Summer is subject to the tyranny of grilled meats, as though it’s somehow impossible to enjoy eating things outside if they’re made only of plants. And what do you DO if you can’t slather your potato salad in half a jar of egg-based mayonnaise?! Heavens to Betsy, it’d just be a travesty! Lol jk.
Luckily for everyone cutting down their meat consumption—or avoiding it entirely—the market for plant-based foods has gotten way better in recent years, which means that you can now fill your backyard barbecue or summer picnic with a slew of recipes that are just as delicious and perfect for eating outside with a nice cold can of beer as their animal-based counterparts.
Expand your mind beyond the frozen foods section of the grocery store, and frankly, you'll find a world of homemade vegan barbecue party-worthy options that—dare we say it?—are even better than their meat- and dairy-based counterparts. We pulled together a whole menu of our favorite vegan recipes that are perfect for plant-based summer. Don’t forget the sunblock.
Pickled Peppers and Tomatoes Recipe
Forget the cheese board—pickled veggies are a seriously underrated part of any good party's appetizer spread. Make your own spicy little giardiniera mixture, and use some of these to garnish a crisp, refreshing vodka martini if you’re feeling cheeky.
Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe
Caesar salads appeal to the masses, so this vegan version—which gets its creaminess from cashews instead of egg yolks—is a good go-to for a barbecue that will have a mixed crowd of vegans and meat eaters.
Vegan Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
We KNOW, we know. Broccoli in your mac ‘n’ cheese reminds you of your mom trying to sneak vegetables into dishes where they don’t belong so you would eat more green things. But now that we're adults, we actually think the crunch factor of the roasted broccoli goes pretty well with a toothsome pasta like orecchiette.
Vegan Corn Pudding Recipe
Corn pudding might seem like more of a cold-weather side dish, but, we ask you: why the heck is that? Corn tastes best in the summer, full stop. Bring a dish of this to your next cookout and let everyone dive in with a spoon.
Easy Vegan Nachos Recipe
We said we were gonna avoid the "Meatless" section of the freezer aisle, but these vegan nachos are a good reason to give into the temptation of the "beefless crumble." Load tortilla chips up with avocado, tomatoes, jalapeños, and a surprisingly cheesy plant-based sauce, and all your snacky cravings will be satisfied.
Vegan Muhammara Dip
London chef Dixie Innes shows us how to make a naturally vegan roasted pepper muhammara dip, with a pop of pomegranate molasses. You can find the full recipe here, and pair it with baked pita chips or a bunch of fresh vegetables.
Vegan Artichoke Dip Recipe
This vegan artichoke dip is the kind of vegan copycat dish that’s so good you can bring it to a backyard cookout and feel a smug sense of pride when everyone—including your Aunt Judy, who still asks you if vegans eat fish—can't get enough.
Classic Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe
Frank Pinello, host of The Pizza Show, might keep it classic with pecorino-romano, but you can give this recipe a vegan update by swapping in nutritional yeast or a vegan cheese alternative for the most snackable stuffed mushrooms.
Beer-Marinated Vegan Tacos Recipe
Shredded seitan soaked in a spicy beer marinade, then pan-seared over high heat, makes for a vegan taco filling that even your most ardent carne asada-loving friend will enjoy.
Vegan Beet Burgers Recipe
Beets, black beans, and mushrooms are the trifecta of veggie burger fillers, but we’re pretty crazy about the truffle cashew cheese that chef Chandra Gilbert puts on these vegan burgers, too. You can watch how it's done in our How To series over on Vice Video.
Vegan Pulled Mushroom BBQ Sandwich Recipe
A whole pound of meaty king oyster mushrooms, smoked over applewood chips, shredded, and tossed in tangy sauce. *drools* This barbecue sandwich will have you saying, "Move over, pulled pork."
Vegan BLT Recipe
When tomatoes are in season, we’d basically consider it a crime to not indulge in a BLT at least once. This version uses smoky, marinated tempeh, but you could also give slow-roasted shiitake mushrooms a try, as your "B" substitute.
Burgerlords Veggie Burger Recipe
Kind of like a plant-based In-n-Out, LA’s Burgerlords know their way around a vegan burger patty. This version uses mushrooms, eggplant, brown rice, and chickpeas as a chewy, satisfying base.
Cantaloupe and Citrus Sorbet Recipe
Fresh, ripe melons barely need anything to turn them into dessert, but if you’ve got some friends who are willing to pass a bag around in a circle while shaking it (the old-school replacement for an actual ice cream churner), you should give this melon and citrus sorbet a shot.
Vegan Brownies Recipe
We’re fans of any dish that can be eaten at a picnic or barbecue with one hand, so you can leave your second hand free for a glass of rosé or a nice cold beer. Vegan brownies—or chocolate chip cookies—are the perfect solution.
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