Vegetarian family classics

Cook classic recipes minus the meat, from shepherd's pie to a rich and warming Bolognese. Our delicious vegetarian swaps are sure to wow all the family.

Spinach lasagne in a baking dish and on a plate, with spoon

With our veggie twists on traditional recipes, no one need miss out on family favourites. The BBC Good Food cookery team have come up with clever substitutes for different types of meat to create vegetarian dishes the whole family will love. Browse even more veggie meals for kids or take a look at our ultimate vegetarian kids' collection to keep tummy grumbles at bay. 

1. Veggie pasta bakes

Cauliflower macaroni cheese in serving dish

Everyone loves perfectly al dente pasta with a bubbling cheesy topping – it's pure comfort food in a bowl. This macaroni cheese has chunks of tender cauliflower and can be prepped in just 10 minutes, making it the perfect midweek lifesaver. If you have a bit more time, go for full-on indulgence with our next level Marmite mac 'n' cheese

Keep it slow and low-calorie with our slow cooker veggie lasagne, which packs in all five of your five-a-day. Alternatively, make our fantastic, freezable spinach ball lasagne ahead; it's rich with the flavours of herby pesto, nutmeg and garlic. To save time and effort, you could buy the white sauce instead of making it from scratch.

2. Veggie curries

Two plates of chicken korma and rice
We're always craving a curry. Our easy, adaptable recipes are great for fridge-clearing, too, as you can chuck in a range of your favourite veggies. Save time by using shop-bought curry paste to make the base for this creamy butternut korma, then enhance it with fresh herbs, spices and veg. Serve with mini naan breads for a satisfying family supper. Our cauliflower, squash & lentil curry is another make-ahead marvel that you can freeze to enjoy later.  

Make our chana masala for a simple storecupboard feast, or try our aubergine & coconut curry for a subtly smoky flavour. Short on time and energy? Go for our cheat's black dhal and we promise not to tell. If you have a bit more time to spare, you could serve your curry alongside soft and fluffy homemade naan bread.

Browse our vegetarian curry collection for even more recipes. 

3. Veggie Bolognese

Lentil ragu with spaghetti in bowl with cheese shavings
Every family has their own definitive Bolognese recipe, but you could try something new with a rich lentil ragu. This healthy family dish gets you four steps closer to your five-a-day – plus it's light and bursting with flavour. You may find that even meat-eaters are converted. Alternatively, make the most of Quorn mince with our easy vegetarian Bolognese.

To add in yet more vegetables, try our courgetti version or get the kids involved in making veggie Quorn Bolognese, which gives you two of your five-a-day. Instead of buying all the vegetables separately and ending up with leftover celery sticks, you can buy a handy soffritto mix from most supermarkets to use in this dish.

4. Veggie chilli

Chilli in pot with tortilla chips with bowl and rice
Another dish that lends itself well to a veggie makeover is chilli. You can adapt the ingredients to your liking, batch cook it and stash it in the freezer. Our burnt aubergine chilli is a class act, delivering depth of flavour with soft mouthfuls of veg that add up to four of your five-a-day. Serve with all the trimmings – rice, tortilla chips, soured cream and a dollop of guacamole.

Try a mix of beans for extra protein in our roasted pepper chilli. Great for serving a crowd, this is a healthy option that doesn't skimp on flavour. 

5. Veggie shepherd's pie

Shepherd's pie in dish with ketchup and fork
If you think a pie can't be a pie without meat, we're about to blow your mind. Our vegan shepherd's pie is sure to be a hit, dished out warm from the oven with a squirt of ketchup for good measure. This dreamy, low-fat pie is topped with crisp roasties. 

For an extra tasty twist, try our veggie shepherd's pie with a sweet potato topping, a dash of red wine and a generous grating of strong cheddar. Alternatively, combine two classics with our recipe for Indian sweet potato & dhal pies, using red lentils and creamy mash. We even have an Italian cottage pie for a Mediterranean revamp of an English classic – it's the perfect budget supper.

6. Veggie burgers

Green burger patties in buns with ketchup
There's no need to wait for barbecue season; rain or shine, just pop a burger on a bun and you're bound to have a good day. Get crafty with the kids and try our spinach-based green burgers. Serve with chunky sweet potato fries to add another helping of veg to your plate. 

To add a touch of Middle-Eastern flavour, try our halloumi aubergine burgers with a spoonful of creamy hummus, plus a dash of harissa and roasted red pepper. For extra spice, our Mexican bean burgers should fit the bill; you can tone down the heat for more delicate palates.

