Vegan Prison-Friendly Recipes To Make While Binge-Watching Orange Is The New Black

photo: Jill Greenberg

On June 6th, the ladies of OITNB will make their grand re-entrance into our lives as the highly anticipated second season debuts on Netflix. If you haven’t tuned in yet, the dramedy centers around the story of Piper, a middle class woman who finds herself locked up on drug charges. Once behind bars, we get to follow the story (and back stories) of her and the motley crew she’s doing time with.

If you’ve been living anywhere besides under a rock, you may have noticed that people have gone gaga for the lady convicts. For some of us, it feels like we are about to be reunited with old friends. And when you meet up with friends…you eat! Now, the ladies of Litchfield may not get to dine on the most glamorous of meals, but prison “chefs” get MAJOR points for creativity. Netflix released a few prison recipes, and there is even a full OITNB cookbook coming out this fall!

Luckily for us, we can prepare some of these prison treats in a FAR healthier fashion. The recipes I’ve rounded up for you are just as simple…without the death sentence.

Correctional Cheesecake

The prison version is a concoction involving coffee creamer, laughing cow cheese, and lemon juice…ugh. This 7-ingredient stunner will make for a great dessert at your OITNB watching party!

photo: Minimalist Baker

“Prison Latte”

So, in prison, when you want a latte, you have to run hot water over a carton of milk in the sink for a while, then add some instant coffee and maple syrup that you stole from the breakfast spread. This recipe for a COOKIE BUTTER latte!!! is just as quick and way more delicious.

photo: One Ingredient Chef


Those packets of ramen noodles that shockingly sustained many of us throughout college,(and some far longer than that), make an appearance in the majority of jailhouse recipes. They crush them up with cheetos and hot water to make “tamales,” they crush them up with pretzel and tuna and anything else they can find to make odd concoctions called “spreads. Some fancypants inmates even make a faux Pad Thai, combining the cooked noodles with peanut butter, soy sauce and hot sauce…not too shabby. I’ve found a couple of quick ramen-style dishes you could whip up too.

(*Here is a list of some healthy versions of ramen packets and soup mixes)

Simple Veggie Ramen

photo: Girl Makes Food

Raw Ramen

photo: Jennifer Cornbleet

 Butternut Squash Ramen (say WHAT?!)

photo: In Pursuit of More


Frito Pie

Used nearly as much as ramen, corn chips get turned into almost anything. “Slop bags,” which are bags of who knows what, make for an interesting meal. This frito “pie” is made in the bag, which makes it a perfect option for you if prefer not to dirty too many dishes.

photo: J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt

 “Franks & Beans”

Prisoners who are in facilities that still have commissaries often use their money to buy whatever processed crap they are offering them. Later, they can use their foodstuffs to barter and trade for other products. I read somewhere that in one prison, an onion was worth five stamps! In any event, plopping the contents of a can of franks & beans into a bowl might sound appetizing to a “lifer,” but I think this vegan version will make you rethink embarking on a life of crime…

photo: House Vegan


Pruno is the nickname inmates devised for their homemade wine. Essentially, it’s composed of whatever fruits they could come up with (apples, raisins, prunes, etc.), tons of sugar, and yeast or bread that they’ve nicked from the kitchen. This is all done in a trash bag, fermented over the course of a week or so, and then strained through a tshirt. If the inmate is lucky, this is all accomplished without the officers conducting a cell “shake down,” where they’d find themselves in big trouble for brewing the hooch!

This recipe is actually for a strawberry wine, and it takes far longer than a week to become drinkable, but I’m sure the sense of satisfaction you will feel at first sip will make it worth the wait!

photo: John Wright

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