ARTICLE / KITCHEN TIPS

10 Vegan Pantry Items to Kick-start Your Vegan Cooking Plan

Thick and creamy, light and fluffy, rich with texture — you can have it all and eat vegan. These are the essential ingredients that make vegan food delicious.

Veganism was once a fringe dietary preference, but now it’s hit the mainstream with countless blogs, cookbooks, specialty grocers, and restaurants. Whether you’re a curious flexitarian, mom of a young vegetarian, or a meat eater just trying to eat more vegetables — experimenting with plant-based cooking has never been easier. However, the sheer amount of information out there can be overwhelming. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it can also get expensive. You might be tempted to scrap everything in your pantry Marie Kondo-style and dive headfirst into a long grocery list of vegetables you’ve never heard of, spices you’ve never cooked with, and every product with a giant “V” on the package — but you can take a more manageable, less expensive approach.

The list of items you need to get started making easy, delicious, stress-free vegan meals can be distilled down to the essentials. Alongside the usual pantry-friendly staples in every kitchen, there are a few key ingredients that pop up frequently in vegan recipes. These 10 items are the building blocks to a well-stocked vegan pantry.


Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast Nutritional yeast or “nooch,” as it is known among its most devout vegan fanbase, is the salty, umami, magical dust that turns everything it comes into contact with to cheesy deliciousness. Gluten- and dairy-free as well as rich in vitamin B-12, this powdery parmesan-like substance tastes great on top of salads, popcorn, pastas, and works wonders in pestos and cheese sauces. It’s vegan sorcery, really.

olive oil, almond milk, garlic, nutmeg, sea salt, arrowroot powder and 8 more
salt, garlic, basil leaves, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, olive oil and 1 more
olive oil, almond milk, garlic, nutmeg, sea salt, arrowroot powder and 8 more

Dates

Dates

Dates Making versions of your favorite desserts without eggs, dairy, and other animal by-products is possible — and you have Medjool dates to thank for it. Since not all refined sugars are vegan (some brands process sugars with bone char), dates have become a preferred source for a plant-based, unprocessed sweetener in vegan baking. The syrupy, sticky texture of this fruit makes them the perfect plant-based binding agent for many beloved no-bake treats — think pie crusts, protein balls, chocolate bars, and caramel.

walnuts, pitted dates, cocoa powder
unsalted pistachios, medjool dates, matcha
sea salt, medjool dates, vanilla extract, unsweetened almond milk

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds While we’re on the topic of great plant-based binding agents, let’s discuss chia seeds — the glue that holds many vegan baked goods together. One large egg can be replaced by a tablespoon of chia seeds transformed into a gel. To make chia gel, all you need to do is grind your chia seeds (you can use a spice grinder), combine them with water, and voilà! This goop will make all of your vegan baking ventures a piece of cake — literally!

lime, pure vanilla extract, pure vanilla extract, agar, fine sea salt and 14 more
coconut sugar, almond flour, vegan cream cheese, sea salt, almondmilk and 12 more
baking powder, coconut chips, unsweetened almond milk, berries and 9 more

Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour

Chickpea Flour You may have heard about the oozy, gluten-like properties of chickpeas. This legume is gluten-free but creates by-products like aquafaba and chickpea flour that make great binding agents in savory, egg-based favorites like pancakes, frittatas, and crepes. You can find it in any Indian grocery store labelled "besan" or "gram flour."

unsweetened almond milk, salt, pure maple syrup, vanilla extract and 4 more
mung beans, light coconut milk, vegetables, chickpea flour, vegan Parmesan cheese and 8 more
blanched almonds, lemon, salt, red onion, microgreens, red cabbage and 14 more

Liquid Smoke

LiquidSmoke V2

Liquid Smoke Here is a seasoning that you’ll want to store in a cool, dark place, but still keep close by — you never know when that hankering for smoked salmon will strike! Add a splash of liquid smoke to tofu, tempeh, and other plant-based proteins to help keep the summer barbecue nostalgia alive. Just remember: A little goes a long way.

maple syrup, yeast, gluten-free tamari, liquid smoke, oil, tofu
liquid smoke, garlic powder, toasted sesame oil, ground cayenne pepper and 6 more
flour, olive oil, broccoli, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, water and 4 more

Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon Cubes Most bouillon is not vegan, but there are plant-based or curry boullions that can be used in vegan cooking. It's does the heavy-lifting in stews, soups, sauces but it’s great for rice pilaf, marinades, and casseroles as well.

vegan bouillon, collard greens, green onions, butternut squash and 11 more
fresh lemon juice, vegan butter, Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base and 7 more
wild rice, water, red onion, apple juice, dried thyme, celery stalk and 7 more

Raw Cashews

Raw Cashews

Raw Cashews Surely you are no stranger to keeping roasted mixed nuts stocked in your pantry for some quick and (delicious!) salty snacking. Raw cashews make great snacks too, but their naturally creamy and slightly sweet qualities make this nut a game-changer for replacing dairy. When soaked overnight, and combined with water and salt in a food processor, cashews can result in some of the best dairy-free milks, yogurts, sauces, and even ice cream that you’ll ever try. Bring on the cheezy mac and fettuccine alfredo!

