Mastering Catering with Vegetarian Options Made Easy

By Jason McIntosh

Exploring the world of event planning means recognizing that food is at the heart of any successful gathering. In today's health-conscious and diverse society, catering with vegetarian options isn't just a nice-to-have; it's essential. With more people leaning towards plant-based diets for ethical, environmental, or health reasons, offering a menu that includes hearty and satisfying vegetarian dishes becomes crucial. It's not about removing meat from the equation but adding variety and creativity to cater to everyone’s taste buds.

This guide walks you through everything from appetizers that'll have guests talking long after they've left, to main courses that stand tall next to their meaty counterparts—without forgetting those vegetarian dessert options which prove sweet endings that just might be the most important part of the meal.

Table of Contents:

Vegetarian Catering Menu Ideas for Your Next Event

Catering with vegetarian options is a game-changer for events. It's not just about providing options for your veggie-loving guests. It's about creating a menu that everyone will enjoy, regardless of their dietary preferences. The key to completing successful vegetarian catering orders is variety. You want to offer a range of dishes that will satisfy even the most discerning palates. From appetizers to desserts, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from. 

Hors D'Oeuvres

Start your event off right with some tasty vegetarian hors d'oeuvres, appetizers and finger foods. Some crowd-pleasing options include:

  • Caprese skewers with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil 
  • Hummus and veggie platters with pita bread or crackers 
  • Bruschetta with tomato, garlic, and olive oil on toasted baguette slices 
  • Spanakopita (Greek spinach and feta pastries) 
  • Vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili dipping sauce
  • Tortilla chips and salsa

These appetizers are not only delicious but also easy to eat while mingling with other guests.


Main Course Dishes

For the main event, you'll want to offer a selection of hearty and satisfying vegetarian dishes. Some tasty options include:  

  • Eggplant parmesan or lasagna 
  • Stuffed portobello mushrooms 
  • Vegetable curry with rice 
  • Pasta primavera loaded with fresh veggies 
  • Vegetarian chili or stew
  • Veggie burgers or black bean burgers 

Salads and Sides

The main course options above are sure to please even the most skeptical meat-eaters in the crowd. Don't forget about the salads and sides. These side dishes can be just as important as the main course. 

  • Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables 
  • Kale Caesar salad with vegetarian Caesar dressing 
  • Roasted root vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes 
  • Grilled vegetable platter with zucchini, peppers, asparagus, etc. 
  • Wild rice pilaf with dried cranberries and pecans 

These sides and salads add color, texture, and flavor to your vegetarian menu.

Desserts and Sweets

No meal is complete without something sweet. Vegetarian-friendly dessert catering options include: 

  • Fresh fruit salad or fruit skewers 
  • Chocolate avocado mousse 
  • Vegan cupcakes or cookies 
  • Panna cotta with berry compote 
  • Poached pears in red wine sauce 

Panna Cotta with berry compote.

These desserts prove that you don't need animal products to create something delicious and indulgent. When planning your vegetarian menu, don't be afraid to get creative. Work with your catering company to come up with unique and flavorful dishes that will wow your guests. With the right menu options, your event is sure to be a success.

Catering With Vegetarian Options to Accommodate Dietary Needs

When it comes to vegetarian friendly catering, it's important to consider the different dietary needs of your guests. Not all vegetarians eat the same way, and some may have additional restrictions or preferences. The good news is that many vegetarian dishes are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan. With a little bit of planning, you can create a menu that accommodates a wide range of dietary needs. For guests with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it's important to offer gluten-free options. Many vegetarian dishes are naturally gluten-free, such as: 

  • Rice noodle dishes instead of wheat pasta 
  • Gluten free breads and crackers for appetizers/sandwiches 
  • Quinoa, rice, or potato-based sides vs couscous or barley
  • Flourless desserts like pavlova with fresh fruit 

By offering these options, you can ensure that everyone at your event can enjoy the food without worrying about gluten.

