The Ultimate Vegan Salad Guide | Best Vegan Salad Recipes
Vegan salad recipes are such an easy way to make sure we are getting all of the rainbow goodness into our diet. Here at Yum Vegan Blog we love making bowls of colourful goodness for all your vegan salad needs.
Salad is renowned worldwide, in various guises of global cuisine. It is one of the most versatile dishes with many combinations and flavours.
Salads are typically cold dishes, however some still contain cooked ingredients. And vegan salads are a delicious combination of goodness that we will talk through here.
From leafy greens, to crunchy bases, healthy fats and a drizzle of delicious dressings, this guide is extensive and packed with delicious vegan salad ideas.
Vegan salad you say? Isn’t all salad vegan? Well, yes! All the beautiful rainbow foods, from leafy greens to juicy ripe tomatoes and crispy cucumbers. It is typically the addition of non-vegan dressings and animal products that makes salad not vegan.
Vegan salads usually comprise of some raw or cooked vegetables. Ordinarily salads are jazzed up with some sort of vegan dressing, seasoning oil or vinegar.
Even a squirt of lemon, salt and pepper is enough to dress a leafy green salad and bring it to life!
Replacing animal products in salads is easy – there are plenty of vegan protein sources such as beans, legumes, grains, nuts, protein, seeds or tofu. There are literally endless combinations of vegan salads to delight in.
Using a variety of these plant based foods can create delicious, wholesome, nutritious vegan salad powerhouses with all the winning combinations. Leaving feeling full, satisfied and nourished.
In a recent study on centenarians in the Mediterranean, it is thought one contributing factor to their life longevity is the fact they eat multiple greens daily.
The study found these healthy older adults living in the Mediterranean eat around eighty types of leafy greens regularly, ones which others would weed from their garden!
A diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains are a key to longevity.
Growing your own vegetables and salad at home can be satisfying and affordable when equipped with the right knowledge!
There are heaps of signature salads worldwide, that are super popular and easily recognisable. However the majority of these are not traditionally vegan, usually containing egg, meat or fish.
This is where our delicious vegan salad recipes come in, to offer easy vegan salad inspiration. We include some of the best vegan salads from around the globe. This includes the traditional signature salads, but vegan, some awesome healthy vegan salads, the best vegan dressings, and some super satisfying vegan salads.
Before we dive into how to layer up and make an awesome vegan salad – here are some of our favourite “veganised” salad classics.
Vegan Salad “Classics”
Vegan Egg Salad
This Vegan Egg Salad is a classic and really easy to make. With silken tofu replacing the egg texture and black salt providing the delicious eggy taste! This is a must try.
It tastes great as a Vegan Egg Sandwich – but equally goes great on a mixed salad plate.
This banging Beetroot Coleslaw is earthy, vibrant, crunch and tasty in equal measure!
You can also try out this pomegranate coleslaw which is packed with vegetables and some fruit for extra flair!
Vegan Tuna Salad
This Vegan Tuna Salad is creamy and satisfying, with the smashed chickpeas making the perfect texture. The addition of nori flakes gives this recipe an authentic marine like taste.
Vegan Crab Salad
Get ready to have your mind blown with this delicious vegan crab salad, light, full of flavour & a perfect as a canapé, salad or sandwich filler. Ideal make ahead lunch or fancy starter. Here at Yum HQ we love that this salad can be perfect for any occasion or simple lunch. Get the recipe for vegan crab salad here.
How To Make An Awesome Vegan Salad
If you are going for a full meal salad – its great to choose what type of base you want. Whether its a light and delicate spinach leaf salad, or you prefer more crunch with a broccoli of cabbage base.
Then from here you choose you additional veggies, fruits, grains or proteins to achieve peak variety.
A vegan salad doesn’t have to have a leafy green base, but this is a great option for boosting nutritional value.
Some of the best vegan salad recipes for me have delicious leafy greens in there. In fact, I find my body craves them sometimes if I have gone without for a while.
