Having a well-stocked pantry makes cooking a lot simpler, not to mention faster. There is so much you can do with a handful of vegan pantry staples and today I'm sharing all of the vegan staples that I like to keep in my pantry, fridge and freezer. A free printable vegan pantry staples list is included.
I've shared my Vegan Kitchenware Essentials, and now I'm sharing the vegan staple foods that I always have on hand. This includes my must have vegan pantry staples, vegan fridge staples and vegan freezer staples.
I always try to keep my pantry, fridge and freezer well-stocked with the basics, so that I can throw together a meal at a moment’s notice without needing a special trip to the grocery store.
Of course, no two people will agree on a list of vegan food staples. One persons go-to ingredients will be unfamiliar or unnecessary to another. The trick is to find what works for you and stock your pantry with items that you enjoy and are confident using.
Here is a handy menu so you can jump straight to the sections you are most interested in:
Printable Pantry List
Use this list as guide and a starting point. There is no need to buy everything at once. Build up your vegan staples gradually over time.
Your pantry will slowly take shape as you begin to cook regularly and develop a repertoire of favourite vegan recipes.
This post contains affiliate links. I mention my favourite brands throughout but none of these mentions are sponsored.
Herbs, Spices & Seasonings
No matter how or what you cook, herbs and spices are the most crucial elements of your vegan pantry. They are a quick way to elevate any vegan dish and the good news is that you don’t need many different spices to get started. Your needs will differ greatly depending on what kind of cuisines you like to cook, but start with the basics then build your collection gradually from there.
Here are my most commonly used dried herbs, spices and seasonings:
- Sea salt - Fine for cooking, coarse or crystals for my mill and flaky for finishing. I love Maldon flaky salt.
- Black pepper - Coarsely ground and peppercorns for my mill.
- Nutritional yeast - You will find this in a huge amount of vegan recipes so it's well worth investing in a pot. I use it in small amounts for adding umami flavour, and in larger amounts for a cheesy flavour in recipes like my nutritional yeast tofu, easy cheese sauce and mac and cheese. After trying all available brands I've firmly settled on Hoosier Hill Farms nutritional yeast as my favourite.
- Smoked paprika
- Bay leaves
- Mixed herbs, Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Curry powder
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Olive oil - A good extra virgin olive oil for dressings, drizzling, finishing and dipping, and a light, every day olive oil for cooking with.
- Coconut oil - Virgin/unrefined and also refined for when I don't want the coconut flavour/smell (like when making my vegan butter & feta cheese). I always buy Nutiva coconut oil because it's ethically produced, monkey friendly, and the refined coconut oil is refined with steam and not chemicals.
- Sesame oil - Light for high heat cooking (stir fries etc) and toasted for finishing, sauces and dressing.
- Refined avocado oil - I love to use this for frying and for sweet and savoury baking. It has a high smoke point and is really multi-purpose.
- Apple cider vinegar - Out of all of them, this one should be your priority vinegar purchase as it's so multi-purpose. You will see it used all the time, particularly in vegan baking recipes where it's combined with baking soda as an egg replacement.
- Balsamic vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Rice wine vinegar
- Malt vinegar - For fries!
Nuts, Nut Butters & Seeds
These are the nut butters I always have on hand (always natural and unsweetened):
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
And here are the nuts and seeds (all raw and unsalted):
- Ground flaxseed - A very common ingredient found in a lot of vegan recipes so well worth prioritizing. It must be ground to function properly in most recipes (and also for your body to be able to absorb any of the nutrients in it such as omega-3) so don't make the mistake of buying whole seeds unless you plan to grind them yourself. Store in the fridge once open as it can go rancid at room temperature.
- Cashews - So amazing for making rich, creamy sauces like my cashew cheese sauce! I always have a big bag on hand.
- Almonds mostly for my almond milk recipe and snacking.
- Almond flour for all of my vegan almond flour recipes!
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
This varies dependent on season but I usually have these fruits and veggies:
- Avocados - I keep them in a bowl on the counter until they are perfectly ripe, then they go into the fridge where they keep easily for 1 to 2 weeks.