Dairy-Free Alternatives

Some vegetarians also avoid dairy products, either for health reasons or because they follow a vegan diet. To accommodate these guests, consider offering dairy-free alternatives such as: 

  • Nut milks like almond, soy, or coconut milk instead of cow's milk 
  • Vegan cheese made from cashews, soy, or vegetable oils 
  • Coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil instead of butter 
  • Tofu-based cream cheese, sour cream, or mayo 
  • Sorbet or dairy-free ice cream for dessert 

These substitutions can be just as delicious as their dairy counterparts, and they allow everyone to enjoy the meal.

Vegan Catering Choices

For guests who follow a vegan diet, it's important to offer a vegan menu that is free of all animal products, including eggs and honey. Some tasty vegan options include: 

  • Hummus and veggie wraps in spinach or whole grain tortillas 
  • Tofu or tempeh stir fry with vegetables 
  • Lentil shepherd's pie with mashed potato topping 
  • Stuffed bell peppers with quinoa and black beans 
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce and vegan "meatballs"
  • Vegan burgers with carmelized onion

By incorporating these vegan-friendly choices into your menu, you can show your vegan guests that you care about their dietary needs and preferences. When planning your vegan food, be sure to communicate with your guests about their dietary restrictions. You can include a question about dietary needs on your event invitation or registration form. This will help you plan accordingly and ensure that everyone has something delicious to eat.

Popular Vegetarian Ingredients and Meat Alternatives

When it comes to catering with vegetarian options, there are plenty of delicious ingredients and alternatives to choose from. These options are not only tasty but also packed with protein and other essential nutrients. Tofu and tempeh are versatile soy-based proteins that can be used in a variety of dishes. Firm tofu is great for stir-fries, scrambles, and baked dishes, while tempeh has a heartier texture and can be marinated, grilled, or crumbled into sauces. Both tofu and tempeh are excellent sources of protein, making them a popular choice for vegetarian and vegan diets. They also absorb flavors well, so they can be seasoned and prepared in many different ways.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are another great source of plant-based protein. They're also high in fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Some popular options include: 

  • Black beans 
  • Chickpeas 
  • Lentils 
  • Kidney beans 

These fresh ingredients can be used in a variety of dishes, such as soups, stews, salads, tacos, and veggie burgers. They're also relatively inexpensive, making them a budget-friendly option for catering. 

Nuts and seeds are a great way to add healthy fats, protein, and texture to vegetarian dishes. They can be used as toppings for salads, blended into sauces and dressings, or incorporated into baked goods and desserts. 

Some popular options include: 

  • Almonds 
  • Walnuts 
  • Pumpkin seeds 
  • Sunflower seeds 

Nuts and seeds are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.

Vegetable-Based Proteins

Many fresh vegetables are also good sources of protein, especially dark leafy greens, broccoli, mushrooms, and potatoes. These organic ingredients can be featured in main dishes, sides, and salads for an extra protein boost. For example, you could offer a kale and quinoa salad with roasted sweet potatoes and a tahini dressing. Or, you could serve portobello mushroom caps stuffed with a mixture of rice, vegetables, and herbs. By incorporating these vegetarian ingredients and meat alternatives into your catering menu, you can create dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Your guests will appreciate the variety and creativity of your menu options.

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Ensuring Delicious and Satisfying Vegetarian Dishes

Just because a dish is vegetarian doesn't mean it has to be bland or boring. With the right ingredients and techniques, you can create vegetarian dishes that are just as delicious and satisfying as their meat-based counterparts. The key is to focus on flavor, texture, and presentation. By using a variety of seasonings, sauces, and cooking methods, you can create dishes that are both tasty and visually appealing. One way to add flavor to vegetarian dishes is by using tasty sauces and dressings. 

Some options include: 

  • Pesto 
  • Romesco sauce 
  • Tahini dressing 
  • Coconut curry sauce 
  • Balsamic glaze 

These sauces can be used to marinate tofu or tempeh, toss with roasted vegetables, or drizzle over salads and grain bowls. They add depth and complexity to your dishes, making them more interesting and satisfying.

