How to Make Swaps for Vegan Baking

Are you embracing some holiday baking this year? Would you prefer to stick to a plant-based diet but have a few recipes that use eggs or butter? Good news – we have some substitutions! So you can rejoice (and indulge) with some of our suggestions:

1. Replacing Eggs

How you choose to replace eggs depends on what they’re being used in (and used for). Many times, banana and applesauce can easily sub for eggs in recipes, as well as ¼ cup of non-dairy yogurt. However, if the egg is needed to “bind” ingredients, then you’ll need to up your game. Here are a few top egg replacers when binding is needed:

  • Flax eggs: For each egg in the recipe, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Let sit for a few minutes before adding to your recipe.
  • Chia eggs: For each egg in the recipe, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2.5 tablespoons of warm water. Let sit for a few minutes until a bit “gummy” before adding to your recipe. You can also grind the chia seeds to reduce the appearance of seeds in your final baked goodies.

These egg replacers are great for recipes like quick breads, cookies, and even puddings.

However, if you need your final product to rise (or leaven), then you need something a bit lighter. Here are some suggestions:

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • Flax eggs as above

These egg replacers are great for muffins and cakes, or anything that needs a bit of air in it.

2. Replacing Butter & Oils

Even if the ingredient that is called for is already vegan (such as vegetable oil), that doesn’t mean you can’t make your recipe healthier! Here are a few common substitutes for butters, oils, and margarines:

  • Butter replacers: non-dairy spread, coconut oil, olive oil, vegan shortening, avocado puree, ¾ cup prunes plus ¼ cup water (blended) per cup butter.
  • Oil replacers: replace less healthy oils with mashed banana, 1 cup water plus 2-3 teaspoons chia seeds or coconut oil

Be cognizant of the flavor of what you are using as a replacer. For example, avocado puree might work well for a dark, savory bread, but not so much for a light-colored cake.

3. Sweeteners

Whether a recipe calls for honey, sugar, brown sugar, or another sweetener, you can choose to up the nutrient value of a recipe by swapping it out for something healthier, less calorie-dense, and with a lower glycemic index. Common substitutions include:

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract for 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Applesauce for sugar, cup for cup
  • Agave or maple syrup instead of honey
  • Coconut sugar for sugar
  • Adding cinnamon and reducing sugar
  • Just reduce the sugar amount. Oftentimes, recipes are much sweeter than necessary.

4. Milk & Cream

It’s pretty easy to simply sub in non-dairy milk when needed, but what about more complex recipes? Here are a few common substitutions you can employ:

  • Buttermilk: whisk 1 cup non-dairy milk + 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and let sit for 10 minutes. Or make a mix of 1 part vegan sour cream and 1 part water.
  • Evaporated milk: Skim off the thick part of canned coconut milk
  • Whipped cream: As a topping, chill a can of coconut milk overnight and whip.

As with all of the above recipes, a bit of experimentation might be in order to find the substitute that works for your recipe and gives you the taste you are looking for, but it certainly can be done. Happy Baking!