If you're considering cutting animal products out of your diet, whether for a week, a month, or indefinitely, you're probably thinking primarily about what you're going to substitute for meat, eggs, and dairy in the three square meals you eat each day. What you eat between those meals? Maybe that hasn't been as much of a priority. But if you usually rely on snacks to span a long stretch between breakfast and lunch, or for a quick jolt of energy during the early-afternoon slump, you should absolutely plan on incorporating them into your vegan diet as well. There are plenty of options that require little to no prep—dried fruit, nuts and nut butters, and avocado on toast are all essentials in our book. But, to keep your snacks well balanced and your taste buds on board with this new approach to eating, it's worthwhile to try out some more involved dishes. Make the most of your cooking time by preparing big-batch items that you can eat several times—a fresh, herb-heavy tabbouleh salad, for instance, or a homemade Israeli-style hummus that's smoother, creamier, and more flavorful than store-bought. And make sure you have some slightly junkier snacks in your vegan repertoire, too, like Buffalo-style deep-fried cauliflower or loaded "queso" dip—because, while some non-vegetarians may think vegans are all my-body-is-a-temple ascetic types, most vegans themselves will tell you that they like gooey, melty, fried, and/or dippable munchies as much as the next person. Read on for a collection of 18 snacks to suit almost any mood or craving, both healthy and not-so-healthy, all of them 100% vegan.
Easy Vegan Crispy Tofu Spring Rolls With Peanut-Tamarind Dipping Sauce
Crispy and fried is one of the most universally pleasing ways to prepare tofu. In a dish that's perfect for a DIY dinner night with family or friends, we stuff golden fried tofu into store-bought spring roll wrappers, along with fresh pea shoots, julienned carrots, and herbs, crunchy toasted peanuts, and hot chilies. The dipping sauce is more than half the fun, though—ours is a blend of peanuts, tamarind concentrate, and curry paste (the stuff from a jar works just fine for this simple dip).
Crispy Bánh Mì Spring Rolls With Creamy Chili Mayo
For these traditional deep-fried spring rolls, we take inspiration from Vietnamese bánh mì, filling the wrappers with pickled carrots and daikon radish, cucumber, jalapeño, and cilantro. Tofu or shiitakes would be great additions, too, if you like. Again, the dipping sauce here—a spicy mayo that we make by mixing vegan mayo with chili sauce like sambal oelek or Sriracha—is clutch. We've got a couple of recipes for homemade vegan mayonnaise, plus recommended brands if you want to buy it already prepared.
Crispy Buffalo Fried Cauliflower
Most of the deliciousness of Buffalo chicken resides in the fry, the seasoning, and the sauce. If you're in the market for a vegan alternative, ditch the chicken and replace it with cauliflower, deep-frying it just as you would chicken wings. With a Korean-style batter of cornstarch, flour, water, and vodka, the cauliflower ends up super crisp. For the sauce, we mix a little of the fry oil with hot sauce instead of using butter.
Korean Fried Cauliflower
The Korean-style batter we use for Buffalo cauliflower lends itself to other flavor profiles, too. To make a Korean version, we add sesame seeds to it, plus unsweetened coconut flakes for added surface area (more surface area = more crunch). As soon as the florets come out of the oil, they're tossed with a sweet soy sauce or sweet-and-spicy chili sauce.
Thai Coconut Red Curry Potato Chips
Are homemade potato chips really worth the effort, considering the myriad brands and flavors in stores? Unquestionably yes. At home, you can get them shatteringly crisp, and your available chip flavors are limited only by your imagination. Here, we use a Thai-inspired mixture of pulverized coconut flakes, makrut lime leaves, chili powder, and lemongrass, among other ingredients, to produce a set of flavors that are both intense and intensely contrasting.
Bean-Stuffed Deep-Fried Jalapeños With Salsa Roja
Jalapeño poppers are wonderful when you want a crispy-outside, creamy-inside treat, but they don't exactly scream "vegan-friendly." This alternative version stuffs the peppers with vegan refried beans mixed with chopped green chilies and cilantro, so you get that same delightful contrast, though with a different flavor.
Smoky Potato and Caper Empanadas With Cilantro Sauce
Making the dough for these flaky empanadas does take a bit of time, so, if you're squeezed, you should feel free to use a good frozen vegan pie crust if you can find it, and even spring roll wrappers would work in a pinch. We stuff them with hearty potato and briny capers, seasoned with chipotle and Madras curry powder —an unusual yet delicious flavor combination. A spicy cilantro chutney makes for a wonderful complement to the crispy pastries.
