Baker’s Guide to Vegan Substitutes: Turn Traditional Baking Recipes into Plant-Based Recipes


Vegan, dairy-free and egg-free baking is on the rise, but for the casual home baker who wants to bake more sustainable treats, finding the right substitutions isn’t always easy. Sure, you can swap in applesauce or your favorite vegan butter, but baking is science — even a minor change can leave you with rock-hard cookies, soggy pies, or biscuits.

Before you grab the mixing bowl and a whisk, check out some of the best plant-based alternatives for ingredients like eggs, butter, and buttermilk, and learn how to make wise swaps that won’t sacrifice taste or flavor. texture.

Milk substitutes in baking

Baking vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Grace Cary/Moment/Getty Images

There are plenty of milk alternatives on the market these days. Fortunately, in baking, they can almost always be used as a one-for-one replacement. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, just add your favorite dairy-free alternative, such as almond, oat, pea protein, cashew, soy, hemp, rice, or even milk. banana milk.

Don’t forget to consider the flavor of the milk and how it will work with the recipe. Save dairy-free sweetened milks or banana milk for desserts and choose a more neutral milk alternative, such as almonds or soy, for tasty baking recipes.

Substitutes for buttermilk in baking

Extra soft cookies and pancakes need a little buttermilk, but it’s not something you can easily find veganized and ready to buy. This means you have to be a little scientific in the kitchen and make your own vegan buttermilk for recipes that call for this ingredient.

There are several ways to make vegetable buttermilk:

  • For every cup of non-dairy milk, add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, and it will begin to thicken.
  • Follow the same steps above, but instead of lemon juice, use any type of vinegar (like white vinegar, red vinegar, or apple cider vinegar).
  • Combine each cup of non-dairy milk with 1.5 tablespoons of cream of tartar. Let stand to thicken and curdle.

If you’re unsure of your abilities to make your own plant-based buttermilk, you can also substitute it with your favorite store-bought plant-based yogurt. The results may not be as fluffy as homemade buttermilk, but it will still add height and moistness to the final product.

Substitutes for cream in baking

A vegan cheesecake made with cashews and raspberries. Lucy Lambriex/DigitalVision/Getty Images

The cream makes indulgent desserts or, when whipped, a delicious topping for all types of treats. A common swap for cream is whole coconut cream, but be aware that the strong coconut flavor can influence the final taste of the baked good (if you like the taste of coconut, then it shouldn’t). no problem!).

Another option is to soak cashews in water and then blend them into a thick, creamy substance that can work as a dairy-free alternative to cream. This has a more neutral taste compared to coconut cream.

You can also use silken tofu and blend it into a creamy texture to swap out for cream in many baking recipes.

Egg substitutes in baking

Like butter, eggs can add moisture and help bind ingredients in baked goods, but they’re not always the most intuitive product to substitute with vegan alternatives. It’s not as difficult as it seems.

  • Bananas: Swap one egg for about half a large banana or a whole small or medium mashed banana. This can influence the final taste though, so save this swap for sweeter recipes.
  • Applesauce: Replace one egg with about ¼ cup of applesauce. Again, this is an exchange to use for sweet and unsalted baked goods.
  • Aquafaba: Whipped egg whites can be mixed into a batter for extra fluff or baked to make meringues. The liquid that remains in a can of chickpeas is an ideal substitute for egg whites and even turns into a beautiful meringue. Use about 3 tablespoons per egg called for in a recipe.
  • Flaxseed: One of the most popular egg alternatives that works for sweet or savory recipes is to mix about 3 tablespoons of ground flax seeds with a tablespoon of water. The mixture becomes gelatinous and will replace an egg.
  • Egg substitutes: There are also store-bought vegan egg substitutes if you don’t feel confident trying to swap eggs for pureed fruit or flax eggs. Bob’s Red Mill and Ener-G make some of the most popular and widely available egg substitutes for baking.

Substitutes for butter in baking

Butter is essential in most baking recipes. It can help bind ingredients together, add richness and moisture, and add the final flavor (butter cookies, anyone?). Good news – there are some very compelling, baking-friendly butter alternatives available in grocery stores today. If you prefer to use something you already have on hand, opt for oils. Vegetable, avocado or olive oils replace melted butter.

For recipes that call for refrigerated butter, opt for solid coconut oil or try vegetable shortening, which is easy to refrigerate and can make perfectly flaky pie crusts. For cookies, try margarine. Just check the label carefully. Most margarines are vegan, but some may contain animal products like whey.

Substitutes for honey in baking

Veena Nair/Moment/Getty Images

Honey can be a controversial ingredient, but most people consider it an animal product that is not vegan. Honey is easy to substitute in baked goods, and you may already have vegan alternatives to honey on hand. Replace this liquid sweetener with maple syrup, agave nectar, rice syrup, sorghum syrup or barley malt syrup.

Chocolate substitutes in baking

Whether you’re sprinkling chocolate chips into cookies or banana breads or melting chocolate into icing or brownies, this ingredient is important for many sweets. If you like dark chocolate, you’re in luck. Most dark chocolate bars or dark chocolate chips are vegan, but as always, check that label to make sure there are no animal-derived ingredients.

Dark chocolate may be too bitter for some palettes, but there are dairy-free “milk” chocolates as well. For example, Trader Joe’s has chocolates made with almonds and oats that taste like the real deal, and you can simply cut these bars into small pieces for cookies or other recipes that call for chocolate chips. .

Based in Los Angeles, Paige is a writer with a passion for sustainability. In addition to writing for EcoWatch, Paige also writes for Insider, HomeAdvisor, Thrillist, EuroCheapo, Eat This, Not That!, and more. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She also majored in sustainable agriculture while pursuing her undergraduate studies. When she’s not writing, Paige enjoys decorating her apartment, enjoying a cup of coffee and experimenting in the kitchen (with local and seasonal ingredients, of course!).


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