The most complete list of brown vegetables, EVER. From pictures, fun facts, taste, and how to cook them, we got you covered. 😉🤎
From humble potatoes to earthy and umami mushrooms, discover the unique flavors and textures that these brown vegetables can bring to your dishes!
Table of Content
- Introduction and disclaimer
- 15 Vegetables
- 6 Mushrooms
- 6 Beans, Legumes, and Grains
- 8 Nuts
- Bonus: Fun Trivia Questions!
Intro and Disclaimer
Thirty-five brown vegetables that make the most comprehensive and most detailed list you can find on the World Wide Web, aka the Internet! (Okay, they are technically not the same but hey, they’re interchangeable when we’re not speaking too technically 🤓).
Using the broad definition of vegetables as any edible plant part, this list of brown vegetables names also includes beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. I have to live up to its title as the most extensive guide on the internet, right? 😉
Alrights, without further ado………..🥁🥁🥁
Fun fact(s): The potato is the world’s fourth-largest food crop and originates from the Andean region of South America. And if you’re looking for a special day to eat potatoes, try August 19 which is National Potato Day!🥔
Taste and texture: Potatoes have a mild, earthy taste and a starchy, creamy texture when cooked. A quick tip here is to always leave the skin on as the skin has more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals than just eating the flesh!
Uses: Fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, boiled, and turned into chips are just some of the ways you can cook with potatoes! It’s a super versatile ingredient!
And in case you’re looking for dips/sauces to go with your fried/baked/boiled potatoes, check out my 5-Minute Kimchi Aioli recipe and 3-Minute Gochujang Aioli recipes! Or if you prefer a more neutral dip, try my Vegan Oil-free Mayonnaise (from Tofu)!
2. Yellow Onion
Fun fact(s): Yellow onions are the most popular onion variety, making up 75% of the global onion production!
Taste and Texture: Yellow onions have a slightly sweet and pungent taste with a crisp texture when raw. When cooked, they become soft and sweet.
Uses: Yellow onions are commonly used as a base for various dishes, such as soups, sauces, stir-fries, and pasta (like in my Creamy Tandoori Sauce Pasta recipe). Another popular one is Caramelized Onions and Mushroom, a delicious and versatile side dish!
Fun fact(s): People often describe shallots as a cross between onions and garlic. Although taste-wise this is correct, it’s not like they were not genetically crossed in a lab or something like that, as described in this GroEat article. Each of them is a natural plant variety on its own!
Taste and Texture: Shallots have a milder, sweeter taste compared to onions. Texture-wise, it has the same texture as other onions. So they are crisp when raw, but they get softer when cooked.
Uses: Shallots add a unique flavor to dishes and are often used in dressings and vinaigrettes. Fried shallots are also used as garnishes in many Asian cuisines. In Indonesian cooking, garlic and shallots almost always go together which is also what I’m doing in My Mum’s Authentic Vegan Rendang (Using Jackfruit) recipe!
Fun fact(s): Ginger has a long history of medicinal use and is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia.
Taste and Texture: Ginger has a spicy and warming taste, along with a fibrous and crunchy texture. It is considered an aromatic since it packs a lot of flavor, similar to garlic and onion.
Uses: Ginger is a staple in Asian cuisine and is used in stir-fries (such as this Indonesian Sticky Tempeh recipe), curries, and soups for its distinctive flavor. They are also great additions to marinades, like in my No-Cook Marinated Tofu recipe. Moreover, it is also often used in herbal drinks (ginger tea and ginger shots, anyone?) and desserts.
Fun fact(s): They look like carrots, but they are not exactly carrots. Anyways, parsnips were used as a sweetener before beet and cane sugar became widely available in Europe.
Taste and Texture: Parsnips have a sweet, nutty flavor with a tender yet slightly fibrous texture.
Uses: You can use parsnips by roasting, boiling, mashing, or adding them to soups and stews, offering a unique sweetness and nuttiness to your dishes. For a more unique twist, try subbing potatoes with parsnip to make some parsnip / mixed root vegetable hash browns!
Fun fact(s): In Indonesia where I’m originally from, cassava to us is like how potatoes are to Westerners. So instead of serving fried with dipping sauces, we would serve boiled/steamed cassava with desiccated coconut and palm sugar syrup. And instead of eating potato chips, cassava chips are just as popular!
If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend checking out this article from Ubud Food Festival!
