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.

pumpkin puree, sea salt, pasta, black pepper, almond milk, nutmeg and 8 more
pine nuts, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic and 1 more
pumpkin puree, sea salt, pasta, black pepper, almond milk, nutmeg 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, cocoa powder, pitted dates
unsalted pistachios, medjool dates, matcha
unsweetened almond milk, medjool dates, vanilla extract, sea salt

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!

fine sea salt, coconut oil, liquid stevia, lemon extract, chia seeds and 14 more
coconut sugar, baking soda, Meyer lemon juice, pure vanilla extract and 13 more
canola oil, berries, granulated sugar, salt, warm water, espresso powder and 7 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."

vanilla extract, unsweetened almond milk, salt, peanut butter and 4 more
chickpea flour, fresh herbs, light coconut milk, kala namak, macadamia nut and 8 more
blanched almonds, red onion, salt, pepper, pepper, beetroot, microgreens and 13 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, gluten-free tamari, oil, maple syrup, tofu, liquid smoke
low sodium soy sauce, maple syrup, water, garlic powder, ground cayenne pepper and 5 more
olive oil, sesame oil, water, liquid smoke, gochujang, flour 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.

vegan bouillon, thyme, medium onion, vegetable broth, black beans and 10 more
salt, garlic, pepper, nutritional yeast, water, raw cashews, fresh lemon juice and 3 more
breadcrumbs, canola oil, wild rice, freshly ground pepper, vegan bouillon cube 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!

raw cashews, maple syrup, water, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
carrots, paprika, macaroni, garlic powder, yellow potatoes, coconut milk and 7 more
vanilla extract, full fat coconut milk, raw cashews, matcha, salt 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.

sweet red peppers, curry paste, cilantro, salt, peanut, full fat coconut milk and 1 more
crushed tomatoes, curry powder, garlic, chopped fresh cilantro and 6 more
vanilla, tapioca flour, coconut milk, 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.

yellow mustard, hot sauce, baking powder, almond milk, jackfruit and 6 more
yellow onion, vegetable broth, garlic, jackfruit, olive oil, bbq sauce
jackfruit, onion, sliced black olives, corn tortillas, olive oil spray and 31 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, miso paste, tamari, cooked quinoa, ginger
sesame seeds, spring onion, mirin, sesame oil, white miso, brown sugar and 1 more
olive oil, ginger, pumpkin, cumin seeds, lentils, onion, carrots 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, salt, sugar, baking powder, apple cider vinegar and 2 more
salt, fresh cilantro, apple cider vinegar, organic sugar, English cucumber and 2 more
soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, water, Sriracha, onion, ground pork and 12 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.

flaxseed meal, nondairy milk, salt, vanilla extract, granulated sugar and 7 more
vegan Worcestershire sauce, vegan Worcestershire sauce, ground flaxseed and 12 more
limes, peanut butter, extra firm tofu, cilantro, grapeseed oil and 14 more
white onion, jackfruit, garlic, white vinegar, cumin, cilantro and 7 more
nutritional yeast, olive oil, fresh spinach, cooked brown rice and 11 more
unsweetened almond milk, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, cocoa powder and 13 more
peas, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, artichoke hearts, tofu, vegetable broth and 14 more
olive oil, white onion, black beans, diced tomatoes, soy sauce and 7 more
water, rapid rise yeast, coconut oil, tea, coconut oil, salt and 9 more
firm tofu, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, olive oil, no boil lasagna and 6 more
celery, yukon gold potatoes, paprika, sweet onion, vegan mayonnaise and 5 more
vegan butter, diced mushrooms, vegetable broth, flour, water and 23 more
ground peppercorn, pizza dough, pepper flakes, crust, lemon, white onion and 13 more
black pepper, garlic, paprika, dried oregano, scallions, celery and 9 more
pepper, kale, butternut squash, hummus, sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil and 2 more
natural cocoa powder, all purpose flour, applesauce, vegan butter and 9 more
Sriracha, sweet potatoes, vegetable broth, coconut milk, canola oil and 8 more
tomato paste, carrot, vegetable oil, lentils, salt, diced onion and 6 more

PlanShop