Our Vegan Pantry Essentials

The first step is always the hardest – to make it at least a little easier for you if you want to switch to a vegan diet, we've written a few articles on the basics. They are about how to get the nutrients you need when being vegan, non-vegan ingredients to look out for, and vegan pantry essentials. Find all our articles here.

One would think that it's quite easy to write a list of essentials for a (vegan) pantry. But once you start to write this list, you quickly realize how subjective and customized it can be. What may never be missing for some people is something that other people have never used in their whole life.

Still, we think that a list on how to stock your vegan pantry can be very useful, especially when you just switched to a plant-based diet. So we strolled through our own kitchens and took a closer look at all our cupboards and shelves.

You'll notice that some ingredients are marked with an °. These are pantry staples that are probably (strictly speaking) not essential, but rather personal favorites that we can't live without. But let's start with some very personal tips.

Our very personal tips:

Julia: Since I love spicy food, I always have the North African spice paste harissa and chili crisp from Asian supermarkets at hand. Besides that, I love to keep a small jar of homemade "Everything Bagel Seasoning" on my countertop that can be used as a topping or spice mix for almost every dish.

Isa: I love to serve various dishes with a dollop of cranberry jam on the side, so this is a must-have in my pantry. And since I often use teriyaki sauce for cooking, this shouldn't be missing in my kitchen either.

Lina: My secret ingredient is garlic granules. You can season just about anything with it to get a great "base" flavor – without the annoying stubborn aftertaste from fresh garlic. My top uses are pizza (frozen and delivered), plant-based curd, scrambled tofu, and avocado bread. But I also always have risotto rice, some lemon juice, and frozen peas at home to whip up a super easy pea risotto within 30 minutes.

Sarah: Everyone should have a jar of mustard in their kitchen. It adds a tang and more hearty flavor to sauces, dressings, and marinades. Plus, vegan sausages taste best with mustard, right?

Katja: Who would have guessed – I love peanut butter! It makes any pasta sauce creamier, tastes great as a topping on any dish, is an excellent component in a dip, and fits perfectly in granola or as a spread on bread. It's always a dream!

Lara: Coconut milk is my absolute favorite secret ingredient because it makes every sauce creamier and gives every dish that little something! Also, coconut is supposed to be very good for the gut, heart, and hair growth. A second one: cinnamon is a favorite of mine and belongs to EVERY (vegan) bolognese.

Anni: My absolute favorite ingredient is soy sauce! But not only because I love to eat vegan sushi. I season everything with it! And when I say everything, I mean everything – from fried veggies and tomato sauce to pumpkin soup and salads – the use of soy sauce is unlimited!

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Dry Ingredients

In order to avoid making this list too detailed, we thought of the category of "dry ingredients" in which the majority of our pantry ingredients fits – from rolled oats to breadcrumbs. Among them, you'll also find certain flours that we mostly use as binders for cooking and baking. A personal favorite of this list is rice paper as we regularly (and all year round) love to eat summer rolls, but also use rice paper to make very delicious and crispy vegan bacon.

✘ semolina (and polenta)°
✘ rolled oats
✘ nutritional yeast
✘ legumes (e.g. beans and peas)
✘ dried mushrooms (e.g. shiitake and porcini mushrooms)
✘ nuts (e.g. cashews, almonds, and walnuts)
✘ lentils (e.g. green, brown, or red lentils)
✘ flour (e.g. chickpea flour, rice flour, and soy flour)
✘ rice paper°
✘ seeeds (e.g. white and black sesame seeds, and nigella seeds)
✘ Seitanfix°
✘ Semmelbrösel (z. B. klassische Semmelbrösel oder Panko Paniermehl)
✘ Stärke (z. B. Speisestärke und Tapiokastärke)
✘ texturiertes Soja (z. B. als Granulat, Schnetzel oder Steaks)
✘ Trockenfrüchte (z. B. Aprikosen, Datteln und Kokosflocken)

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Oil & Vinegar

You think that one oil and one vinegar should be enough? Well, it's not that easy. When it comes to oil alone, you should have at least one high-quality olive oil and one neutral vegetable oil for frying in the kitchen – this is mainly due to the different types of olive oils. The big question is whether you can use olive oil for frying and the answer is: yes and no. When it comes to pan-frying you should always use an oil with a high smoke point. Refined oils like canola oil or sunflower oil work great for this. There are also olive oils that are refined and suitable for frying, but we (you, and a lot of other people) usually buy virgin, cold-pressed olive oil which has a low smoke point and therefore should not be used for frying but only for serving or salad dressings.

✘ coconut oil
✘ flavorful oils° (e.g. peanut oil, walnut oil, roasted sesame seed oil, and chili oil)
✘ linseed oil°
✘ neutral oil (e.g. sunflower oil or canola oil)
✘ olive oil

✘ apple cider vinegar
✘ balsamic vinegar
✘ red wine vinegar
✘ rice vinegar
✘ white wine vinegar

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Canned Food

Of course there are plenty more canned fruits and vegetables, but for now, here are our favorite essentials that we always have on hand.

