Vegan Baking Substitution Guide
From cookies to cakes and everything in between, vegan baking is a breeze with our handy substitution guide.
‘Tis the season of cookies, cakes, and all things sweet. To take the mystery out of perfect holiday confections, we went straight to one of the sweetest sweets experts around. Fran Costigan, a virtual queen of vegan baking, reminds us to use quality, wholesome ingredients that, of course, are void of any animal products. “Without the butter, eggs, and white sugar,” Costigan says, “I know the ingredients taste fresher.”
An important part of substituting in vegan ingredients when baking is understanding the properties of particular ingredients, and getting a feel for how everything works together. You do this through testing, as Costigan says. Try cutting a recipe in half and try it out, and make the changes afterward. Whether you’re planning on spending hours in the kitchen or want to just quickly whip something up, VegNews has the baking-substitution guide for you. Happy holiday baking!
What it does: In baking, butter adds flavor and a rich and sometimes a spongy texture. It also helps baked goods rise evenly and adds to both the density and sweetness.
How to substitute: Butter is extremely easy to substitute in vegan baking. If baking a recipe that has natural spice or flavor to it, such as spice cookies or gingerbread, olive oil or untoasted sesame oil work well. Unrefined coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) can add the thickness that butter would, and canola oil works in recipes with liquid sugars (think agave) or solid fats, such as groundnuts or chocolates in cakes. Vegan shortening works well with cookies and piecrusts. And of course, there’s margarine, which creates the buttery taste so many holiday cookies require.
Delicious buttery recipes include:
Quick and Easy Raspberry Oat Bars
Orange Sugar Cookies
Move Over, Milk
What it does: Milk adds flavor and richness and creates texture in baking.
How to substitute: Milk is definitely the easiest to substitute in vegan baking, as many non-dairy milks already exist. Full-fat soymilk will help create the richness of whole milk, while rice milk is lighter. Almond milk sometimes can add a subtle almond taste, as can coconut milk, and both will contribute to the richness of a recipe. For added vanilla oomph, try vanilla-flavored non-dairy milk.
For rich holiday recipes without the milk try:
Very Vanilla Cupcakes
Holiday Nut Tart
Chocolate Chip Loaf
What it does: Eggs add moisture and act as a binding agent in baking. They are also a leavening agent, helping food to rise during baking.
How to substitute: Milk might be the easiest ingredient to sub, but a close second goes to egg substitutes. Ground flax seeds are a popular substitute that are also nutritious—three tablespoons of water to one tablespoon of ground flax seeds equates to one egg. Mashed banana and applesauce are other healthy alternatives that completely cut out the cholesterol eggs add to baking. “Baking powder, baking soda, and vinegar are aces,” Costigan says. And soy yogurt is a creative way to replace eggs and can add a rich texture to your baking, as can puréed black beans.
Delicious holiday recipes that leave out the eggs include:
Wheat-Free Pecan Pie
Chewy Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Zucchini Carrot Bread
Hit the Road, Honey
What it does: Honey acts as a natural sweetener. It also helps to brown your baked goods, adds color, and retains moisture.
How to substitute: Simply reach for other viscous liquids, such as maple syrup, rice syrup, or agave nectar. They add the same natural sweetness and contribute to the browning effects. Costigan recommends cooking them a little to simmer out some of the water to create a thicker syrup.
Recipes that use these natural sweeteners include:
Cranberry, Ginger, & Pistachio Biscotti
Maple Apple Topping
Can It, Cream
What it does: Cream creates a smooth and sometimes fluffy texture in baked goods. It adds richness, and can make for a satin-like quality.
How to substitute: The richness of coconut milk can make a good replacement for cream. For a homemade replacement, blend one-part cashews and one part water until smooth. There are also a variety of non-dairy creams and creamers on the market.
For creamy holiday treats, sample:
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
Holiday Spiced Crème Brulée
Creamy Coconut Whipped Cream
Photo: Hannah Kaminksy
5 Ingenius Ways to Eat Chocolate Chips
In honor of National Chocolate Chip Day, here are five revolutionary ways to eat the beloved chip—at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Read More »
Subscriber Appreciation Month Giveaway: Miyoko's Kitchen
Don't miss your chance to win a sampler pack of artisan vegan cheese from this popular creamery.
Read More »
A Vegan Mothers Day Your Mom Will Love
Vegan brunch is just the beginning when organizing the best Mothers Day celebration ever.
Read More »
A Vegan Cinco de Mayo Brunch
Celebrate May 5th with Mexi-spired twists on classic brunch fare—mimosas included.
Read More »
Why Red Meat is at the Root of Americas Health Epidemic
Studies show that red meat is a key culprit in a slew of chronic diseases that currently affect the US.
Read More »
- 14 Game-Changing Avocado Recipes
- Virgin America to Launch Vegan Airline
- 10 Foods to Help Get Rid of Stress
- Vegan St. Patricks Day 101
- The #1 Way to Make Sure You Eat Your Greens First
- 10 Creative Ways to Use Nut Butters
- 6 Delicious Ways to Get Vitamin C
- 3 Raw Vegan Desserts
- Valentine's Dinner for Two
- 4 Mouth-Watering Vegan Super Bowl Recipes
- 6 Vegan Superfoods to Eat Now
- 7 Steps to Becoming a Healthier Vegan
- 31 Changes in 31 Days
- The Top 15 Vegan Instagram Photos of 2014
- The Top 15 Stories of 2014
- Israeli Army to Offer Vegan Meals and Leather-Free Boots
- Millennium Named "Restaurant of the Year"
- The Top 15 Vegan Recipes of 2014
- Earth Balance Named "Company of the Year"
- DIY Vegan Holiday Gifts