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Potatoes - I use Yukon Gold for just about everything.
- Lettuce, spring mix or arugula
Not all sugar is vegan (particularly in the USA), so be sure to check the brand you are purchasing. If you aren't sure or don't want to research it, buy organic sugars as they aren't allowed to use bone char during processing. These are the sugars and sweeteners I always have on hand:
- Cane sugar
- Powdered/confectioner's sugar - I use Wholesome Sweetener's powdered sugar.
- Light brown sugar
- Dark brown sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Turbinado sugar - This has really coarse crystals and is great for texture/sprinkling.
- Pure maple syrup
- Vegan honey - I like Bumblebloom.
- Molasses - I buy Wholesome Sweeteners Molasses.
Condiments & Sauces
- Prepared yellow mustard
- Dijon mustard
- Tomato ketchup
- Vegan Mayonnaise
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Salad dressing/vinaigrette - I always have a large bottle of Little Creek Okanagan Caesar Dressing on the go. It's so good!
- Hot Sauce (either store bought or homemade like my habanero hot sauce)
- Soy sauce or Tamari
- Marinara/pasta sauce - I try to make it but always have a couple of jars as backup. I like Rao's or President's Choice Black Label.
- Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
Cans, Jars & Cartons
- Vegetable or mushroom stock/broth - Ready made in a carton. Great for making a quick vegan soup recipe or anything else that required stock.
- Better Than Bouillon - No Chicken, No Beef, Vegetable and Roasted Garlic. They are so flavourful. A little goes a long way and they last ages.
- Jam - I am obsessed with Bonne Maman Jam and usually have multiple flavours on the go at once.
- Coconut milk - Full fat and light. Full fat is great for setting things like cheesecake, or when you want extra creaminess in a sauce/dessert. Light is good when you want some richness and creaminess without too much of a pronounced coconut flavour. I like Cha's or Everland coconut milk as it's monkey friendly and fair trade.
- Tomatoes - Crushed/pureed, whole and fire roasted. Sometimes diced, but not often. That's because diced canned tomatoes are treated with calcium chloride to make them stay chunky and keep their shape and more often than not, when I add canned tomatoes to a recipe I want them to break down. Diced tomatoes are really only good for recipes where you want distinct chunks of tomato to remain.
- Tomato paste (or puree if you're in the UK).
- Pumpkin puree - I love my pumpkin smoothie so always have some handy. Also my dog Charlie is obsessed with it and has a big spoon with his breakfast most days!
- Beans - Usually black beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. I try to cook dried beans from scratch in my Instant Pot, but canned are so handy and great when you want to whip something up something like my kidney bean burgers for dinner super quickly.
- Baked beans - Maybe it's because I'm British but I always have a couple of cans of baked beans in my pantry. Beans on toast is the ultimate quick and easy lunch or dinner and I love a baked potato with grated cheese and baked beans!
- Black olives - For pasta/pizza, snacking etc.
- Pickles (or gherkins as they are otherwise known).
- Capers - I love to fry them until crispy and scatter them on my salads so always have some on hand.
- Pickled jalapenos
- Artichokes in oil or brine - I love the Kirkland Signature ones from Costco. I put these in everything from sandwiches and burgers to dips, pasta and on homemade pizza.
Flour & Baking
With these ingredients on hand, you can make so many baked goods without a trip to the store.
- All purpose flour - It has a high protein level and is suitable for all baking including most bread. I use it for almost everything. If you are in the UK you will need plain flour for my recipes that call for all purpose flour, as well as bread flour for any bread recipes. That's because your flour has a lower protein content than North American flour. You will notice that my recipes don't ever use self-raising because it's really hard to find here.
- Spelt flour - One of my fave healthier flours. It bakes up so well and tastes really good. You'll find lots of recipes here that use it including my spelt pancakes and no yeast spelt bread.
- Wholewheat flour - I only ever use this for bread. I much prefer spelt for healthier cakes and muffins etc.
- Almond flour - I have lots of recipes that use almond flour. It's so buttery and delicious!
- Vital wheat gluten - You need this if you want to make seitan recipes like my vegan roast or vegan beef.
