The Secret to Great Vegan Baking and Ice Cream Is in These Ingredients

Learn to make beautiful cakes, ice creams, and more without milk, butter, or eggs. (Or just order them online.)

Here's a universal truth: The better your ingredients are, the better your bake will be. For vegan baking, quality is even more crucial. Ordinarily, dairy, like milk and butter, enhances the texture and flavor of a baked good. When it comes to plant-based versions, the best substitutes are full-fat products (see "Key Ingredients," below), which give vegan baked goods a tender crumb.

When it comes to alternative eggs, use aquafaba, the clear, flavorless liquid at the bottom of a can of chickpeas. Three tablespoons of aquafaba can stand in for one whole egg, acting as the same kind of binding agent. Those are all you'll need in the way of special ingredients for these crowd- pleasing plant-based pastries. If you're in the mood for sweet and bright, make the Blackberry- Cardamom Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting. For a dessert with a kick, go for the Sour Cherry and Black Pepper Pie. The Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream can be eaten on its own, scooped on top of the pie, or sandwiched between two rich and chewy Double-Chocolate Rye Cookies. While each of these recipes has a distinctive summertime flavor profile, they can easily be adjusted to reflect what's in season.

Blackberry-Cardamom Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

Blackberry-Cardamom Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

These lightly spiced, fruity cupcakes have a tender and delicate crumb with a soft texture from the full-fat oat milk and a blend of baking soda and baking powder. The frosting is soft after beating but will pipe beautifully and is surprisingly stable. Its bright lemon flavor and light, melt-in- your-mouth quality are similar to Swiss or Italian meringue buttercreams.

Sour Cherry and Black Pepper Pie

Chilling pie dough is standard practice, but it's especially important for this recipe because vegan butters remain soft even at cooler temperatures. The crust is flaky and tender, while the sweet-tart cherry filling gets a mild warmth from black pepper. Bake the pie on a preheated baking sheet to help the bottom crust cook through and to catch any syrupy filling that bubbles over during baking.

Double-Chocolate Rye Cookies

Double-Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

A mix of unsweetened cocoa and bitter- sweet chocolate bars gives these fudgy cookies a deep chocolate flavor. Dark rye flour adds a lightly savory note that bal- ances the sweet intensity of dark chocolate well and plays off the crunchy sea salt garnish. The addition of light brown sugar makes these cookies extra chewy and helps to extend their shelf life. Don't skip the chilling time; the dough will be soft when first mixed and will spread too much if baked immediately.

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

After meticulous testing, the Food & Wine test kitchen discovered the surprising key ingredient for the creamiest vegan ice cream—pea milk. With the right balance of unsaturated fat and protein and a relatively mild, neutral flavor, it's the perfect base for this sweet, vanilla-flavored treat. Xanthan gum doesn't require heat to activate its thickening properties; it starts working as soon as it touches liquid, so the ice cream base will be slightly gelatinous after chilling. Whisk it well to create the best texture before churning.

Key Ingredients

Guittard Beyond Sugar Chocolate

Guittard's Beyond Sugar line is not officially certified vegan, but both the unsweetened chocolate baking chips and the Santé dark chocolate baking chips, which contain coconut sugar, are made without any animal products. $7 at

Endangered Species Chocolate

Endangered Species Chocolate's Oat Milk Dark Chocolate Chips work in everything from cookies to brownies. The chips with 55% cacao are creamy and sweet. The 75% cacao chips, made with less sugar, have a more intense chocolate flavor. $7 at

Miyoko's Creamery European Style Cultured Vegan Butter

Miyoko's salted and unsalted cultured vegan butters, made with cashew milk and coconut oil, taste and act just like dairy butter, whether you're baking, spreading, melting, or browning. $7 at

Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks

Earth Balance's Vegan Buttery Sticks are made with a vegetable oil blend that leads to soft, tender baked goods. $5 at

Oatly Full-Fat Oat Milk

Oatly's creamy, full-fat oat milk works as a direct replacement for dairy milk, even buttermilk (try it in biscuits!), and yields baked goods that are remarkably moist. $5 at

Sproud Original Pea Milk

Sproud Original Pea Milk has a neutral flavor that works as a canvas for any kind of ice cream, and its high fat content keeps the finished product from getting icy. $32 for a case of 6 at

Inside Scoop

Vegan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Double-Rye Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Rishon Hanners / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Making homemade vegan ice cream is fun, but it's always good to have a pint or two in your freezer. These are our favorite mail-order plant-based ice creams.

Brave Robot

Animal-free whey protein is the foundation of a dairy-free milk that turns into this rich, smooth vegan ice cream. Brave Robot launched in August 2020; they currently offer eight flavors, including Blueberry Pie, PB 'N Fudge, and Buttery Pecan. $58 for 4 pints at

Noona's Ice Cream

In 2016, pastry chef Hannah Bae launched this delicious dairy-free ice cream line, using coconut cream as the base for such flavors as Black Sesame, Rose Ginger, and Matcha Green Tea. $12 per pint at

Salt & Straw

This Portland, Oregon–based ice cream company is known for unique flavors. The vegan ice creams, which come in flavors like Freckled Mint TCHO-colate Chip and Exquisito Chocolates Hazelnut Cookies & Cream, are just as decadent and imaginative. $65 for 5 pints at

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