Vegan Cooking Substitutions.

Convert any recipe and dish into a vegan one.

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Vegan Cooking Substitutions

You can easily turn just about ANY recipe into a VEGAN one!

vegan carrot cake picture

There are many substitutions for meat and dairy products out there already, and more are coming out all the time! With a little trial you are sure to find ones you like immensely!

vegan icecream picture

In baking and cooking, recipes calling for egg and/or dairy products are very easily changed, with virtually no difference in the end product! They will make you wonder why anyone ever used eggs and milk before!

Then there is the magic of wheat gluten, tvp, tofu, and other ingredients that are truly remarkable, giving the chew and look of "real meat", and some products out there few people even heard about (jack fruit) that can fool everyone!

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Did you know...

The main reason so many people are drawn toward meat and dairy, (and are over weight and have high blood pressure, heart disease etc..) is because meat and dairy tends to have a lot of fat in it, plus there's added salt and even sugar, in almost all processed foods. Thusly, we, as a society, have grown accustomed to this.
Fats and oils coat and stay on ones taste buds longer, along with the spices and other ingredients in the recipe, giving the illusion it is the meat that must be doing this.
The same goes for fatty things like donuts, cookies and onion rings.
Most meat and dairy analogs are designed to be healthy alternatives with little oil in them, and some, because of this, are not as "flavorful" to most people.
Then there are some that have a lot of additives, a lot of fat and sugar and artificial ingredients, that are vegan (or vegetarian) that taste really good, but are not really all that healthy.
We all know that a lot of fat in a diet is not good for a person, and almost everyone NEEDs to switch to a lower fat diet.
If one of the reasons you want to be vegan is for health reasons, then look more at the ingredients, Just because it is VEGAN does not make everything about it healthy.

Yes, food will taste different, just switching to a meat free analog. But you can add more oil to a recipe, and it will make the flavor more pronounced, perhaps a good way to ween oneself off of something, but do you really want to?

Since taste is a learned process we need to "unlearn" some things too. Give new products a chance and in time just the thought of all that previous fat in your diet will turn your stomach.

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For MEAT SUBSTITUTES go to the meatless meats page

Vegan Meatless Meats

Vegan BAKING and COOKING without eggs or dairy products

Converting recipes to vegan is very easy.


Eggs are used primarily for two reasons in cooking; as a binder, to help hold other ingredients together, like in a meatloaf OR as a leavening agent to help the item rise as in baking. If you keep that in mind you should do well!

Instead of 1 egg in baking, you can use...

  • 1 T Flax seeds ground with 3 T water
  • 1 Tablespoon (chick pea) or soya flour and 1 T water
  • 1 T arrowroot, 1 T soy flour and 2 T water
  • 2 T Cornstarch
  • 2 T Potato starch (Instant mash potatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp flour, 1/2 Tbsp shortening, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp water
  • 1/4 cup soft tofu blended with the liquid portion of the recipe
  • 1/2 large banana, mashed 2 Heaping t Soy powder + 2 T water
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce (in sweet recipes)
When experimenting I usually use 1 T ground flax seed, 1 T cornstarch, 1 T oil plus 1 T water or soymilk, in place of 1 egg and have had no problems yet!
I adjust to the recipe... If it has more than 2 eggs, then leavaning might be involved so I add baking powder. If you don't want the flax seeds, say in a smooth batter white bread cake, then use something else....
If it has a ton of eggs, or needs whites to be whipped separately, or like a meringue, then it probably wont work.

Alternative binding agents Baked goods or casseroles, burger...

choose 1 instead per egg...

  • 2 T mashed potatoes
  • 2 T mashed avocado
  • 2 T Tahini or other Nut Butter
  • 2 T moist bread crumbs
  • 2 T Moist Oats
  • Plain silken tofu
  • White sauce (soy milk, vegan margarine, and cornstarch or flour)
  • 2 T Chia seeds
Be sure and check out Chia seeds! Yep those, cha cha cha chia
They are a great product (for other things besides growing hair on ceramics...) Such as a thickener and binder. Add 2-4 Tablespoons to 1 cup of liquid and let it sit 15 minutes or so... Thick like pudding! And it is a great source of protein! You can use these as a binder in anything, but keep in mind, they will give a slight crunch, like poppy seeds do...

