Best Vegetarian Chinese Food

You might have assumed that Chinese food isn’t for vegetarians if you are one. You might be shocked to learn that there are lots of excellent and filling vegetarian Chinese cuisine. Vegetarians can find several vegetarian options in Chinese cuisine, including stir-fried noodles and steamed dumplings. Sesame noodles are one of the most well-liked vegetarian Chinese cuisines.

portrait of people cooking healthy vegetarian chinese food capcay

Sesame oil, garlic, sesame paste, vinegar, and occasionally peanut butter and/or chili sauce are the usual ingredients used to make these noodles.

They’re a terrific choice for vegetarians because they’re frequently served with tofu and/or vegetables.

Cucumber salad prepared in the Sichuan manner, with Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, chili oil, and cucumbers, is another well-liked meal.

This meal is cooling and spicy, making it ideal for sweltering summer days.

Don’t worry if you like Chinese food but are vegetarian; there are many vegetarian options available.

Chinese cuisine has something for everyone, whether you’re searching for something hot or something gentle, something savory or something sweet.

You won’t be let down if you try one of these vegetarian meals the next time you’re craving Chinese food.

The Basics of Vegetarian Chinese Food

Finding your way around the menu can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with vegetarian Chinese food.

Baby Bok choy or chinese cabbage in oyster sauce

When ordering or preparing vegetarian Chinese food, bear the following principles in mind:

  • Rice and noodles: Rice and noodles are staples in Chinese cuisine and are often served as a base for dishes. Fried rice, steamed rice, lo mein, and chow mein are all vegetarian-friendly options.
  • Vegetables: Chinese cuisine is known for its use of fresh vegetables, and many dishes feature a variety of veggies. Popular choices include bok choy, broccoli, snow peas, and mushrooms.
  • Tofu: Tofu is a common source of protein in vegetarian Chinese dishes. It’s made from soybeans and is a versatile ingredient that can be cooked in a variety of ways. It can be fried, baked, grilled, or added to soups and stir-fries.
  • Sauces: Chinese cuisine is known for its flavorful sauces, and vegetarian options are no exception. Soy sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce (which is actually made from mushrooms), and sweet and sour sauce are all vegetarian-friendly options.
  • Spices: Chinese cuisine is also known for its use of spices, and many vegetarian dishes feature a variety of spices and herbs. Garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili peppers are all commonly used.

Be sure to inquire about the ingredients while ordering or preparing vegetarian Chinese food.

By simply taking the meat out or subbing tofu or veggies in its place, many dishes may be turned vegetarian-friendly.

Chinese vegetarian cuisine is delectable if you have a little bit of knowledge and imagination.

Top Vegetarian Chinese Dishes

You could assume that Chinese food is not suitable for vegetarians. However, that is untrue!

Delicious Chinese food

There are many excellent and healthful vegetarian options in Chinese cuisine. The following are some of the best vegetarian Chinese dishes to try:

1. Mapo Tofu

The ingredients for Mapo Tofu are tofu, garlic, ginger, scallions, and Sichuan peppercorns. It is a fiery and savory dish.

It’s a well-known dish in Sichuan cuisine and is renowned for its intensely flavorful spice. There are vegetarian varieties of Mapo Tofu available that use vegetable broth rather than animal broth.

2. Three Treasures of the Earth

A traditional home-style dish that tastes exceptionally excellent in the winter is called Three Treasures of the Earth.

It is made using pepper, potato, and eggplant that have been briefly deep-fried before being cooked with garlic, ginger, and sugar. It’s a filling and tasty recipe that vegetarians will love.

3. Chinese Broccoli with Garlic Sauce

Chinese broccoli with garlic sauce is a straightforward and flavorful recipe that is easy to prepare. Chinese broccoli, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil are the ingredients.

It’s an excellent way to increase the amount of leafy greens in your diet and is ideal for people following a low-carb, ketogenic, or paleolithic diet.

4. General Tso Tofu

A vegetarian alternative to the well-known General Tso’s Chicken is General Tso Tofu. It is produced using tofu that has been coated in a sweet and sour sauce and is crispy.

This dish is excellent and filling and is ideal for vegetarians who want to taste a traditional Chinese dinner.

5. Vegetarian Dumplings

A well-known Chinese cuisine that is ideal for vegetarians is vegetarian dumplings. They are created with a tofu and vegetable mixture that is then encased in a thin crust.

They are frequently provided with a dipping sauce and can be steamed or pan-fried.

You should try these and other popular vegetarian Chinese recipes. Vegetarians have a variety of options in Chinese cuisine, and there are still plenty of delectable and healthy meals to try.

Choosing the Best Vegetarian Chinese Restaurants

There are a few important aspects to take into account when searching for the top vegetarian Chinese eateries.

