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What are the basics of vegan baking?

So maybe you’re vegan and craving some cookies. Maybe your friend or co-worker who’s vegan just asked you to make them a birthday cake. Maybe you’re new to this whole vegan thing altogether. Either way you’re looking online scratching your head and wondering what the heck vegan baking is, what ingredients you can use and why anyone would do that anyway.

So today on Ask a Vegan Baker we’re taking it back to basics and going over what vegan baking is, what ingredients you can and cannot use and how it’s different from other diets like gluten free and keto.


What Vegan Baking Is

Vegan baking means you're not using any animal products in your recipes. So while traditionally most vegan cakes, for example, would have eggs, milk and sometimes butter, a vegan cake won't have any of those ingredients.

What Ingredients You Can and Cannot Use

Flour, sugar, oil, and leaveners like baking soda and baking powder, however, don't come from animals so they're completely ok to use.

Other possible ingredients you might have to substitute in other kinds of baked goods are gelatin, which is not even vegetarian, cocoa powder and chocolate chips making sure you choose a brand that doesn’t have any milk in it, and honey.

I have a whole video about substituting honey in recipes. You can watch it here.

A good rule of thumb for figuring out what ingredients you can and cannot use when baking vegan is thinking about where it comes from and asking, "does it have a face?". If it does, you can't use it.

How is Vegan Baking Different From Gluten Free, Keto or Sugar Free Baking?

Many people confuse vegan with gluten free but they’re actually totally different things.

Vegan means no animal products and gluten free means no gluten, which is found in wheat. Wheat is a plant so it’s totally vegan.

Another thing that has nothing to do with veganism: a keto diet.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a Keto diet is a high fat, low carb diet. Some people also add a lot of protein to that so a keto bake would have a bunch of eggs and no wheat flour so completely different from the ingredients of a vegan baked good.

As for sugar free, keep one thing in mind: vegan baking does not equal healthy baking. So you will need sugar in the recipe to make it taste good! But it shouldn't be any more sugar than a regular, non-vegan bake.

This should be able to get you started on your vegan baking! If you want some easy recipes to dip your toes in, I have a whole eBook full of them. It's called Vegan Baking 101 and you can find it here.

Have any vegan baking questions of your own? Send them over to me at I’ll be answering them on Wednesdays here and on the Curious Cat Bakery YouTube Channel.
Stay curious,
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