Vegan Baking Made Simple

Vegan Baking Made Simple

Publish Date October 6, 2023 4 Minute Read

More than a holiday hobby, baking is often at the center of our favorite family traditions. From the first slice of pumpkin pie to the last cookie, holiday baking should be cheerful, not challenging. But if you follow a vegan or plant-based diet, you know this isn’t always the case. While many classic confections call for animal-derived ingredients like butter, eggs and milk, there are plenty of vegan staples, swaps and hacks you can use to transform any holiday recipe into a delicious vegan dessert. We’ll cover them all in this simple guide to vegan baking.

Baking with Vegan Ingredients

Veganism is a dietary and lifestyle choice that involves avoiding all animal-derived foods and products. As a result, a vegan diet omits meat, seafood, dairy, eggs and any other animal-derived products, including honey and gelatin, as well as some flavors and dyes.

If you’re wondering how to make delicious vegan desserts without a library of vegan recipes, we’re here to help. With a pinch of creativity, vegan baking, even from traditional recipes, can be easy as pie. Swap out these animal-derived ingredients with plant-based alternatives for doable and delicious vegan baking:


The world of plant-based milk has expanded greatly over the years, offering many different options for vegan cooking and baking. To use a plant-based milk alternative in your favorite recipe, simply use a 1:1 ratio to make the swap. Common milk alternatives include:

  • Oat Milk - Oat milk has a mild flavor and creamy texture. Its high fat content and wholesome oat flavor make it a deliciously creamy alternative for cookie recipes and more.
  • Almond Milk - Almond milk has a very mild flavor and a lower fat content than other milk alternatives. This milk alternative is great for adding moisture but won’t replace the richness of cow’s milk. Instead, use this alternative in frostings, glazes, muffins and quick-bread recipes.
  • Soy Milk - Nutritionally, soy milk is the most similar to cow’s milk, with a variety of options to choose from, like extra creamy and flavored.
  • Coconut Milk - Coconut milk has a distinct tropical flavor and a creamy texture. Its high fat content makes it a great choice for recipes that depend on cow’s milk for richness.
  • Cashew Milk - Cashew milk has a distinct taste that’s often described as creamy, sweet and nutty, and it’s great in a variety of vegan recipes.
  • Rice or Hemp Milk - Free from common allergens, these alternatives are great options for people with soy and nut allergies.

Remember to swap any other ingredients that contain milk for plant-based alternatives as well. Milk chocolate chips, for example, can easily be swapped with dairyfree chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips. If you opt for dark chocolate, aim for 50% cocoa or higher. The higher the percentage of cocoa, a plant-based ingredient, the less room there is for animal-derived ingredients to sneak in. Always check the label to be sure, and check out this guide to choose the right milk for you.


If your recipe calls for buttermilk, you can combine a plant-based milk alternative with vinegar or lemon juice. Just add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1 cup of milk, and let it sit for a couple of minutes.


Eggs play a vital role in baking, acting as leavening agents and binders. Luckily, there are many options to choose from when replacing eggs in vegan baking:

  • Flax or Chia Seeds - For each egg, combine 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds with 3 tablespoons of water, and allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes. Try using a flax egg in this delicious vegan brown sugar cookies recipe.
  • Apple Sauce - This handy kitchen staple is likely already in your pantry. Substitute ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce for 1 egg in any baking recipe.
  • Aquafaba - Aquafaba is the water in a can of beans and can be used to replace eggs in vegan recipes, with chickpea brine being the most common choice. Use 3 tablespoons of aquafaba to replace 1 egg. Aquafaba makes a great binder and can be whipped just like egg whites.
  • Banana - If a little bit of banana flavor would enhance your recipe, you can use ¼ cup of mashed banana to replace 1 egg.


Butter adds richness, moisture and flavor to baked goods. While butter is a dairy product, there are plenty of plant-based swaps available:

  • Vegan Butter - An obvious butter alternative, vegan butter is often made from vegetable oils and tastes similar to dairy butter.
  • Avocado - Smashed avocado adds a delightful creaminess to any recipe, and its high-fat content adds richness to vegan desserts.
  • Oils - Coconut oil, vegetable oil and olive oil can all be used in place of butter in baked goods, adding moisture and richness.


Sugar is a highly debated ingredient when it comes to vegan baking. Since sugar is made from plants like sugar cane and sugar beet, you might assume that it’s vegan. However, some companies use animal products in the processing of sugar. To further confuse things, the use of animal-derived ingredients in processing is hard to pinpoint, since companies aren’t required to disclose them on the ingredient label. If avoiding all animal products is important to you, use raw, natural or organic sugar. You can also experiment with other natural sweeteners for healthier holiday baking.

Want More Vegan Inspiration?

Cutting out animal products doesn’t have to mean cutting out tasty holiday desserts. Try these easy swaps to make vegan baking simple and delicious. Explore more vegan dessert recipes and shop plant-based groceries. If you’re interested in following a plant-based diet, or if you have any other nutrition questions, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians for customized advice.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

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