Vegan Life > Recipes > Desserts & Sweets > Vegan Vanilla Pudding

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

March 12, 2024

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This vegan pudding is packed with creamy vanilla flavor—but has no eggs, dairy, gluten, nuts, or soy! Brown sugar, vanilla, and coconut milk combine to create an irresistibly rich flavor that everyone will love. And with only six simple ingredients and fifteen minutes of prep time, you'll be enjoying this simple dessert in no time!

Many jars of vegan vanilla pudding, topped with blueberries and whipped cream, with wooden spoons.

This vegan vanilla pudding is the perfect treat that's also quick and easy to make! Pair it with some vegan whipped cream and berries, or layer it into a parfait. The flavors in this recipe are anything but bland, with brown sugar, nutritional yeast, and real vanilla extract creating a complex and delicious flavor profile.

I love serving this pudding as a dessert around the holidays or when I have guests over for dinner parties. It's also a great sweet snack for any day of the week.

Three jars of vegan vanilla pudding on a wood charger with blueberries and more pudding in the background.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Vegan light brown sugar: A little bit of molasses from the brown sugar enhances the rich flavor of the pudding. Some brown sugars aren't vegan because they're processed with animal bone char. If you're not sure which brands are vegan, choose an organic brand, as those are all vegan in the United States. You can use another type of sugar, but it will change the flavor profile a bit. Liquid sweeteners like maple syrup or agave may require some extra cornstarch for thickening.

Cornstarch: Thickens the pudding into a smooth, creamy texture. I don't recommend substituting tapioca starch or arrowroot starch, as when I've tried these thickeners I ended up with a more clumpy or gelatinous result.

Nutritional yeast: This savory flavoring agent adds a rich depth of flavor to this pudding. I have made the pudding both with and without nutritional yeast, but the pudding without nutritional yeast was bland by comparison.

Salt: Just a tiny bit of salt draws out all the flavors in the pudding.

Full-fat canned coconut milk: This is the non-dairy milk I recommend for the best thick, creamy texture. I've tried almond milk and oat milk in this recipe as well, but the results were not quite as creamy and flavorful.

Vanilla extract: I used real vanilla extract in this recipe since it has a much more complex flavor profile than artificial vanilla. However, if you're going for a vanilla flavor that's reminiscent of pre-packaged puddings, artificial vanilla flavor will do the trick.

The ingredients for vegan vanilla pudding, labeled.

Tips for Fail-Proof Pudding

Whisk well: Be sure that everything is well mixed with no clumps before you turn on the heat. Whisk continuously from the time you turn on the heat until the time you turn it off.

Preventing skin: If you don't want a skin to form on the top of your pudding, be sure to cover it with plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding.

How to save lumpy pudding: If your pudding has lumps or skin (whether it's from not using plastic wrap, not whisking well, or just sitting in the refrigerator), it's an easy fix! Put your pudding in the blender and blend it up until the lumps are gone.

Use a stainless steel saucepan: Other materials like non-stick or cast-iron may cause the pudding to fail.

Vegan vanilla pudding being spooned out of a jar.

Make-Ahead and Storage

This recipe is perfect for making ahead of time. I recommend making it up to a day in advance, and leaving it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it.

This pudding should be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, where it will last up to 5 days. I don't recommend freezing, as the texture won't hold up to freezing and thawing.

A top-down view of several jars of vegan vanilla pudding with blueberries and spoons.

Toppings and Serving Suggestions

While this homemade vanilla pudding is delicious on its own, I love it even more with some fresh berries. You could also top it with bananas, chocolate chunks, nuts, granola, vegan whipped cream, coconut shreds, or crushed cookies. And it works in other recipes that require puddings, such as pies, parfaits, and trifles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use another kind of non-dairy milk? I recommend full-fat canned coconut milk because it has a thick, creamy texture, and the flavor pairs well with vanilla. I have tried making this vanilla pudding with other non-dairy milks, like almond milk and oat milk, and while they worked, the results were not quite as good as the coconut milk pudding. The texture was not as creamy, and the flavor was not as rich.

Can I freeze this pudding? I recommend storing the pudding in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I wouldn't freeze the pudding, since the texture won't be the same after you thaw it out.

Why is my pudding lumpy? This is usually a result of not whisking before turning on the heat, or not whisking constantly while the heat is on. It can also occur during cooling if a skin is allowed to develop before putting plastic wrap on top. If this happens, you can always put your pudding in the blender to restore the creamy, smooth texture.

Why is there nutritional yeast in this recipe? I get a lot of questions about this because nutritional yeast is commonly used in savory dishes. But in sweet dishes like this one, it balances the flavor and creates a rich flavor profile. I tried this recipe with and without the nutritional yeast, and the pudding without it is bland by comparison.

A single jar of vegan vanilla pudding with a spoon, with more jars and blueberries in the background.

More Easy Vegan Desserts to Try

Note: This recipe was originally published on January 5, 2022. It has been updated with new photos, tips, and frequently asked questions.

Vegan Vanilla Pudding

Yield4 servings

Prep Time5 minutes

Cook Time10 minutes

Total Time15 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a medium stainless steel saucepan (without heat), whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, and salt until well combined.

    Dry ingredients for vegan vanilla pudding, whisked in a small saucepan.
  2. Slowly add your coconut milk, whisking until your dry ingredients are completely dissolved. Make sure there are no clumps remaining before you turn on the heat.

    Ingredients for vegan vanilla pudding, whisked, before turning on heat.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat, continuing to whisk constantly. When the mixture just begins to bubble and thicken, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue whisking for 3-4 minutes longer.

    Vegan Vanilla Pudding, thickened in a pan with a whisk.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in your vanilla extract. Transfer to a large bowl or individual pudding cups and allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Vegan pudding with vanilla being whisked in.
  5. Cover your pudding with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a film from developing. Then refrigerate for an hour, or until fully chilled (the time needed may vary depending on whether you’re chilling it in one bowl or several).

    A bowl of vegan vanilla pudding, covered with plastic wrap.
  6. Garnish with berries, vegan whipped cream, or any other toppings you’d like. Enjoy!

Notes & Hints

Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days. Freezing is not recommended.

If your pudding gets lumpy or develops a skin at any point, it can be made smooth again by putting it in the blender.

Be sure to use a stainless steel saucepan, as other materials may cause the pudding to fail.

Nutrition Data

Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe; Calories: 265Fat: 18 g.; Saturated Fat: 16 g.; Cholesterol: 0 mg.; Sodium: 146 mg.; Carbohydrates: 23 g.; Fiber: 0 g.; Sugar: 17 g.; Protein: 1 g.; Vitamin A: 0 mcg. RAE; Vitamin B12: 1 mcg.; Vitamin C: 0 mg.; Vitamin D: 0 mcg.; Calcium: 0 mg.; Iron: 1 mg.; Potassium: 164 mg.; Zinc: 0 mg.

Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.

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Three jars of vegan vanilla pudding, topped with blueberries and vegan whipped cream.
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