The Banana Diaries

Easy Vegan Baking Tips

Easy vegan baking tricks and tips! Learn how to make the best vegan desserts like a pro baker, from cakes, cookies, brownies, and more!

gluten free oat flour cookies on baking sheet

Whether you’re new to baking or a seasoned pro, making the transition to vegan baking can seem daunting.

Trust me, I’ve been there! And it gets really confusing, especially when you need to look up ingredients for even food coloring to ensure it’s vegan.

Rest assured, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to get started with baking vegan. In fact, it can sometimes be simpler than even regular baking!

This post will continue to be updated with all of the latest and greatest material, so check back to see what’s new. Trust me when I say, with these tips, you’ll never believe that what you’re tasting is actually vegan!

Other than that, get ready to bake!

slice of vegan vanilla cake on a plate

Get my FREE quick start vegan baking course:

What vegan baking is and what vegan baking isn’t

This is a very common question, even just figuring out what is vegan and what is not.

And it gets confusing, especially if you’re a beginner, so don’t fret! We’ve all started there.

The difference between vegan baking and non vegan baking is that when we’re baking vegan, we’re omitting all animal products.

This means no eggs, milk, butter, sour cream, and even some food colorings (yes, it gets tricky! We have to read the ingredients carefully).

However, there are lots of wonderful swaps that you can use for those staple traditional baking ingredients, so continue reading on for a more in depth break down of what you’ll need to stock your kitchen so you can begin to bake vegan!

How to stock your kitchen for vegan baking

There are so many wonderful vegan ingredients on the market currently, but I wanted to go over a few that are really good and often used to make baked goods.

Keep in mind that these ingredients are not all gluten-free. I will note which are gluten free, and if not, what you can use instead:

Pantry Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour (if GF, use gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour)
  • Cake flour (if GF, use gluten free 1-to-1 baking flour)
  • Cassava flour (GF, Paleo)
  • Oat flour (GF when certified)
  • Almond flour (GF, Paleo)
  • Coconut flour (GF, Paleo
  • Buckwheat flour (GF)
  • Sorghum Flour (GF)
  • Tapioca Flour/Starch (GF) (they are one in the same!)
  • Sweet White Rice Flour (GF) (best for sweet desserts, this is different from white rice flour!)
  • Coconut sugar (GF, Paleo)
  • Cane sugar + Powdered sugar (GF): NOTE: not all cane sugar is vegan in the U.S.! I recommend using Florida Crystals!
  • Maple sugar (GF, Paleo)
  • Maple syrup (GF, Paleo)
  • Medjool dates (GF, Paleo)
  • Arrowroot starch/cornstarch
  • Baking soda (GF, Paleo)
  • Baking powder (GF)
  • Apple cider vinegar (GF, Paleo)
  • Vanilla extract (GF, Paleo)
  • Ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and other spices (GF, Paleo)
  • Finely ground sea salt (GF, Paleo)
  • Ground flaxseed (GF, Paleo) (or chia seeds; however, I prefer to use flaxseed typically!)
  • Applesauce (GF)
  • Aquafaba (brine from chickpeas)

Refrigerated Ingredients:

  • Oat milk (GF when certified)
  • Coconut milk (GF, Paleo)
  • Almond milk (GF, Paleo)
  • Almond butter (GF, Paleo), Peanut butter (GF), Cashew butter (GF)
  • Vegan butter (GF, some brands Paleo)
  • Vegan cream cheese (GF, some brands Paleo)
  • Vegan sour cream (GF, some brands Paleo)

Top Vegan Baking Basics:

If you’re new to BAKING in general, please check out these baking 101 guides:

Top 10 Best Vegan Egg Replacements to come soon!

How to replace milk

If you’re new to plant based baking, you don’t have to worry about what to substitute milk or cream in for recipes, as there are a plentiful of options.

You can swap out milk for dairy free milk (or mylks), such as coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, or pea milk.

For heavier milks or cream, I recommend using full fat coconut milk or coconut cream, usually sold in a can.

How to replace butter and/or cream cheese

Thankfully, we’ve now reached a day and age where vegan butters and vegan cream cheeses basically are 1-to-1 swaps.

For replacing butter or cream cheese in a recipe, there are many vegan butter and cream cheese brands on the market that work nearly identically (and sometimes better!).

However, some contain nuts or soy, so you have to pay attention to the ingredients list if those are your top allergens.

For vegan butter in baking: Miyoko’s Creamery (contains nuts, but is also considered Paleo), Miyoko’s Creamery Oat Butter (Nut free), Earth Balance Baking Sticks (contains soy), and Nutiva Coconut Oil with “Buttery” Flavor.

For vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream, I absolutely love Miyoko’s Creamery, Forager Project sour cream, Violife cream cheese (nut free) and Kite Hill almond cream cheese. I’m personally not a fan of the taste of Tofutti, but some people do like it for nut-free vegan cream cheese. 

A note on swapping coconut oil: You can also use coconut oil, but it sometimes does not act 1-to-1. This is because coconut oil contains all fat, meaning there’s no water content whatsoever to the coconut oil. With butter, though it contains fat, it also contains water, yielding a more moist texture when baking verses if you were to use just straight shortening (no water), it would be more crumbly.

Occasionally, you can also swap in a nut butter or even applesauce for a lower fat option. If you want to make your own nut butter, check out my guides on how to make peanut butter and how to make cashew butter.

vegan oat flour crust on a baking mat

Are vegan desserts healthier? 

So just to set the record straight: just because a baked good is vegan, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s “healthy.” And I know that healthy means different things to different people, so I won’t even jump down that rabbit hole!

I discuss how to make healthy vegan baked goods oil free in the FAQ’s section, so I won’t touch upon it heavily here, but I will talk about lowering sugar, if needed, and keeping things refined sugar free (as well as gluten free!).

