These soft-yet-crispy vegan vanilla wafers are even better than store-bought vanilla wafers. They are so easy to make using 6 ingredients and less than 30 minutes!
Normally I'm more of a soft sugar cookie kinda gal, but crispy vanilla wafers have a fond place in my heart. There's just something about that store-bought box of sweet, chewy-but-crunchy vanilla wafers.
But here's the thing: if you're looking for vegan vanilla wafers, the box from the store likely is not vegan. This recipe for vegan vanilla wafers is egg-free, dairy-free, and can be modified to be gluten-free too.
- Texture: Crisp and crunchy just like boxed vanilla wafers.
- Simple: Packed with vanilla flavor and 6 simple sugar cookie ingredients.
- Quick & easy: Ready in less than 30 minutes using classic baking methods. All you need to make these vegan is vegan butter. No egg replacements are used in this recipe!
What are vanilla wafers?
When I talk about vanilla wafers, I mean the kind of small golden vanilla-flavored cookie available at pretty much every major grocery store in the US. It's the kind of cookie used in banana pudding or even chocolate pudding.
These are not soft cookies. They are on the harder side, but they are also crispy, light, and they melt in your mouth. They have a strong vanilla flavor and are similar to a very crispy sugar cookie.
In fact, this is basically a sugar cookie recipe baked longer than usual. Many store-brand vanilla wafers are actually sometimes vegan, or at least dairy-free and egg-free. However, it's hard to beat a home-baked cookie!
- Vegan butter: I use the Earth Balance vegan buttery spread, but sticks will also work. I prefer this butter because it doesn't have a strong soy taste, so it works well in baked goods.
- Sugar: White (refined) sugar is used in this recipe. My Darling Vegan has a helpful resource on choosing vegan sugar. You'll want to use a classic fine grain baking sugar like the kind usually found in table sugar.
- Vanilla extract: Because vanilla flavoring is integral to vanilla wafers, I recommend using pure vanilla extract for these cookies. But I won't judge you if you use artificial vanilla, the real stuff is expensive!
- All-purpose white flour: I use White Lily for most of my baking (not just biscuits!), but any all-purpose flour will do.
- Baking powder: Because we aren't using eggs in this recipe, baking powder is integral to the cookie rising.
Honorable mention for salt, which adds a contrasting flavor to these otherwise quite sweet cookies.
Step by step instructions
These cookies are made using the classic cookie method. Start by creaming together vegan butter and sugar with a hand or stand mixer until light and creamy.
Next, add the vanilla and beat until combined. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) in a separate bowl.
Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture just ½ cup at a time, beating until just combined. It should look like the image above. Adding dry ingredients slowly ensures that the cookie dough doesn't become too dry.
For evenly sized cookies, measure out a rounded teaspoon cookie dough ball. This is basically a 2-teaspoon sized vanilla wafer. Space the cookie dough balls at least 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 11-13 minutes on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degrees F oven. The cookies are ready when the edges are golden brown.
Wafer baking tips
- Butter: Make sure that the vegan butter is fully softened before creaming with the sugar. Slice it up into 3-4 pieces to allow it to come to room temperature more quickly. It is ready when you can make an indent with your finger without much resistance.
- Vanilla wafer sizes: If you want cookies the size of actual vanilla wafers you only need to scoop out a rounded teaspoon. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F. For more regular sized cookies scoop out two teaspoons of cookie dough (this will make two dozen cookies) and bake for 11-13 minutes. For softer and more traditional sugar cookies, bake 1 tablespoon measure for 9-11 minutes.
- Flour: Always spoon and level flour into a measuring cup instead of dipping the cup directly into the flour. To do this, use a spoon to measure flour into the measuring cup until overflowing. Use the back of a knife to wipe excess flour off.
- Keep an eye on the wafers as they cook. They are ready when the edges are golden. They firm up into a crisper texture after cooling.
Keep cooled cookies at room temperature in a closed container for 3-4 days.
You can freeze vegan vanilla wafers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. They thaw quickly at room temperature.
I have not tested this recipe with gluten-free flour but I do think that a 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour blend like the kind by Bob's Red Mill should work. I do not recommend using alternative flours like almond flour or oat flour in this recipe.
I haven't tested this with coconut oil but it should work. Make sure that the coconut oil is room temperature (not melted) and soft to touch.
Looking for more vegan desserts?
