegetarians at 42% (Rferl) Rferl found that India has the population with the most vegetarians out of all countries at 31-42%, with Mexico coming in second place with 19% and Brazil in third place with 14%.

How popular is vegetarianism in Japan? ›

CountryVegetarians (% of population)Approx. no. of individuals
41 more rows

Is vegetarian sushi popular in Japan? ›

Kappamaki is simply cucumber in a sushi roll. Many vegetarian sushi dishes tend to be seasonal. Over the last decade the number of vegetarian sushi dishes offered at Japanese sushi shops has been incrementally increasing. More people need to learn to eat vegetarian sushi.

Does Japan have vegetarian sushi? ›

Vegetarian sushi is not easy to find in Japan, but it is possible. Look out for kappa-maki (seaweed rolls with cucumber) and takuan-maki (pickled daikon radish roll). You can also find sushi rolls made with umeboshi (pickled plum), natto (fermented soybean), and egg.

Why is Japanese cuisine often vegetarian? ›

It was Buddhism that made vegetarianism popular in Japan, and its influence remains today. In many Buddhist temples, you can eat vegetarian: shogun ryori. On Koyasan, one can eat shojin ryori, Japanese, Buddhist vegetarian food, prepared by the monks.


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