Lo mein with vegetables, mushrooms and soy filets

Here are some ideas to help you choose the ideal restaurant for your upcoming meal:


Location is the first thing to think about. Look for restaurants that are easily accessible from your house or place of employment.

You’ll find it simpler to go there frequently and eat your favorite foods as a result.

Menu Options

The menu of the restaurant should then be examined. A range of vegetarian foods should be available, including tofu, veggies, and fake meats.

If being vegan is essential to you, ask if they provide any options.

Quality of Ingredients

The caliber of the ingredients is also crucial. Look for eateries that make their cuisine with high-quality, fresh ingredients.

If using organic or locally sourced ingredients is important to you, ask if they do so.

Reviews and Recommendations

It might also be beneficial to read reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations.

Search for restaurants on sites like Yelp or Google that have received good reviews and ratings. Inquire about your vegetarian friends about their favorite restaurants.

Atmosphere and Service

Finally, think about the restaurant’s ambiance and service. Which kind of dining experience—casual or elegant—do you prefer?

Do you value receiving quality service? When selecting the best vegetarian Chinese restaurant for you, keep these things in mind.

You may choose the best vegetarian Chinese restaurant for your requirements and preferences by taking these aspects into account.

Cooking Vegetarian Chinese Food at Home

You’ll be glad to know that there are many options available if you want to prepare vegetarian Chinese food at home.

vegetables udon noodles in a dark background,

Here are some pointers to get you going:

Stock Up on Essential Ingredients

You’ll need to stock up on a few necessary ingredients if you want to make Chinese food at home.

You should keep the following items in your pantry as staples:

  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Oyster sauce (vegetarian versions are available)
  • Cornstarch
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Scallions

Choose Your Protein

Every meal should contain some form of protein, and Chinese cuisine offers a wide variety of vegetarian options. Popular choices comprise:

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Edamame
  • Mushrooms

Get Creative with Vegetables

Chinese cuisine is known for its use of fresh and flavorful vegetables. Some popular options include:

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Snow peas
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Bell peppers

Experiment with Different Cooking Techniques

Cooking methods used in Chinese cuisine include stir-frying, steaming, and deep-frying. Try out various approaches to determine which ones are most effective for you.

Try Some Vegetarian Chinese Recipes

There are plenty of vegetarian Chinese recipes available online, including stir-fries, noodle dishes, soups, and more. Some popular dishes include:

  • Vegetable lo mein
  • Kung pao tofu
  • Mapo tofu
  • Hot and sour soup
  • Vegetable fried rice

You may easily prepare great vegetarian Chinese food at home by using these suggestions and experimenting with various recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Udon with vegetables, japanese cuisine

Is all Chinese food vegetarian-friendly?

No, not all Chinese food is vegetarian-friendly. Many Chinese dishes include meat, seafood, or animal-based broths. However, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available, especially at restaurants that specialize in vegetarian Chinese cuisine.

What are some common vegetarian Chinese dishes?

Some common vegetarian Chinese dishes include stir-fried vegetables, tofu dishes, vegetable dumplings, spring rolls, and fried rice. Many Chinese restaurants also have vegetarian versions of popular dishes like General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, and kung pao shrimp.

Can I still get enough protein on a vegetarian Chinese diet?

Yes, you can still get plenty of protein on a vegetarian Chinese diet. Tofu, tempeh, seitan, and edamame are all good sources of protein. Many vegetarian Chinese dishes also include nuts and legumes, which are high in protein.

What should I watch out for when ordering vegetarian Chinese food?

Some vegetarian Chinese dishes may contain hidden animal products like fish sauce or oyster sauce. Be sure to ask your server if a dish is truly vegetarian or vegan. You should also be aware that some Chinese restaurants may use the same cooking utensils for vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, which could lead to cross-contamination.

Can I make vegetarian Chinese food at home?

Yes, you can definitely make vegetarian Chinese food at home. Many vegetarian Chinese recipes are available online or in cookbooks. Just be sure to read the ingredients carefully and make substitutions as necessary to ensure the dish is truly vegetarian or vegan.

Chinese Healthy Vegetarianvegan menu


Congratulations! Currently, you are aware of some of the top vegetarian Chinese food selections.

You can enjoy the mouthwatering flavors of Chinese food without compromising your vegetarian lifestyle by including these dishes in your diet.

To guarantee that a recipe is actually vegetarian, pay attention to the ingredients and cooking techniques utilized.

To make your own special vegetarian Chinese cuisine, experiment with various taste combinations and ingredients.

There are many vegetarian options available, whether you’re eating out at a Chinese restaurant or cooking at home.

There is something for everyone, from well-known meals like three treasures of the soil to less well-known ones like sesame noodles and cucumber salad in the Sichuan manner.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.