How to Make Vegan Desserts: The Basics of Plant-Based Baking

You don't need eggs, milk or butter to make incredible desserts.

Vegan? Lactose-intolerant? Just out of eggs? Then, it’s time to give vegan baking a try. Get inspired by learning the answers to the most commonly searched questions on making vegan desserts.

What makes a dessert vegan?

Vegan desserts are crafted without the use of any animal products. This means no eggs, dairy, or butter—the staples of traditional baking. A vegan diet also refrains from incorporating any animal-derived ingredients or by-products, including honey.

Related: In Praise of Prepackaged Vegan Products

Are vegan desserts healthier?

Vegan desserts are often associated with being healthier than their non-vegan counterparts. However, “vegan” doesn’t automatically translate to “healthy.” While plant-based ingredients can offer nutritional benefits, vegan desserts can still be high in sugar and fats depending on what each recipe calls for.

What do vegans use instead of butter?

Olive Oil and Vegetable Oil: These pantry essentials are an easy substitute for butter as they’ll will preserve your dessert’s texture and taste. According to Taste at Home, use 3/4 cup of oil for every cup of butter needed.

Coconut Oil: This is another alternative for butter, but it will add a hint of coconut. According to The Kitchn, you can swap an equal amount of coconut oil for the amount of butter a recipe needs. Note: Refined coconut oil will offer a milder flavour.

Related: How to Make Vegan Pancakes

Which ingredients do people often not realize are animal-based?

If you’re following a vegan diet, you’re going to want to avoid gelatin, which is collagen taken primarily from pork. Gelatin is a popular ingredient in treats like Jell-O, marshmallows and even popular candies like Skittles.

Which desserts do people often not realize are typically made with animal products?

As much as we love the convenience of boxed cake mix, some flavours of popular brands like Betty Crocker include modified dairy ingredients in the dry mix. Other brands may also include lard, which is made from animal fat.

What’s the difference between vegan baking and gluten-free, keto, or sugar-free baking?

You already know that vegan desserts are free from animal by-products. Sugar-free desserts exclude sugar, gluten-free desserts utilize gluten-free flour, and keto desserts can incorporate eggs, low-carb flours, and some sweeteners.

Related: 9 Gluten-Free Grains You Should Know About 

The Best Vegan Desserts for Every Occasion

Lemon Tart RecipeImage: Hannah Sunderani

Lemon Tart

Perfect for dinner parties, this bright, citrusy tart features a creamy lemon curd paired with an almond- and oat-based crust.

Recipe: Lemon Tart

Cocoa raspberry tarts - vegan dessert

Vegan Raspberry Cacao Slices

This show-stopping dessert is bursting with tart raspberry flavour. Layered with cacao nibs, you can’t go wrong with this vegan treat.

Recipe: Vegan Raspberry Cacao Slices

Millionaire Bars Recipe Hero

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars

These decadent chocolate and peanut butter shortbread bars prove that you don’t need eggs or dairy to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Recipe: Chocolate and Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars

vegan gluten free sugar cookiesCourtesy Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD

Vegan Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie

Sugar cookies are a staple recipe in every home baker’s repertoire, and these vegan gluten-free sugar truly mimic their traditional counterparts.

Recipe: Vegan Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie

Baked Peanut Butter & Jam Oat BarsImage: Vanessa Heins

Baked Peanut Butter and Jam Oat Bars

These mouthwatering vegan oat bars are a peanut butter lovers’ dream! Oat bars are also a great portable and packable dessert option for end-of-summer picnics.

Recipe: Baked Peanut Butter and Jam Oat Bars

Next: How to Become a Vegan