Vegan Baking and Cooking Substitutions – A Guide to “Veganize” Your Favorite Meals


Have a tempting recipe that you just cannot wait to try, but it isn’t vegan? Craving those cinnamon rolls that your grandma used to make, or that hearty lasagna from the local bakery? No need to worry! Follow this guide to veganize your favorite dishes, and learn about vegan meat, egg, and dairy alternatives!


In most traditional baked goods, you’ll find eggs, dairy, refined sugar, and sometimes even gelatin – which, of course, are not vegan. Luckily, there are many simple vegan ingredients that work well as substitutions.

veganize cake

  1. Chia or Flax Egg – 1 tbsp ground flax or chia whisked with 5 tbsp water per egg. Let cool in fridge until ready to use. This substitution is pretty universal and works well in pastries, such as muffins, croissants, and bagels. It’s also great in desserts including loaves, cakes, and cookies.
  2. Apple Sauce – 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce + 1 tsp baking powder (optional) per egg. Apple sauce adds a bit of extra moisture to the batter and works well in loaves, moist cakes, pancakes, and waffles.
  3. Bananas – 1 banana per egg. This substitution works best with recipes that already contain banana, such as banana bread and muffins.
  4. Aquafaba (chickpea brine) – use to replace egg whites in specialty desserts, such as meringues, macaroons, mousse, and even vegan whipped cream!
  1. Almond Milk, Soy Milk, and other Nut Milks work just as well as regular milk. Use thicker milks, such as cashew and coconut, for an overall creamier texture.
  2. Vegan Yogurt – adds a creamy texture to any dessert, and can replace part of the milk or all of the yogurt in a recipe
  3. Nut Milk + 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar – replaces buttermilk in scones, pancakes, and other treats.
DAIRY: Butter
  1. Apple Sauce – sub the amount of apple sauce equivalent to the amount of melted butter in the recipe. Apple sauce adds moisture to the baked good and makes it all the more healthy!
  2. Coconut oil, olive oil, or other oil – sub the amount of oil equivalent to the amount of butter in the recipe. Coconut oil works best for baked goods, as it adds a slightly sweet and buttery taste to the batter.
  3. Avocado – sub the amount of crushed avocado equivalent to the amount of butter in the recipe. This fruit adds healthy fat as well as creaminess to your dessert.
  4. Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread – this product is available at most stores – from Whole Foods Market to Walmart. It serves as a butter replacement in baked goods and can also be spread over toast or drizzled over popcorn.

So, as a vegan, you don’t eat chocolate? I’ve heard that one all too many times. Fear not, there are many vegan baking chocolates out there! Here are just a few:

  1. Enjoy Life Vegan Chocolate Chips and Chunks – it’s amazing how much these products taste like milk chocolate. Add them to desserts or eat them on their own – either way, check off your chocolate cravings!
  2. Cacao Powder or Cocoa Powder – both of these pure powders are high in anti-oxidants. They taste delicious in chocolate cakes and brownies and add decadence to icing mixes.

veganize chocolate


You may think that refined sugar is vegan – after all, sugar is made from a plant, right? Unfortunately, sugar is usually refined using bone char filters – which are clearly not vegan. Luckily, there are quite a few alternatives to use for sweetening your favorite baked treats.

  1. Maple syrup, agave nectar, or other liquid sweetener – sub 3/4 C liquid sweetener per 1 C refined sugar. This will add a lot of moisture to your dessert. In order to compensate for this, slightly decrease the amounts of other liquid ingredients in the recipe.
  2. Beet sugar, Coconut sugar, and most certified organic sugars – these sugars are typically not passed through bone char filters, and are hence vegan. Some stores, such as Whole Foods Market, sell their own Vegan Cane Sugar as well.
  1. Agarose powder (Agar Agar) – when mixed with water, this seaweed-based powder becomes gelatinous, and can be used to add texture to jams, jello, and pies.
  2. Tapioca starch – can act as a substitute for gelatin and can be used to thicken jams, syrups, and even savory stews.