Taste and Texture: When cooked, cassava has a mild, nutty flavor and a starchy, dense texture. It is similar to a potato, but more fibrous.
Uses: Cassava can be boiled, fried, mashed, or used to make flour. Some dishes that use cassava are cassava fries, chips, bread, and even dessert.
Taste and Texture: They have a slightly sweet and nutty taste with a starchy, smooth, and creamy texture when cooked.
Uses: Taro is often used in both savory and sweet dishes, such as taro chips, taro cakes, soups, and desserts. It is also a very popular flavor in Asian desserts such as taro ice cream, taro bubble tea, and taro mochi!
Fun fact(s): This brown root vegetable can grow up to 1.5 meters! For a root vegetable, that’s pretty tall!
Taste and Texture: Malanga has a nutty and slightly sweet taste similar to taro. It is also starchy, firm when raw, and gets creamy when cooked.
Uses: In Caribbean, Latin American, and African cuisines, malanga is often used in dishes such as soups, stews, and fritters. People also often make mashed malanga (puré de malanga) as a side dish.
Fun fact(s): Yams hold important cultural significance in African and Caribbean societies. It reminds me of the book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, where yams symbolize masculinity and become a status symbol of a man’s ability to support his family.
Taste and Texture: Yams have a slightly sweet taste and a starchy, firm texture that softens when cooked, similar to sweet potatoes.
Uses: Yams can be boiled, baked, fried, or used in soups and stews, and they are also popular in desserts and casseroles.
Fun fact(s): You probably have never seen this vegetable if you live outside Europe, but it is quite popular in many central and southern European countries!
Taste and Texture: Salsify has a subtle oyster-like flavor when cooked. So if you ever need a vegan alternative for some oyster taste, you know what to use! 😉
Some people also describe its taste as being similar to artichokes!
Uses: Salsify can be boiled, sautéed, or used in soups and stews; similar to the usual ways you would use root vegetables.
11. Jerusalem Artichoke
Fun fact(s): Not gonna lie, I thought this was an aromatic vegetable similar to ginger and turmeric. But it’s not. Also, turns out that the Jerusalem artichoke is not actually an artichoke but a sunflower species! 🤯 I wonder who gave this name hahaha.
Taste and Texture: Jerusalem artichoke has a unique sweet, nutty flavor with a crisp and slightly crunchy texture when raw, becoming tender and creamy when cooked.
Uses: You can use them in soups, salads, roasted vegetable sheet pans, and gratins. I really like just roasting them or adding them to soups so I highly recommend you to try some!
Fun fact(s): Celeriac, also known as knob celery, is cultivated for its bulbous root rather than its stalks, which are more commonly associated with regular celery stalks.
Taste and Texture: It has a mild celery-like flavor with a dense, firm texture, similar to that of a turnip or potato. Kinda like potatoes with a kick, if you will.
Uses: Celeriac is often used in soups, stews, and gratins, and it can be mashed or pureed to add a unique flavor to dishes. It’s definitely one of my favorite winter vegetables so if you haven’t tried it yet, you know what to do! 😉
13. Water Chestnut
Fun fact(s): Water chestnuts are not nuts but aquatic vegetables, and they grow in marshes, ponds, and other shallow water bodies.
Taste and Texture: They have a crunchy, slightly sweet taste and a water chestnut-shaped bulb with a crisp texture. It reminds me of the markets in fall and winter here in Europe where the smell of roasted chestnuts is just so tempting!
Uses: In Asian cuisines, people often use them in stir-fries and as a filling in dumplings. However, two of my favorite ways to cook them are to roast them and to make chestnut soups!
14. Butternut Squash
Fun fact(s): Butternut squash is a type of winter squash and a member of the gourd family, which also includes pumpkins and zucchinis.
Taste and Texture: They have a sweet, nutty flavor and a smooth, creamy texture when cooked, similar to pumpkins.
Uses: Butternut squash is often roasted, pureed for soups, used in casseroles, or turned into a delicious pasta sauce.
15. Lotus Root
Fun fact(s): The Lotus root comes from the exact same plant as the lotus flower! It grows in muddy waters and it has distinctive holes once cut.
Taste and Texture: They have a mild, slightly sweet taste and a crunchy texture, similar to that of a water chestnut.
Uses: Lotus root is commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly in stir-fries, soups, and pickles, and it adds a unique texture and flavor to various dishes. And if you ever visit Singapore and have the chance to order a mala hot pot, this is a must-add vegetable!
