There’s no more joyful way to spend an afternoon than baking. I do most of the cooking in our house, but baking recipes are the ones that bring Jack and me together. He might stretch a batch of pizza dough while I prep the toppings, or we’ll work together to make a jumbo tray of cinnamon rolls to devour the next morning. If you have kids, easy baking recipes are a great way to get them into the kitchen. Let them stir together brownies and lick the spoon or decorate a batch of cookies with bright sprinkles and frosting. The process might be messy, but the results will be delicious nonetheless.
1) Vegan sugar cookies fatigue.
Vegan Sugar Cookie Recipe Ingredients
The best thing about these vegan sugar cookies is their soft, melt-in-your mouth texture. Where does it come from? Well, instead of using 100% all-purpose flour like most sugar cookie recipes would, I use a mix of regular flour and almond flour, which is what makes them so wonderfully puffy and soft.
Along with cookie regulars like baking powder, sugar, and salt, I add lemon zest to the dough to give these a light lemon flavor. If you don’t want your cookies to be lemony, try adding a splash of vanilla extract in its place.
And lastly, almond milk and coconut oil round out this recipe. Make sure that these ingredients are cold when you add them to the dough – it’ll ensure that your cookies come out perfectly puffy.
Frosting Vegan Sugar Cookies
The cashew frosting here is similar to the macadamia frosting I make for my vegan carrot cake. It has a delicious, nutty maple flavor, and I love it as a gooey topping for these cookies. This frosting is more like a thin glaze, but if you prefer a thicker texture, try substituting powdered sugar for the maple syrup in the recipe.
2) Homemade brownies
Homemade Brownie Recipe Ingredients
Back to Michelle’s recipe for brownies! In order for it to turn out like (aka better than) the boxed mix, Michelle uses granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, salt, and chocolate chips. Then, she adds these key ingredients:
2 eggs + water – Michelle uses a bit of water with the eggs to achieve the moist, gooey texture of boxed mix brownies without any commercial emulsifiers. And because this recipe doesn’t contain any baking powder, eggs are essential for helping the brownies puff up in the oven.
Powdered sugar – The trick to making homemade brownies that are just like ones from a box! Powdered sugar contains cornstarch, which helps thicken the batter without the chemical additives you’d find in a mix.
Unsweetened cocoa powder – Michelle recommends using Hershey’s Special Dark Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Whole Foods’ 365 Cocoa Powder). Make sure to sift it if it’s lumpy!
Oil – While many recipes for brownies use unsalted butter, Michelle’s calls for canola oil, just like the boxed mix. I use olive oil because it’s what I keep on hand, and I love the rich flavor.
Vanilla Extract – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla really amps up the chocolate flavor.
How to Make Brownies from Scratch
First, mix together the dry and wet ingredients in two separate bowls. Combine the sugar, flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and salt in a medium bowl. Then, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, and water in a large one.
Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients. Sprinkle the dry mixture over the wet one, and fold until just combined. The batter will be thick!
Then, pour the batter into an 8×8 inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to spread it to all four sides of the pan and to smooth the top. The mixture will be very thick – that’s ok.
Finally, bake! Transfer the pan to a 325-degree oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs attached. Allow the brownies to cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
3) Peanut butter cookies
Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe Ingredients
For years, I’ve been making peanut butter cookies without flour, but this fall, I wanted to develop a vegan peanut butter cookie recipe to share with you all. Instead of trying to make flourless cookies without eggs, I made this recipe more traditional, adding flour, baking powder, and baking soda. The crumbly, melt-in-your mouth texture these ingredients added totally delighted me, and I think you’ll love it too. Here’s what else is in them:
Natural peanut butter, of course! I haven’t tested this recipe with crunchy peanut butter, so be sure to use creamy peanut butter for the best results.
Ground flaxseed – I used flax as a binder instead of an egg.
Brown sugar and cane sugar – This combination creates the perfect complex, sweet flavor.
Coconut oil – Make sure your coconut oil is softened, but not melted. It should still have a white, creamy appearance, but it should mix seamlessly into the wet ingredients. You don’t want any chunks!