  1. Scrambled eggs – use extra-firm tofu to cook up a delicious scramble! Here’s a great recipe for a high-protein breakfast. Or, if you live in the USA, try Follow Your Heart’s newest product, VeganEgg! I kid you not, FYH has outdone themselves with this mock-egg.
  2. Eggs as a binder – for savoury dishes such as veggie burgers and breaded cutlets, ground chia and ground flax work perfectly in place of eggs. To make a flax/chia egg: whisk 1 tbsp ground flax/chia with 5 tbsp water in a bowl. Allow to chill in fridge until ready to add to recipe.
  1. Tempeh – this fermented soy bean is great for digestion and high in probiotics. Tempeh can be prepared in a many different ways, and can be used to replace bacon and ground beef. It also tastes great in curries!
  2. Tofu – silken, medium, extra-firm, smoked – tofu is one of the most diverse products on the market. Use silken tofu to add a creamy texture to smoothies or to make a vegan cheesecake. Add smoked tofu – which tastes very similar to cold cuts – to your sandwich for extra protein and calcium!
  3. Seitan – prepared correctly, seitan can taste exactly like steak! This soy-based meat replacement can be purchased in many stores but can also be made from scratch.  Try it on vegan pizza or in vegan burritos.
  4. Mushrooms – who would have thought, right? Different mushrooms serve different purposes in a vegan kitchen. Shiitake mushrooms can be used to replace shredded beef, such as in this recipe. Portobello mushrooms make the perfect meat-like veggie burger. Oyster mushrooms, which can be a bit more on the expensive side, are marinated and served as steak in many vegan restaurants.
  5. Jackfruit – this delicious Jamaican fruit acts as the perfect substitute because of its “meaty” texture. Some great recipe ideas include pulled jackfruit and jackfruit burgers.

veganize burger

  1. GARDEIN – most of Gardein’s products are sold frozen, and include vegan chick’n fingers, orange chick’n, chick’n and beetles strips, and even crabless cakes. You won’t miss turkey over the holidays with Garden’s Stuffed Holiday Turk’y Roast.
  2. TOFURKY – seasoned vegan sausage, vegan pepperoni, AND vegan cold cuts – what more could you ask for? Let’s not forget their famous Tofurky Roast with Mushroom gravy!
  3. BEYOND MEAT – this company is known for their beefy “Beyond Burger”, as well as their Feisty Buffalo Beyond Chicken Poppers and pasta-perfect Italian Meatballs.
  4. FIELD ROAST – Field Roast’s authentic vegan sausages come in three different flavors – Italian, Mexican Chipotle, and Smoked Apple Sage. They also sell an apple sage breakfast sausage, which pairs perfectly with a tofu scramble and hash browns. Try them all – they do not disappoint!
  5. WHOLE FOODS – Whole Foods Market sells an array of vegan products at their deli counter, including a curry vegan chicken salad, general tao vegan chicken, vegan buffalo bites, and the most delectable veggie burgers! Go to a local Whole Foods and ask what’s vegan – you’d be surprised by how many options there are!

veganize shawarma

  1. Nutritional Yeast – two tablespoons of these naturally nutrient-rich flakes contain 130% of your daily requirement of vitamin B12, 480% vitamin B6, 570% Riboflavin, 640% thiamine, and 8g of protein. Add this superfood to salads, pastas, and nachos for a cheesy kick!
  2. Daiya Cheese – Daiya Foods has recently improved their recipe, and their cheeses taste more authentic than ever before. Try the Daiya Shreds over vegan pizza, poutine, or nachos, and add a slice of Daiya Havarti to your favorite sandwich.
  3. Field Roast – released this year, Chao Cheese by Field Roast is not your regular slice of cheese. It packs punch and flavor – try their coconut herb cheese with black pepper, tomato cayenne cheese with spicy peppers, or go for the classic creamy original.
  4. Cashews – creamy and rich, blended cashews serve as a great cheese replacement. Use to make vegan cream cheese or cream cheese frosting. The creaminess of this cheese sauce is also perfect for a vegan mac and cheese!

veganize cheese

Whether you are a new vegan or a veteran, it can be hard to find ways to veganize old-time favorite recipes and meals. This list of baking alternatives as well as alternatives to eggs, meats, and cheeses should be able to satisfy even your most intense cravings! Enjoy 🙂

veganize tacos

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Dana Unninayar

In high school, after watching the documentary Food Inc., I decided to become vegetarian. A year later, I took the next step and became fully vegan. I am currently studying immunology at McGill University. During my spare time, I train as a varsity athlete, play music at retirements homes and hospitals, and host the Instagram blog @montrealvegan. I love to experiment with new recipes and and amaze friends with dishes that leave them saying “I can’t believe it’s vegan”!

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