Vegan Pantry Essentials

From cashews and tahini to jicama, sumac and quinoa, learn the ins-and-outs of common vegan ingredients you'll see on It's CompliPlated with Tabitha Brown.

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Portobello Mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms are one of the heartiest mushrooms around. They're often used as a vegan substitute for meats like steak and ground beef since they stand up to heat well. They're great on the grill, can be seared and sauteed or stuffed to create all-in-one meals.

Get the Recipe: Vegan "Pulled Pork" Sliders

Spaghetti Squash

Try shredding the inside of spaghetti squash with a fork after roasting. The strands inside are like spaghetti, perfect for a veggie base with your favorite pasta sauce.

Get the Recipe: Garlic-Herb Spaghetti Squash


Jicama, a starchy root vegetable, tastes like a mix of potato and apple. It's the cousin of the potato and similar to a turnip, and it can be eaten cooked or raw. It's often served fried as a variation of regular potato fries.

Get the Recipe: Jicama-Orange Salad


Lemongrass has a mild lemony flavor that works wonderfully in stir-frys, drinks, marinades and soups. When prepping lemongrass to be used in a recipe, peel away the more fibrous outer layers and use the lower half of the stalks, much like a leek.

Get the Recipe: Ginger Lemongrass Pina Colada

Sweet Potatoes

Whether you fry them, mash them, roast them or bake them into a pie, the versatility of sweet potatoes isn't limited to just savory dinners. They have a — wait for it! — sweet flavor that's mild and perfect for seasoning with nearly all spices and herbs.

Get the Recipe: Sweet Potato Beignets


Cashews have become one of the most versatile foods in vegan cooking. When you blend them up, they turn into a silky-smooth puree that's often used as a cheese-sauce substitute due to their high-fat content and mild taste.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Queso

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a tiny yet mighty superfood rich in fiber, protein and other nutrients. Vegan recipes often use them in puddings and other desserts since they add body to whatever liquid they're placed in.

Get the Recipe: Pomegranate-Cherry Chia Seed Ice Pops


Tahini, a popular Middle Eastern condiment made from ground-up sesame seeds, is the backbone for dishes like hummus, salad dressings and baba ganoush.

Get the Recipe: Spinach with Tahini Sauce


If one thing is the foundation of vegan desserts, it's dates. They're naturally sweet and sticky, adding flavor and acting as a binder in baked goods. Try blending them into a paste to make truffles or fold them into vegan brownie batter.

Get the Recipe: Almond, Coconut and Date Bites

Long Grain Jasmine Rice

Long-grain jasmine rice is native to Thailand and has a slightly floral taste. We love to serve it alongside stir-frys and curries or mixed into soups.

Get the Recipe: Pumpkin and Rice Soup

Quick Cooking Oats

Quick-cooking oats are partially steamed and flattened before they're packaged, so they take way less time to cook. Of course, you can use them to make oatmeal, but they're also great in vegan baking or used as a breadcrumb substitute.

Get the Recipe: DIY Cinnamon Spice Instant Oatmeal


Quinoa may look like a grain, but it's actually a seed. It's full of protein and fiber, and when cooked, it turns fluffy and nutty, making it a smart base for salads and casseroles.

Get the Recipe: Quinoa-Corn Salad

Israeli Cous Cous

Whereas Moroccan couscous is exceptionally tiny, Israeli couscous looks like pearls. It's actually a pasta that works well with many flavors since it's pretty mild on its own.

Get the Recipe: Israeli Couscous with Squash

Rice Noodles

Rice noodles are a staple of Asian cuisine. Comprised of just rice flour and water, they're commonly used in stir-frys, soups, and many other dishes.

Coconut Milk

Made by pureeing freshly shredded coconut meat and water, coconut milk is a sweet alternative to dairy milk.

Get the Recipe: Coconut Creamed Kale

Grapeseed Oil

Pressing grape seeds left over from the winemaking process yields this neutral oil. It is perfect to use for cooking or as a replacement for vegetable and canola oils.