In place of eggs for breakfast

Check the recipe page for more ideas, but silken tofu, nutritional yeast, broth powder, and chopped vegis make an incredible Vegan scrambled eggs! Plus you can make quiche, omelets, bread pudding, etc... all with tofu instead of eggs!

If you want a plate to look like it holds a fried egg... cut tofu to shape, cooked or not... and top with a halved piece of canned apricot! Voila! You can make it sweet or savory.

Other vegan Dairy Substitutes

When substituting oils and butter in recipes, be aware of what the recipe calls for. Different fats are different percentages, and usually need to stick close to that percentage

Vegan Butter/margarine/shortening/oil

Oil is 100% fat

butter is 80–82 percent milk fat, 16–17 percent water, and 1–2 percent milk solids

Real margarine must be 80%

Oil Spreads and Whipped Spreads can range from zero fat to 70% so read the label if cooking with it! It usually isnt recommended for baking.

Shortening, like regular crisco is vegan, and can be used in place of butter or lard in recipes. (Although it is not the healthiest choice.) To make it healthier, use oil, like Canola and 3/4 the amount . If a recipe calls for 1 cup shortening or butter, use 3/4 cup oil.

vegan margarine picture

You can use margarine for baking without any noticeble difference in the final product, if it contains at least 60% fat. There are some very good vegan butter substitutes on the market, and most of them are found in health food stores such as Earth Balance. A real Margarine found in many regular supermarkets is Nucoa brand, a stick margarine, so it easily substitutes for any butter or margarine.

Vegan Milk

soymilk pictureVegan milks can be used for drinking, on cereal, and in cooking, baking..anywhere that dairy milk has been traditionally used. Just be aware some recipes rely on the protein or fat in milk for different reasons... so it might be best to stick with soymilk for most baking recipes, unless you want to try... but for drinking there are several options for milk substitutes, including Soy Milk, Rice Milk, Coconut Milk, Almond Milk, etc... Some are sweetened and some are plain, some are chocolate, vanilla etc... so personal tastes and preferences are the main key for choosing a milk alternative.

Don't expect it to taste like cows milk.

It is a product that can be used in places some people traditionally use cows milk, It is not made to taste like it.

If you don't know which one to choose,

when cooking use the plain unsweetened, where there is ONLY soybeans and water on the ingredients.

Any other ingredients, even when it says unsweetened, can alter the taste in the final product.

Vegan Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is just 2 servings of milk in 1 serving of liquid. So to get evaporated milk use twice as much instant dry soy milk powder to one serving of milk, or take ready made soy milk (with only soy beans and water on the label) and use that in place of water for mixing one serving of instant dry soy milk powder.

Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk

You can buy a ready made sweetened condensed milk at the health food store or use this recipe to make your own. Vegan sweetened condensed milk


Cheese is one of the hardest food items to find a perfect substitute for, primarily because cheese is very high in fat and salt and the alternatives are low in fat!

Although, there are new cheese substitutes on the market all the time you should try them. There are subs for almost every type of cheese out there, cheddar, mozzerella, pepper jack, parmesan, etc... Daiya brand is pretty good and pretty close to the dairy product.. Another cheese substitute I have found is Follow Your Heart, brand, Vegan Gourmet. But there are a lot I havent tried yet, including Miyokos kitchen. Miyoko Schinner has the best recipes for cheese alternatives and is going commercial! yea!

vegan cheese picture
What I do, if I don't have store bought vegan cheese, or to extend it, is make a vegan cream sauce, adding more nutritional yeast and onion powder, and for that shredded cheese look, I grate extra firm tofu, and mix it with a lot of nutritional yeast and onion salt/garlic salt.

This works great for pizza, or a casserole, or lasagna, where you have a melted cheese, and it still looks like real cheese. If you want a more sharp cheddar flavor add a tablespoon or so of light miso!