✘ applesauce
✘ canned legumes (e.g. chickpeas - also for aquafaba)
✘ coconut milk
✘ jackfruit
✘ nut butter (e.g. almond butter, peanut butter, and tahin)
✘ tomatoes (whole, dried, or sieved tomatoes)
✘ vegetable stock

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Pasta, Rice & (Pseudo-) Grains

Everyone has pasta and rice in their pantry but there are many more grains and (pseudo) cereals that should be on your plate more often. What helps to not forget about them is to keep some of them in your pantry. By the way, pseudo grains botanically don't belong to real grains, but are used in the same way, e.g. amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat. We can only recommend to try them all out to find your favorites. This will help you to more variety on your plate instead of always eating pasta and rice.

✘ Asian noodles (e.g. glass noodles, rice noodles, and udon noodles)
✘ couscous
✘ Italian pasta (e.g. lasagna sheets, macaroni, and tagliatelle)
✘ quinoa
✘ rice (e.g basmati rice, wild rice, and short-grain rice for risotto)
✘ spelt

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Sauces & Condiments

This category is perhaps the most underestimated one. Sauces and condiments can make all the difference between a "kind of boring" and an "incredibly tasty" dish, but they are usually hidden somewhere in the fridge or pantry. Almost every one of them is its own miracle bag worth to be explored in detail. Just think of all the different curry pastes, miso pastes, mustards, or soy sauces!

✘ curry paste
✘ hot sauce°
✘ ketchup
✘ liquid smoke
✘ miso paste
✘ mustard (e.g. mild, medium-strength, or whole-grain mustard)
✘ soy sauces
✘ sweetener (e.g. agave syrup, maple syrup, or rice syrup)
✘ tomato paste
✘ vegan fish sauce°
✘ vegan mayonnaise

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For Baking

Depending on the recipe, you might need to buy some special ingredients but this basic baking pantry should help you out if you're craving cake or cookies on a Sunday and all stores are closed.

✘ active dry yeast
✘ agar-agar
✘ baking powder and baking soda
✘ cream stiffener
✘ dark chocolate
✘ flour (e.g wheat flour and whole-grain flour)
✘ ground nuts (e.g. hazelnuts and almonds)
✘ sugar (z. B. e.g. beet sugar, cane sugar, or coconut sugar)
✘ unsweetened cocoa powder
✘ vanilla (e.g. as a bean, extract, or sugar)

A161 Vegan Pantry

Our 20 Most Commonly Used Spices and Spice Mixes

When it comes to essentials in a spice rack, we can certainly all agree on salt and pepper but after that, discussions will surely start. It's simply a matter of taste, which is why we've listed our 20 favorite spices and spice mixes here, which you will also find in many of our recipes.

But what's even more imporant is to talk about how to store spices. It should be done separately in air-tight containers, in a dry and dark place, and not next to the stove. Light and heat can cause a loss both in color and flavor. And what many people don't know: spices do not keep well forever. Yes, they won't get moldy, but it's said that their flavor will fade after about 6 months. You can still use them for a few months or even years longer (as the flavors will not disappear overnight), but when they become paler and their smell disappears, it's time to buy new spices. It's best to buy only small quantities of spices so you can buy them more often (which results in fresher spices). However, whole spices like seeds have a longer shelf life and are more aromatic than ground spices anyway. You can crush them in a mortar shortly before use.

✘ allspice (whole or ground)
✘ caraway (seeds or ground)
✘ cinnamon
✘ chili flakes (or ground chili)
✘ cloves (whole or ground)
✘ coriander (seeds or ground)
✘ cumin (seeds or ground)
✘ curry powder
✘ dried herbs (e.g. basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram)
✘ garam masala
✘ garlic powder
✘ kala namak
✘ nutmeg (whole or ground)
✘ onion powder
✘ paprika (sweet, spicy, or smoked)
✘ pepper (whole or ground)
✘ salt (as iodized salt, coarse or flaky sea salt)
✘ sumach°
✘ turmeric
✘ zatar°

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A freezer is absolutely underrated as a pantry. Besides homemade vegan frozen pizza and any leftovers, you can store and preserve herbs, fruits, and vegetables in it for months. Don't underestimate store-bought frozen vegetables and fruits either as they still retain most of their vitamins due to the quick freezing process (unlike most canned alternatives).

✘ frozen vegetables (e.g. spinach, edamame, or peas)
✘ frozen fruits (e.g. bananas)

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Of course the category "refrigerated" refers in part only to opened products on this list. Unopened plant-based milk and heavy cream can also be stored at room-temperature (it always helps to ask yourself where these products are found in your supermarket). And if you're wondering what's the difference between vegan butter and margarine: it's all about the texture. Margarine is spreadable, while vegan butter is much firmer and resembles the consistency of regular butter.

✘ plant-based milk (e.g. pea, oat, or almond based)
✘ plant-based heavy cream (e.g. soy or oat based)
✘ plant-based yogurt
✘ tofu (e.g. medium-firm, smoked, or silken tofu)
✘ vegan butter (or margarine)

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Vegetables & Fruits

Choosing "essential" fruits and vegetables for a pantry is quite difficult, but here's what we always have in the kitchen. Every week, we stock it up with more fruits and vegetables depending on the season. An important detail for potatoes, garlic, and onions is that they should be stored in a dark and cool place to avoid sprouting. Just make sure that they are still in contact to air as you also don't want them to get moldy.

✘ potatoes (floury and waxy)
✘ garlic
✘ lemons (or limes)
✘ onions (yellow, red, or shallots)

More Vegan Basics

Zucker ↦ Jagdwurst Donut
Hej, we are Julia&Isa!
Hej, we are Julia&Isa!

Zucker&Jagdwurst is our vegan food blog.
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