If you are planning on storing your leafy greens in the fridge – it is best not to wash before storing as this will make the wilt. Wash just prior to use.
Vegan spinach salad recipes are super easy to toss together. Spinach adds a beautiful, light and airy element to vegan side salads and more.
Spinach is used around the world in cuisine and is a very popular leafy green.The leaves are usually flat or slightly curled with a bright green colour when young. More mature spinach is a deeper, more intense colour.
Spinach is generally available all year round, but best from April through until September.
Spinach is best eaten raw in a salad when it is young and tender. This is when it is most palatable and tasty. More mature spinach leaves are best cooked. It is best to leave spinach stored unwashed in the refrigerator so it doesn’t wilt.
Spinach is related to the amaranth family which also boasts quinoa and beetroot. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, C and B6.
Kale experienced a sky rocket in popularity alongside the wellness boom. It became popular as it is renowned for its nutritional properties, like most dark leafy green vegetables. Its sometimes referred to as the king of greens!
Kale is a member of the cabbage or cruciferous family and there are even many different types of kale itself. Kale not only goes great in salads, but can be used in juices, smoothies and other cooked dishes such as
Kale is best eaten fresh as it can become quite bitter not long after picking. It is known as a hardy leafy green as survives growing in the cooler months.
Curly kale is recognisable through its curly leaves on a long stem, kale has flatter leaves. Cavallo Nero is a much darker kale and a beautiful addition.
It is filled with fibre and phytonutrients for short and long term health.
Massaging kale with lemon, salt and olive oil makes it easier to eat and a lot more flavoursome!
I absolutely adore rocket or arugula salad. The almost spicy, peppery taste goes amazingly with even just olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper.
It goes really well in vegan fall salad or our favourite Moroccan BBQ Eggplant Salad Recipe, where the sharp peppery rocket adds to the stand out flavours.
It’s also great when paired with sweet items, like fruit and sweet dressings, to offset some of the bitterness. You can try it in our delicious rocket pear salad recipe.
Iceberg lettuce is the humble leafy green, but an essential one! It adds a lovely, watery and cool crisp taste to salads. It is usually super affordable and accessible too.
Romaine lettuce grows tall with hardy spines – forming the shape of a heart almost and sometimes referred to as “Romaine Hearts”. It has a crisp, refreshing taste.
They work really well as a crispy, gluten free wrap or cup for fillings such as tasty rice or pulled jackfruit
We love the crisp Romaine lettuce in this Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe.
Watercress, also known as cress is a member of the mustard family, hence the sharp, spicy and peppery flavour when eaten fresh. It is recognisable by its rounded, scalloped leaves.
It’s not only great in salads, but as a garnish, juiced, in sandwiches and dips such as pesto.
Watercress is super versatile but also makes a great addition to a simple vegan salad. Watercress is usually available all year round, with peak season being spring to early summer. It is really easy to grow watercress at home from seedlings and can make a great project for little ones.
Watercress is an excellent source of Vitamin K, A, C and E. It comes with other essential nutrients like magnesium, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, potassium and calcium.
Mustard greens have wavy, broad and frilled leaves with long stems. Depending on the size and maturity of the leaves, mustard greens can be added to green salads. The more mature leaves require cooking however.
They have a tasty, tangy yet peppery bite when eaten raw, adding a piquant note to salads. Its usually a good idea to massage mustard greens with the simple vegan salad dressing below, as this can mellow out the bitterness.
Much like kale, you should strip the leaves from the hardy stem. Wash and dry the mustard green leaves and tear into small pieces.
A good vegan dressing for mustard greens is olive oil, salt, lemon juice, pepper and garlic granules. This will reduce the size of the leaves by about half but also makes them more palatable.
2) FRESH HERBS
Fresh herbs can offer a multitude of fresh, vibrant flavours to salad recipes. Depending on what fresh herb or combination of fresh hers yo choose, you can achieve a vegan salad that absolutely sings in your mouth.
