Healthy Vegan Garbage Plate Recipe [Vegetarian & Gluten-free]

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Vegan Garbage Plate recipe
Healthy Vegan Garbage Plate Recipe – Photo by Eugene Peretz – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The Garbage Plate has been a popular menu item in Rochester, NY.  But wait, what if you are vegan and looking for a Vegan Garbage Plate recipe?  Well, we’ve been plant-based and vegan for some time now.  And I think I can help someone looking to make a Vegan Garbage Plate.

In my case, I can’t find a Vegan Garbage Plate near me, so I would have to make one.  But, it shouldn’t be too hard.  By, the way, it will be vegetarian as well and have a gluten-free option.

Let’s jump in!

What is the Garbage Plate?

Nick Tahou Hots Garbage Plate Restaurant
Nick Tahou Hots -Garbage Plate Restaurant in Rochester, NY

The name sounds completely unappetizing.  But it was a plate developed in Rochester, NY at the Nick Tahou Hots restaurant.  It was basically a way to get rid of a bunch of leftovers and was served as baked beans, potatoes or French Fries, chili or chili-like sauce, onions, mustard, and hot dogs.

The local college students would come in and ask for the “plate of garbage,” so it got its name Garbage Plate.  Many restaurants in Rochester copied the plate, but it was trademarked in the ’90s, so restaurants couldn’t call it the “Garbage Plate” anymore, but had to invent new similar names.

Originally the Garbage Plate used hot dogs as the meat item, but now it’s common to see cheeseburgers.

The Vegan Garbage Plate

So, it might seem like this dish is a heavy meat-based dish, and there is no way that it could be vegan.  But, with all the new plant-based meats and ways to make meats out of beans and other plant-based whole foods, this is entirely possible and shouldn’t be too hard to do.

This is in no way meant to be the healthiest of Vegan dishes to eat, but if you are looking for the Garbage Plate experience, we can make it a Vegetarian or Vegan Garbage Plate instead, and it will be healthier.  But, if you follow my way of making it, I have a version that is actually minimally processed and whole foods plant-based.  We follow the WFPBD or WFPBNO diet as much as possible, so I am trying to get this recipe as whole food as possible.

Garbage Plate Recipe

Garbage Plate Gluten-free
Garbage Plate Gluten-Free – Photo by Eugene Peretz – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The modern Garbage Plate has become a base of two starches.  These are commonly fries, mac, and cheese, baked beans, or macaroni salad.  The base is topped with a meat of some kind, usually cheeseburgers, hotdogs, eggs, or fish.  If you are pescatarian, I guess you could stick with fish as the meat, but for some reason, that combination doesn’t sound very appetizing.

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On top of this goes a meat sauce, with onions and mustard.  And finally, a piece of bread on top of all that.  It basically sounds like a typical American outdoor barbeque, with all the ingredients just piled on top of each other instead of eaten separately.

Here’s a link to a Garbage Plate Recipe and the Nick Tahou Garbage Plate Recipeso you can get an idea.

Vegan Garbage Plate Recipe

Alright, so let’s make the Garbage Plate into a Vegan Garbage Plate recipe!  Also note, this will be a Vegetarian Garbage Plate as well, so if you are vegetarian, this will work too.

The Base

Ok, so the healthiest version of the two base items, in my option is as follows.  If you are short on time, then you can use a less healthy option for the first base, and that will be French Fries.  You can buy some frozen French Fries and heat them up.

If you are going this route, an even healthier version might be to get vegetable fries, which I’ve found in the freezer section before.  But actually, potatoes are one of the most underrated vegetables for nutrition, so they aren’t a bad choice (it’s just the way they are cooked takes away some of their nutrition).  But, you might be able to find vegetable fries which have not been fried the typical way and might be a healthier and WFPBNO choice for you.

But to make this the healthiest possible, here’s what I would do.  I would make baked potatoes in the microwave (or however else you like to make them, this is just the easiest for me).  I’ve found that just mashing some baked potatoes will give you a similar taste to French Fries.  You can even add some olive oil if you want to.

For the second base, I would do some baked beans.  This is just because I’m a huge fan of beans of any kind and I think they are one of the healthiest whole foods we can eat.  Also, baked beans will be already made and should be easy to use.  If you prefer you could make them from scratch, but that will make it a more difficult recipe.

Another option for the second base would be macaroni salad or vegan mac and cheese.  If doing macaroni salad and you want gluten-free, use a gluten-free macaroni.  Here’s a vegan mac salad recipe.

