Since becoming vegan I’ve found a lot of really good vegan recipes that have been stress tested on meat eaters. So if you want to impress your vegan friends, or try out a plant-based lifestyle yourself, here are some recipes you should definitely try! These are optimized for dinners for 4+ people, but you can make some (such as the chili) in bulk and then refrigerate it.

One thing that really annoys me about recipes is that their cook times are never even close to the time it takes for me. They don’t include chopping time and even for the times they do count, it feels like they assume you possess some ninja cooking skills (translate: it always takes me twice as long as they say). So, I’ve provided approximate times that it takes me to make a meal, starting from the moment I’ve entered the kitchen to the moment I plate the food. It does not include grocery shopping time or cleaning time.

I’ve also provided approximate costs for each recipe, another thing I wish I could tell quickly from a recipe. I haven’t been keeping careful track of costs, so I don’t have concrete numbers, but you can think of $$ as approximately $5 per meal for a hungry college student in Berkeley. Make sure to read the short snippets below the table for clarifications and possible changes!

Taste Cost per meal Serves Cook time (1 chef) Cook time (2 chefs) Number of pots/pans
Sweet Potato Quesadillas ★★★★★ $$ 4 3 hours 2 hours 4
Chili (see note) ★★★ $ 8 1½ hours 1¼ hours 1
Pesto Risotto ★★★★ $$$ 3-4 2 hours 1½ hours 2

Sweet Potato Quesadillas: This is my go-to dish to impress people. Pretty much everyone agrees this is the tastiest food I make. It tastes better fresh, but you can refrigerate it and eat it later. It may not look like this recipe can serve 4 hungry people, but sweet potatoes are really filling. Don’t expect this to taste like normal quesadillas — while the sweet potatoes are meant to replace the cheese, they are not meant to taste like cheese.

Chili: Although the recipe calls for burger crumbles, I think it is vastly improved by using soyrizo (which is available at Trader Joes). This is probably my favorite recipe, because it makes so much food in so little time, with so few dishes, and at such a cheap cost, and it still tastes good. You can refrigerate it and have it later, and it’s just as good. I once ate chili for lunch every day for an entire week and the convenience was amazing.

Pesto Risotto: I would put this up there with sweet potato quesadillas in taste, but everyone else says that while it tastes great, it’s not as good as sweet potato quesadillas, and so I’ve downgraded it to 4 stars. The really expensive part is the pine nuts — if you replace them with walnuts, then the cost goes down to around $4-5 per meal.