8 tips for cooking vegan, according to experts

portobello mushroom

Making delicious vegan meals may seem challenging at first glance. However, expert chefs suggest that there are tons of ingenious (and not to mention easy) ways in which vegans can get creative in the kitchen.

To provide you with some major food inspiration, we spoke to a handful of expert chefs about some of the best vegan cooking tips possible. Below are some of the helpful hacks they recommend keeping in mind next time you want to treat yourself to a delicious home-cooked meal.

Get creative with your ingredients.

Get creative with your ingredients.
Add some natural fats in your foods.

“Add natural fats from avocados, use nut butter, and add some nuts and seeds to your dishes if you are looking for a pop of texture and flavor,” suggested chef and culinary educator Jill Nussinow, MS, RDN.

Don’t rely on steamed veggies.

Don't rely on steamed veggies.
There are other options.

“Don’t rely on steamed vegetables as a go-to,” said Nussinow. They tend to be boring, but cooking your veggies a different way, such as stir-frying, sauteing, or roasting can give you some much-needed variety.

Use substitutes for cream and milk.

Use substitutes for cream and milk.
There are lots of alternative options.

“There are many substitutes for cream and milk,” suggested vegan chef Carolyn Scott-Hamilton. These kinds of ingredients help make any dish creamy and delicious, she explained.

Try out almond milk, coconut cream, and more to give your dishes a creamy kick.

Keep nutritional yeast in your pantry.

Keep nutritional yeast in your pantry.
It adds a cheesy flavor.
 Wikimedia Commons

If you want to add a cheesy flavor to your meals, Scott-Hamilton explained that it’s wise to always keep nutritional yeast stocked in your pantry. This can be used to add a cheesy kick to meals without the dairy. You can use it from anything from mac and cheese to topping popcorn.

Don’t rely on vegan meat substitutes.

Don't rely on vegan meat substitutes.
Use actual vegetables.

“Don’t be reliant on vegan meat substitutes,” Scott-Hamilton told INSIDER. Instead of simply using pre-packaged substitutes, shoot for mushrooms, jackfruit, hearts of palm, and artichokes for a great meaty texture and flavor, she said.

Experiment with flavors and spices.

Experiment with flavors and spices.
Utilize all your spice options.

“Plant-based foods can be wonderfully flavorful if you season them correctly,” Scott-Hamilton explained. Feel free to spice up your dishes with no fear, she said.

Make DIY flax eggs.

Make DIY flax eggs.
Use flaxseed to make your own vegan eggs.
 Dvortygirl/Wikimedia Commons

A big barrier to making traditional recipes vegan is the need for common ingredients like eggs. But there is a simple solution.

“Make your own flax egg when you need eggs for a recipe,” said Green Chef executive chef Dana Murrell. To do this, try combining one tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water, she said.

Splurge on the good stuff.

Splurge on the good stuff.
Don’t skimp on these ingredients.

“Buy good olive oil, vinegar, salt, and spices,” Langan explained. These high-quality staples elevate even the most basic grain bowls, pasta, and veggie-packed soups, she said.


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