Hearty and Filling Ingredients

To make vegetarian dishes more satiating, it's important to include hearty and filling ingredients. 

Some options include: 

  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes 
  • Winter squash 
  • Lentils and beans
  • Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and farro
  • Pasta 

These ingredients provide complex carbohydrates and fiber, which can help keep you feeling full and energized. They also add texture and substance to your dishes, making them more satisfying overall.

Colorful and Appealing Presentations

Finally, don't forget about the presentation. Vegetarian dishes can be just as beautiful and appealing as any other cuisine. Use a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, garnishes, and plating techniques to make your dishes look as good as they taste. For example, you could create a rainbow salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, yellow bell peppers, blueberries, and purple cabbage. Or, you could serve a vegetable curry with a vibrant mix of red, orange, and green vegetables over a bed of fluffy rice. By focusing on flavor, heartiness, and presentation, you can create vegetarian dishes that will wow your guests and leave them feeling satisfied and impressed.

Tips for Ordering Vegetarian Catering for Your Event

Now that you have some ideas for your vegetarian catering menu, it's time to start planning your event. Here are some tips to keep in mind when ordering vegetarian catering: When ordering vegetarian catering, it's important to consider portion sizes. Some guests may eat larger portions of meatless dishes, so it's a good idea to plan for about 30% more food than you would for a standard meat-based menu. Your caterer can help you determine the appropriate quantities based on the number of guests and the type of event you're hosting. They can also provide guidance on how much of each dish to order based on popularity and dietary preferences.

Communicating with Your Caterer

Clear communication with your caterer is key to ensuring a successful event. Be sure to discuss your needs and expectations upfront, including: 

  • Number of vegetarian guests 
  • Advance notice for dietary restrictions (gluten-free, nut allergies, etc.) 
  • Preferred cuisine or dish examples
  • Budget per person 
  • Event timeline and service style 

By providing your caterer with as much information as possible, you can help them create an entirely vegetarian menu that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations.

Considering Variety and Balance

When planning your vegetarian catering menu, it's important to consider variety and balance. You want to offer a range of dishes that are both tasty and nutritionally balanced. Some things to keep in mind include: 

  • Offering both hot and cold dishes 
  • Including appetizers, main courses, sides, and desserts 
  • Providing a mix of dishes with different protein sources (beans, tofu, nuts, etc.) 
  • Incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables 
  • Balancing familiar dishes with a few unique or creative options 

By offering a variety of dishes that are both delicious and nutritious, you can ensure that all of your guests will find something they enjoy. In conclusion, vegetarian catering is a great option for events of all types and sizes. If it's a wedding reception, small group, or corporate events your plant-based guests will be thrilled. By following these tips and working closely with your caterer, you can create a menu that is both satisfying and memorable for all of your guests.

 Key Takeaway:  

Vegetarian catering isn't just for those who skip meat; it's about crafting a menu that dazzles everyone. Focus on variety, from appetizers to desserts, and consider guests' dietary needs for a surefire event success. Creative dishes with flavorful sauces and hearty ingredients can be both delicious and satisfying.



Catering and Curate

Whether you are a strictly vegetarian or vegan caterer it's important to note how you can streamline your catering business with Curate. From creating dazzling proposals to quickly creating menus from recipes, Curate could be the next step to saving you time from proposals to production to profitability. We currently offer a free trial to get you on your way to business efficiency.


As we wrap up this culinary journey into catering with vegetarian options, remember it’s all about balance—balancing flavors, textures, and nutritional value in each dish served. The art lies not in simply subtracting animal products but in embracing an abundance of grains, legumes, vegetables,and fruits—a canvas for creativity.

Caterers who excel in this area know something vital: they're not merely providing food; they’re crafting experiences. These vegetarian meals tell stories of culture, sustainability, and innovation.With these tips, you’ve got what it takes to turn every plate into a conversation starter. So here’s to menus filled with color, vibrance, and life. Cheers!

Tags: catering, vegetarian


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