Giving up dairy and eggs doesn’t mean you’re giving up on baking. Not with these vegan baking substitutes that work better than the ‘real’ thing!
Step aside butter because we’ve got coconut oil instead. Move over, honey, because we’re bringing in our old friend maple syrup. There are plant-based vegan substitutes for cream, milk, eggs, and every other ingredient you need to bake the perfect cake.
The times are changing, and there are new baking products and recipes in vegan town. Keep reading, and discover our top vegan alternatives for traditional baking ingredients.
Here are our favorite vegan baking substitutes!
Do vegan baking substitutes really work?
Milk, cream, butter, and eggs. These are all seemingly ‘staple’ ingredients that no pantry can do without; after all, don’t we need them for baking?
Not so fast! While these traditional dairy and egg products have been used in baking for centuries (if not longer), an increasing number of plant-based products, such as non-dairy milk, work well as baking substitutions.
Let’s be honest, though. Baking is as much an art as it is a science (though some might disagree), and if you’re used to baking with traditional ingredients, not only will the taste of the finished product be slightly different, but it will also take you some time to get the proportions and quantities of vegan substitutions just right.
What we’re saying is, practice, practice, practice! That’s right; just keep baking until you hit the sweet spot and find the perfect ratio of milk substitute for baking or the exact weight of butter alternatives for your cake.
There are also several different possible non-dairy substitutes for baking to consider, too. Just looking at milk alternatives, you have soy, oat, almond, and coconut to try out. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time around, but trust us, once you’ve found your favorite substitutes and know exactly how to use them, you’ll be baking perfect plant-based cakes every time!
Coming up, we’ll look at each of the major non-vegan baking ingredients that we can replace with vegan substitutes. That’s milk, cream, butter, and eggs. We’ll also look at vegan sweeteners you can use in your baking, too (because, unfortunately, honey is not vegan!).
Vegan substitutes for milk
Milk is one of the most important baking ingredients. Traditionally, we use milk to add moisture to cakes, brownies, muffins, and so many other baked goods. The milk works to hold the other ingredients together in some recipes, and in others, it’s there simply to add moisture and to keep things soft and spongy.
Contrary to popular belief, however, milk isn’t a vital ingredient in baking. In fact, the purpose we use milk for in baking can just as easily be replaced by water (water is also moist and liquidy). We are, however, used to the flavor and creaminess that milk adds to baking.
In that respect, though, milk is actually super easy to replace. In your local store, you’ll find a whole host of plant-based milks that can perform exactly the same function as dairy milk. Soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, and almond milk are the popular varieties.
Now, each tastes slightly different, so you’ll need to experiment a little bit. For the most part, you can exchange dairy milk for non-dairy milk on a 1:1 basis.
Vegan substitutes for cream
Cream is a baking ingredient that adds a seemingly unbeatable level of taste, thickness, and heartiness to a cake. But is it really ‘unbeatable’?
Not quite. There are, in fact, plenty of plant-based creams available at your local store. Just like milk, cream can easily be replaced with store-bought vegan cream. Again, these all taste slightly different, as some are made from soy and others from oat. These plant-based ‘creams’ work best when the recipe calls for thick cream or whipping cream.
You can also substitute cream with coconut milk or coconut cream for a delicious taste and spongy texture.
Vegan substitutes for butter
Butter is a regular on the baking scene, but there are a lot of great vegan replacements for butter that you can start experimenting with. Butter is used in baking for its taste, but it’s also important for helping cakes rise and set properly.
You can buy plant-based vegan butter at the store, and this works on a 1:1 basis with dairy butter when you’re baking. The most obvious replacement is margarine. Margarine contains zero animal products, so a margarine substitute is perfect for vegan baking. However, you may want to look into the health concerns for margarine when making your decision.
Many vegan shortening agents are available if you’re looking to bake a crispy pie crust or some flaky pastry. In fact, most store-bought shortenings are vegan, even if not explicitly labeled as such.
If you don’t have any store-bought margarine or vegan butter in the refrigerator, though, then there are a few other vegan butter substitutes you can try out. One of the best options is coconut oil, which actually sets in a semi-solid form when left at room temperature. Coconut oil works as a thick vegan butter replacement, and we think it tastes pretty great too.
Other oils work well too. You can substitute butter for oil if you’re looking for a more neutral taste. Try vegetable oils or olive oil for this effect. Alternatively, you can also use avocado oil or peanut oil for a unique taste.
Vegan substitutes for eggs
Eggs are one of the most important ingredients in baking. We need eggs not just to soften up the cake but to physically hold it all together. Eggs work as a binding agent, and without them, the cake would simply fall apart!
But would it? It’s not the eggs that are important, but the binding agent. And luckily, there’s actually a lot we can substitute for eggs in baking!
The easiest option is to use ground flax seeds as an egg substitute for cake baking. For every egg that you swap out, add in a tablespoon of ground flax seeds. Flax seeds are also wonderfully healthy, and they’ll cut out all the fat you find in eggs!
Another great vegan egg replacer is aquafaba. This versatile ingredient is actually a byproduct of chickpeas, but it works particularly well and is popular among vegan baking egg substitutes. You can make aquafaba at home. All you have to do is drain a can of chickpeas. The liquid you’re draining is the aquafaba. When baking, you whip the aquafaba until the liquid thickens (sort of like cream), and then add the whipped aquafaba to the recipe.
Okay, so those two ingredients aren’t pantry staples, but you know what is? Applesauce! That’s right, using applesauce instead of eggs is an excellent way to hold your cake together while also adding another element to the flavoring. Yes, your cake will taste like apples, but it’s going to taste good, and importantly, it won’t fall apart.
Other great egg alternatives included mashed bananas or mashed avocado. Again, these two affect the taste a lot more than flax seeds or aquafaba will, but they do a great job as binding agents.
We all love a sweet cake or sweet dessert, but did you know that honey is not vegan? That’s right, because bees produce honey, it’s regarded in the same light as other animal products.
Honey, however, is a popular sweetener in cakes, as it’s natural, sweet, and adds extra moisture to baked goods. Luckily there are plenty of great alternatives which are vegan.
Instead of honey, try using maple syrup or agave nectar. Anything that’s sweet and liquidy (and vegan) works in a place of honey in baking recipes. You can even add sugar to water and simmer it on the stovetop to produce a sweet nectar.
This is one area where you have to practice a little, though, as different sweeteners have different sugar levels and thicknesses. Agave syrup is thinner than honey, for instance, so you may need to use more of it when baking.
Vegan baking substitutes: it’s time to start cooking!
Remember, plant-based cooking isn’t the same as traditional baking. While a vegan egg substitute for baking or a plant-based butter replacement will definitely work, it does also take practice to get the quantities right.
Plant-based products have different consistencies, textures, and properties, and they’ll react, mix, and cook in different ways to what you’re used to. After all, coconut oil is not the same product as butter. Don’t expect to bake the perfect cake the first time around, but give it a little patience, experiment with a few different substitutes, and you’ll soon be baking like a pro again!
If you’re ready to start baking with plants, then why not bookmark our guide to vegan baking substitutes?