In the realm of culinary exploration, plant-based cooking often carries a mystique of complexity. Many envision intricate recipes requiring hours of preparation and an array of exotic ingredients. However, the reality is quite different. Plant-based cooking methods can be as simple and approachable as any other culinary endeavor. By mastering a few key techniques, you can unlock a world of flavorful and satisfying dishes that celebrate the bounty of nature. Let’s delve into the versatile methods of grilling, sautéing, roasting, air frying, slow cooking, pressure cooking, boiling, and steaming, discovering their simplicity and the wide array of plant-based delights they can create.

7 Simple Plant-Based Cooking Methods


  • What it is: Grilling involves cooking food directly over an open flame or heat source. You can use an outdoor grill, a grill pan on your stove, or a tabletop indoor grill.
  • How to do it: Preheat your grill, season your ingredients, and place them directly onto the grill grates, flipping as needed until cooked.
  • Plant-based foods to grill:
    1. Portobello mushrooms
    2. Eggplant slices
    3. Bell peppers
    4. Zucchini and squash
    5. Pineapple slices
    6. Corn on the cob
    7. Tofu slices
    8. Plant-based mock meats (like burgers, brats, italian sausages, and hot dogs)


  • What it is: Sautéing is a quick cooking method that involves frying food in a small amount of oil or liquid over medium to high heat.
  • How to do it: Heat oil or liquid in a skillet, add your ingredients, and stir frequently until they are cooked through. Frequently, cooking until the ingredients attain a subtly caramelized texture enhances their rich, robust flavors to their fullest extent.
  • Plant-based foods to sauté:
    1. Onions and garlic, which are the base for many of our easy plant-based recipes because of their fragrant nature
    2. Spinach or kale
    3. Tofu or tempeh
    4. Broccoli or cauliflower florets
    5. Mushrooms
    6. Green beans or asparagus
    7. Some plant-based mock meats (like veggie meatless crumbles)

Baking and Roasting:

  • What it is: Baking and roasting are similar oven methods, but typically roasting entails cooking food in an oven at a higher heat, allowing for caramelization and intensified flavors.
  • How to do it: Preheat your oven, toss your ingredients with a small bit of oil (most common olive oil for health benefits vs other oils), season according to taste, spread ingredients on a baking sheet, and roast until tender and golden brown.
  • Plant-based foods to roast:
    1. Root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets)
    2. Brussels sprouts
    3. Cauliflower or broccoli
    4. Butternut squash
    5. Cherry tomatoes (to bring out the natural sweetness)
    6. Cubes of tofu
    7. Chickpeas
    8. Our favorite baking/roasting recipe: MEDITERRANEAN SWEET POTATOES

Air Frying:

  • What it is: Air frying is a cooking method that uses hot air circulated by a fan to cook food, resulting in a crispy exterior. Tabletop air fryers are widely available and typically come at a reasonable price point. While some ovens offer an air fryer setting, they often leave behind a bit of a mess. Air fryers are our #1 recommended USEFUL KITCHEN GADGET for a plant-based kitchen. We use ours nearly every day.
  • How to do it: Place your ingredients in the air fryer basket, set the temperature and time, and let the air fryer work its magic.
  • Plant-based foods to air fry:
    1. French fries (from potatoes or sweet potatoes)
    2. Brussels sprouts or broccoli
    3. Tofu or tempeh cubes
    4. Seasoned chickpeas
    5. Many plant-based mock meats (like vegan chicken patties & nuggets)

Slow Cooking:

  • What it is: Slow cooking entails gently simmering food at low temperatures over an extended period, resulting in delectably tender and flavorful dishes. One of its key advantages lies in its convenience—you can simply toss all ingredients into the pot in the morning, allowing them to simmer throughout the day until you return home to a wonderfully aromatic, piping hot meal.
  • How to do it: Add your ingredients to the slow cooker, set the temperature and time, and let it cook slowly until done.
  • Plant-based foods to slow cook:
    1. Soups & chilis with lentils or dried beans. *Dried beans are a perfect match for the slow cooker, offering exceptional results. Not only are they highly economical, but when using a slow cooker, there’s no need for pre-soaking.
    2. Spaghetti Sauce
    3. Our favorite slow cooker recipe: SLOW COOKER 15-BEAN SOUP

Pressure Cooking:

  • What it is: Pressure cooking uses steam pressure to cook food quickly, retaining nutrients and flavors. The most common brand of pressure cooker is the Instant Pot, but many manufacturers carry their own line of pressure cookers. 
  • How to do it: Add ingredients and liquid to the pressure cooker, seal the lid, and cook at high pressure for the specified time. Cook time is greatly reduced for pressure cooking but additional time for pressurizing and depressurizing should be accounted for.  The real benefit of this method is that you don’t have to stir anything as it cooks – allowing you to set it and actively do something else while the food is cooking. If you are interested in a pressure cooker check out Food Networks 6 BEST ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKERS to find the right one for you.
  • Plant-based foods to pressure cook:
    1. Dried beans (black beans, chickpeas, lentils)
    2. Rice and grains (like brown rice)
    3. Risotto with mushrooms or vegetables
    4. Our favorite pressure cooker recipe: HEARTY LENTIL SOUP


  • What it is: Boiling involves cooking food in hot water or a flavorful liquid at a constant temperature. This is a basic cooking method but noted because it is important.
  • How to do it: Bring a pot of water or liquid to a boil, add your ingredients, and cook until they reach the desired doneness.
  • Plant-based foods to boil:
    1. Pasta and noodles
    2. Potatoes for mashed potatoes or potato salad
    3. Whole grains like quinoa, couscous, barley, rice
    4. Dried beans and legumes at a slow long simmer
    5. Corn on the cob
    6. Leafy greens like kale or collard greens


  • What it is: Steaming involves cooking food by exposing it to steam from boiling water. This method of cooking retains the natural flavors and nutrients of vegetables and other plant-based ingredients.
  • How to do it: Place your ingredients in a steamer basket or tray above simmering water and cover until cooked.
  • Plant-based foods to steam:
    1. Broccoli and cauliflower florets
    2. Carrots and green beans
    3. Artichokes
    4. Vegetable dumplings
    5. Tofu or tempeh

Plant-based cooking methods offer a rich tapestry of flavors and textures, limited only by your imagination. By mastering these plant-based cooking methods—grilling, sautéing, roasting, air frying, slow cooking,  pressure cooking, boiling, and steaming — you can effortlessly elevate your culinary creations. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice in the kitchen, these plant-based cooking methods invite you to explore the vibrant world of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, transforming them into delightful dishes that nourish both body and soul. Embrace the simplicity, creativity, and abundance of plant-based cooking, and let your taste buds rejoice in the flavors of nature.