Extremely delicious vegan cookie recipes, please (and vegan baking tips)
September 25, 2018 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I want to make cookies for an upcoming event and there are a lot of dietary restrictions but vegan cookies without peanut butter or any nuts should be okay (NB: there is at least one allergy to concentrated soy products so I have to be careful there too). I'd like to do gingerbread cookies but am open to alternatives. What recipes do people like and does anyone have tips for vegan baking, e.g. "this flour is preferred by vegans" or "don't use this brand of sugar"?

I'd really like to do vegan gingerbread cookies if anyone has a recipe they would recommend (I'd probably do cutout cookies in the shape of stars) and I am open to frosted or non-frosted cookies (I saw a recipe that used soy milk and confectioner's sugar for this so I would have to make some without to be soy allergy friendly), but if someone has non-gingerbread cookies they absolutely love feel free to share the recipe. For reference if people DO have gingerbread cookie recipes I prefer chewy to crispy and crispy to soft.

I usually use Domino sugar and King Arthur flour but if those are not vegan enough please let me know what would be better. Also if there's a particular brand of margarine or something that's great for baking I'd be happy to know that too. Any other general vegan baking tips are appreciated as well. I've never done any vegan baking so I am grateful for any suggestions people want to share. Thank you so much for any help you can provide!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Vegans usually avoid granulated sugar because it's processed using bone char from animals. However, organic sugar is not processed with bone char, so you can use organic sugar as an alternative.
posted by Jeanne at 10:37 AM on September 25, 2018

Not cookies, but I've made these vegan black bean brownies before. They also happen to be gluten free. You could use fair trade chocolate and organic canned black beans if you want to be fancy. You can cut them up and put them on a tray. Might want to double (or triple) it for an event.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:39 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the queen of vegan baking. Everything she does is wonderful. I have not specifically made cookies of hers, but this is her website. She has a book that's only about cookies: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. My library has all of her books, so maybe yours does too.

One thing I know is that Earth Balance in stick form (not in the tub) works way better for frosting if you want to decorate a cake. I would guess it would be the best for cookies too. In my experience, Earth Balance is generally the preferred brand.

Also, I would say that some vegans avoid granulated sugar, but in my experience, most don't. But yes, to be on the safe side, use organic sugar.
posted by FencingGal at 10:53 AM on September 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

Chickpea Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies, but use agave nectar instead of honey (honey is not vegan!), and be sure to use vegan dark chocolate chips.
posted by snowmentality at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Any non-dairy milk should work in the place of soy milk for the icing, so you could swap the soy for rice or oat milk. Lots of soy-free vegan recipes use coconut oil for the fat, but I also like the soy-free EarthBalance for vegan baking, and they now make it in stick form!

For non-gingerbread options, if sesame seeds are okay, I quite like these dead-simple but sophisticated olive oil cookies. I double the spices in this recipe and add a little saffron or turmeric, and they're lovely and not-too-sweet.
posted by halation at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2018

Also, these vegan chocolate chip cookies are amazing.

But most mainstream brands of chocolate chips aren't vegan. Ghirardelli's used to be, but they started adding dairy. I can't find the brand I like online right now, but I would caution against Enjoy Life. They're vegan, but they aren't good.
posted by FencingGal at 10:58 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

A vegan friend makes these obscenely good vegan cookies from ovenly. i have witnessed people at her parties start fights over how they could possibly be that good and still be vegan (and swear she was lying to them).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:03 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

FYI, Exceptional Hubris and I posted the same recipe - it's just on different sites.
posted by FencingGal at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

There’s a really good soft & chewy ginger cookie in Vegan with A Vengeance. It’s not a gingerbread cut out cookie though.
posted by newsomz at 11:13 AM on September 25, 2018

This is not a gingerbread cookie, but it is delicious and involves ginger.
posted by Vibrissa at 12:15 PM on September 25, 2018

I'm waiting on a sibling to text me her vegan ginger cookie recipes, but would like to second that for vegan frostings I sub in the Earth Balance sticks for butter (also: Crisco is vegan, thankfully, I make "buttercream" with a mix of the two) and sub rice milk for any dairy to no great ill effect.

In my fairly extensive experience (was vegan for about 5 years, many family members and friends are), most vegans will not be too picky about granulated sugar in baked goods because you only have so much energy to go around, you know? But some may be, so go with organic if you think your vegans are likely to be extra-vigilant.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:22 PM on September 25, 2018

Here is the recipe my wife uses from the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook: vegan chocolate cake recipe. We are not vegans, but enjoy this cake a great deal.
posted by terrapin at 12:50 PM on September 25, 2018

Best answer: I'm a fan of Isa's gingerbread cut-out cookies, with two tweaks. I have to add about 2 tbsp extra flour, or else my dough comes out all wet and miserable. (I use plain old AP flour, so maybe that's got something to do with it.) Then for the molasses, use a mix of half regular and half blackstrap to ratchet up that dark, rich gingerbread flavor. I also wouldn't hesitate to substitute some other non-dairy milk for the soy. I brought some to my parents for the holidays a couple years ago (without mentioning their vegan-ness), and my dad declared them "exceptional".
posted by gueneverey at 1:59 PM on September 25, 2018

Two pretty good (but not transcendent) vegan ginger cookie options:

Soft and puffy gingerbread cookies- this allegedly makes 2.5 dozen cookies but it always ends up about 4 dozen for me so I generally halve it.

