Being vegan doesn’t have to mean saying no to your favorite baked goods. However, it can be challenging to find vegan-friendly cookies, cakes, and pastries. Many vegans choose to bake their own baked goods instead. But then another problem arises when it’s time to find substitutes for common animal-based baking ingredients like butter, milk, chocolate, and even sugar.
To save you time, hassle, and guess-work, we put together this guide for the best vegan substitutes for each of the most popular baking ingredients. Whether you prefer to buy substitute ingredients or makle them yourself, you have a lot of options! Read on to discover the top vegan substitutes for baking.
Top Vegan Substitutes for Baking
When it comes to finding a vegan substitute for eggs, the most popular solution is probably JUST EGG. This vegan egg substitute is made largely from mung beans, and is available in many grocery stores.
However, eggs are also one of the most flexible foods when it comes to finding vegan substitutes, because there are a lot of easy and cost-effective DIY options you can make at home.
Three of our favorite DIY vegan egg substitutes for baking are:
Chia eggs or Flaxseed Eggs
1 egg = 1 Tbsp chia seeds or Flaxseeds + 3 Tbsp water
1 egg= ¼ cup applesauce
1 egg= ¼ cup pumpkin puree
As you can see, making your own vegan egg substitutes for baking is extremely simple. All three of the substitutes above require only a single ingredient!
There are a variety of good vegan butter substitutes.
Some of the most common store-bought substitutions include coconut oil, olive oil, and nut butters. For a slightly thicker texture, you can also swap butter for vegan yogurt. We recommend coconut oil here as it often works well as a 1:1 replacement for butter. This means if a recipe calls for 1 tbsp of butter, you could simply swap it for 1 tbsp of coconut oil.
As for vegan butter substitutes that you can make yourself, some of our favorites include mashed banana and mashed avocado. Just remember that because these substitutes have different percentages of fat and water they can affect your baked goods in texture and flavor.
Milk is arguably the easiest ingredient to find a high quality vegan substitute for, as there are a number of amazing plant-based milks carried in grocery stores these days. Any unflavored oat, nut or soymilk will work well as milk substitutes in baking recipes. These plant-based milks have the closest texture to cow's milk, and they can be subbed out 1-for-1 in most recipes.
The key here is not to use any flavored milks unless your recipe specifically calls for it. Typically the flavored plant-based milks (whether it’s chocolate, vanilla, eggnog, etc) contain a lot of extra ingredients and sugars. These can alter the chemistry in your baking recipe, and lead to browning too fast, collapsing, sticking to the pan, and other problems.
Overall, we recommend keeping it simple here and sticking to unflavored almond milk, or unflavored oat milk from Oatly.
“Real” chocolate is actually a naturally vegan product. As such, finding vegan chocolate is usually pretty straightforward.
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods typically have a variety of vegan chocolate, such as:
- Whole Foods’ Organic Dark Chocolate and Dark Chocolate With Almonds
- Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Bars (Dark Chocolate, 72% Dark Chocolate, and Bittersweet With Almonds)
- Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Dark Chocolate Baking Chunks
It’s also relatively simple to make your own vegan chocolate substitute in a pinch. For every square of unsweetened chocolate a recipe calls for, you can substitute that with three tablespoons of baking cocoa and a tablespoon of one of the vegan butter substitutes we discussed above.
Our favorite vegan sugar substitutes for baking are coconut sugar, date sugar, and date syrup. These are actually whole-food sweeteners, so they digest well for the vast majority of people (unlike other alternative sweeteners like alcohol sugars). They are also available at most grocery stores or health food stores.
If you want to make a vegan sugar substitute yourself, the easiest one to make is date sugar. To make date sugar, simply buy some organic dates and dehydrate them. Then grind the dates down to fine granules that resemble sugar. That’s it!
Wondering why you can’t simply bake with white sugar? Unfortunately, not all white sugar is vegan because it is sometimes processed with bone char. That’s why we use coconut sugar and dates in our own vegan cookies and recommend you do too.
You can learn more about the effects of white sugar and the benefits of coconut sugar and dates in our free ebook The Sweet Life. Plus, there’s discounts for our favorite date sugars and date syrups in there!