Wondering why I really made vanilla wafers? This creamy vegan banana pudding somehow makes these crispy little wafers even better. You'll want to check this recipe out if you're a fan of vegan desserts.
Did you try this recipe? You can leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ in the recipe card or a review down in the comments section. I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow along on my YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest or sign up for my newsletter!
Vegan Vanilla Wafer Cookies
- ½ cup vegan butter softened, see note #1
- 1 cup white sugar vegan
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 and ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Careful not to overmix. Stir in the vanilla until combined.
- In a small bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter and sugar mixture just ½ cup at a time, beating until combined.
- Use a teaspoon measure to evenly portion cookie two teaspoon sized portions of dough onto the parchment lined baking sheet (it's okay if it's not exactly 2 teaspoons). Roll each dough piece into a ball. Space cookies two inches apart. Bake on the middle oven rack until edges are golden brown, 11-13 minutes. Yields 2 dozen cookies. They will firm up a lot as they sit.
- Store in a closed container for 3-4 days at room temperature or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Vegan butter: I've made this recipe with both Earth Balance buttery spread and baking sticks. Make sure that the butter is 100% room temperature. Slice it up into 3-4 pieces to allow it to come to room temperature more quickly. It is ready when you can make an indent with your finger without much resistance.
- Flour: To evenly measure flour, spoon flour into a measuring cup. Level off excess flour with the back of a knife.
- Sizes: This recipe is written for a little bit bigger cookies than classic nilla wafers. If you want cookies the size of actual vanilla wafers you only need to scoop out a rounded teaspoon. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F. For softer and more traditional sugar cookies, bake 1 tablespoon of dough for 9-11 minutes.
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Note: This recipe was updated May 2021 with improved method and extra tips. The recipe remains the same.
I made these and they turned out perfect but they were sweet. 200 g of sugar to 160 g of flour? Why I should have known. Vanilla wafers aren’t that sweet. Other than that, I like them. They do taste more like sugar cookies than Vanilla wafers, which get their taste for eggs.
I made this an I could not stop eating them. I ended up eating 5 a day! Thank you for sharing this DELICIOUS recipe.
Oh also the batter was way too dry so I added some water and it turned out fine😁
Haha I completely understand! So glad you liked them!
I'm not sure what I did wrong but the dough was super dry and crumbly and I could hardly mix it. I added a splash of soy milk just to soften it a little, and I think that's what made the cookies spread. They're still really good but ended up VERY thin and crisp. Delicious and fine for what I needed them for (as a vehicle for lemon curd) but did not end up looking like the pictures. 😅
Thanks for the review! It sounds like there may have been too much flour, so I would have added a little milk too. I'm glad you got them to work out though!
Tried making these twice, came out hard, flat, and dark brown at 12 minutes -- no way it could be edible at 15-18. I even bought new baking powder thinking that was the problem, and played with the time. 10 minutes was just getting golden at the edges, but they still came out the same flat shape, and extremely oily. What type/brand of vegan butter do you use to make this work right?
First off, thanks for making the recipe! I'm sorry it didn't work out. I use Earth Balance buttery spread but the sticks should also work. They are supposed to be golden and crisp like a wafer cookie which is why they are cooked for 15 minutes. They actually should be quite flat since they aren't like traditional cookies. It's possible that they ended up very oily because more flour needs to be added; that's usually the culprit when my cookies spread too much. I hope this helps!
Seeing it happen twice, it may have possibly been your flour's shelf life. Depending on what you used and where you stored it, it may have expired or was close to expiration at the time you used it. When that happens, it won't work properly with self-rise powders, causing your baked goods to turn out flat and have a hard texture, and the butter won't be able to give it the moisture it needs.
The recipe came out really good for me. The only changes I made were switching to brown sugar for additional moisture & coconut butter at room temperature.
Super easy to make only the teaspoon size is sort of small and at 15 mins they burnt.
I did tablespoon size and at 15 they came out much better. Taste great tho.
Can I substitute coconut or vegetable oil instead of vegan butter?
Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
I haven't tested it myself but I think that coconut oil would work best and give a similar texture to butter. Vegetable oil will probably work in a pinch!
Coconut oil worked like a charm. Cutest, most delicious, sweet but not too sweet treat. Thank you!
Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
So glad to hear that it worked! Thanks for making them.
Could you use glutenfree flour for these?
Cassidy Reeser, RDN, LD
I am not sure because I haven't tested it out myself, but a gluten free all-purpose flour might work.