So, we have a potato or two cooked in the microwave along with a can of baked beans, pretty easy so far!

The Plant-based Meat

Alright, so we will need to do a plant-based meat for the meat option.  This isn’t too hard since there are numerous plant-based burgers to choose from nowadays in the frozen section of the grocery store.

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For an even healthier version, I’m recommending making some black bean burgers from scratch.  These aren’t too hard to make and are pretty darn healthy.  It’s only four ingredients as well.

But, if you are strapped for time, then you could consider just using frozen already made plant-based burgers.  Whichever is your favorite.  You could also do a plant-based hot dog if you prefer since the Vegan Garbage Plate recipe just calls for a plant-based meat.

Garbage Plate Meat Sauce Vegan

For the sauce, I’ll just make a healthy form of vegetarian or meatless chili.  We’ll use a can of beans instead of meat.  But, if you prefer you could use some kind of plant-based meat substitute.  But using beans will make it the least processed and beans are so good for you!


The toppings are onions and mustard, and these are plant-based and healthy already, so no worries here!

The Bread

You can use a roll of any type of you want to add bread to the top.

Gluten-free Garbage Plate

If you are looking for a gluten-free garbage plate, then you can omit this or just get a gluten-free bread.  We do Ezekiel bread since it is the healthiest bread and it’s the most whole food and least processed.

Another thing about Ezekiel bread, even though it has gluten, it doesn’t act like processed food gluten, since they sprout the wheat and grains.  I know someone who has a slight reaction to regular gluten but never has a problem with Ezekiel bread.

Vegan Garbage Plate Completed

There you go!  The healthy Vegan Garbage Plate with a gluten-free option.  I will get into the details in the Vegan Garbage Plate Recipe below.

Vegan Garbage Plate Recipe - Healthy & Gluten-free

Healthy Vegan Garbage Plate [Gluten-free Option]

This is a vegan version of the famous Garbage Plate. It uses whole foods to make it an even healthier vegan version. Gluten-free option is also available.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 800 kcal


  • Large Pot
  • Microwave



  • 1 or 2 Potatoes
  • 1 can Baked Beans

Plant-Based Meat (Black Bean Burgers)

  • 1 15 oz. can Black Beans
  • 1/2 Cup Quick Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Salsa
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Vegan Meatless Chili Sauce

  • 1 15 oz. can Black Beans or Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 15 oz. can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1/3 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1/3 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Dash Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Salt


  • 1 Tbsp Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 1/2 Onion

Bread or Roll

  • 1 Slice Ezekiel Bread



  • Wash the outside of a potato or two and puncture a couple of times with a fork. Place in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Check to see if it is done. If not, rotate and cook one more minute.
    Then chop the potatoes up with a knife into smaller bite-size pieces. Add optional olive oil or salt.
  • Open a can of baked beans and heat in the microwave or on the stove. Add on top of the potatoes.

Plant-Based Black Bean Burgers

  • Combine the can of black beans, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 1/4 cup of salsa and 1/2 tsp of salt. Put it in a food processer or mix by hand.
  • Put them on an oiled cookie sheet. Make about 4 patties and separate them by an inch or more on the cookie sheet. Bake at 340 degrees for 10-11 minutes, then flip them over and bake another 10-11 minutes.

Meatless Chili Sauce

  • Chop 1/2 onion and 1 clove of garlic
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or avocado oil to a pot on the stove. Set to medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic for about five minutes.
    Then, add the can of tomatoes, water, can of black beans or kidney beans and spices.
    Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.


  • Chop 1/8-1/4 onion.
  • Add mustard, ketchup and onion to the top, along with a slice of bread.


Other options for the bases include macaroni salad, vegan macaroni and cheese or store-bought frozen French Fries.
If you don't want to make the black bean burgers, you can use store-bought frozen plant-based burgers or plant-based hot dogs as the meat substitute.
Feel free to double or triple the chili meatless sauce recipe.  This recipe was scaled down for 1 serving, but it might be easier to make more at one time.  Also, feel free to use a meat substitute instead of beans in the chili sauce if you prefer.
Skip the bread for a gluten-free option, or try Ezekiel bread as a good alternative.
Keyword gluten-free, vegan


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Final Thoughts on Vegan Garbage Plate Recipe

Hopefully, this will be a helpful recipe if you are searching for a Vegetarian or Vegan Garbage Plate recipe option.  I’ve tried to make this as healthy as possible and I think the full recipe is actually fairly healthy and contains whole foods.

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