Fresh herbs offer to boost the nutritional value of salad additionally, being leafy green by nature.
Fresh herbs are easily grown indoors and all year round with a bit of love and care.
Flat leaf parsley has dark, flat leaves with a slightly bitter flavour – the stems tend to have a stronger aroma than the leaves.
Curly leaf parsley is thought to be less flavoursome than its flat leaf counterpart, but can sometimes be quite bitter. It is pretty for garnishing.
Parsley is super versatile and goes great in potato and pasta salads
Chopped parsley also brings this delicious Avocado and Chickpea Salad to life.
This Easy Israeli Salad is bursting with flavour, with the help of fresh chopped parsley.
Cilantro is a green leafy herb, that looks a little like parsley. Love it or hate it – the cilantro herb has a pungent yet refreshing, citrus and nutty like flavour. Apparently some people cannot enjoy cilantro as their tastebuds perceive as a soap like taste!
Coriander or cilantro goes amazingly with asian, Mexican and Indian dishes – in a salad it goes perfectly with avocado, red onions, ginger and chilli peppers. It makes an awesome tasting, fresh dressing.
Fresh coriander brings this Thai Noodle Salad to life!
It is the perfect garnish for out Vegan Santa Fe Salad too.
Fresh mint can range from a strong menthol flavour to a peppery or fragrant taste.
Mint works great in middle eastern of mediterranean style salads. It also goes beautifully in a fruit salad that has citrus or watermelon fruits.
Dill appears and tastes quite grassy, with an anise like liquorice or fennel type flavour. It is thought to have a slight celery like flavour too.
Dill works great in vegan salad dressing recipes as well as vegan tuna salads. Dill goes beautifully with zuchini, peas, asparagus, beets, carrots, spinach and potatoes.
This Vegan Chickpea Tuna Salad mentioned above also works beautifully with fresh dill.
Chives are a bright green, grass like herb. They have a mild onion like flavour and are really easy to grow. They are the perfect garnish and flower a beautiful purple flower.
There is such thing as garlic chives which give a garlicky taste.
Lemon balm has a beautiful citrusy flavour. It is super easy to grow and works really well with cucumber salads and fruit salads.
Basil has the most beautiful aroma. It has a strong, pungent and sweet smell all at once with an almost pepper like, mint taste. There is over 60 varieties of basil with distinct flavours.
Basil goes great with vegan cheese, tomatoes and spicy dishes.
We have a delicious Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad recipe made possible with the aromatic basil.
Tarragon has a bittersweet, aniseed or liquorice type flavour, in a subtle way.
It can add beautiful delicate notes to a vegan salad and makes a nice garnish. It goes well with carrots, onions and even this vegan tuna salad.
We use this beautiful fragrant herb in this delicious Vegan French Dressing recipe – perfect for green salads!
Hardy bases are great for prepping ahead of time for your meal prep. They usually last a long time and provide a delicious crunch to your vegan salad recipes.
Chopped Brussels sprouts are super nutritious. This cruciferous vegetable is hearty so lasts all week in the fridge if pre-chopped for lunchboxes.
Gone are the days that Brussels sprouts are served soggily at Christmas dinner.
They are rich in Vitamin K and an excellent source of protein. They are actually way taster and more nutritious chopped up raw for salads.
This Brussel Sprout Salad Recipe is delicious!
I’m pretty sure red cabbage would survive the apocolypse. I know veggies are best as fresh as can be for maximum flavour and nutrition. But I’ve often chopped away at a whole red cabbage over the space of a month without it going bad.
Red cabbage is easy to prepare. Simply strip the outer leaves, wash and chop your desired amount. It makes a great easy vegan coleslaw, in a addition to the perfect vegan cabbage salad base. It adds delicious crunch.
This vibrant purple coloured cabbage has a decent mix of vitamins and minerals, especially folate which is important during pregnancy. It has good levels of vitamin C and potassium additionally.
