Does anyone else get excited when the baking season finally descends upon us once again? It’s fall, which means we’re about to be swimming in baked treats, seasonal goodies, and festive indulgences until the skies clear and spring flowers bloom again.
Of course, not everyone has the same tastes in baked goods. Some of us prefer dense, chewy brownies, while others might opt for a light and crispy macaron. However, no matter what our preferences are, we all want to be able to enjoy ourselves.
Navigating the wide and varied world of seasonal baked goods can be difficult enough if you’re a plant-based eater — nevermind if you also have a food allergy. Below, we’ve provided a guide on how to bake delicious, nut-free masterpieces. Believe us, you can still make satisfying, texturally-interesting baked goods without them!
1. Determine What Kind of Nut You’re Replacing
Not all nuts are interchangeable, and different recipes will call for particular nuts for specific reasons. For example, almonds add a hint of nuttiness and a specific crunchy texture, whereas the addition of cashews or macadamia nuts in baked goods are likely included for their creamier profile. And if you’re adding peanuts, you know their flavor will be pronounced in your final product.
Decide what it is you’re going for — taste, texture, variety, innovation — and then choose your substitute from there.
Here are some of our favorite substitutes for nuts in vegan baking:
Oats and Granola
If you’re looking to add a dimension of flavor to your baking, oats are a great substitute. Not only do oats provide magnesium, fiber, plant-based protein, and potassium, but they contain zero sugar, and have a slightly faux-nutty flavor profile. Adding granola to the mix only ups the crunch factor.
We love oatmeal cookies. In fact, check out these 5 Vegan Oatmeal Cookie recipes for some ideas. We also recommend toasting them in some vegan butter before incorporating them into your sweet recipes, in order to add a crunchy texture to your baked goods. Look no further than this recipe for Nut-Free Strawberry Vanilla Crumble Bars, pictured above, to see how oats and granola can enhance the texture of your baking. Finally, these Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches use oats to bind and for a flavorful dough, and can be made for under $5. Go, go, go!
If you’re willing to spend a short amount of time roasting some seeds, they make wonderful additions to many baked goods. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, in particular, can add seasonal flair to recipes for traditionally nut-laden muffins, cakes, pancakes, and more. Check out the recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes For One, pictured above, for an example.
Smaller seeds, like poppy seeds, add a distinct crunch, as do chia and flax seeds (although you will have to grind both of those to receive their nutritional benefits).
We love the fluffy but interesting texture of this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake, and how healthy but tasty this Chocolate Chia Breakfast Pudding is.
Dried cranberries, chopped dates, a handful of raisins, and even apple chunks can add that little je ne sais quoi to any homemade dessert. The vibrant Cranberry Lemon Poundcake above is calling our name.
Check out how texturally exciting this cozy Apple Pie Swirl Multigrain Bread Loaf is, for example — and let’s not leave out this Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, either.
These Date Caramel Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies are always a welcome, sweet surprise (just sub out the almond milk for a nut-free, plant-based milk), and we guarantee everyone will love these dynamic and flavorful Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Apple Brownies. Bonus: they’re also gluten-free!
We had to highlight the classic (vegan) chocolate chip. Somehow, they seem at home in almost any recipe. From muffins, to scones, to cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and beyond, chocolate chips can always be counted on for flavor, texture, and comfort.
Throw ’em into these Nut-Free Chocolate and Banana Bars for a high-energy snack when you’re on-the-go, or cozy on into this Caramelized Banana S’mores Skillet, which get flavor and sweetness from bananas and chocolate, and a satisfying crunch from vegan graham crackers.
This Chocolate Strawberry Jam Mousse Pie can be made in under $5, and is utterly delicious.
If you’re looking for more nut-free recipes, we have your back. For more vegan baking tips, check out our comprehensive Ultimate Vegan Baking Guide!
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Nut-Free Strawberry Vanilla Crumble Bars