How to cook vegan: the ultimate guide to egg, milk and butter substitutes

It’s always a good time to bake cookies, cakes and anything sweet. To demystify buttery and chewy confections, we went straight to one of the sweetest candy experts around.

Francois Costigana virtual vegan baking queen, reminds us to use healthy and quality ingredients which, of course, do not contain any animal products. “Without the butter, eggs, and white sugar,” Costigan says, “I know the ingredients taste fresher.”

An important part of substituting vegan ingredients when baking is understanding the properties of particular ingredients and getting a feel for how everything works together.


You do it through testing, as Costigan says. Try cutting a recipe in half and trying it out, then making changes afterwards. Whether you’re planning to spend hours in the kitchen or just want to whip something up quickly, VegNews has the cooking substitution guide for you. Good pastry!

What is Vegan Pastry?

Traditional baking, unlike vegan baking, relies heavily on animal products. Often, recipes for baked goods call for eggs and dairy products like butter, cream, and cow’s milk.

VegNews.KidsBaking.AnnieSprattAnnie Sprat

Vegan pastry, on the other hand, omits all animal products. Although cooking without eggs and butter may seem daunting, it’s not impossible. All it takes is getting familiar with the right substitutions, and you’ll be baking cakes, cookies, cupcakes and more in no time.

Vegan Baking Substitutes

Next time a recipe calls for animal products, try these vegan swaps instead.

Ban the butter

What he does: In baking, butter adds flavor and a rich, sometimes spongy texture. It also helps baked goods rise evenly and adds both density and softness.

How to replace: Butter is extremely easy to substitute in vegan baking when vegetable butter is not found.

If you’re cooking a recipe that contains spices or a natural flavor, such as gingerbread cookies or gingerbread, olive oil or untoasted sesame oil works well.


Unrefined coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) can add the thickness that butter would, and canola oil works in recipes with liquid sugars (think agave) or solid fats, such as peanuts or chocolates in cakes.

Vegan shortening works well with cookies and pie crusts. And of course, there’s margarine, which creates the buttery taste that so many cookies need.

Delicious butter recipes include:
Chewy Chocolate Vegan Brownies
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Vegan Pizza

Move over, milk

What he does: Milk adds flavor and richness and creates texture in cooking.

How to replace: Milk is certainly the easiest to substitute in vegan baking, as many non-dairy milks already exist.

VegNews.CoffeeCrumbMuffinsFrancesca Bonadona

Whole soy milk will help create the richness of whole milk, while rice milk is lighter. Almond milk can sometimes add a subtle almond flavor, as can coconut milk, and both will add richness to a recipe.

To add vanilla flavor, try vanilla flavored non-dairy milk.

For rich recipes without milk, try:
Vegan and gluten-free banana cream cupcakes
Vegan Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Bread

Eggs squeezed out

What he does: Eggs add moisture and act as a binder in cooking. They are also a leavening agent, helping foods rise during cooking.

How to replace: Milk is perhaps the easiest ingredient to replace, but it is closely followed by egg substitutes.

Ground flaxseed is a popular substitute that is also nutritious – three tablespoons of water to one tablespoon of ground flaxseed equals one egg.

VegNews.VeganEspressoSconesMixed and measured

Mashed banana and applesauce are other healthy alternatives that completely eliminate the cholesterol that eggs add to cooking.

“Baking powder, baking soda, and vinegar are all good,” Costigan says. And soy yogurt is a creative way to replace eggs and can add a rich texture to your baking, just like mashed black beans.

Here are some delicious recipes that omit the eggs:
Vegan Marizpan Challah
Chocolate Vegan Coffee Scones
Vegan zucchini cake

Hit the road, darling

What he does: Honey acts as a natural sweetener. It also helps brown your baked goods, adds color and retains moisture.

How to replace: Simply grab other viscous liquids, like maple syrup, rice syrup, or agave nectar. They add the same natural sweetness and contribute to browning effects.

VegNews.HolidayProfiterolesGas Oakley

Costigan recommends cooking them a bit to simmer some of the water out to create a thicker syrup.

Recipes that use these natural sweeteners include:
Profiteroles Vegan Boozy Holiday
Vegan chickpea and banana bread
Blueberry Banana Vegan French Toast Casserole

Can it, cream

What he does: Cream creates a smooth and sometimes fluffy texture in baked goods. It adds richness and can impart a satiny quality.

How to replace: The richness of coconut milk can advantageously replace cream. For a homemade replacement, mix one part cashews and one part water until smooth.

VegNews.ChocolateEclairVanessa K.Rees

There are also a variety of creamers and non-dairy creamers on the market.

For creamy treats, try:
Vegan chocolate eclairs
Almond Butter Vegan Pudding Pie
Vegan soft sugar cookies

Want to know some of VegNews’ favorite products for vegan baking substitutions? Continue reading!
egg substitute
Maple syrup
raw cashew nuts
rice syrup
Unrefined coconut oil
Vegan shortening

For more vegan cooking tips, read:

About Chris McCarter

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