If you like experimenting with your cheesy sauces, try adding some blendered oatmeal and/or tapioca if you want the stringy look and feel. Overcooked tapioca will be nice and stringy.

Vegan Parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese is relatively easy to make a substitute for. You want a slightly salty sprinkle for pasta or on bruschetta, so nuts make the best sub. Just grind 1 C (unsalted or leave out the added salt) almonds, cashews, walnuts, or even toasted sesame seeds, and mix them with 1 c nutritional yeast and 1 teaspoon salt. Adjust to personal taste of course.

Vegan Cream Cheese

Tofutti makes a really good one, Better Than Cream Cheese, and there are others.

To make one from scratch, and substitute it in cooking, remember it is almost 90% fat! 54 % moisture. Very much like sour cream but firmer.

When baking or when making a dessert, or sweet food, You can substitute another high fat butter like almond paste, or even avocado and more oil and add a little tofu for consistency. If you want cream cheese for a dip base, or topping for a main meal, you can use more tofu plus a nut butter, tahini or avocado and seasonings, such as onion salt, nutritional yeast, garlic....

More recipes will be linked soon

I think the best CREAM alternative is a cashew cream. Just soak cashews in water a few hours, then blender smooth, and add a pinch of salt. Use that as your base for anything involving cream, whipping cream, cream cheese, cheese sauces, rich gravys, etc..

Vegan Buttermilk

For 1 cup: use scant 1 cup plain soymilk plus 2 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar mixed in.

Sour Cream

Tofutti makes excellent vegan versions, called Better Than Sour Cream

For cooking variations:

Adjust low fat/ regular fat by adding or subtracting oils to recipes

  • Silken tofu , pinch of salt, Tablespoon of lemon juice per cup.
  • Mashed ripe avocado, pinch of salt to taste, tablespoon of lemon juice per cup.
  • Or use half tofu half avocado.... salt, lemon juice..
  • . or use a couple tablespoons canola or olive oil if no avocado available.
  • or Tahini or other nut butter.
  • For Topping Potatoes or similar:
  • Low fat: Silken tofu , pinch of salt to taste, teaspoon of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, Tablespoon (more or less) of nutritional yeast per potato.
  • Regular sour cream:
  • Mashed ripe avocado, pinch of salt, teaspoon of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, Tablespoon (more or less) of nutritional yeast per potato.
  • Or use half tofu half avocado.... plus salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast...
  • Or try Tahini, straight or mixed with tofu and a dash of lemon juice.
Here is a recipe for a vegan sour cream like sauce that I love on potatoes and vegis
Secret Sour cream sauce

Cottage Cheese, Feta, or (basically any cheese)

Crumble or cube tofu, sprinkle with a little salt, then cover with olive oil and sit in fridge overnight or longer

For cheesier flavor, or great for casseroles... try 1 cup Crumbled or cubed Tofu, with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, a teaspoon or two of miso...

If making a cheesecake, or something sweet, leave out yeast, garlic, and miso, and add 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon baking powder to recipe

For a great tasting feta like cheese for appitizers or in a salad, Cube the tofu and add some herbs, like basil, oregano, rosemary, plus a couple tablespoons of lemon juice 1/4 cup wine vinegar, a Tablespoon or so of miso. Let chill overnight or longer. You can hurry the mixture by adding water to cover, then bringing it to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, then chill.

There are several amazing recipes out there too, that make homemade vegan cheese from scratch. Most are nut based, with nutritional yeast and agar, a firming vegan gel made from seaweed, and sometimes using Rejuvelac, a fermented grain water.

Miso is actually a great product to add to "cheese" sauces, if you want a little more "sharp" flavor, as in sharp cheddar.

Look for recipes by Miyoko Schinner.

A couple great cook books to get: Artisan vegan cheese, by Miyoko Schinner, and The Cheesy Vegan by John Schlimm

Ice cream

vegan icecream picture

If you havent yet... Check the freezer section of a health food store. There are many many options and flavors so personal tastes count for everything... I really like SOY DELICIOUS brand... They are as good as any "real" icecream! They have incredible flavors like salted caramel, chocolate caramel Turtle Tracks, Peanut Butter ZigZag.. etc. But if you like plain vanilla, you may want to add more toppings like chocolate syrup, peanut butter, jam, nuts... etc... but you may love it the way it is!

