No matter how much more popular veganism is becoming these days, some people can’t shake the perception that all egg- and dairy-free desserts must taste like flavorless slabs of sandpaper. Clearly, these people have never tried any of these 100 percent vegan recipes.
The cookies in this roundup don’t contain butter, the pies have no eggs, and you won’t find cream cheese frosting anywhere near the cupcakes, but thanks to a few simple yet clever swaps, they’re all delicious examples of how a purely plant-based diet can translate to some pretty mind-blowing sweet treats. So don’t let the vegan label throw you off; any of these 21 vegan desserts would steal the show at the table.
Cookies and Bars
You’ll go (coco)nuts for these rich, soft chocolate-covered bars made with just four ingredients and in a grand total of six little minutes. With coconut oil, unsweetened coconut, and maple syrup, they’re just like Almond Joy bars, but healthier and even more addictive.
These fudgy treats taste just like something out of a Betty Crocker brownie mix, but we bet good ol’ Betty never thought to put sweet potatoes in her baked goods. The root veggie may be an unexpected addition, but it helps keep these chocolaty cookies grain free without losing texture or taste.
With its buttery pastry crust and eggy custard, pecan pie has been anything but “vegan” and “gluten-free”... until now. These bars have a coconut flour shortbread base and flaxseeds binding their caramel-like filling together, so that wheat-eschewing, egg-eliminating, dairy-ditching dessert lovers can partake without problems.
Move aside, pumpkin. With its naturally sweet but mild flavor, butternut squash is an equally suitable way to get some extra fiber and cut the fat in your baking. You’ll also be happy to know that this recipe doesn’t make you choose between raisins and chocolate chips for your oatmeal cookies. You can have both!
How does a traditionally refined flour-filled, white sugar-laden cookie become suitable for the Paleo plan? Almond and coconut flours make it grain free, coconut oil replaces the butter, and coconut sugar ensures that you’re still getting that sparkly sweet topping. That's how.
We love this recipe for basically serving up all the ingredients for your morning oatmeal in cookie form, meaning you can totally eat a few for breakfast. Don’t worry about these tasting “too healthy” though. The big chocolate chunks in each bite give them a definite dessert-y vibe.
While these cookies taste like the edible versions of a peppermint mocha, they come with none of the sugar or dairy that Starbucks uses in its seasonal drink. Date paste keeps them naturally sweet, and buckwheat flour gives them a shot of antioxidants. Plus, you don’t have to wait until the holidays to enjoy them.
Cakes and Pies
Black forest cake is a retro favorite, but bring cherries into the world of 21st-century baking with this beautiful rustic creation. With its whole-wheat, butter-free batter and hardly any sugar added to the fruit topping, it totally lives up to its wholesome title.
From the cashews in its filling to the almonds in its crust, this dairy-free recipe might sound nutty, but that’s only until you taste it. Smooth and creamy, with a slight tang from the lemon juice and plenty of fresh sweetness from the peaches, this cheesecake is the ultimate example of how a vegan twist on dessert can be better than the original.
If you can’t fathom baking without eggs, don’t have any egg substitutes handy, or simply don’t feel like turning on the oven, this beautiful no-bake tart works as the perfect sweet solution. In just 10 minutes and fewer than 10 ingredients, you have a chocolate treat that’s loaded with antioxidants from the cacao powder, pomegranates, and walnuts.
Get some of your daily fruits and veggies with a slice of this pumpkin apple cake. Not only does it pack in an impressive amount of produce for a dessert, it also uses coconut sugar, rolled oats, and lots of heart-healthy macadamia nuts. Even if you cut yourself an extra-generous piece, you won’t be overdoing it on the sugar or the saturated fat.
Next time someone asks how vegans get protein, serve them up a slice of this silky goodness. Powered up with quality plant-based protein like tofu and nuts, but tasting like nothing but chocolate, it’s good enough to keep anyone from questioning veganism again.
Regular pecan pie is delicious but can be pretty dense. Lighten things up by removing the butter and sugar, and adding a layer of puréed mango and banana for some fruity freshness. It’s one of those flavor combinations that you may not have thought of, but once you try it, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.
Everyone needs a good carrot cake recipe in their repertoire. Make this vegan one yours. With unrefined sugars and whole-wheat flour, it’s a good bit healthier than most, and the maple syrup-sweetened cashew “cream cheese” frosting is just as incredible as the regular kind.
Cupcakes and Doughnuts
The dark chocolate base, the thick frosting, and the crushed peppermint candy topping on these cupcakes may have you wondering if we’ve lost it by including them in a healthy vegan dessert roundup. Take a closer look. Underneath those decadent exteriors, you’ll find fiber-filled oat flour, unrefined coconut sugar, heart-healthy almond butter, and dates for all-natural sweetness. We’d be crazy not to include them.
For something more interesting than the typical chocolate or sugar-dusted donut, try this unique blend of flavors. With orange and pistachios in both the batter and the glaze, these pretty baked rings are as lovely to eat as they are to look at.
Thanks to all-natural beets, these beauties have just enough of that signature red velvet tint without raising any red flags (pun intended) for artificial colorings. Rest assured, they don’t taste anything like vegetables though. The rich dark chocolate ganache topping makes extra sure of that.
Five simple ingredients and 25 minutes from start to finish will get you crispy-on-the-outside, pillowy-on-the-inside doughnuts that taste like healthier churros. It’s hard to stop at just one, so it’s probably a good thing the recipe only makes six.
We tried to get through this entire dessert roundup without using the word “moist,” but there’s no other way to describe these lightly spiced, fruity cupcakes. It’s all the more impressive that they’re as soft as they are since they’re totally free of oil and even vegan butter.
Make your own pumpkin spice fun at home the healthier way with these fall-ready treats. As opposed to store-bought products, these contain actual pumpkin, are baked rather than fried, and as a bonus, even gluten-free.
They’re vanilla, but there’s nothing boring about these cupcakes. Whole-wheat flour gives them a nutty depth of flavor, and maple syrup makes them just sweet enough. Even the frosting, made from coconut milk and maple syrup, is so much tastier than regular whipped cream.