Fried Plantains With Black Beans, Roasted Poblanos, Avocado, and Pickled Red Onion
Patacones are Colombian fried green plantains, and, like the best French fries, they're double-fried—once in low-temperature oil before being smashed into flat disks, then again at a higher temperature. The shape is perfect for loading up with toppings, like the black beans, roasted peppers, avocado, and vinegary pickled red onion we use here.
Pan con Tomate (Spanish-Style Grilled Bread With Tomato)
No joke: This Catalan tapa comes together in about as much time as it will take you to read this paragraph. Because it's so simple, though, using the best ingredients you can find is crucial. Start by drizzling crunchy ciabatta slices with good olive oil and toasting them, then rub them with garlic once they're crisp. Spoon on a pulp of ripe summer tomatoes, and finish with more olive oil and flaky salt. It couldn't be simpler or more satisfying.
Spanish-Style Blistered Padrón Peppers (Pimientos de Padrón)
Blistered Padrón peppers are a tasty snack with an exciting element of unpredictability: While most Padróns are as mild as green bell pepper, about one in 10 is wickedly spicy. Preparing them is a snap—just heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet until it's smoking, char the peppers, then take them off the heat and drizzle them with high-quality olive oil.
Sichuan-Style Smashed Cucumber Salad
Sichuan cuisine is known for its numbing heat, but, happily, it also balances that heat with a number of fresh, light pickles. Though this cucumber salad is great for counteracting the effects of spicy foods, it's also a wonderfully refreshing snack on its own. The key is to smash the cucumber rather than simply slicing it: That way, you get some crisp bits, mixed in with the pulverized mash that effectively soaks up flavor from vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil.
Grilled Scallion Pancakes
Grilled scallion pancakes are a fun alternative to the traditional kind. Start out the same way by rolling the dough once, flattening it, and rolling it a second (and perhaps even a third) time to create many individual layers for extra crispness. Once the pancakes are rolled out, brush them with oil and set them on a hot grill. While scallion pancakes are usually doughy and moist, these turn out puffier, with an almost cracker-like crust.
Fully Loaded Vegan Queso Dip
Feed this dip to a friend who didn't know any better and she'd never guess it was vegan. We start with a base of our vegan nacho cheese sauce, made with vegetable shortening, potatoes, and nuts. To that, we add our vegan chorizo, black beans, Ro*Tel tomatoes, avocado, and chilies. I'm an unabashed omnivore, but I honestly consider this to be one of the best queso dips I've ever tried.
Israeli-Style Extra-Smooth Hummus
Store-bought hummus made after the Israeli fashion is super creamy, but generally lacking in flavor. Meanwhile, you can get tons of good flavor out of homemade hummus (that is, if you're using dried beans and our garlicky tahini sauce), but achieving that smoothness is a challenge. To get there, we offer two essential tips: First, overcook the chickpeas, until they're totally falling apart. Second, purée them in a blender, skins and all, while they're still hot.
The Best Baba Ganoush
A fantastic baba ganoush depends, again, on two unusual steps. The first is to cook your eggplant thoroughly—really thoroughly, past the point when you think it's done, until it's completely tender. The second, a bit more unorthodox, is to spin it dry in a salad spinner, which dehydrates the eggplant, concentrating its flavor and giving the dip a better texture. After that, just add garlic and lemon juice and slowly stir in tahini and olive oil to emulsify it.
The Best Tabbouleh Salad
Let's get one thing out of the way: Tabbouleh is parsley salad. Parsley is the main ingredient, and the bulgur wheat is just a mix-in. Got it? Once that's established, tabbouleh is all about the little touches. Salting and draining your parsley and tomato well removes excess liquid that would otherwise leave your salad watery. But don't discard that tomato juice—instead, add more flavor to the dish by using it to soak the bulgur.
Za'atar (Thyme-, Sesame-, and Sumac-Spiced) Popcorn
Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend usually made with sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, and tart sumac. Its complex lineup of flavors makes it an incredibly easy way to upgrade a standard bowl of popcorn: Toss the popcorn with olive oil, sprinkle on some za'atar, and start gorging.
Easy No-Knead Olive-Rosemary Focaccia With Pistachios
Thanks to a highly hydrated dough and plenty of olive oil, this focaccia takes only 15 minutes of active time, and zero kneading or stretching—just let it rise overnight, then move it to a cast iron skillet and let it stretch itself out. Cooked in a very hot oven, the bread develops a tender crumb and a crisp, herb-scented crust, studded with bits of olive and sweet chopped nuts.