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14 vegan pantry essentials

Vegan cooking takes a little getting used to, but with these basic pantry essentials, you've got it in the bag.

14 vegan pantry essentials

Photo: Roberto Caruso

Ground flaxseed

When mixed with cold water and left to sit, ground flaxseed creates an egg substitute that’s perfect for baking. This mighty little seed also helps with digestion.

Bag of organic ground flaxseed Photo: Bob's Red Mill

Maple syrup

Honey is a no-go for vegans, but maple syrup is a great way to add some sweetness to your life. Agave works, too.

Bottle of Canadian maple syrup Photo: Woolworths



A sticky spread made from ground toasted sesame seeds, if you haven’t met tahini yet, it’s time you had. Spread this on toast or add it to salad dressings and dips.

Glass jar of organic fair trade tahini Photo: Nuts To You


There’s so much you can do with a can of chickpeas. Make a chana masala, burger patty (make sure to grab vegan Worcestershire sauce for this one) or whip up some hummus.

Can of organic chickpeas Photo: President's Choice


Black beans are filled with protein and fibre plus they make a great filler for veggie burgers and even make a tasty addition to brownies (weird, right?!).

Can of organic black beans Photo: Yves


Coconut oil

Use this in everything, literally. It’s a great oil or butter substitute. Lather it all over your face and hair, too.

Jar of organic coconut oil Photo: Nutiva

Vegan butter

You don’t need to be sad about giving up butter because veganism has come a long way, baby. Vegan butter comes in spreadable form or sticks. It melts, tastes great on toast and can be used in recipes the way you would use the milk-based product it perfectly mimics.

Box of vegan butter sticks Photo: Earth Balance

Black salt

Also called kala namak (and not to be confused with Hawaiian black salt), this sulfuric seasoning is part of the Himalayan family. It adds an eggy flavour to vegan dishes. It can be tricky to find, look in health food stores or order it online.

Grinder of black salt Photo:


Nutritional yeast

These fish food-looking flakes give vegan cooking a cheesy flavour. Use it in anything that you want to have a cheese-like taste, or sprinkle it on top of pasta, garlic bread or popcorn.

Bag of large flake nutritional yeast Photo: Bob's Red Mill

Chickpea flour

Use this dense flour to make fluffy omelettes or to coat tofu or seitan before frying.

Bag of organic chickpea flour Photo:


You may have heard that tofu is boring. It is if it’s not marinated or prepared correctly. But done right—like whirled up in a vegan ricotta or pressed, sliced, marinated then baked—it’ll become a fave new protein. Stick to extra firm for grilling and baking and silken or soft for mousses or French toast.

Package of extra firm tofu Photo: Sunrise


Vegan soy sauce

Sometimes also called amino acid, this natural soy sauce alternative is great for marinating that tofu you’re pressing. Fun tip: Hoisin sauce is also vegan, so add that to the mix along with lemon juice, fresh ginger and a sweetner like maple syrup.

Bottle of natural soy sauce alternative Photo: Bragg

Raw nuts

Nuts are your best friend when it comes to vegan cooking. Not only are they protein-packed, when soaked and whirled around in a blender, they create a cream. It’s the perfect base for Caesar dressing or “cheese” sauces. Cashews and almonds work well, make sure you buy raw and unsalted.

Bag of raw cashews Photo: Organic Traditions

Nut milks

Sub milk in recipes for an unsweetened nut milk. It’s great on cereal, too.

Box of unsweetened almond milk Photo: Blue Diamond

Read more:
All the vegetarian dishes: 25 meatless recipes 15 delicious vegan recipes 11 tasty tofu recipes

This article was originally published on Aug 22, 2019

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