There are many other brands too, so try a bunch!

I am not a big fan of rice cream, but perhaps you will like it! There is also a lot of frozen fruit sorbets that are very good and refreshing...

Or make your own vegan icecream or sorbet. Check for recipes or for super easy, just freeze some sliced bananas, whirl with a little non dairy milk, add a touch of vanilla, chocolate syrup, strawberries, whatever. More non dairy milk for a shake or refreeze to spoon like icecream!
or an easy sorbet, freeze a can of canned peaches (or similar) and whirl in a blender.. Yum!

Whipping Cream For cooking: Whipping cream is generally around 30% pure fat.

For 1 cup use 3/4 c soymilk and 1/3 c vegan melted margarine

Blender ripe avocado with a little soy milk and oil to thin. or mix tofu with 25% or more oil

Whipped Cream topping, there are vegan versions in the store but I often use frozen vanilla soy delicious or similar dessert..

You can also just froth some very cold coconut or other, milk in a coffee press by pumping it. Yep!

Vegan Mayonnaise

When a person thinks of Mayonnaise, they think of 2 types. One is "REAL" Mayonnaise, which has a bland flavor and is made from almost 100% oil, of which it is emulsified with egg, or whipped hard to change its state from a liquid to a semi solid. Real Mayo is what is used in baking, when a recipe calls for mayonnaise. It is around 75% fat.

The other type we call mayonnaise is truly a salad dressing or bread spread. Something like Miracle whip, which has a sweet tangy flavor and is used most often in Cole slaw recipes, potato salad, or as a bread spread. There are some vegan Mayos on the market, like vegannaise. which you can find at health food stores. But even better are recipes to make your own.

Home made vegan mayo.

For substituting into a recipe, you need a mayonnaise that is primarly oil, without added flavors. Try making homemade mayonnaise. No egg needed! It can be difficult emulsifying it, whereas sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Home made vegan real mayo.

"A real chef should be able to make anything taste great! They know it is not the animal part they use but what they do with their other ingredients that makes it taste how they want. No one can hide behind false notions of needing veal or fois gras or any other animal part to make a meal. If they do that then they are not a real chef and should find a different job! It is past the time we include morals in our day to day living! Torturing animals for our own so called pleasure is just wrong! "

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When trying substitutions be open minded. Even when cooking with non-vegan ingredients, recipes do turn out differently, according to humidity, age of spices, amount of mixing, etc.. and all is subjective..

Some Basic substitutions and equivalents

  • Butter and margarine's are 80% fat, so if substituting oil, then reduce by 20%
  • Cream is 35-40% fat
  • 1/2 and 1/2 is 15% fat
avocado picture

Since avocados are primarily fat (the good kind) and have a mild flavor, they are a good substitute for anything needing a high oil content. Perfect for a pudding...

Honey replacement

Equal amount of Brown Rice Syrup

Real Maple Syrup works well too if you like the maple flavor.

AGAVE nectar is great! and Very sweet so you can get by with using less.

There are many "syrups" to choose from, and like all foods, taste is subjective. Try them and find your favorite.

Vegan Chocolate

Use Pure DARK chocolate chips, or look on the semi sweet chocolate chip label, they should be vegan..

vegan chocolate cake picture

or use regular cocoa powder.

Vegan Candy Bars... Endandered Species chocolate - vegan bars are the Tiger bar, the Ancient Forest bar and the Yellowstone Wolf bar. Usually pure dark chocolate should be. Avoid milk chocolate of course.

Some people like to use carob chips or powder. Carob isnt as rich and doesnt have the added sugar of chocolate chips, so you might try that.

Even though I have found fabulous substitutions for just about every recipe. There are a few items that I haven't been able to duplicate yet... such as popovers or cream puffs or merangues. Some day we may be able to, but until then, I don't need popovers.

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