Becoming a vegan or eating plant-based can seem daunting at first if you’ve never done it before! What are vegan pantry staples? Why do you need them? Why is it different than my normal pantry?

what makes a vegan pantry?

Vegan pantry staples are a little different than a normal pantry. In my plant-based diet I am making a lot more of my sauces and toppings than in a vegetarian diet. For example, you may make your own nut milks, your own ‘parmesan‘ cheese, your own ‘yogurt’ based sauces, etc. Because of this, you go through some items a lot faster than you may normally. Also, some ingredients are relied upon more heavily for their nutrients and vitamins so they get used more often.

My favorite vegan pantry: grains

I always make sure to have quinoa, couscous, farro, freekeh, and bulgar. I also love wild rice, jasmine rice, and brown rice. Grains are often the base of many vegan bowls, and I love cooking with ancient grains because of their nutrient density. For example, 1 serving of freekeh has 20% of your daily iron intake and farro has a lot of great fiber. Vegan bowls are also one of the easiest meals to make. Simply pick a grain, add some veggies and tempeh, and top with a sauce of your choosing. Voila!


Cooking with a vegan pantry, you’ll be utilizing a lot of delicious spices to infuse flavor. The spices I use the most are cumin, coriander, curry powder, cayenne, paprika and cinnamon. I also love cardamom, garlic powder, onion powder, saffron and turmeric. Many of the cusine from India and much of Asia for that matter is vegan already, so I find I use a lot of flavor profiles that tend to lend themselves to those regions.

Sauces and oils

I always keep refined coconut oil on hand! This is such a versatile oil. Buying it refined (vs virgin) means that it won’t have a coconut flavor. Other great ones to always keep stocked are olive oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, liquid aminos (great nutrient value and is a fish sauce substitute), tahini, and rice vinegar. Also, canned coconut milk is a must — it’s great for tons of sauces. And finally, vegetable broth.


Always keep some tofu (usually firm), tempeh, miso, almond butter, peanut butter and vegan butter (I love Miyokos!) Also, asian chile garlic sauce, and hoisin sauce will become your best friend for all of the Asian inspired meals you make.

Legumes and Nuts

There are a ton of vegan pantry staples in this category. I use a lot of chickpeas, cannellini beans and black beans but pick your favorites! Lentils are another great item to keep stocked in your pantry, they’re so easy to cook and are very versatile. I personally cook a lot with red and green lentils, but pick your favorite! Ffor nuts, raw cashews are my top pick. I cannot emphasize enough how much cashews are a vegan pantry staple. I use them to make vegan mac’n’cheese, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, a mozzarella-ish cheese, etc. you get the picture. Any other favorite nuts like almonds, pecans, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts and pine nuts are also great. I use them all both in cooking (walnuts and pine nuts always go in my pesto), and as toppings (hello peanuts!) and for snacks with dried fruit.

vegan pantry

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