1/3 cup shortening (Crisco is fine)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
2/3 cup cold water
7 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix shortening, sugar and water thoroughly in large bowl. Stir in water. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients, then add to shortening mix. Chill for at least an hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into desired shape, place far apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, until no imprint remains when touched lightly.

3/4 cup shortening (Crisco is fine)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg's worth of Ener-G egg replacer (available in most supermarket health food sections and in every weird health food store)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp table salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg, beat well. In separate bowl combine and mix dry ingredients, then add to wet mix. Roll in small balls (3/4-1"?), dip in granulated sugar. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place balls 2" apart on cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 min.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:41 PM on September 25, 2018

I actually came in to recommend Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips for vegan and soy free. I think they’re great! And I can find them at my WHole Foods or on Amazon. But maybe vegan chocolate with soy tastes better - I just can’t do either dairy or soy right now.

It’s really nice of you to take so many different food restrictions into account when baking for people! You are a great friend!
posted by bananacabana at 7:41 PM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's not true that only dark chocolate chips are vegan--in fact even some dark chocolate chips aren't vegan. Some semi-sweet chips are vegan, as semi-sweet is not the same as milk chocolate. In particular, look for Kirkland Brand at Costco if you need a lot of them, or Trader Joe's chocolate chips (not the chunks, which aren't vegan).

The potential problem with these is that they are 'accidentally' vegan, that is, not marketed as a vegan product, and have unsourced sugar. Most vegans I know are OK with the ambiguity, and tend to buy organic/vegan sugar for use in the home, but eat any sugar in processed foods or when eating out or at someone's home. But if you are making these for the strictest of vegans who only eat certified vegan foods, these won't meet their standards.

And seconding that you want to use 'butter' sticks, not spread, for best results--I recommend Earth Balance or Melt (least expensive--and currently 99 cents a pound for the sticks at Grocery Outlet). Although I've heard people get good results with Miyoko's butter, too, which is least expensive at Trader Joe's, but still quite a bit more expensive than the Earth Balance or Melt.

Or go crazy and make your own vegan butter easily and cheaply with this recipe: https://plantepusherne.dk/vegan-aquafaba-butter/

For egg substitutes, consider aquafaba, the liquid in a can of chickpeas. 3T=1 egg.
posted by QuakerMel at 8:54 AM on September 26, 2018

Domino sugar is not vegan (they use bone char) to process their sugar cane. Bone char is an issue with sugar cane-based sugars. Any brand that uses beet sugar will be vegan. Or you can spring for any organic sugar.

Butter alternative: Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread. Or, Melt Organic (in the sticks or tub) but note it will have a very rich taste and you may detect coconut flavour as it's coconut-oil based.

Oil-based butter alternative: many recipes will use canola or other light tasting oil for cookies and they turn out beautifully if the recipe has been well tested for oil -- don't just swap out butter for oil; it won't behave in the same way.

Flour: there is no particular flour I'd recommend as I've not yet encountered basic all purpose flour not being vegan. King Arthur will work well!

Generally (with a couple of exceptions), Isa & Terry's cookie recipes turn out exactly as they should and they often use canola oil. Their gingerbread cookies are excellent. I baked a few batches with my then 3-year old nephew a few years ago and he was able to roll and cut the dough easily. They retained their shape after baking flawlessly, and tasted and felt great even a few days later. Vegan royal icing recipe here.

Food dyes and sprinkles are often not vegan. Your local natural food store may carry vegan sprinkles, or you can find some online. For food colouring, I tend to use other foods as colours. Here are two resources: one for if you have a bit of time and want to whip up a batch of different dyes, and two for if you're more of a winger and prefer to add a bit of colour on the go.
posted by mayurasana at 1:52 PM on September 26, 2018

Response by poster: Thank you so much for the suggestions! I marked gueneverey's answer as best because I made those cookies and they're exactly what I was looking for (I used rice milk instead of soy milk) but I really appreciate all the suggestions and, if I do more vegan baking, I will definitely return to this thread.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:24 AM on October 2, 2018

Response by poster: I brought them in to work and the consensus is that these are very good gingerbread cookies (I went with gueneverey's suggestion of using the two extra tablespoons of flour and also put in a bit more spice because I always do for gingerbread). Thanks again everyone!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:49 AM on October 2, 2018

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