If you’re new to a vegan diet, baking without eggs or dairy can seem like a challenge. However, with a few tips and tricks in my Guide to Vegan Baking, you’ll be a vegan baking pro in no time at all.
A Guide to Vegan Baking
Let’s go through the main baking ingredients one by one, and I’ll share with you how I veganize them.
This one is relatively easy because I will oftentimes use a plant-based milk in the same quantity the recipe calls for. Vegan milks are no different than cow’s milk, it comes in different varieties, some of which are thinner than others. So, Rice Milk is a little thinner, but is a great choice for people who have soy allergies. One of my favorite milks to bake with is Kirkland’s Vanilla Soy Milk. The way I look at it, if I’m using a vanilla-flavored soy milk, I can skip adding vanilla to the recipe. Just be sure to buy plain (not vanilla flavored) plant-based milk for your savory dishes. You don’t want vanilla flavoring in your mashed potatoes! Also, if you like a little steamed milk in your tea or coffee, be sure to check out my Guide to Dairy-Free Steamed Milk (coming soon).
The one exception to the rule is canned coconut milk. Because it’s so high in fat, you will want to avoid using canned coconut milk when a recipe calls for milk. Use the plant-based milks above, unless the recipe calls for cream (see below).
One more tip. If you ever find yourself in a pinch without any plant-based milk on hand, simply blend oatmeal and water together in a blender (or food processor). Pulse for several seconds and then pour through a fine mesh strainer. Voila! You’ve got some oat milk that will get you through in a pinch!
This one is easy. Simply add a teaspoon or two of apple cider vinegar to your plant-based milk, give it a stir, and a minute to set and you’ve got some plant-based buttermilk. I know it may seem strange to add vinegar to baked goods, but just think of it as a chemical reaction. The baking soda in your recipe needs a little acid to help it start reacting (bubbling). That’s why recipes will call for things like lemon juice or buttermilk.
This one is a little trickier. When a recipe is calling for cream, you may be able to substitute a vegan creamer like Silk’s Soy Creamers. These are usually found in the refrigerated health food section of your store. Another great option is using the thick cream from a can of Coconut Milk. I often keep my coconut milk in the fridge because it will help separate out the thick, full fat part of the coconut milk from the thinner milk. Simply drain the thinner milk and save it for your next smoothie, and spoon out the thicker cream that’s left.
Replacing Sweetened Condensed Milk
I have a recipe for Sweetened Condensed Milk. It’s relatively easy to make. I start with a base of regular soy milk, add sugar and a tablespoon of cornstarch. Heat that up until it thickens and add a little vanilla and you’ve got a great replacement for sweetened condensed milk. I have also used canned coconut milk, although it does have a distinguishable coconut flavor.
Replacing Cream Cheese
You can make a cream cheese from cashews and this can be a tasty and nutritious alternative, especially when you’re working with a non-baked dessert. For a creamy alternative to cow’s milk cream cheese, I prefer to use Tofutti’s Vegan Cream Cheese. It has the best consistency and flavor. There are other brands, but I haven’t had much luck with them for baking purposes. However, if you’re wanting cream cheese as a spread on a bagel, some of the fruit-flavored vegan cream cheeses should work.
The first thing about replacing eggs in a recipe is to understand the multiple roles they play in a recipe. An egg can be included as a binder because it holds things together. You can see this in a spaghetti casserole where an egg is added to the spaghetti to help hold it together. Eggs also can be a leavener. They add volume to a recipe. This is particularly true of egg whites. Eggs can also add structure and richness to a recipe. Here are some of my favorite egg replacers that I’ve used in my recipes:
- Whipped Silken Tofu (1/4 cup for each egg)
- Flax Egg [Link – how to make a flax egg)
- Mashed Banana (1 mashed banana for each egg)
- Plant-based milk (1/4 cup for each egg)
- Apple Sauce (1/4 cup for each egg)
- EnerG Egg Replacer (follow instructions on the box)
- Aquafaba. It’s a strange word, but it’s basically the brine from a can of beans (usually chickpeas). Believe it or not, you can whip that bean brine just like meringue.
It’s important to realize that each egg replacement works better in different recipes. Here’s a quick guide to some of my favorite egg replacers for vegan baking.
- Egg Replacer for a store-bought cake mix
- Cheesecake – I think using silken tofu works best here
- Chewy Cookies – I mostly use Starchy Flax Eggs (see link above) for my cookie recipes
- Crispy Cookies – Oftentimes the EnerG Egg replacer works great when you’re making a crispy cookie
- Brownies – I will sometimes use a Flax Egg in brownies, but if you don’t mind a banana flavor, that works great too
- Meringue – See the link above where I share 3 ways to make vegan meringue
- A low-fat cake – You can use applesauce as a great low fat alternative to eggs
- Pumpkin Pie – I’ve used silken tofu with great success to make vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Cream Pies – Again the silken tofu is going to work best here. I’ve created a Chocolate Cream Pie, Coconut Cream Pie and a Lemon Cream Pie with great success using silken tofu. Learn more about tofu with my Tofu Buying Guide
A word of caution about replacing eggs in a recipe. If the recipe calls for one or two eggs, replacing them with something from the above should be no problem. However, if you have a recipe that calls for three or more eggs, consider yourself warned. The more eggs called for the in the recipe, the trickier it can be to mimic the same consistency/texture. Angel food cake is a great example. It’s possible to make a vegan angel food cake, but it’s tricky, and I recommend finding a credible source that’s already gone through the work of creating a good recipe.
If you have a recipe that calls for butter, believe it or not you have some great vegan options. One of my favorite butter substitutes is something I oftentimes refer to as Vegan Butter, Earth Balance. You can find Earth Balance at most grocery stores nowadays. I use it 1:1 as a replacement for butter. In cookie recipe, I will oftentimes do half and half Earth Balance and half peanut butter. In addition Earth Balance makes a non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Crisco also sells non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening in plain and butter flavored. You can use this to make your own vegan pie crusts.
Another dairy-free margarine is Fleischmann’s unsalted.
Sometimes you can use vegetable oils in place of solid fats in a recipe, just be prepared the consistency of the finished product may not be the same as when using a solid fat. Another great substitute is coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, but turns to an oil consistency when heated.
You can even experiment with using ingredients liked mashed avocados to replace butter in your recipes. It may not sound appetizing, but it actually does a great job at replacing the fat in your vegan baking.
A guide to vegan baking cannot be complete without including a few of our favorite Vegan Baking recipes!
We hope you enjoyed this Guide to Vegan Baking! Feel free to check out our other Vegan Resources and Recipes, for example, have you taken our Vegan Type Quiz? Take it today to find out what kind of vegan you are and to see some recipes we recommend for your type.