Vanilla extract – Just a splash adds essential depth of flavor.
And sea salt – Don’t leave it out! A pinch of salt really makes the peanut butter flavor pop.
How to Make Peanut Butter Cookies
Ready to make these easy peanut butter cookies? Here’s what you need to do:
First, make your flax egg. Combine the flax and water and set it aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
Then, whisk together the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients in separate bowls. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until everything is well combined. The dough will be very thick!
Next, it’s time to chill. Pop the cookie dough in the fridge for 30 minutes, and preheat the oven to 350.
When the dough is chilled, you can bake! Use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion out the dough and roll it into balls. Press the dough balls down gently with your hands before using a fork to give them the signature peanut butter cookie criss cross pattern. Bake the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 12 minutes. They will still be fragile at this point, so allow them to rest for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
4) Oatmeal cookies
Oatmeal Cookie Recipe Ingredients
The ingredients to this recipe are simple – you likely already have them in your pantry!
All-purpose flour and whole rolled oats are the base of the dough.
Baking powder and baking soda make them nice & puffy.
Brown sugar adds the perfect caramelized sweetness.
Sea salt offsets the sweet sugar and raisins.
Cinnamon and vanilla extract give them that delicious warm, spiced oatmeal cookie flavor.
Coconut oil or melted butter adds moisture and richness. I used coconut oil, and these tasted wonderfully buttery just the same!
1 large egg + an extra egg yolk give them a rich, thick dough and a moist, light final texture.
Raisins dot them with chewy pops of sweetness.
And walnuts add nuttiness and crunch.
How to Make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Making this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe couldn’t be easier. Here’s what you need to do:
In separate bowls, whisk together the dry and wet ingredients.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Fold in the oats, raisins, and walnuts. The mixture will be thick!
Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then, roll it into balls.
Bake the balls at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes, until nicely golden brown.
When you take the cookies out of the oven, they should look slightly under-baked. Don’t worry, though – leave them on the hot baking sheets for 5 minutes out of the oven, and they’ll be delectably soft and chewy.
After 5 minutes, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely, and enjoy!
5) Lemon shortbread cookies
Lemon Shortbread Cookies Ingredients
When I was testing this recipe, I made a ton of lemon shortbread cookies. I tried vegan and gluten-free shortbread cookies recipes with different oils and flours, all sorts of things. During the process, I was stressing out. Some cookies were dry, some were burned, and some flattened out like pancakes (not the good kind). I’m just lucky that Jack, being the kind taste tester that he is, made sure not a crumb went to waste.
So what did I end up with? A straightforward, delightful lemon butter cookie recipe. Here’s what’s in it:
All-purpose flour – Sometimes complicated problems demand simple solutions. I tried all sorts of flours in this recipe, but good old AP yielded the best results every time.
Butter – It gives these lemon shortbread cookies a delicious buttery flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Sugar – For sweetness.
Lemon juice and zest – You couldn’t make lemon shortbread cookies without them! They fill these treats with bright lemon flavor.
Fresh thyme – My twist. I adore the combination of lemon and thyme in these cookies. It’s so surprising and refreshing; I think you’re going to love it too!
And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
How to Make Lemon Shortbread Cookies
The recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. Here’s how it goes:
First, make the dough. Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, followed by the lemon juice, zest, and thyme. Mix again. Then, add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten it into a 1″ disk. If it’s sticky, wrap it up and chill it for 15 to 30 minutes, or until it’s firm, but still pliable.
Next, roll out the dough and cut out the cookies. My favorite part! Aim for the dough to be about 1/4″ thick. Then, use cookie cutters to cut out any shapes you like. Like in my sugar cookie recipe, I recommend starting at the edges of the dough and working inwards, puzzling together the cutters to cut out as many cookies as you can. Transfer the cut-outs to parchment-lined baking sheets, and re-roll the scraps to make more cookies.
Then, bake! Transfer the cookies to a 350° preheated oven, and bake until the edges are starting to turn light brown. Transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Finally, share them with someone you love!