My Vegan / Gluten-free Pantry

I often get asked, what are the main staples in a vegan pantry? Being a vegetarian for more than a decade, and vegan for three years now, this question always makes me pause and realize how deeply entrenched we are in using animal products.

I also went gluten-free over a year ago, and often get questions about making that transition as well. This switch was easier for me after having already been vegan for a while, but it took me a bit to understand the chemistry of baking without gluten (still learning).

Being vegan (or gluten-free for that matter) isn't synonymous with being healthy! After all, soda, many potato chips and even Oreos are technically vegan. Staying away from processed foods in general is a good idea. It has been proven that most people can easily get all their nutrients from a whole food, plant-based diet, but if you aren't sure what that looks like, consult a vegan-friendly Naturopathic Physician like mine, or a plant-based dietitian or health coach.

Here are some of the basics that I recommend having on hand as stock for a vegan and gluten-free pantry, as well as suggestions for vegan substitutions you can use in recipes to replace animal products. Check back often...this list is sure to grow!

Spices & Dried Herbs

Seasoning is the KEY to eating vegan. I was joking with my partner recently that many people assume that being vegan means that we probably eat iceberg lettuce salads with water as dressing! There's a lot of misconceptions on the vegan lifestyle, and this is certainly one of the biggest. I've said this many times over the years since becoming vegan, that even if I weren't a vegan for ethical reasons (meaning I didn't care about animals, the environment or my own health), I'd still NEVER go back to eating animal products because vegan food (at least the way my partner and I cook) tastes so much better. I feel like I didn't really know what flavor was before going vegan. I've always been a foodie and had a huge apatite, but never felt satisfied by food until going vegan and gluten-free. I'm aware that a big piece of this shift to feeling satisfied by food was that I started healing my gut by cutting out gluten, but the other major (and undeniable) factor was that the food just tasted waaaaaay better.

I have over 60 spices and dried herbs in my collection. I've listed them all below (and will add more over time as I discover them), starting with the top 20 that I use on a weekly basis. Experiment, experiment, experiment. Try tons of recipes. Get creative. You're going to love what you discover!

My Top 20:

Aleppo Pepper
Black Peppercorns
Chili Powder
Crushed Red Pepper
Cumin Powder
Cumin Seed
Garam Masala
Garlic Powder
Mustard Powder
Onion Flakes
Onion Powder
Sea Salt

The Rest of the Collection:

Ajwain Seed
Amchur Powder
Ancho Pepper
Bay Leaves
Caraway Seed
Cardamom, whole and ground
Cayenne Pepper
Celery Salt
Celery Seed
Chaat Masala
Chana Masala
Chili Piquin
Chinese Five Spice
Chipotle Powder
Cloves, whole and ground
Coriander, whole
Curry Leaves
Curry Powder
Dal Makhani
Fennel Seed
Fenugreek Leaves
Fenugreek Seed
Garlic Flakes
Ginger Powder
Coriander, ground
Italian Seasoning
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Mustard Seed
Peri Peri Seasoning
Poppy Seeds
Poultry Seasoning (nope, doesn't have chickens in it like I
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Sesame Seed
Tomato Flakes
White Pepper


Avoid instant or other treated varieties. Brown rice is highest in nutrition quality. Long grain rices for Eastern style dishes can be found at your local Indian grocer (ask them for aged, long grain rice...the older, the better). In my house, we LOVE sushi, so we keep sushi rice (and nori sheets) on hand for when we get a craving for avocado rolls. And don't forget rice cakes...slathered in almond, cashew or peanut butter, it's a great snack.

Technically a seed, but used like a grain. Great replacement for couscous! I use it mostly in salads, which are nice to make ahead for lunches on the run (try the Fiesta or Roasted Fennel Cranberry Pear Quinoa recipes on this blog).

One thing I thought I would have to give up when going gluten-free was pasta...and did I ever LOVE pasta. Thankfully, there are many pasta products readily available. My favorite are quinoa pastas from Andean Dream, they have great flavor, hold up well, and are organic and fairly traded. There are also rice (I like these for lasagna) and corn noodles on the market.

There is some controversy on whether oats are gluten-free, so eating oats should be a personal decision made with your primary care provider if you are allergic or severely sensitive to gluten. My digestive system seems to respond well to them. I always have rolled oats on hand, they are great for a quick breakfast or for baked goods and granola.

Flours & Starches

I keep a LOT of different flours and starches in stock, as with gluten-free baking, I like to experiment. The balance of flours and starches are delicate, and each flour provides a different texture. I have not yet mastered vegan baking, but there are lots of great recipes online and good cookbooks out there to get you started!

Garbanzo (Chick Pea) flour
I use this so much. It is great for thickening gravies or making a rue for 'cheese' sauces.

Rice flour
In almost every gluten-free cake I have made so far! I use organic brown rice flour.

Oat flour
You can make this yourself by grinding whole oats in your food processor, or find it in you local grocer.

Buckwheat flour
Makes a mean pancake!

Almond flour 
Great for cookies!