Reducing the sugar in vegan baked goods is similar to that of traditional baking, in that you can safely reduce the sugar content by 1/4 (so if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can safely use 3/4 of a cup with no noticeable taste difference), but perhaps you also want to make it refined sugar free.

Coconut sugar is a wonderful sweetener to use that’s very similar to brown sugar (so I actually use it to mimic the effects of brown sugar in my vegan chocolate chip cookies recipe). Additionally, maple syrup is another refined sugar free sweetener that adds an amazing taste!

My one caveat about maple syrup is that you cannot replace regular sugar with maple syrup- unless the recipe developer has noted it! This is due to the fact that you would be swapping in a wet ingredient for a dry, which will alter the end result of the healthy vegan baking experiment drastically.

sliced brioche loaf on a wooden board

Baking Gluten Free and Vegan

Now to make your vegan dessert recipes gluten free as well, you’ll need to play around with some ingredients.

Typically, the only ingredient that you’ll need to sub out to make gluten free is the flour; however, oat milk is made from oats, which is considered a grain. So if you’re using oat milk, make sure that it is certified gluten free! Some people with Celiac’s Disease are also intolerant to oats so please keep that in mind.

I’ve experimented with both 1:1 gluten-free flour blends and making my own gluten-free flour blends. For breads and rolls, I prefer to make my own ratios. For cakes, cupcakes, brownies, etc., I have had great success with 1:1 gluten-free flour blends, like Bob’s Red Mill in the blue bag or King Arthur Flour. BE SURE you are buying the 1-to-1 flour and not the regular gluten free flour. The regular one does not contain any gums, which will make your healthy vegan baking treat be a crumbly mess! 

A NOTE: Many readers have tried using Namaste flour blend in my gluten-free recipes without success. I don’t have access to this flour, but I do NOT recommend using this flour blend. Please try to stick to Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur, as those are the ones I’ve found to bake with the most success.

For Paleo baking: Cassava flour in general is a fantastic grain free Paleo gluten free flour that is also vegan. Cassava flour is made from the cassava root, and is pretty 1-to-1 in most recipes, though sometimes it needs more liquid.

Of course, you also have almond flour, coconut flour, buckwheat flour, and chickpea flour- there are tons of options for baking vegan and gluten free!

soft vegan dinner rolls stacked

Top Vegan Baking FAQ’s

How do I bake oil free and vegan?

Baking oil free and vegan isn’t hard at all, but it does require specific recipes! Some oil free swap outs for coconut oil include nut butter, unsweetened applesauce, baked and mashed sweet potato, and mashed banana.

But keep in mind, it’s best to only make swaps that the recipe developer has noted works!

That being said, you can check out these oil free vegan baking recipes here:

Gluten Free Vegan Buckwheat Banana Bread

Oil Free Vegan Belgian Waffles

Oil Free Vegan Buttermilk Pancakes

Is flour vegan?

Flour is vegan! You can use all purpose flour, cake flour, cassava flour, oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour, gluten free baking 1-to-1 flour, etc.; rest assured, your vegan dessert recipes are considered vegan if they use flour.

Now, these aren’t necessarily vegan and gluten free. Specifically the all purpose flour and the cake flour. If you are gluten-free, please use certified gluten-free flours.

How do I make a vegan buttermilk?

I have a whole post on this! You can check out my guide to how to make vegan buttermilk.

Let the mixture sit for 5-7 minutes to curdle then use as you would buttermilk!

Why is my flaxseed “egg” not working?

This often happens if you don’t allow the mixture to completely coagulate. Unfortunately, we can’t just throw flaxseed and water together, and call it a day!

Allow the mixture to sit for 5-7 minutes after you’ve mixed it together (either with a spoon, fork, or whisk). This helps to ensure that it will act like a proper egg.

If it’s still not yielding just the right texture, I highly recommend using aquafaba!

Why did my cake come out gummy?

This can happen for a few reasons, but the biggest reason is that your ingredients weren’t room temperature.

If your ingredients, even vegan ingredients, aren’t all room temperature (i.e. some are cool, some are warm, some are hot), the cake will come out gummy.

Another reason is that you might have been checking on your cake in the oven…by opening the door! Try to keep the oven door closed as much as possible. The reason being is that opening the oven just for a few seconds drastically changes the heat of the oven, which can cause uneven baking.

How do I make a fluffy vegan cake?

This all has to do with the ingredients and finding the ones closest to the traditional counterparts.

Typically, a fluffy cake involves buttermilk, sour cream (occasionally), eggs, butter, and the technique of combining the ingredients.

Fortunately, there are many vegan ingredients that are close to these, including vegan buttermilk, dairy free sour cream, vegan flaxseed “eggs,” dairy free butter, etc. As for the technique, it is crucial that if a recipe says all ingredients must be room temperature, they must be room temperature!

Unfortunately there’s no getting around this one!

Can I swap in coconut oil for butter?

I wouldn’t just swap in coconut oil for butter in any recipe, unless this recipe has been verified tested by the recipe developer to confirm that it works.

The reason being is that coconut oil is 100% fat, whereas butter contains a bit of water. That bit of water goes a long way and will drastically alter a recipe when left out.

Nut butters, however, do contain some water (as long as they aren’t sprouted), so occasionally you can swap them in here, but again, it’s best to not make any recipe swaps unless they have been tested.

hand holding chocolate frosting whisk

My top favorite vegan dessert recipes on the blog

Now that we’ve gone over the ins and outs of vegan baking, let’s put what you just learned to the test!

Here is a compilation of some of my all time favorite vegan dessert recipes on the blog. Of course, I love them all, but if I had to choose some favorites, these would be it.

Go have fun, explore, make mistakes, and enjoy!

vegan baking Pinterest pin