The top 10 high calorie vegan foods include nuts and nut butters, seeds and seed butters, legumes, hearty grains, dried or fatty fruits, starchy vegetables and some oils. Plant-based eating will help you conquer your weight gain goals while optimizing your health.

Top 10 high calorie vegan foods to put on weight

People often think that meat, dairy and eggs are necessary to put on weight or muscle mass due to their high calorie, low-fiber content. However, strong evidence links animal products to numerous chronic diseases. Thankfully, vegan foods can help you gain weight in a healthful way. If you’re looking for high calorie vegan foods to add to your diet to gain or maintain your weight, look no further.

Below is an extensive reference guide to high calorie vegan foods categorized by food group. Recipe ideas are listed for each ingredient. While some sources compare equivalent amounts of foods (such as 100 grams of everything), the following is meant to be a practical guide, providing comparisons of typical serving sizes of each food. Data is sourced from the USDA Food Data Central.

1. Grains (cooked)

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Vital wheat gluten100g (about ½ cup)370Seitan “Wheat Meat” made almost entirely from wheat gluten
Wheat flour100g (about ½ cup)332Best Applesauce Waffles
Amaranth1 cup251Lentil and Amaranth Patties
Quinoa1 cup222Quinoa Chile Verde
Protein Pasta (ie Barilla spaghetti)1 cup220One pot spaghetti (sub high protein spaghetti)
Brown rice1 cup218Vegan Poke Bowl
White rice1 cup205Enchilada Rice
Oats1 cup166Homemade granola
Savory Oatmeal
Use instead of flour Add to shakes  
Buckwheat groats1 cup155Muesli
Farro1 cup133Roasted Broccoli Farro Bowls
Wheat germ, toasted2 Tbsp (1 oz)108Add to baked goods, oatmeal and smoothies.
Wheat Germ Blueberry Muffins

2. Nuts

Although calorie-dense nuts are perfect atop salads and in trail mix, they’re far more versatile than that. Nuts can create creamy sauces, plant-based “cheeses,” hearty stews, sweet and savory spreads, and vegan “meats,” to name a few. Pair nuts with greens to increase nutrient absorption.

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Macadamia nuts½ cup481 Vegan cream cheese
Lime coconut macadamia granola
Pine nuts½ cup454Vegan parmesan (to top soups, pastas and salads)
Brazil nuts½ cup438Brazil nut cheese
Vegan Spanakopita
Hazelnuts½ cup424Vegan Nutella
Peanuts½ cup414African peanut stew
Cashews½ cup393Vegan nacho cheese
Vegan parmesan
Butternut squash mac ‘n cheese
Walnuts½ cup383Lentil walnut taco crumbles
Pistachios½ cup344Pistachio pesto (great for pasta, sandwich spreads)
Pecans½ cup342Kale sweet potato salad with maple mustard dressing
Almonds½ cup313 Almond ricotta on toast
Chestnuts½ cup175Pumpkin-cinnamon chestnut rolls
Chestnut Lentil Loaf
Chestnut Mushroom Stuffing
Chestnut and Roasted Cauliflower Soup

3. Nut Butters

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Almond butter¼ cup392Mix into smoothies, spread on toast, or add to oatmeal.
Peanut butter¼ cup378Mix into smoothies, spread on toast, or add to oatmeal.
Reese’s Breakfast Smoothie
Thai Peanut Noodle Bowl
Cashew butter¼ cup376Cashew Cherry Granola Bars
Creamy one pot pasta with broccolini

4. Seeds

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Pumpkin seeds, shelled1/4 cup204Gingerbread Granola
Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo
Sesame seeds, toasted1 oz (about 2 Tbsp)160Kimchi Fried Rice
Vegan Poke Bowls
Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
Hemp seeds, shelled1 oz (about 2 Tbsp)179 Acai bowls
Flax seeds1 oz (about 2 Tbsp)152Add to smoothies and oatmeal
Use “flax egg” as egg substitute in baking
Veggie Cutlets with Flax and Oats
*Consuming them ground helps your body to absorb the omega-3s.
Chia seeds1 oz (about 2 Tbsp)138Add to smoothies and oatmeal
Chai Chia Pudding
*Consuming them ground helps your body to absorb the omega-3s.
Sunflower seeds, salted, shelled¼ cup204 Nut-free sunflower cheese

5. Seed Butters

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Tahini2 Tbsp210Maple tahini salad dressing
Creamy tahini salad dressing
Creamy one pot pasta with broccolini
Sunflower butter2 Tbsp200Sunbutter Energy Bites 

6. Oils

In small doses and when replacing animal-based fats, olive oil can be health-promoting and help promote weight gain. Unsaturated plant-based fats like olive oil are more healthful than saturated plant-based fats like coconut oil, which are solid at room temperature. However, both can help you meet your calorie goals. This is because they are calorie dense, but don’t cause us to feel as full as the same amount of calories from other sources.