Find more inspiration in our guide to the best veggie burger recipes

7. Veggie Sunday roast

Multi-coloured pie on plate with slice taken
It's a sacred Sunday ritual, but roast dinners can be meat-free and still just as satisfying. Combine beetroot, sweet potato, chard and celeriac in our multi-layered vegan rainbow pie for a stunning centrepiece that everyone will want to try. For a super-indulgent puff pastry creation, channel that après-ski vibe by baking our melty cheese & potato pie.

Our mushroom & chestnut rotolo is a masterpiece of umami. Made up of stuffed and rolled lasagne sheets, it's also a pretty picture. Don't forget the trimmings – try one of our winning roastie recipes

Get more inspiration from our vegetarian Sunday roast collection


9. Veggie pizza

Sliced pizza topped with cheese and roast cauliflower

When it comes to pizza, there are endless exciting veggie flavour combinations to experiment with. Using only a handful of ingredients, including ready-made pizza bases, this roast cauliflower cheese pizza can be prepped in 5 minutes, making it an easy midweek meal option. Kids will love the creamy mascarpone and charred cauliflower toppings. Serve with plenty of salad for a wholesome family dish.

Encourage your kids to eat the rainbow with our colourful rainbow pizza, packed with fresh ingredients. Layer a passata base with mozzarella, tomatoes, broccoli and fresh pesto for a flavoursome tricolore treat.

10. Veggie fajitas

Child holding veggie fajita filled with avocados and black beans

Need a quick and easy family meal? Our flavour-packed vegetarian fajitas can be on the table in just 15 minutes. Let the kids load up their own tortillas with spiced black beans, avocado, peppers and a drizzle of soured cream. If you have smaller children, you could serve these in bowl-shaped tortillas, which are easier to hold.

For a healthy bite, make our chargrilled vegetable tacos, complete with a smoky kiwi salsa. These tasty tortillas pack in all of your five-a-day and can be easily doubled to serve a family of four. 

Find more delicious wrap ideas in our vegetarian fajita and taco recipe collections.

11. Veggie stir-fry

Blue bowl of mushroom noodles and vegetables with chopstix

Stir up a zingy, fresh bowl of egg fried noodles in just 20 minutes for a speedy meal the whole family will love. With juicy button mushrooms and plenty of green veg, this dish delivers satisfying, crunchy textures. Soy sauce and paprika add a sweet, smoky flavour hit.

Discover more sizzling suppers in our vegetarian stir-fry collection.

Like these recipes? Try more wholesome family classics...

Top 5 healthy family meals
Veggie suppers for the whole family
Family meals without the fat
Vegetarian kids' recipes

What's your favourite veggie family meal? Let us know in the comments below...


Comments, questions and tips

Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
Sue Strudwick's picture
Sue Strudwick
14th May, 2020
Veggie moussaka
9th May, 2020
Hello I have made as I call it 'Shepherdless Pie' many times, fantastic
16th May, 2018
Give 'em a break! Recipes are fantastic... no one's actually making you eat meat, just adapt it or move onto another one ;)
11th Jan, 2018
Absolutely excellent attention to detail - first recipe in the "Veggie Pasta Bakes" is Chicken and Leek bake........
goodfoodteam's picture
12th Jan, 2018
Hi there, thanks for your feedback. There was a mistake in the initial article which has since been amended. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and hope you continue to enjoy using these recipes. Best wishes, BBC Good Food Web Team
Sandra Whitaker's picture
Sandra Whitaker
11th Jan, 2018
Clearly says has a make ahead "base", meaning you don't need the chicken....
12th Jan, 2018
In the recipe the chicken is in the base....
Therese Davis's picture
Therese Davis
11th Jan, 2018
Thanks for posting these! Hubby and I are always on the look out for new and tasty vegetarian dishes to make and try :-)
Jason Kindinger's picture
Jason Kindinger
11th Jan, 2018
There is chicken in the first recipe. This is not a vegetarian recipe... wtf???!!!!
Be the first to ask a question about this recipe...Unsure about the cooking time or want to swap an ingredient? Ask us your questions and we’ll try and help you as soon as possible. Or if you want to offer a solution to another user’s question, feel free to get involved...
Be the first to suggest a tip for this recipe...Got your own twist on this recipe? Or do you have suggestions for possible swaps and additions? We’d love to hear your ideas.