Baking a cake is a skill that can be learned by anyone. For the barest minimum, a prepackaged mix will do. However, you can’t buy a premade pie crust in a box. The complexity of pie makes it all the more remarkable. Mastering a crust that is buttery and flaky while still being malleable enough to form intricate latticework is no easy feat.
Then there’s the filling, which can range from fruit fillings that must not leak to creamy fillings that must set just so to the sugary crumb toppers. Vegan pies sound much more challenging, given that they can’t employ the typical animal ingredients.
But don’t worry; we’ll show you how to easily make any pie without honey, eggs, or dairy. (Really, you can pick pretty much any pie you want!) Below you’ll find everything you need to make a delicious vegan pie, from a graham cracker crust made entirely from plants to a meringue made from chickpea liquid. We’re all set; time to bake!
Exactly what is vegan pie?
The usual ingredients in a pie are often milk, cream, butter, and eggs. All of these components have an animal origin, but don’t worry; none of them are required to make a tasty pie. Although vegan pies don’t utilize any animal products, that doesn’t mean they lack in flavor. You can still prepare the same luscious fillings, crisp crusts, and streusel toppings.
Instructions for baking a vegan pie
Making a vegan pie is as easy as switching out a few ingredients. Vegans may easily find substitutes for dairy products like butter and cream, and there are many options for egg replacers that are made from plant-based substances. But don’t worry; we’ll be there to help you every step of the way.
Pie crust that is flaky, buttery, and delicately crimped is something that everyone is familiar with. Dough isn’t always as flexible as Snow White makes it look as she rolls and folds it into pie pans while the birds chirp happily in the background.
Veggies Are The Best!
In reality, all you need are four components to make a flaky, buttery pie dough, but if you’re a pie baking novice, the outcome is often hit or miss. Simply substitute vegan butter (we recommend Earth Balance sticks rather than the tub) for the dairy butter in a standard pie crust recipe (flour, cold water, salt).
Coconut oil is used in some vegan dishes, however it should not be used in place of dairy butter unless the recipe specifies otherwise. Following the instructions precisely is the key to making flaky pie dough. While the contents themselves typically leave room for artistic license, pizza dough is a science.
A guide to making a vegan alternative to a graham cracker or cookie crust
This sugary base is made by pulverizing vegan cookies, which is a lot easier than making dough from scratch. Try to find graham crackers that don’t have honey already incorporated into the recipe (both Nabisco and Keebler Originals are vegan-friendly).
Combine the grahams in a food processor with the coconut oil or dairy-free butter and a tablespoon or two of sugar until the mixture sticks together when pressed. The same technique can be used for the base of cookies, albeit sugar is optional.
To reduce the amount of vegan butter needed and prevent an oily crust, you can use cream-filled wafer cookies instead. You’re free to get inventive here and use any vegan-friendly sandwich cookie (like Pumpkin Joe-Joes from Trader Joe’s) as a pie crust for a one-of-a-kind dessert.
Vegans can enjoy most fruit pies by just omitting the butter.
Vegans can rest easy when it comes to fruit pies. Lucky for us, most non-vegan bakers don’t try to smuggle animal components into their berry or apple pies.
In terms of this pie ingredient, you can use your grandma’s recipe to the letter. The only deviation is the occasional use of butter to dot the filling (most often seen with apple pie). Change the butter to a vegan alternative, such as olive oil, and you’ll be good to go.
Tofu is a critical binding ingredient that, along with corn syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and maybe even bourbon, gives pecan pie its trademark sweet custardy filling beneath the shell of toasted pecans. Silken tofu in a cardboard container is suitable for long-term storage and is recommended for use in baked goods. The bottled variety from the freezer aisle is useless.
Instructions for preparing a dairy-free filling for pies
Consider pies like pumpkin, key lime, lemon meringue, chocolate, and chess. To aid in binding and thickening, eggs are used in addition to cornstarch in these pies. It’s possible to go vegan in a few different ways. Cashews, in addition to the trusty tofu, can be used to achieve a creamy texture that holds its shape when cut.
Pies with a creamy filling, like those with a flaky crust, rely more on science than on imagination; as such, while you can try to convert a non-vegan creamy pie into a plant-based delicacy, there is no one-to-one substitution that will guarantee results every time. We’ve found that vegan-as-is recipes tend to produce the most reliably delicious results when making our favorite creamy pies.
Citrus and Affection
The use of vegan butter in place of regular butter makes this delicious component suitable for vegan diets. Sugar, brown sugar, flour, and salt are good to go.
Can you recommend a vegan whipped topping? With so many vegan whipped cream options, store-bought versions are almost as excellent as homemade ones. Our favorite canned coconut whipped cream .
To make your own, you’ll need a beater or stand mixer, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and a can of full-fat coconut cream (believe us, you don’t want to beat this by hand since you’ll need some horsepower to generate fluffy peaks of cream). The secret is to refrigerate the coconut cream until a solid layer forms at the top of the can, then scrape out that layer and place it in a bowl, leaving behind any liquid. Keep in mind that occasionally you may purchase a “dud” can of coconut that, when whipped, results in a curdled mess. It’s too late now, so be sure to have a backup can or vegan whip that you bought in the store available.
Aquafaba vegan meringue
Because of aquafaba, or whipped chickpea brine, vegans now have a viable option for meringue. For a long time, bakers were at a loss as to how to fix this sticky mixture of egg whites and sugar. Who would have guessed that the key was hidden in a jar of chickpeas?
You can feel more at ease attempting this topping using aquafaba rather than coconut cream. Having a stand mixer is ideal, but using hand-held electric beaters will suffice in a pinch if you don’t mind putting in a little extra work. To impress your visitors, build a tower of meringue on top of your vegan pie and torch it.