10 Vegan Pantry Items

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, pasta, sea salt, nutritional yeast, pumpkin puree and 9 more
pine nuts, basil leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and 1 more
olive oil, pasta, sea salt, nutritional yeast, pumpkin puree and 9 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.

pitted dates, cocoa powder, walnuts
matcha, medjool dates, unsalted pistachios
medjool dates, vanilla extract, sea salt, 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!

coconut sugar, chia seeds, pure vanilla extract, vegan cream cheese and 13 more
warm water, coconut chips, all purpose flour, baking powder, unsweetened almond milk and 8 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, banana, baking powder, peanut butter and 4 more
fresh herbs, chickpea flour, macadamia nut, vegan Parmesan cheese and 9 more
blanched almonds, lime, salt, salt, juice, garlic, peanuts, lemon and 12 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.

yeast, oil, maple syrup, liquid smoke, gluten-free tamari, tofu
toasted sesame oil, low sodium soy sauce, tempeh, ground cayenne pepper and 6 more
broccoli, water, flour, soy sauce, mirin, olive oil, sesame oil 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.

butternut squash, allspice, medium onion, Italian seasoning, coconut milk and 10 more
pepper, vegan butter, fresh lemon juice, Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base and 6 more
vegan bouillon cube, apples, breadcrumbs, seasoned salt, dried cranberries and 8 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!

unfiltered apple cider vinegar, raw cashews, maple syrup, water
raw cashews, coconut milk, water, macaroni, carrots, paprika and 7 more
full fat coconut milk, matcha, almond milk, raw cashews, raw sugar 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.

salt, sweet red peppers, full fat coconut milk, low sodium vegetable broth and 3 more
chickpeas, coconut milk, crushed tomatoes, curry powder, fresh spinach and 5 more
sweetener, coconut cream, vanilla, tapioca flour, coconut milk and 1 more

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, almond milk, hot sauce, jackfruit and 6 more
olive oil, vegetable broth, jackfruit, garlic, bbq sauce, yellow onion
sliced black olives, olive oil spray, Bragg Liquid Aminos, white vinegar and 32 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.

cooked quinoa, coconut oil, ginger, miso paste, tamari
white miso, spring onion, sesame seeds, brown sugar, sesame oil and 2 more
olive oil, garlic, ginger, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, pumpkin and 5 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.

baking powder, sugar, salt, dairy-free milk, all purpose flour and 2 more
water, salt, red onion, fresh cilantro, English cucumber, organic sugar and 1 more
onion, red pepper flakes, water, sesame seed oil, toasted sesame seeds 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.

baking soda, flaxseed meal, vanilla extract, bananas, all purpose flour and 7 more
panko breadcrumbs, garlic cloves, chickpeas, small onion, soy sauce and 10 more
tamari sauce, cilantro, grapeseed oil, garlic, vegetable broth and 14 more
chipotles, jackfruit, sugar, cumin, pineapple chunks, vegetable broth and 7 more
marinara sauce, olive oil, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, nutritional yeast and 10 more
cocoa powder, vegan butter, canola oil, salt, apple cider vinegar and 12 more
saffron threads, fresh parsley, white wine, sun-dried tomatoes in oil and 15 more
water, black beans, olive oil, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, walnuts and 6 more
rapid rise yeast, water, salt, brown sugar, vanilla extract, all purpose flour and 9 more
garlic powder, firm tofu, salt, lemon, olive oil, black pepper and 5 more
sweet onion, paprika, celery, salt, mustard, yukon gold potatoes and 4 more
liquid aminos, flour, allspice, garlic cloves, Sriracha, pepper and 22 more
nutritional yeast, lemon, squash blossoms, pizza dough, chia seeds and 14 more
dried thyme, red kidney beans, cooked rice, ground cumin, garlic and 10 more
black beans, extra-virgin olive oil, gluten free tortillas, hummus and 4 more
applesauce, pure vanilla extract, natural cocoa powder, vegan butter and 9 more
garlic, lime juice, salt, coconut milk, celery, unsalted roasted peanuts and 7 more
water, lentils, garlic, vegetable oil, oregano, tomato paste and 6 more

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