water, maple syrup, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, raw cashews
carrots, macaroni, lemon juice, garlic powder, coconut milk, salt and 7 more
full fat coconut milk, raw sugar, matcha, raw cashews, almond milk and 2 more

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk If making a fresh batch of cashew crema on the daily isn’t an option, coconut milk is a quicker cream alternative. Arguably the MVP of the vegan pantry, coconut milk is slightly thicker than nut milks and is used widely across cuisines for both sweet and savory purposes. It’s great for curries, soups, savory sauces, frosting, and coconut whipped cream.

curry paste, salt, sweet red peppers, full fat coconut milk, cilantro and 2 more
crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, curry powder and 5 more
sweetener, coconut milk, salt, vanilla, tapioca flour, coconut cream

Jackfruit

Jackfruit

Jackfruit Move over, tofu! Jackfruit is the lesser known, soy-free ingredient vegans use to replace meat in a variety of dishes. Yes it’s a fruit — the largest tree-borne fruit in the world — and yes, you can buy it in a can. The outside of the fruit is a giant green spiky interior, and the insides are yellow bulbs that have a stringy consistency and a neutral to sweet flavor, depending on ripeness. These traits make jackfruit the ideal plant-based alternative for things like shredded chicken, pulled pork, barbacoa, and tacos al-pastor — just remember that there isn't a lot of protein in it. Jackfruit is mostly used for its meat-like texture, so you may want to supplement it with beans or other high-protein ingredients.

cornstarch, all purpose flour, hot sauce, yellow mustard, jackfruit and 6 more
vegetable broth, olive oil, jackfruit, bbq sauce, garlic, yellow onion
vegetable broth, garlic powder, white miso, garlic, cashew, fire roasted tomatoes and 30 more

Miso Paste

Miso Paste

Miso Paste If you make a lot of Japanese cuisine at home, you may already have a tub of miso paste in the fridge. The umami flavor comes in handy for vegans looking to replace umami typically found in meats and cheeses. This is a great way to add a meaty flavor to marinades for plant-based proteins like tofu or tempeh, and can be used to create bold flavors in sauces, pasta, and noodle dishes.

coconut oil, cooked quinoa, ginger, tamari, miso paste
sesame seeds, white miso, brown sugar, sesame oil, aubergine and 2 more
white miso paste, onion, chili, garlic, ginger, olive oil, cinnamon stick and 4 more

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar If a stack of fluffy pancakes in the morning is on your shortlist of things you refuse to give up as a vegan, then apple cider vinegar will be your new best friend. Apple cider vinegar activates leavening agents (baking soda or baking powder) for pancakes and other egg-free baking endeavors. For cooking (vegan and otherwise), apple cider vinegar is commonly used in Asian cuisine, can be used in place of oil for roasted vegetables, and comes in handy for homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes to go with all of those “boring” vegan salads you’ll be packing for lunch. You’re welcome.

all purpose flour, apple cider vinegar, salt, vanilla extract and 3 more
English cucumber, fresh cilantro, water, red onion, apple cider vinegar and 2 more
sesame seed oil, toasted sesame seeds, honey, scallion, red pepper flakes and 13 more

Get Cooking

If you haven't tried it yet, Yummly has a filtering function that can help you weed out the meat, dairy, and eggs so you can quickly find the vegan recipes you want to make. For instance, if you're looking for a vegan pesto, you type "Pesto" in the search bubble and click on "Diets" in the filter bar. When you click on "Vegan," it returns more than 2,000 vegan pesto recipes. But if you're not sure what you want to cook yet, here are some of our favorite vegan recipes to get you started.

all purpose flour, light brown sugar, bananas, canola oil, baking powder and 7 more
garlic cloves, small carrots, ketchup, soy sauce, small onion and 10 more
extra firm tofu, tamari sauce, salt, pad thai noodles, limes and 14 more
cumin, pineapple chunks, oregano, white onion, jackfruit, ancho chile powder and 7 more
olive oil, dried basil, red pepper flakes, tempeh, fennel, large garlic cloves and 9 more
unsweetened applesauce, cocoa powder, salt, granulated sugar and 13 more
black pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika powder, sun-dried tomatoes in oil and 15 more
tomato paste, black beans, jalapeno, kidney beans, walnuts, diced tomatoes and 6 more
warm water, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, coconut oil, rapid rise yeast and 9 more
no boil lasagna, marinara sauce, black pepper, frozen spinach and 7 more
dill pickles, paprika, sweet onion, pepper, sugar, salt, mustard and 3 more
diced mushrooms, liquid aminos, chickpeas, garlic cloves, small onion and 23 more
lemon, coarse kosher salt, pizza dough, vegan yogurt, saffron threads and 14 more
onion powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and 10 more
black beans, butternut squash, kale, hummus, sea salt, pepper and 2 more
granulated sugar, white vinegar, natural cocoa powder, beetroot powder and 9 more
vegetable broth, celery, sweet potatoes, onions, salt, unsalted roasted peanuts and 7 more
oregano, diced onion, potatoes, tomato paste, garlic, lentils and 6 more

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