16. Swiss Brown Mushrooms
Fun fact(s): Also known as brown/cremini mushrooms, they are essentially the younger version of portobello mushrooms!
Taste and Texture: Swiss brown mushrooms have a mild, earthy flavor and a firm, meaty texture when cooked, making them versatile for various dishes.
Uses: They are great for sautéing, grilling, or using in pasta dishes, stews, and risottos. Another everyday use is in the Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions recipe to be used as a side dish.
They pack so much flavor but are still versatile, making them one of the things that I regularly buy!
Fun fact(s): Portobello mushrooms are mature cremini mushrooms that have grown to a larger size. Moreover, the spelling of this mushroom is still unclear since some also spell them as portabello and portabella.
Taste and Texture: Portobello mushrooms have a robust, meaty flavor and are often used as a vegetarian meat substitute.
Uses: They are often grilled, roasted, or stuffed! Since it tastes super similar to the more affordable cremini mushrooms, I highly recommend cooking them whole instead of chopping them up to be used as a filling or toppings!
18. Brown Shimeji Mushroom
Fun fact(s): Brown shimeji mushrooms are also called beech mushrooms and are a popular ingredient in Japanese and other Asian cuisines.
Taste and Texture: Brown shimeji mushrooms have a delicate, nutty flavor and a tender, slightly crunchy texture, while their clustered appearance adds an attractive touch to dishes.
Uses: They are typically used in stir-fries, soups, and noodle dishes, as well as in hot pots and various Japanese-style meals.
19. Oyster Mushroom
Fun fact(s): Oyster mushrooms get their name from their resemblance to oysters and are available in various colors, including white, grey, and pink.
P.S. If you wanna see what pink oyster mushrooms look like, check out my list of 25 Pink Vegetables (+ Photos!)
Taste and Texture: Oyster mushrooms have a delicate, mild flavor and a tender, velvety texture, making them popular in vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Uses: Oyster mushrooms are great for sautéing, frying, or adding to soups, sauces, and stir-fries, bringing a subtle umami taste to recipes. This is my go-to ingredient whenever I’m back home in Indonesia since they are super cheap there!
20. King Oyster Mushroom
Fun fact(s): While portobello mushrooms are like the adult version of Swiss button mushrooms, king oyster mushroom is not the adult version of oyster mushroom. King oyster mushrooms are also known as king trumpet mushrooms and are valued for their large, meaty stems with less pronounced mushroom caps.
Taste and Texture: King oyster mushrooms have a rich, savory flavor and a firm, chewy texture, often compared to seafood like scallops or abalone. Another great vegan alternative!
Uses: They are perfect for grilling, roasting, or slicing into medallions, and they are often used in gourmet dishes or as a meat and fish substitute in various cuisines.
21. Shiitake Mushroom
Fun fact(s): Shiitake mushrooms have a long history of culinary and medicinal use in Asia, dating back thousands of years.
Taste and Texture: They have a distinctive, savory, and umami-rich flavor with a meaty, slightly chewy texture when cooked. Definitely one of my favorite ingredients to cook with due to its rich umami flavor!
Uses: They are often used in stir-fries, soups, noodle dishes, and as a key ingredient in vegetarian and vegan recipes due to their robust taste and texture. If you’re also a fan of sushi, I highly recommend checking out my Shiitake Roll recipe for the best of both worlds!
Beans, Legumes, and Grains
22. Pinto Beans
Fun fact(s): Pinto beans are named after the Spanish word “pinto,” meaning painted, due to their speckled appearance.
Taste and Texture: Similar to most beans, pinto beans have a creamy texture and a mild, earthy flavor when cooked.
Uses: They are commonly used in Mexican and American Southwestern cuisine, including dishes like refried beans, chilis, burritos, and soups.
23. Brown Lentils
Fun fact(s): Lentils are one of the oldest cultivated crops, dating back thousands of years. It also has many other varieties such as green, yellow, red and black lentils. And if you’d like to learn more about Black Vegetables, check out my list of 33 Black Vegetables (Photos Included!).
Taste and Texture: Brown lentils have a nutty flavor and a tender yet slightly firm texture when cooked, making them versatile for both soups and salads.
Uses: Given their texture, brown lentils are widely used in stews, curries, salads, and vegetarian dishes as they also cook very fast and absorb flavors well!
