Ever wondered when to use banana instead of egg? We are here to answer all your vegan baking substitutes questions.
If you’ve ever tried to veganize a recipe, you know it can be intimidating. You have to swap out the eggs, dairy and all other animal-based products for vegan baking substitutes. And it isn’t always clear which is the best choice. Substituting eggs for bananas may work great in one recipe but completely ruin another.
Ideally, you’d be following a vegan recipe to start. Baking is a science and the ingredients and measurements are there for a reason. But for those of you desperate to add a vegan flare to a family recipe or found out last minute that a party guest is lactose intolerant, we’ve put together a list of tricks on vegan baking substitutes.
These tricks are also helpful for anyone who has ever been half way through a recipe only to realize they’re completely out of eggs (guilty as charged!)
So what do you do when trying to find the perfect vegan baking substitutes?
Before you swap out one ingredient for another, it’s important that you understand its properties. For example, eggs add moisture, act as a binding agent and can also help food to rise during baking. Lucky for us, there are also a lot of options when it comes to substituting eggs.
Ground Flax Seed
Ground flax seeds are a popular substitute that are also nutritious—three tablespoons of water to one tablespoon of ground flax seeds equates to one egg. Flax seed eggs don't bind or stiffen like a regular egg but they work well if you’re making pancakes, brownies or cookies.
Applesauce is another great substitute for eggs which also removes the cholesterol from baking. Use 1/4 cup of applesauce in place of 1 egg.
Since banana is a more starchy fruit, it’s easy to swap it out when baking sweet breads.You can sub out 1 egg for roughly half a medium banana.
If you’re not familiar with the word “aquafaba”, it’s the liquid that comes in canned chickpeas or beans. It’s one of the best substitutes for egg whites, which means you can finally make vegan meringue!
Vinegar and Baking Soda
No, it’s not just an elementary school science experiment. When you mix vinegar with baking soda you get bubbles which helps leaven baked goods such as bread. It results in a fluffy dough that rises beautifully. One teaspoon baking soda and one tablespoon white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) can be used to replace one egg.
Milk is used in baking to add richness and flavour while also adding texture. Now that so many alternative milks are available, it’s the easiest ingredient to swap out. Full-fat soy milk helps to mimic the richness of whole milk, whereas rice milk is lighter.
When choosing a milk alternative it’s important to consider how the flavour will impact your recipe. Let’s say you’re making a batch of cookies with walnuts, you might want to use almond milk since it already has a nutty flavour. Meanwhile, coconut milk is great for complimenting recipes with pineapple or mango.
Similar to Milk, butter gives baked goods added flavour, richness and in some cases a spongy texture. It adds density as well as helps your baking rise evenly. Vegan margarine is available at most grocery stores but if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t find vegan butter, vegetable shortening and oil are two great options.
Canola oil, olive oil or coconut oil are three great options for swapping out butter. Coconut oil can be used for thickness and canola oil works well in recipes which use liquid sugars such as agave or solid fats such as nuts.
Let’s say you’re baking something that requires that “buttery” texture (think pie crust or buttercream frosting.) Your best bet is vegan margarine but you can also use vegetable shortening.
Honey probably isn’t the first ingredient you think of when it comes to vegan baking substitutes. It is often used in graham cracker crusts or acts as a natural sweetener and is also used to retain moisture.
All you have to do is swap out honey with another viscous liquid such as maple syrup or agave nectar. They’ll give you that natural sweetness you’re looking for as well as give your baked good a little colour. If you’re working with a more watery ingredient you can cook them for a few minutes to simmer out the excess liquid. This will create a thicker syrup.
Typically, maple syrup and agave nectar can be substituted measure for measure when baking. However, because many liquid sweeteners vary in consistency and sweetness it may require some trial and error.
Cream can be a little trickier to swap out since it’s used to create that smooth and sometimes fluffy texture in baked goods. If you’re looking to pick up something from your local grocery store there are a variety of options on the market such as coconut milk or coconut cream. If you’d like to try something more homemade you can blend one-part cashews and one part water until smooth (this is sometimes used when making vegan cheesecakes.)
Cheese is one of those ingredients that is more popular in cooking than baking but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pop up in pastries or cake every once in a while. It's harder to match in terms of taste and texture so we recommend using a vegan recipe instead of adapting one.
Let’s take cheesecake for example. You have a few options when switching out cream cheese. Cashews can be blended to create a creamy and nutty taste and tofu can be swapped in if you want a denser texture. Tofu is also a great option if you’re trying to match the texture you get when using ricotta or cottage cheese.
Yogurt, like milk, has an increasing number of vegan baking substitutes. Several companies make plant-based yogurts out of soy, coconut and almonds. For example, coconut yogurt is creamy and higher in fat. It also blends well with fruit and chocolate flavors.
You can find plain options or in fruit flavours if you want to add something extra to your baking. When it comes to yogurt, it’s important to remember that vegan options are typically thinner than those which are dairy-based.
A Few Extra Tips for Anyone Turning a Regular Recipe Vegan
- Vegan recipes often cook at cooler temperatures and for longer as they rely on the sugars and starches to work as binding agents rather than dairy products and eggs. Consider turning down the temperature by 20 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit and cooking for an extra 10 minutes.
- Taste as you go! Since you’re not using raw egg, you can taste as you mix. This is especially helpful when working with honey alternatives.
- Work with unsweetened milks so you don’t have to worry about changing the amount of sugar you’re using.