Being able to swap out ingredients in recipes is easy to learn and will save you from overlooking great recipes that may have an ingredient you can’t use.
When I first went vegan, I usually omitted ingredients that I no longer ate, but that left my meals missing a vital flavor, texture, or binding agent. I have since learned that it is easy to swap out ingredients in recipes as long as I use the right ones for the type of food I am creating.
This is especially important when you are baking. I always think of baking like a science experiment, one wrong move and the whole thing doesn’t work. Then you are left with something that kind of resembles the recipe, but the flavor is just off. You have to be more careful with measurements and ingredients than you have to be with cooking your dinner.
So how do you know when to use applesauce and when you need flax seeds in your baked goods? I created this list to help you through learning how to substitute ingredients and have success in your cooking and baking every time.
I have experimented with every type of substitutes and these are the ones that work best for me.
I even included a Vegan baking alternatives to butter, eggs, and milk download that you can keep in your kitchen for quick access when you just aren’t sure what ingredient you are going to need.
For eggs, you can use quite a few different substitutes, but each is going to work differently within your foods depending on type of cuisine. Muffins are going to require a different sub than puddings.
- Ener-G egg replacer
This is one of the first egg replacers I tried. I always had it on hand when I first went vegan. Ener-G egg replacer is comprised of potato and tapioca starch. This product usually has a place in vegan kitchens for its great way of keeping your baked goods fluffy and airy. It works very well in cookies, cakes, and muffins.
Use the measurement guide on the box for your egg ratio substitutions.
- Flax eggs
Flax eggs are something I have been using more of lately. Flax eggs are good for binding ingredients together since when mixed with water, it creates a gel like consistency. Flax eggs are great for pancakes and breads.
To use, mix 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons water for 1 egg.
- Bananas and apple sauce
This is one of my favorites for sweet baked goods. Bananas and applesauce are great in cakes and muffins and sweet breads. They are used to substitute eggs that are being used for moisture. With bananas and apple sauce, you need to make sure there is also a leavening agent in the recipe like baking soda and vinegar.
Use ½ cup per egg in recipes.
- Vinegar and baking soda
Vinegar and baking soda are great for use as leavening agents. If you have ever mixed the two together, you know they create a frothy bubbling texture. Vinegar and baking soda are great uses for fluffy baked goods. Use in cakes and pancakes.
To replace one egg: mix 1tsp baking soda with 1 tsp vinegar
- Silken tofu
Silken tofu is used to provide moisture and density to your baked goods. Silken tofu is great used in brownies, fudge, and whipped fillings like in key lime pie. Silken tofu is best used in baked goods recipes that already have baking soda and baking powder as an ingredient.
To replace one egg: use ¼ cup pureed silken tofu
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds are great for binding ingredients together. When mixed with water, they form a gel like consistency. They are best used alongside baking powder and baking soda in recipes. I use chia seeds in muffins quite often.
To replace one egg: mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water
- Arrowroot powder
Arrowroot powder works as a binding agent in baked goods. If you want to use it in a cake or bread, make sure to add a leavening agent.
To replace one egg: combine 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons water
Butter is used very often in recipes. Whether you are cooking or baking, butter is going to show up in a lot of your recipes. Butter is often used in recipes to create a smooth, rich flavor and to help baked goods evenly rise.
There are several good substitutes for baking.
- Coconut oil
Coconut oil is a popular substitute for butter recently. Coconut oil will keep a similar thickness and consistency as butter.
You can sub at a 1:1 ratio.
- Earth Balance butter
This is a popular vegan butter substitute that is being found at more and more grocery stores. All of the stores in my area now carry it in either the health foods refrigerated section or with the rest of the butters and margarines.
Earth Balance can be used at a 1:1 ratio.
- Smart Balance Light buttery spread with flax
This is another butter substitute. I have found that Smart Balance has a smoother consistency than Earth Balance. Not every Smart Balance butter spread is vegan, so make sure you are reading labels. It is best to stick with the Smart Balance with flax to remain vegan.
Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread with Flax can be used at a 1:1 ratio.
- Olive oil
Olive oil is a good substitution if you need added moisture. It is best used with savory recipes and not sweet recipes. I would use olive oil in breads and muffins. Olive oil works best in more dense recipes that do not need that airy, fluffy quality.
Substitute olive oil for butter in a 3:4 ratio, so if recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter, use 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Shortening is a good substitute for butter when baking cookies or pie crusts. Shortening is full fat while butter and margarine are closer to 80% fat and the rest liquid. Shortening is not always my first go to for substituting butter, but it is necessary sometimes in order to get the correct flavor and texture.
To substitute shortening for butter, use ¾ of the butter called for and add in 1 tablespoon of water. So, for 1 cup of butter, use ¾ cup shortening and 1 tbsp. water.
Milk is an easy substitute when baking with all the new milk substitutes on the market these days. I am seeing more and more options every season at my grocery store.
- Almond milk
I have found that almond milk is a very universal milk substitute. I use it every day and have success when I need to sub out a cup of milk here and there.
You can sub almond milk for dairy milk at a 1;1 ratio.
- Cashew milk
Cashew milk has a creamier consistency than almond milk. I will use cashew milk when I want that extra creaminess to come through like with whipped pies and puddings.
You can use cashew milk 1:1 ratio in recipes.
- Soy milk
Soy milk has the highest protein content of all the nondairy milk subs. This makes it a great substitute for making buttermilk. To make buttermilk, you will need to combine soy milk and vinegar. Soy is another good universal milk substitute.
Buttermilk: 1 cup soymilk and 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Stir it and let it sit until it curdles.
- Coconut milk
Coconut milk comes in two varieties, coconut beverage and coconut milk that comes in the can. For the beverage type, it works like dairy milk, has a creamy texture and is great to use in savory and sweet dishes. The coconut milk with have a slight coconut taste, but not strong enough to over power your dish.
Coconut milk that comes in the can is thick and creamy. This is not a good choice to use to substitute dairy milk in a recipe. It is great for substituting heavy cream. I use it to make whipped cream, ice cream, as a heavy cream sub in my baking recipes.
Coconut beverage can be used in place of dairy milk and coconut milk as a heavy cream sub.
- Rice milk
Rice milk is thinner than other nondairy milks and sweeter. It has the closest flavor to dairy milk so if your recipe needs that authentic taste, this would be a good choice.
To sub for dairy milk, you will need to add in an additional thickening agent as the rice milk is thinner. You can add a little xanthan gum, flour, or cornstarch.
I hope this list of vegan baking substitutes help you with making your favorite baking recipes vegan. You can still enjoy the recipes you have grown up with if you make a few tweaks to make them vegan. I have had great success veganizing my favorite recipes and I hope you do too.
Don’t forget to download the vegan baking substitute cheat sheet below to keep in your kitchen for when you need a quick reference guide.
Vegan baking alternatives to butter, eggs, and milk
Vegan Starter Kit
Download your free copy of The Ultimate Vegan Starter Kit with printables: The vegan shopping list, Is it Vegan? Cheat sheet, Ingredients to avoid, and Vegan ingredient swap outs.