Aji Nori Furikake

Aji Nori Furikake is a mix of black and white sesame seeds and dried seaweed. It’s most commonly used as a topper for rice in Japan, but you can use it to zhuzh up all kinds of dishes. Make sure you read the label carefully, though, because not all blends are vegan.

Get the Recipe: Fried Rice Paper with Furikake

Nutritional Yeast

Meet the cheese of the vegan world. This dried yeast product has a unique salty flavor that mimics the taste of Parmesan cheese. Try sprinkling it over pasta and soup, or dust it on popcorn for a savory bite.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo


This Middle Eastern spice is known for two things: its tangy, citrus-like flavor and bright red color.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Baba Ganoush


Jackfruit is an all-star meat replacement because when the inside of the fruit is shredded, it mimics the texture of pulled chicken or pulled pork. The flavor possibilities are endless; it can be marinated, seasoned, coated in a sauce, or stuffed into a sandwich.

Get the Recipe: BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches

Black Beans

Is there anything the black bean can't do?! They're great in soups, stews, salads, burritos and savory side dishes, but they're also a secret ingredient in some baked goods. When blended up, they can be hidden inside brownies for a punch of protein.

Get the Recipe: Black Bean Salad


Also called garbanzo beans, chickpeas are most famously used as the base of hummus. But they can also be roasted for a crunchy snack or mixed into a salad.

Get the Recipe: Chickpea Blondies


Like the black bean, lentils are part of the legume family and make for an excellent source of protein and fiber. Look out for different varieties like French lentils, beluga lentils, green lentils and more to see which flavor and texture you like best. They're all pretty small, and they cook quickly when boiled.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Lentil Chili

Hearts of Palm

These white stalky vegetables are harvested from the insides of palm trees. Their crunchy texture and mild flavor work wonderfully when sliced and put in salads.

Get the Recipe: Lemony Hearts of Palm Salad

Flake Sea Salt

Flake Sea Salt differs from other types of salt due to its size and texture. It's larger and flatter than typical salt granules, so it's often used as a finishing salt to add a textured crunch right before serving.

Coconut Flakes

Coconut flakes, made from the inner meat of fresh coconuts, are dried and naturally full of flavor. We love them blended into smoothies, sprinkled onto acai bowls or mixed into dough for cookies or vegan truffles.

Get the Recipe: Coconut-Chia Pudding Breakfast Bowl

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder lets you achieve the chocolatey taste you love in vegan cooking without using dairy-based chocolate.

Get the Recipe: Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate Mix

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is the perfect vegan replacement for honey with its sweet taste and amber color.

Get the Recipe: Maple-Glazed Parsnips

Liquid Aminos

While soy sauce is vegan, liquid aminos serve as a gluten-free alternative. They're concentrated amino acids that can be made in two ways: by fermenting coconut sap with water and salt or by processing soybeans. Use them to flavor rice, stir-frys, noodle dishes and many other plates.

Tapioca Starch

Like other non-wheat flours like buckwheat flour and almond flour, tapioca starch doubles as a gluten-free flour and as a thickening agent for sauces and soups.

Get the Recipe: Zha Leung

Almond Flour

This high-protein flour adds sweetness and nuttiness to any recipe. It's a bit more coarse than all-purpose flour, so dishes will be more rustic.

Get the Recipe: Vegan Cherry Cobbler with Almond Biscuit Topping

Almond Milk

Almonds are soaked and crushed to create this creamy milk substitute. Sweetened and flavored varieties exist, but we prefer the unsweetened kind as it's a bit lighter.

Get the Recipe: Vegan French Toast


You've probably seen seitan in meat replacements like tofurky and vegan bacon. It's made from wheat, however it looks more like meat than it does bread.

Beyond Ground Beef

While still vegan, meat replacements like Beyond Beef closely match the consistency, look and taste of meat and can be used almost interchangeably.

Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas work perfectly for vegan tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas. They can also be cut up and fried to make homemade tortilla chips.

Get the Recipe: Salsa and Chips