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.

nutritional yeast, coconut cream, pasta, white onion, black pepper and 9 more
garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, olive oil, pine nuts, basil leaves and 1 more
nutritional yeast, coconut cream, pasta, white onion, black pepper 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.

walnuts, cocoa powder, pitted dates
medjool dates, unsalted pistachios, matcha
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!

pure vanilla extract, coconut oil, agave nectar, lemon extract and 15 more
all purpose flour, Meyer lemon juice, almondmilk, apple cider vinegar and 13 more
chia seeds, granulated sugar, unsweetened almond milk, warm water 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."

peanut butter, chickpea flour, unsweetened almond milk, vanilla extract and 4 more
black salt, light coconut milk, baking powder, fresh herbs, kala namak and 8 more
red cabbage, peanut butter, lemon, maple syrup, chickpea flour and 15 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.

liquid smoke, tofu, gluten-free tamari, oil, yeast, maple syrup
ground ginger, tempeh, toasted sesame oil, garlic powder, maple syrup and 5 more
water, gochujang, sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, liquid smoke and 5 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.

medium onion, cayenne pepper, vegetable broth, red bell pepper and 11 more
nutritional yeast, water, fresh lemon juice, pepper, raw cashews and 5 more
dried thyme, vegan bouillon cube, seasoned salt, wild rice, freshly ground pepper 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, maple syrup, raw cashews, water
lemon juice, chopped onion, nutritional yeast flakes, macaroni and 9 more
full fat coconut milk, raw sugar, almond milk, raw cashews, matcha 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, full fat coconut milk, curry paste, cilantro, peanut, sweet red peppers and 1 more
yellow onion, chickpeas, coconut oil, garlic, fresh spinach, crushed tomatoes and 4 more
coconut milk, vanilla, tapioca flour, salt, coconut cream, sweetener

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.

almond milk, agave nectar, hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, jackfruit and 6 more
vegetable broth, garlic, yellow onion, bbq sauce, olive oil, jackfruit
heirloom tomato, cumin, avocado, pepper, mushrooms, onion, olive oil and 29 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, miso paste, ginger, tamari
sesame seeds, aubergine, white miso, mirin, brown sugar, sesame oil and 1 more
onion, carrots, garlic, lentils, cinnamon stick, ginger, white miso paste 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.

vanilla extract, sugar, baking powder, salt, all purpose flour and 2 more
English cucumber, water, organic sugar, red onion, salt, fresh cilantro and 1 more
honey, red pepper flakes, water, soy sauce, 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.

cinnamon, bananas, baking soda, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and 6 more
nutritional yeast, ketchup, ketchup, olive oil, celery stalks and 10 more
mung bean sprouts, Sriracha, tamari sauce, peanuts, garlic, extra firm tofu and 13 more
adobo sauce, jackfruit, white vinegar, cumin, chipotles, vegetable broth and 7 more
marinara sauce, fresh spinach, fennel, nutritional yeast, olive oil and 10 more
unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened applesauce, unsweetened almond milk and 14 more
medium zucchini, garlic, peas, onion, red bell pepper, red pepper flakes and 13 more
water, cumin, kidney beans, tomato paste, white onion, soy sauce and 6 more
water, cinnamon, tea, all purpose flour, coconut oil, tea, warm water and 8 more
salt, lemon, no boil lasagna, black pepper, frozen spinach, nutritional yeast and 5 more
sugar, celery, salt, yukon gold potatoes, paprika, pepper, sweet onion and 3 more
vegetable broth, nutmeg, diced mushrooms, garlic powder, salt and 23 more
white onion, chia seeds, pepper flakes, lemon, garlic cloves and 14 more
garlic, scallions, cooked rice, paprika, black pepper, ground cumin and 9 more
gluten free tortillas, sea salt, hummus, kale, black beans, extra-virgin olive oil and 2 more
granulated sugar, baking powder, apple cider vinegar, pure vanilla extract and 9 more
lime juice, salt, canola oil, onions, vegetable broth, garlic and 7 more
tomato paste, oregano, water, lentils, salt, potatoes, diced onion and 5 more

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