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A Complete Guide to Sustainable Baking Swaps

Baking is an exact science. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite baked goods to fit your plant-based diet - there are tons of substitutes for dairy and animal products! 

Depending on which recipe you are making, you might find more success with certain swaps than others - experimenting is ultimately how you will know what works best for your favorite recipe! 

Here's what you need to know about substitutes. 

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Eggs: 

Eggs are used in almost every baking recipe. Most commonly used as binders and leavening agents, eggs are essential to keeping baked goods intact during the baking process. There are, however, many different plant-based alternatives that are simple and budget friendly. 

If using fruit purees like applesauce or banana, you can add ½ tsp of baking powder to make your bake less dense. (Works best in muffins, brownies, waffles/pancakes, cakes, and breads.) 

Using egg substitutes in recipes calling for more than 2 eggs might be tricky depending on the recipe, i.e., add more leavening agents, milk, or flour. If you do choose to use a certain egg substitute, make sure the substitute works well for its purpose, such as for binding or leavening (use the chart below to help you decide). 

Egg Replacement: 

Ingredient(s):  

Preparation:  

Substitute:  

Best suited for:  

Flax egg 

Flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed), water 

Combine 1 tbsp flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water and stir until incorporated. Let sit for 10-15 mins until it has a “gloopy” texture 

1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg 

Binding in cookies & cakes  

Chia Egg 

Chia seeds, water 

Combine 1 tbsp of chia seeds with ¼ cup of water and mix until combined. Let sit for at least 5 minutes until it thickens. 

1 tbsp chia seeds + ¼ cup water = 1 egg 

Binding in cookies & cakes 

Apple Sauce 

Unsweetened apple sauce 

Measure ¼ cup of applesauce 

¼ cup applesauce = 1 egg 

Binding, can be used in most recipes 

Banana  

Banana 

Mash ½ of a banana until homogenous 

½ banana = 1 egg 

Binding in cakes, quick breads, brownies & muffins 

Nut Butters 

Peanut, almond, or cashew butter 

Measure 3 tbsp of nut butter of choice 

3 tbsp nut butter = 1 egg 

Binding in brownies, cookies, & pancakes 

Aquafaba  

Can of chickpeas 

Reserve the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Measure 3 tbsp of it. 

3 tbsp aquafaba = 1 egg 

4 tbsp aquafaba = 1 large egg  

Pancakes, cakes & quick breads (when unwhipped) 

 

Baking soda + vinegar  

Baking soda, vinegar  

Combine 1 tsp baking soda with 1 tbsp vinegar and mix.  

1 tsp baking soda + 1 tbsp vinegar = 1 egg 

Leavening and binding in cakes & muffins 

Egg Wash:  

Egg wash is what makes pies, breads and pastries look shiny and golden brown after baking. Here are some simple egg wash swaps. 

Egg Wash Replacement:  

Ingredient(s): 

Preparation: 

Substitute:  

Coconut/vegetable oil 

Oil of choice 

Measure a few tablespoons of your oil of choice and brush on top of pastries before baking. This egg wash is ideal for savory goods as it has no sweetener.  

1:1  

Non-dairy milk  

Dairy-free milk of choice 

Measure a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk and brush on top of your pastry before baking. 

1:1 

Vegan Butter 

Vegan butter  

Melt a few tablespoons of vegan butter and brush it on top of your pastry before baking. 

1:1 

Tahini 

Tahini 

Measure a few tablespoonfuls of tahini and brush it on top of your pastry before baking. 

1:1 

Non-dairy milk + sweetener 

non-dairy milk, sweetener of choice: maple syrup or agave nectar 

Whisk together 2 tbsp of milk of choice with 1 teaspoon of sweetener of choice. Brush this on top of your pastry before baking.  

1:1 

Meringue:  

Did you know the liquids from a can of chickpeas can transform into your favorite meringue cookies, macarons, mousse, and meringue buttercream frosting? That liquid is called aquafaba and has become a popular meringue/egg white substitute. 

Meringue replacement:  

Ingredients:  

Preparation: 

Substitute: 

Aquafaba Meringue  

Canned chickpeas, sugar, cream of tartar  

This can vary depending on what the meringue is being used for. The aquafaba is usually whipped with sugar and a small amount of cream of tartar.  

Varies depending on meringue use: for cookies, mousse, cake, frosting etc.  

Milk: 

Milk replacement:  

Preparation:  

Substitute:  

Almond, Oat, Soy, Coconut milk  

Measure desired amount of choice of milk.  

1: 1  

 

Buttermilk: 

Soy or almond are preferred - oat milk doesn’t have enough fat to curdle. 

Buttermilk Replacement:  

Ingredients:  

Preparation:  

Substitute:  

Non-dairy Buttermilk  

Nondairy Milk (soy or almond preferred) apple cider vinegar or white vinegar or lemon juice 

Add 1 cup of nondairy milk and combine with 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar or lemon juice). Once mixed, let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. It should thicken and curdle. 

1:1 

1 cup of non-dairy buttermilk = 1 cup buttermilk 

Butter: 

Butter replacement:  

Ingredient(s):  

Preparation:  

Substitute:  

Vegetable Shortening 

Vegetable shortening  

Measure vegetable shortening as needed in a measuring cup or measuring spoon.  

1:1  

 

Changes the texture a little by making the baked goods lighter in texture and has no butter flavor. However, it is an ideal substitute in baking because its end product is very close, and it can be creamed and used in frostings.  

Olive Oil 

Olive oil 

For any recipe, use ¾ the amount of olive oil you would use in place of butter.  

3:4 

¾ tsp olive oil = 1 tsp olive oil 

¾ cup olive oil = 1 cup butter 

 

Is ideal for melted butter substitute.  

Coconut Oil 

Coconut Oil 

Measure the coconut oil as you would with butter. 

1:1 

 

Will leave the baked good with a slight coconut flavor and will be slightly crispier. 

Avocado  

Avocado 

Puree the avocado. Measure the puree as you would butter.  

1:1  

 

This is a healthier alternative to butter and its green color can easily be masked by chocolate in baked goods. 

Banana 

Banana 

Replace the butter with equal quantities of mashed banana. 

1:1  

Pumpkin Puree  

Pumpkin Puree  

Measure ¾ amount of pumpkin puree for butter. 

3:4 

¾ cup pumpkin puree = 1 cup butter  

Vegan Butter or Margarine  

Vegan Butter, Margarine  

For any recipe measure margarine or vegan butter as you would in place of butter.  

1:1  

 

Both oil-based, vegan butter and margarine are great butter alternatives. These are ideal for recipes where butter must be creamed with sugar.  

Nut Butter 

Your choice of nut butter and oil 

Combine equal parts oil to nut butter and mix. This combination is a 1:1 substitute.  

1:1  

Heavy cream: 

Heavy cream is often used in scones, biscuits, frostings, cakes and more.  

Heavy cream replacement:  

Ingredient(s): 

Preparation:  

Substitute:  

Coconut Cream 

Canned coconut cream 

Measure the coconut cream in equal amounts as you would heavy cream.  

1:1 

 

This substitute works well in baked goods and when whipped to make cream. 

Soy Milk + Olive Oil 

Soy milk and olive oil 

Combine 2/3 cup of soy milk with 1/3 cup of olive oil. This will make 1 cup of heavy cream.  

2:1 

 

This substitute also works well in baked goods. 

Silken Tofu + Soy Milk  

Silken tofu and soy milk 

Combine equal parts tofu and soy milk and blend thoroughly.  

1:1 

 

Used as a thickener, is ideal to make whipped cream to go alongside your baked goods.