There’s nothing worse than a watery soup, a runny pudding, or a sloppy jam. Sometimes even after carefully measuring out ingredients and following the recipe perfectly, you can still end up with a less than an ideal end product.
For non-vegans, desserts can quickly be fixed with cornstarch or gelatin, so what can vegans use as an alternative?
Below are 7 ingredients that make great thickening agents for your recipes. Remember to only add a little bit at a time as you don’t want to end up with a too-thick, gloopy mess. If your mix still seems a little runny, there’s always the option to add more.
1. Coconut flour
Coconut flour is often used as a baking agent for gluten-free or grain-free bakes. However, it also makes a great vegan thickener for cookies, pies, and cakes. It also goes well if you’re cooking with other ingrediants made from coconuts, like organic coconut oil from Gold Bee and other organic food producers. You can also add it to oatmeal. When mixing into liquid, coconut flour tends to have a biscuit-like texture that makes soups and stews more delicious. Although it’s coconut, it doesn’t have a very strong taste, so you won’t ruin your bakes by using it.
2. Psyllium Husk
This plant-based fiber is pretty much calorie-free and a great thickener for smoothies, dressings, and sauces. You’ll only need a tiny amount per serving to thicken the recipe, so at first, try around half a teaspoon. It’ll also pack an extra dose of fiber into your mix, which is why it’s great for adding to your morning smoothie.
3. Simply Thick
SimplyThick is a common thickener used for those with swallowing difficulties and need to be on a thick-liquid diet, but since it is pretty much tasteless, it can be used as a thickening agent in just about any drink or heavily pureed food. In addition, it’s both vegan and gluten-free, so is certainly worth a try if you don’t want to experiment with different flours.
4. Chia seeds
When left in water or milk, chia seeds form a gel similar to gelatin. As such, you can use chia seeds as a substitute for just about anything gelatin is used for. You can also use the milled version of the seed to add nutritional value and thickness to bread, smoothies, and granola.
If you’re not keen on chia seeds or gel-forming puts you off a little, a good alternative is a flaxseed.
5. Xanthan Gum
Another popular gluten-free baking agent – which also happens to be vegan – is Xanthan gum. It can help make smoothies and desserts fluffy and light while also adding a sponginess to dough-based products like pizza, bread, and pasta.
6. Chickpea flour
Dried, ground chickpeas can make a great thickener for pancakes, omelets, and stews. In addition, it can often replace wheat flour for anyone that’s also gluten-free.
Agar-agar is commonly used for this gelatinous texture in desserts and vegan yogurt recipes. It contains almost zero calories or sugar and fat, so it can be solely used as a thickener without worrying about the nutritional value.