- Chickpea flour - Essential for making my quiche, carrot fritters and Yorkshire puddings!
- Rye flour - I only use this for my sourdough starter.
- Baking powder (always aluminum free)
- Baking soda
- Yeast - I use either fast action or active dried yeast. They are pretty much interchangeable.
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips - Quite a lot of them are accidentally vegan, but try to look for brands that aren't involved in child labor/and or slavery. Sadly most chocolate brands are to some extent. You can check on this list from The Food Empowerment Project. Not all are mentioned but most are. I was so surprised to find some of my favourite baking brands on the bad list so have recently made some changes as a result.
- Cocoa powder - Bear in mind my note above about ethical chocolate/cocoa. My go-to ethically produced cocoa powders are President's Choice Organic when I need Dutch process cocoa powder (not acidic) or Everland Organic when I need natural/acidic cocoa powder.
- Unsweetened shredded coconut
- Dried fruit - Usually a selection of Medjool dates, golden raisins, currants, dried cranberries and tart cherries.
- Vanilla extract - Try to buy vanilla extract and not vanilla essence/imitation vanilla flavour. Vanilla extract tastes way better and you can get away with using less because of that. Extract is made with actual vanilla, whereas vanilla essence or imitation vanilla doesn't have a drop of real vanilla in it. It is artificially flavoured (sometimes with castoreum which comes from beaver butts, although thankfully that very un-vegan practice isn't very common anymore).
- Pasta - Spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, macaroni, orzo, couscous.
- Noodles - Rice, soba and ramen.
- Rice - Long grain, basmati, brown rice and risotto rice (for risotto and rice pudding).
- Oats - Rolled/old-fashioned and steel cut. For oatmeal, overnight oats and baking/cooking.
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Arrowroot powder
I always have a good selection of dried legumes and I usually cook them in my Instant Pot without soaking them first. They can be ready start to finish in a little over 40 minutes and are great for making so many cheap vegan meals.
- Black beans - I make my Instant Pot black beans at least once a week.
- Navy or cannellini beans
- Chickpeas - So versatile! Add them to salads, soups, pastas, curries and grain bowls, turn them into hummus, or use them for baking.
- Kidney beans
- Black eyed beans
- Pinto beans
- Split red lentils - Mainly for my Red Lentil Soup and Lentil Dal which I make all the time, but also for thickening other soups and stews.
- Green/brown lentils (I use these interchangeably)
Wondering what vegans should have in their fridge? Well, here are my vegan fridge staples (note that although I keep some in the fridge, fruits and vegetables are listed all together in the produce section):
- Vegan butter - I use either my vegan butter recipe or Earth Balance or Melt Organic Sticks for baking. I always keep some vegan brown butter in the fridge too for a tasty addition to sweet and savoury dishes.
- Tofu - Usually extra firm and silken.
- Tempeh - I'm a bit fussy with my tempeh and only really love it when it's really fresh and mild. Locally made Tempea tempeh is always my preference. It's really delicious. They make it from the usual soy beans and also green peas!
- Hummus - Sometimes homemade hummus, sometimes store-bought.
- White miso - Great for adding umami flavour. You'll find it in my mac and cheese recipe because it enhances the savoury, sharp, cheesiness. A pot keeps just about forever in the fridge.
- Field Roast sausages - I use these in so many thing! I like to add the spicy ones to my One-Pot Spicy Vegetable Rice, and the Italian ones to Italian Sausage Pasta Soup and Vegan Broccoli Rice Casserole. Then the apple sage ones go in my Roasted Red Cabbage.
- Vegan yogurt - I love Yoggu or Maison Riviera.
And now comes the cheese and my cheese problem is clearly evident! Obviously you don't need all of these vegan cheeses, but I am cheese obsessed and these are the ones I always have on hand:
- Vegan Parmesan - Always Violife brand. It's so good!
- Vegan cheese slices - For sandwiches/burgers etc. My favourite is Violife smoked provolone.
- Vegan cheese shreds - For melting on or in things, like my Baked Vegan Orzo Recipe. Usually either Violife or Nabati. Nabati melts incredibly!