Aside from crunchy red cabbage deliciousness, red cabbage makes a tasty and healthy sauerkraut. Check out this simple fermented red cabbage recipe, which provides healthy probiotics too! This works great as a salad topper as opposed to a base, as you only need a little.
Similar to red cabbage, it’s also hardy and stores well for ages and has many of the same health benefits. It’s great as a base for hardier salads, like this beetroot butternut squash cabbage salad.
Zucchini noodles (Zoodles)
Zucchini noodles stay fresh for a decent amount of time in the fridge, so you can easily make extra or store some for your weeks lunches and dinners ahead of time. Zoodles are the perfect blank canvas for a number of delicious dressings and toppings.
Zoodles have seen a wave in food trending, but I can see why as they are so versatile and nutritious. Zucchini vegan noodle salad is a delicious and fun meal idea.
Zoodles are achieved with this handy Spiralizer, you will never get bored of this handy utensil!
This Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad is low carb and packed with flavour.
Broccoli is another great cruciferous vegetable which works well as a hardy base for vegan salads.
It is truly underrated as a raw veggie and with the right simple seasoning can be taken to the next level.
This delicious vegan broccoli salad recipe comes together in minutes and is packed with nutrients. It lasts in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Its usually a good idea to include some sort of high protein to a vegan salad if it is a main meal. Despite most veggies containing proteins, ensuring your body is being nourished by all of the essential amino acids will help you feel well, energised and assist cell regeneration in your body!
Tofu is a great addition to vegan salads. Vegan tofu salads give extra protein, calcium and iron.
This Vegan Greek Salad is delicious, refreshing and satisfying. The marinated tofu provides you with essential protein – and the flavours are a winning combination.
This Tofu Buddha Bowl is delicious and fun to make. With a delicious Thai peanut drizzle and refreshing cucumbers – this is a must try!
These Bacon Flavoured Roasted Chickpeas are super tasty addition to any vegan salad recipe. Simply sprinkle on top for an explosion of flavour and crunch.
Seitan does provide a good level of protein, despite not containing all of the essential amino acids, it is a great food to add to salads in terms of texture.
We have some amazing seitan recipes like this Vegan Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe which would be a great accompaniment to your vegan salads. You can also try this vegan salami, it’s great when chopped into peices and added to salads.
Black beans and/or lentils make a nutritious addition to vegan salads. Whether included cooked (plain or seasoned) or within this amazing Vegan Taco Salad. They are an easy way to get protein, iron and a host of other nutrients.
- Quinoa – quinoa is known as one of the few plant sources of a “whole protein”. It is gluten free and easy to cook with. Quinoa is actually a seed!
- Nuts – toasted nuts, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts
- Seeds – toasted seeds, hemp hearts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, linseed
- Buckwheat has a high concentration of the essential amino acids, making it a great choice of grain to add to your salads. Buckwheat is actually gluten free and a seed.
- Millet is a starchy grain, high in protein, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.
It is also essential we obtain healthy fats, especially with a vegan diet. There are certain fats that are essential for us to consume as our bodies cannot create them.
This includes Omega-3 Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA) and Omega-6 Linoleic Acid (LA). These are essential fats for our immune system, eyes, brain and nerves.
Nuts, seeds and avocados are a great way of adding fats to your vegan salads if you wish to avoid oil. Using an oily dressing helps get some fats, however many choose to avoid oils as they are high in saturated fats.
Nuts are high in fat, therefore providing essential energy. Most nuts are high in the “good fat” or monounsaturated fats, omega-6 and omega-3. However they do contain saturated fats in varying quantities across nut type.
- Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 alpha-lioleic acid (ALA)
Hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin seeds and linseed are all a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Avocado is high in fat, however it is considered high in the “good fat” or the monounsaturated fat. Avocados contain 5:1 monounsaturated fat to polyunsaturated fat.