Fun fact(s): Along with lentils, chickpeas or garbanzo beans are also one of the earliest cultivated plants in the world!
Taste and Texture: Chickpeas have a mild, nutty taste and a firm, slightly grainy texture when cooked. They are also popular for their creaminess when pureed.
Uses: Chickpeas are a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine and are used in dishes like hummus, falafel, curries, salads, and stews. And if you’ve never tried making your own hummus before, give this 5-minute Hummus recipe a try! I doubt you’ll ever go back to store-bought hummus ever again! 😉
25. Soy Beans
Fun fact(s): Soybeans are unique among legumes as they are the only ones that contain a significant amount of all essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. And just like lentils, a black soybean variety also exists, as I explain in my List of 33 Black Vegetables (+ Pictures) post.
Taste and Texture: Soybeans have a mild, nutty flavor and a firm texture. However, they can be transformed into various products with distinct textures like tofu, tempeh, and soy milk.
Uses: Soybeans are used in a variety of forms, including in making tofu, soy milk, soy sauce, and as the base ingredient for various plant-based meat alternatives. They are also fermented into tempeh which is super popular in Indonesia (cues my Sticky Tempeh recipe here that is a flavor bomb and is a favorite of many!)
26. Brown Rice
Fun fact(s): Brown rice is the whole-grain form of rice, with only the outermost hull removed, which makes it more nutritious than white rice.
Taste and Texture: Brown rice has a nutty flavor and a firmer texture than white rice due to its intact bran and germ layers, and it retains its shape well when cooked.
Uses: Brown rice is a popular alternative to white rice and can be used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, rice bowls (such as in my Rainbow Poke Bowl recipe), pilafs/pulao, casseroles, and as a side dish to your mains.
Fun fact(s): Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is technically a seed, making it a suitable option for those with wheat allergies or gluten intolerance.
Taste and Texture: Buckwheat has a robust, earthy flavor with a tender, slightly chewy texture when cooked, and it is commonly used in both savory and sweet dishes.
Uses: Buckwheat is often used to make soba noodles, pancakes, and porridge, and it can be a versatile grain substitute in various recipes. They are also often sold as buckwheat flour, which is a great, healthier flour substitute to make your pancakes, waffles, banana bread, and anything else that requires flour!
Fun fact(s): Technically, peanuts are not nuts but legumes, belonging to the same family as beans and lentils.
Taste and Texture: Peanuts have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor with a crunchy texture when roasted or a creamy texture when ground into peanut butter.
Uses: Peanuts are used in various culinary applications, from both savory and sweet snacks/desserts to sauces (such as satay sauce). If you’re a fan of the peanut butter and jelly combination, try my Peanut Butter & Jelly Baked Oats (No Banana Required) recipe!
Fun fact(s): Although almonds and peaches look and taste very different, they are genetically very similar as they are both part of the Prunus genus!🍑
Taste and Texture: Almonds have a mild, subtly sweet flavor and a crunchy texture when raw, while roasted almonds have a more pronounced nutty taste.
Uses: Almonds are versatile and can be eaten on their own, used as toppings in salads, cereals, and yogurt bowls (such as in this Vegan Quark Bowl), ground into almond flour for baking, or made into almond milk.
Fun fact(s): Hazelnuts are a key ingredient in one of the world’s most popular confections: Nutella. This iconic chocolate-hazelnut spread was first created in the 1940s in Italy and has since gained a global fanbase.
P.S. Make your own Homemade Vegan Nutella (Sweetened with Dates) using my recipe here!
Taste and Texture: Hazelnuts have a rich, slightly sweet and bitter flavor with a crunchy texture when roasted and a smooth, creamy texture when ground into hazelnut butter.
Uses: Hazelnuts are commonly used in desserts, chocolates, and pastries. You can also make hazelnut milk from them. And of course, any other recipes that use Nutella technically use hazelnuts too!
Fun fact(s): Unlike most nuts which grow inside some kind of shell, cashews grow outside of a fruit called the cashew apple.
Taste and Texture: Cashews have a buttery, mild flavor and a creamy texture when roasted. When made into cashew-based sauces and creams, there is that slight cheese-like flavor to it, which is why it’s an excellent ingredient in a plant-based kitchen!
Uses: Cashews are popular in both sweet and savory dishes, used in vegan cheese substitutes, curries, stir-fries, and desserts like cashew-based cheesecakes. You can also use them to make vegan oil-free mayo!