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Coconut oil1 Tbsp121Vegan chocolate fudge
Extra virgin olive oil1 Tbsp119Sea Salt Olive Oil Brownies
Plant-based butters1 Tbsp100Use as you would dairy-based versions

7. Legumes (beans, peas & lentils, cooked)

Legumes help regulate blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol and have cancer-fighting capabilities. They are so nutritious that the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends eating them daily. However, if you’re unaccustomed to it, eating large quantities of beans can be difficult at first due to the large amount of fiber. Fiber pushes against the stretch receptors in our stomachs, causing us to feel more full more quickly. Adding a plant-based protein powder made from beans, peas and seeds to smoothies can be an easy way to bump up your calorie intake without as much fiber.

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Tofu (firm)1 cup363Hummus Tofu Lasagna

Tempeh1 cup319Marinated Baked Tempeh
Adzuki beans1 cup294Adzuki Bean Coconut Curry
Chickpeas1 cup269Hummus (156 calories per ¼ cup)
Moroccan-Style Veggie Couscous
Navy beans`1 cup255Smoky Navy Bean Soup
Soybeans1 cup254Vegan Ramen Stir Fry
Lentils1 cup230Lentil Bolognese
Black beans1 cup227Black Bean Burgers
Kidney beans1 cup225 Tender Teriyaki “meatballs”
Cannellini beans1 cup220Roasted Garlic and White Bean Dip with Rosemary 
Mushroom Bourguignon
Mung beans1 cup212Mung Bean Cauliflower Curry
Lima beans (butter beans)1 cup209Butter Beans with Hot “Honey”
Edamame (soybeans)1 cup188Crunchy Edamame Salad
Fava beans1 cup187Fava Bean Spread
Black-eyed peas1 cup160Smoky Black Eyed Peas and Greens
Soymilk (Silk)1 cup100Golden Milk
Use in smoothies, oatmeal

8. Dried Fruits

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Dates, dried, pitted, chopped½ cup251Tahini Date Caramel
Coconut meat (fresh)½ cup233Vegan Ceviche
Raisins, packed½ cup246Curried Chickpea Salad
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Lara bars
Plantain1 medium (179 g)218Vegan Caribbean Curry
Dried pineapple½ cup200Almost-Everything Trailmix
Dried coconut flakes, unsweet1 oz (about 2 Tbsp)187Braised Coconut and Spinach Chickpeas with Lemon
Dried figs½ cup185Fig Newton Cookie Bites
Dried Fig Red Wine Jam
Dried apricots½ cup156Moroccan Couscous
Banana1 large121Banana bread
And much more
Mango (fresh)1 cup, chopped
(165 g)
100Cuban Black Bean and Mango Bowl
Fresh mango salsa

9. Fatty Fruits

Free Sliced Avocado Stock Photo
Coconut flesh½ cup233Vegan Ceviche
Coconut cream¼ cup120oatmeal, soups, entrees, smoothies, and even desserts 
Chocolate Coconut Smoothie
Avocado1 fruit227Cowboy Caviar  Salads
Avocado Ranch Dressing 
Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

10. Starchy Vegetables

FoodServingCalories (kcal)Recipe Ideas
Cassava (nutty, starchy root vegetable)0.5 root326Cassava fries
White potato1 large275Potato Tikka Masala
Sweet potato1 cup, cubed144Endless versatile options – even sweet potato brownies
Green peas (cooked)1 cup134Vegan mac ‘n cheese with green peas
Corn1 ear123Corn chowder

4 tips for weight gain to supplement this high calorie vegan food guide

  1. Break up your meals into 5-6 smaller meals. Be sure to eat breakfast to keep up your appetite and have a bedtime snack.
  2. Don’t go too heavy on the beans, as legumes have high amounts of fiber. Although fiber is essential for health, to up calorie intake, consume only your recommended daily fiber intake.
  3. Drink water after your meals, not before. You may feel fuller faster if you drink water before meals.
  4. Meal prep. Have easy-to-grab, high-calorie meals and snacks ready to make eating caloric, nutritious foods easy.
  5. Post this vegan calorie density chart on your refrigerator. Add these foods to your grocery list and meal planning.

3 tips to increase appetite and volume of food intake

  1. Read or watch TV while eating to take your focus off the food to make it easier to eat.
  2. Set phone alarm or Google calendar reminders to eat.
  3. Exercise to increase your appetite.

High calorie vegan foods “in a nutshell”

Calorie dense vegan foods include nuts and nut butters, seeds and seed butters, legumes, hearty grains, dried or fatty fruits, starchy vegetables and some oils to your diet. Additionally, break up your meals, drink water after meals, and have high-calorie foods readily available. If your appetite is poor, have pleasant distractions during mealtimes, set reminders and be sure to exercise.

With this reference guide for high calorie vegan foods, gaining and maintaining healthy weight on a plant-based diet can be a piece of (vegan) cake!

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