Quinoa flour
I use this flour the least, because it has a strong flavor (slightly bitter) and it's a bit pricey.

Arrowroot flour
A wonderful thickener. I use it in ice creams and when making some sauces. It creates a bit of a sticky texture if you use a lot of it in your recipe, so it's perfect for my favorite Asian dish that calls for a sticky garlic sauce.

Potato flour
I use this in my pizza crust recipe, the flavor is amazing.

Potato starch
Great for adding a crisp to things like crusts.

Tapioca Root starch
In lots of baking recipes, a must for the gluten-free kitchen.


Cow's milk is for baby cows. I can't believe it took me 32 years to realize that! Milk was an easy switch, as there are many varieties to choose from.

Rice Milk
This is the most used milk in my house! It's perfect on cereals and in most recipes. My favorite is Trader Joe's unsweetened organic rice milk, the flavor and texture is unbeatable.

Coconut Milk
Don't attempt curry without it! This is the most commonly used milk in my kitchen. If you are looking for creamy texture, it does everything for curries, desserts, creamy sauces like vegan alfredo. Don't buy the boxed beverage stuff (unless you want to drink it). For curry recipes, get the organic, full fat goodness in a can.

Soy Milk
Soy milk works well in baked goods and to satisfy your chocolate milk cravings as it's often found in chocolate flavor. I wanted to remind you to make sure your soy is organic and non-GMO and to look out for unnecessary additives like carrageenan. This is one of the big "frankenfoods," so skip it if it isn't labeled organic. I like Trader Joe's brand, it's not in the refrigerated section of the store, but you'll need to refrigerate it once opened.

Unsweetened Almond milk
A staple. Can go in anything. It's thick, creamy and very adaptable. Also comes in sweet flavors like chocolate.

Other Plant Milks
There are lots of other plant milk options out there, so don't be afraid to experiment with Hemp milk, Oat milk and Hazelnut Milk to name a few.

Oils & Sweeteners

Choose high quality oils and avoid things like vegetable shortening and canola oil. Although they are vegan and can be used in a pinch, they offer no nutritional value.

Olive Oil
Great for cooking at low temps or better yet, uncooked in dips, salad dressings, etc.

Coconut Oil
Great for cooking at high heat or uncooked, great for firming up frozen treats.

Sesame Oil
I love asian style dishes. Sesame is a key flavor in many recipes from this region of the world.

Vegan Butter 
This is a processed food, and should not be considered a healthy food. Provides a buttery taste for melting over popcorn and or a baked potato. Organic versions are hard to find, I use Earth Balance as they are a non-GMO focused company.

Coconut Sugar
I prefer coconut sugar to any other as it does not give me the sugar spike that cane sugar, maple syrup, and other sweeteners do. A perfect replacement for the sugar we should all avoid—white, processed sugar.

Maple Syrup
High glycemic reaction for most people, but a good vegan liquid sweetener and great on pancakes.

Agave Syrup, Rice Syrup or Coconut Nectar
All a good replacement for honey. I don't use agave anymore because it is too sweet for me, and I find rice syrup very mild in sweetness.

A lovely sweetener for bars and raw dessert crusts.

I use it in some dessert recipes and asian dishes (in the form of hoisin sauce).

Brown Sugar
Good in cookies! You can make it yourself if you like...add a bit of molasses to cane or coconut sugar.


Beans, beans, beans. Paired with rice, it is what most of the world eats daily, which is great because it's a well balanced meal. My cabinet is FILLED with dried beans, many more than listed here. I only buy canned beans on occasion, and prefer to soak mine overnight and cook them in a slow cooker.

Black Beans
Think tacos, salads, soups, dips and burgers.

Kidney Beans
Reds are common in Indian dishes, salads, and chili. Whites (Cannellini) are great for soups and dips.

Garbanzo (Chickpea) Beans
Salads, soups, Indian Channa Masala, patties/burgers, and of course the vegan staple...hummus!

Black-eyed Peas
I only eat them as Lobia Masala.

Green Peas
I toss these in lots of dishes, from curry to alfredo. I buy them frozen (I can't stand the canned ones!) and add them at the very end of cooking to preserve their bright green color and enzymes.

Egg Replacements

I pulled eggs from my diet long before going vegan after waking up to the fact that they're a product of a chicken's almost daily menstrual cycle (isn't it amazing the spell we're all under when it comes to food knowledge...I'm sooooo glad my friends helped me wake up). Depending on your dish, these vegan foods create a replacement for the texture or binding power of eggs, without the health risks!

Binder in Baked Goods:

Use 1 banana per egg replaced in baked goods.

About 1/2 cup to replace 1 egg.

Flax "Egg" 
This is my most common replacement for egg in baked goods or for recipes that require a batter-style mix for breading. 1 Tbsp Ground Flax + 3 Tbsp Warm Water, process in a blender or food processor for 30 seconds or until egg-like in texture.

Ground Chia Seed 
I add about 1 tsp to my flax 'eggs' for those hard to bind baked goods that usually require xanthan gum...a slimy bacteria.