Fun fact(s): Walnuts are known for their distinct brain-like appearance, and guess what, they’re also great for the brain! 🧠
Taste and Texture: Walnuts have a rich, slightly bitter flavor and a crunchy texture. This makes them a common addition to both sweet and savory dishes.
Uses: Walnuts are frequently used in baking, salads, pesto, and as a topping for oatmeal and yogurt. They are also used in muhammara (red pepper and walnut dip), which is one of my favorite dips!
33. Flax Seeds
Fun fact(s): Flax seeds are one of the richest plant-based sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid beneficial for heart health.
Taste and Texture: Flax seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and a relatively smooth texture when raw. When soaked, they become soft and chewy, which makes them great base ingredients for pudding! Check out my viral Flax Seed Pudding recipe (with 3 Variations) if you’re curious how they would taste like!
Uses: Flax seeds are a great source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. They are commonly used in smoothies, baked goods, granola, and as an egg substitute in vegan recipes (such as in my No Banana Baked Oats, 5 Variations recipe).
34. Sunflower Seeds
Fun fact(s): Sunflower plants grow super tall! I’ve seen plenty that are taller than me, and apparently, some varieties grow as tall as 4.5 meters (15 feet)! 🤯
Taste and Texture: Sunflower seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and a crunchy texture both when raw and roasted.
Uses: In Indonesia, sunflower seeds are often eaten just as they are as snacks. You can also use them just like you would any nuts, such as making granola bars and energy balls, as toppings for your salads, or as a garnish for your smoothie bowls.
35. Sesame Seeds
Fun fact(s): Sesame seeds are the oldest oilseed crop and it has been cultivated for over 4,000 years!
Taste and Texture: Sesame seeds have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and a crunchy texture, particularly when toasted. It’s a super flavorful and aromatic seed, making it one of my favorite ingredients to work with!
Uses: They are commonly used as a garnish for bread, buns, and cookies, and they are a key ingredient in tahini (sesame paste) and various Asian dishes like in Chinese sesame noodles, Japanese gomashio (sesame salt garnish), and in sesame mochi!
Bonus: Fun Trivia Questions!
Some root vegetables with brown skin are cassava, potato, sweet potato, taro, celeriac, malanga, yam, parsnip, lotus root, and salsify. The color inside might vary, but from the outside, they all look brown!
What a fun question! Some examples are mushroom, celeriac, yellow onion, lotus root, taro, cassava, salsify
Jicama! This low-calorie vegetable is rich in fiber and vitamin C. A lot of people also think that jicamas look like turnips. This root vegetable also has many names such as Chinese/Mexican potato, Mexican yam (bean), Mexican turnip, and Mexican water chestnut.
Parsnips! Parsnips have a sweeter and nuttier flavor as compared to carrots. But indeed, if parsnips are orange in color, they would be indistinguishable from each other!
Some examples of brown fruits are chestnuts, dates, kiwis and sapodillas. Some examples of brown vegetables are potatoes, yellow onions, shallots, mushrooms, cassava, butternut squash, brown lentils, chickpeas, flax seeds, and sesame seeds.
There are many brown root vegetables but some examples are potatoes, cassava, yam, malanga, jicama, taro, celeriac, lotus root, parsnip, and salsify.
Technically they are considered legumes. However, using the broad definition of vegetables being the edible parts of a plant, brown beans can then be considered vegetables. This broad definition is also what I use here in this post to make this the most complete list of brown vegetables on the internet!
Similarly, brown rice is considered a whole grain, so not exactly a vegetable. But if you define vegetables as the edible parts of a plant, then yes, they are considered vegetables in that sense.
Yes, it is. Brown rice is a whole grain with a low glycemic index which will make you feel full for longer. It is also good for your heart health so when combined with fiber-packed vegetables, it’s a healthy meal that will make you feel full and energized!
However, remember that variety is always key so you can get the full spectrum of nutrients instead of just getting the same set of nutrients over and over again!
So, there you have it—the rich and earthy world of brown vegetables!
From the humble potato to the hearty mushroom, and everything in between, these brown veggies bring warmth and depth to your plate. Whether you’re roasting, sautéing, or simmering, these veggies are ready to add their unique flavors and textures to your kitchen.
So next time you’re at the market, don’t overlook these brown goodies😉 Happy cooking! 👨🍳🤎