Plant-Based Cooking 101: Substitutions for Eggs, Cheese, and Milk

Submitted by Kim Campbell, director of culinary education.

Learning how to “plantify” a recipe is a fun challenge. Sometimes you simply can’t make a replacement, but most of the time, I am pleasantly surprised. I have learned a few tricks over the years and received advice from the pros. Here are just a few tips:


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

  1. Eggs: Eggs are used in recipes to emulsify, bind, leaven, and give structure. I find the egg replacer you choose is a personal preference. I tend to use flax meal and chia seeds the most since they do not impart a strong flavor to any recipe. Here are a few suggestions for egg replacement:

One Egg =   1 Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water (allow to thicken)

                        1 Tbsp chia seeds + 3 Tbsp water (allow to thicken)

                        1/4 cup silken tofu (best for brownies, quick breads, and cakes)

                        1/4 cup pureed banana (this will give a definite banana flavor)

                        1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

                        1/4 cup unsweetened soy yogurt

                        1/4 cup prune paste (puree prunes in a processor with a small amount of water)


  1. Cheese: Cheese is loaded with saturated fats and casein, the milk protein that is linked to cancer and disease. Cheese is often hard to replace, so most of the time I just leave it out of the recipe and add more veggies. I recommend avoiding the vegan cheese products on the market since most of them are very high in oils. When I do want a cheese sauce or filler, I tend to use these substitutions:

Ricotta: The PlantPure Nation Cookbook has a delicious tofu ricotta recipe that tastes very similar to real ricotta and can be used in a variety of recipes.

Parmesan: Grind up walnuts or any nut you choose, then add bread crumbs and nutritional yeast in equal amounts.

Cheese sauce: The PlantPure Nation Cookbook offers a cauliflower alfredo sauce, cashew-based alfredo sauce from the fettuccini alfredo recipe, and a traditional cheese sauce used in the macaroni and no cheese recipe. Any one of these recipes serve as a great cheese sauce substitution.


  1. Milk: This is probably the easiest substitution because there are so many choices available. I recommend trying a variety to find the one that suits you and your family.

Almond milk

Rice milk

Soy milk

Hemp milk

Oat milk

Cashew milk

Coconut milk