Sometimes a good drizzle of good, high quality, extra virgin olive oil – with a sprinkle of salt and pepper is enough to transform the most simple bowl of greens!
Adding fruit like chopped pear or apple adds refreshing and sweet tangy layers to vegan salads. Its also a great way to save food waste if you are using up odds and ends, with some spare fruit to use.
This sometimes is especially true when you have nibbly toddlers around who half eat pieces of fruit.
- Apple – adds a lovely crisp texture
- Orange – this is delicious in greek salad with balsamic glaze and mint
- Watermelon – paired well with
- Pear – works great in Autumn salad
- Berries – perfect paired with leafy greens for optional iron absorption.
- Dried fruits – add delicious chewy, sweet textures, like the dried cranberries in this BBQ spinach salad
Fruit salads make an awesome dessert also – and can even be topped up with delicious rum like in our favourite Drunken Fruit Salad Recipe. This is a crowd pleasing fruit salad, especially in BBQ season.
Papaya is used often in Asian fresh salads – this Vegan Laos Papaya Salad is an explosion of flavour. It is fresh, crunchy, flavoursome and tangy.
Pasta salads work great for cold lunches. Whether you are having a picnic, need a quick lunch on the go or waiting for you larger food shop to come – pasta is usually always in ones pantry and here to save the day!
Try this Easy Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad which is packed with flavour.
Another delicious vegan pasta salad option is this Vegan Tuna Sweetcorn Pasta Salad.
EASY VEGAN SALAD DRESSINGS – BEST VEGAN SALAD DRESSING
Not every salad requires a dressing, however with some simple ingredients, vegan salad dressings and condiments can really bring the dish to life.
This Salad Dressing Shaker is so helpful in whipping up quick vegan salad dressings.
Vegan French Dressing
This delicious, classic Vegan French Dressing is easy to make with a few simple ingredients. It compliments green salads perfectly to give extra flavour and creaminess.
Vegan Poppy Seed Dressing
This Vegan Poppy Seed Dressing recipe is so quick and easy to make. It even tastes better than the shop bought version, so that’s saying something. You only need a handful of ingredients, a bit of shaking action and you’ll have an amazing salad dressing.
Soya Silan Salad Dressing
This easy Soya Silan Salad Dressing comes together quickly and can be stored in the fridge for a while. It’s magic ingredients that gives it all it’s unique and awesome flavor is the date syrup and the soy sauce, a truly winning combination.
Eat it on your favorite salad ingredients but it’s especially good on greens like spinach and arugula.
Vegan Honey Mustard Dressing
This easy Vegan Honey Mustard Dressing recipe is incredibly quick and easy. It packs a huge flavorful punch and is one of our go to salad dressing recipes since it tastes amazing on almost everything!
VEGAN SALADS FOR PARTIES
Vegan Taco Salad
This delicious Vegan Taco Salad recipe is simple, easy to create and pretty addictive. The vegan taco salad dressing is only two ingredients and comes together in seconds.
This is also a full and well rounded meals with a punch of protein and iron from the lentil meat, lots of great nutrition from a bowl of fresh veg and comfort from the creamy, amazing dressing. Meatless taco salad has never been so good!
Vegan BBQ Moroccan Eggplant Salad
This Vegan BBQ Moroccan Eggplant Salad is the perfect summer BBQ salad recipe. With delicate Moroccan spices, a smokey BBQ flavour, roasted chickpeas, fresh rocket leaf salad and a zesty dressing – this is a must try. BBQ eggplant is creamy and flavorsome. This roasted eggplant salad recipe is sure to impress!
How To Serve Vegan Salad
There are some really great serving utensils and gadgets that can help you achieve great vegan salad presentation!
This is beautiful Salad Serving Bowl is ideal for the dinner table.
These beautiful Salad Servers are perfect for allowing guests to serve themselves.
We hope this guide has been useful to you in creating these awesome vegan salad recipes.
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