- Boursin Dairy-Free - A garlic herb cream cheese. I can't get enough of this!
- Vegan Ricotta - I always make a big batch of this and have it ready in the fridge for pasta, pizza, spreading and general dolloping.
- Vegan Feta - My recipe for this too. It's great for crumbling over salads/pasta/pizza and melting into pasta for a quick dinner. I keep a small amount in the fridge and a few small pots in the freezer.
- Miyokos Aged Sharp English Farmhouse & Applewood Vegan - For my weekly cheese and wine night ;O)
- Bread, bagels and tortillas
- Frozen fruit - I usually have a bag each of raspberries, blueberries, cherries and mixed berries on the go.
- Frozen peas, corn and edamame beans
- Fresh ginger - Yep, I keep the root in the freezer then grate with a microplane from frozen when I need it. That way it keeps for months and doesn't end up shriveling up in the veg drawer!
- Fresh Chillies - I keep these in a pot or bag in the freezer. They last forever. Take them out, slice while still frozen with a sharp knife and add to your recipe.
- Overripe Bananas - Peeled, broken into a few pieces then frozen. I use these for smoothies, making nice-cream, and for defrosting to make baked goods.
- Beyond Sausages, Ground Beef & Burgers
- Gardein Chick'n Tenders - I love these on a huge salad with roasted sweet potatoes cubes or wedges for dinner.
- Gardein Beefless Tips - Love these for stews, curries and Cornish pasties!
- Butler Soy Curls
- Milk - Always check the ingredients of the milk you buy. Sugar and vanilla are added to so many plant-based milks and it's not always obvious by looking at the front of the carton. When they have sugar or vanilla in them they are no good for using in anything savoury, and if you use them in sweet recipes you will end up having to adjust the added sugar to compensate. It's not nice when a whole meal is ruined because of it. Been there, done it, got the T-Shirt. Potato soup is awful with added sugar and vanilla! 🤣 I use unsweetened/unflavoured soy milk, cashew milk and oat milk the most because they are great all-rounders. I go through phases of making my own cashew milk and oat milk but usually it ends up being store bought.
- Coffee - I always use Kicking Horse coffee beans because it's a local BC company, absolutely delicious, and it's fair trade and shade grown (important for birds!).
- Tea - I'm lucky enough to have a local tea farm/purveyor so that's where I get mine. If they ship to you I highly recommend their tea blends.
- Orange juice
Click to print my vegan pantry staples list
And if you need some ideas for what to do with your pantry staples, you might enjoy these:
So there you have it! These are my vegan pantry staples and having them on hand makes throwing meals together so easy.
What about you? What are the vegan must have ingredients that you rely on to be efficient in the kitchen? Let me know what your favourite pantry staples are in the comments.
Barb Hay says
I noticed you have wine vinegars in your staples, I am allergic to alcohol and do not like the smell or taste of wine. What can I use as a substitute for these vinegars.
Melanie McDonald says
Can you substitute them for other types of vinegar? If so do that. If you don't want to use vinegar at all then it really depends on what purpose the vinegar serves in the recipe. There is no one answer. In something like a baking recipe where it's being used as an acid to leaven with baking soda you could use any other acid such as lemon juice. In a salad dressing you can often use pomegranate juice, orange, lime or lemon juice instead (depending on the flavour profile of the dressing). If it's a soup you could probably omit it or add a squeeze of fresh lemon instead. Those are just a few examples. If you find a particular recipe you are interested in and aren't sure leave a comment on it and I'll try to help.
Kathleen Joan Taylor says
Have you a recipe for vegan 'lardons' i.e. bacon bits ? The bought ones have some iffy Ingredients.
Melanie McDonald says
I don't sorry. Can you get The Very Good Butcher's bacon where you are? It's a local to me company but they sell across all of Canada and the US. Their products have great ingredients!
I am working on expanding my seitan recipes though. Chick'n is currently being worked on. I'll add bacon to my list!
Thank you so very much for this very helpful pantry, refrigerator, and freezer list!
Melanie McDonald says
I'm so pleased you found it helpful!