Texture in Main Dishes:

I crumble it and use turmeric for color to replace scrambled egg in breakfast scrambles.

Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruit

These are great to have on hand to whip up granola, toss in oatmeal, or have a few handfuls as a quick snack to level your blood sugar. Eat raw nuts when you can to preserve the nutrient content (plus I find they taste better). Or, jump on the vegan cheese wagon and start making your own nut-based cheese...sooooo delicious!

Peanuts (technically a legume)
Nut butters...pick any of the above and process in a food processor until butter consistency!

Dried Cranberries
Dried Blueberries
Dates (good for a sweetener in bars)
Crystalized Ginger (not a fruit, but delicious and awesome in baked goods)
Banana chips
Apple rings

Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds


What do you like? Start there. Try something new every week or month. EXPERIMENT. Buy in small amounts if possible to keep them from spoiling if you don't cook at home often. Encourage yourself to cook at home more often by having a chopping party...when you get home with your groceries, rinse and chop them to cooking size before they go in the fridge. You'll thank yourself next time you are making a meal.

My grocery cart almost always contains:

Baby Spinach
Kale (lots of it)
Fresh Parsley and Cilantro, plus any other herbs I need on hand
Carrots (about 25 lbs per week...juice!)
Tomatoes (when in season)
Bell Peppers (when in season)
Lemongrass (I love Tom Kha)
Peas (frozen if fresh aren't available)

I also like to keep on hand fruits that are easy to grab and go. Bananas, apples, oranges, pears and berries. This category is also about what you like. Try something new whenever possible. I can't believe I was 30 before I ate a tangelo!


Seasonings in the vegan kitchen are really the same as in any kitchen...except we tend to be adventurous and use a wider variety. I probably have about 60 different herbs and spices at any given time. Have you tried Aleppo Pepper? Oh. Yum.

Nutritional Yeast
This was one of the last things I added to my vegan pantry. It seemed very strange to me at first, and I didn't like the flavor. But as my tastebuds cleared of the dairy and processed foods I removed from my diet, it began to taste good...very good. I sprinkle it on popcorn, add it to dishes to create a nutty or cheesy flavor, and to create vegan parmesan.

Veggie Broth or Bullion Cubes
A must. Soups, "stuffing," and many rice dishes use it.

Miso Paste
For the same reason as broth/bullion, but mostly in asian style dishes.

Liquid Aminos
Like a soy-sauce, but without the gluten. Not a health food as it is usually really high in sodium, so use sparingly.

Apple Cider Vinegar
I use it in dressings mostly, but always have it on hand.

Balsamic Vinegar
A must have for dressings.

Rice Vinegar
Key in many asian style dishes, a must for making sushi rice!

Red Wine Vinegar
Another great vinegar to have on hand for salads and dressings.

Grain Meats, Tofu, and Vegan Cheeses

Grain Meats:

When I first went vegetarian, I ate a LOT of grain meats. I didn't really understand what a vegetarian was until my early 20s, so meat was what I knew how to prepare, so grain meats were a big help. I ate them less and less over time, and when I went vegan, I just couldn't stomach them anymore. Partially because most contained gluten, but mostly because food companies have gotten a bit TOO good at making them taste like animal flesh. Ugh. At this point, it reminds me far to much of eating animals, and I just can't eat it. If you're just starting out on your vegan journey, you may find grain meats helpful, as I did. Make sure you read labels carefully, as many of the grain meats on the market contain milk and eggs. Some companies make both vegan and non-vegan products, so don't assume a line of foods is vegan just because one product is. I liked Gardein and Field Roast products back in the day, but there's a ton of new companies on the market now as the demand for a plant-based diet has skyrocketed in recent years.


Tofu is a texture and flavor I really enjoy now that I am vegan. I really wanted to like it for many years, but didn't really enjoy it until my partner, John, fried it in coconut oil before adding it to recipes. Wow, did that change my mind! I love it now. In my kitchen it mainly shows up as a texture in curries, veggie scrambles, and Tom Kha soup. Use a silken tofu for making most sauces, and stick to a sprouted tofu for most other dishes as the texture is much better than non-sprouted. When I'm using it to add a "meaty" texture, I either slice it 1/4" thick or into 1/2" cubes, place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake it at 400˚ F for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through. This creates a lovely "crust" on the outside of the tofu that really helps the texture.

PLEASE NOTE: Tofu is made from soybeans, which have become the top "frankenfood" of our world. Make sure the label on ALL your soy produced is certified organic, which means it will also be non-GMO (genetically modified).

Vegan Cheeses:

Dairy was the last animal product to leave my diet. I was a cheese-o-holic to say the least. The processed vegan cheeses on the market now (namely Daiya brand) are much tastier than the assortment of flavored cardboards that scattered shelved a few years back. I use it sparingly these days, as I find my digestion reacts unpleasantly to processed foods. Daiya makes a decent (but again, processed) cream cheese, but I prefer making cashew cream cheese instead. Try leaving out the lemon and experimenting with other sweet flavors.