Looking for a classic Italian dessert that is going to top this vegan Tiramisu recipe? Good friggin’ luck. This thing is going to turn you into a legend at the potluck, and it’s your secret weapon for transforming non-veg eaters to the vegan dark side once and for all.
Over the years, I have worked in SEVERAL vegan restaurants that all served their own version of tiramisu, but they committed a sorta cardinal sin. Every single one of these restaurant made their tiramisu with plain vanilla sponge cake and either a tofu frosting or plain-ass vanilla butter cream. What, may I ask you, is so tiramisu-esque about that?!?
I developed this absolute banger of a recipe made with homemade ladyfingers, soaked in rich, creamy espresso, layered with lush dairy-free mascarpone, and topped with a dusting of cocoa powder. A sprinkle of coarsely chopped chocolate in the middle is a dead-simple step in this recipe that skyrockets the darn thing to the upper echelon of vegan desserts.
You can whip up this marvel without spending hours in the kitchen. This straightforward recipe, ensures that every element of this Tiramisu comes together like you are a gosh-darned expert who has worked for 3 decades in an anise-scented Italian bakery. My heart is full that you stumbled upon this recipe because I KNOW it’s the only vegan tiramisu you will ever want to eat for the rest of your life!
🥰 Why you'll adore this recipe
✊ Vegan AF: No egg whites here! Like all of my vegan Italian recipes, this Tiramisu requires no animal products and contains no cholesterol. So grab another slice, ya big ol' goof!
☕️ Science of Soaking: This recipe details how to get the perfect absorption of coffee into your ladyfingers while preventing them from turning into a sad and soggy affair.
👨🍳 Less is More: Italian food is about simplicity, and this classic tiramisu recipe is no exception. You will need no silken tofu, coconut oil, coconut milk, maple syrup (I mean really, this is Italian cuisine!), or expertly made chocolate shavings required for this masterpiece vegan dessert.
✅ Tested and Approved Worldwide: Like all my plant-based recipes, after I tweaked and tested every detail of this traditional tiramisu process, I shared it with a massive team of recipe testers from all around the world. Only after I got an overwhelming sea of thumbs up back from everyone did I dare share it in the wide open ocean of the internet where you could do the backstroke in seas of vegan mascarpone and use its golden ladyfingers as floatation devices!
🧈 Ingredients and substitutions
On my second trip to Italy as an adult, I was blown away by the standard of espresso in Sicily and Italy as a whole. I think I realized that some of the worst Italian gas station espresso is better than “pretty good” espresso in the USA. But alas, my Italian accent is kinda trash, and my wife and older daughter Özlem still make fun of how I pronounce espresso with what pretty much sounds like a Mexican accent. I don’t know. I am not perfect, but I do know superior coffee when I taste it. If you can’t make espresso at home, you can get some from your favorite local coffee shop or use strongly brewed black coffee in its place.
Marsala, a sweet Italian wine, adds a complex, slightly sweet depth to the espresso soak. If you are making this vegan tiramisu recipe during the holiday season, a nice alternative is a little rum. For a non-alcoholic version, simply leave it out.
My recipe for homemade vegan Ladyfingers, or 'Savoiardi' in Italian, are light, slightly crisp and airy biscuits that absorb the espresso without getting too soggy. If you don’t want to take the time to follow my recipe for them, you can use store-bought ladyfingers (though finding them vegan may be a challenge) or use vegan biscotti instead. You can make the recipe completely gluten-free by opting for an almond flour-based biscotti.
Follow my recipe to make vegan mascarpone. It will then get blended with other ingredients to make the sweet, creamy just-very-slightly-tangy cream essential to a first-rate tiramisu. Unsweetened vegan yogurt, or soft homemade cultured vegan cream cheese can be used for a lighter texture. Both give the Tiramisu its creamy layer. If you are using vegan yogurt in place of the mascarpone, you can add a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar to approximate its natural sharpness.
Used for sweetness and texture in the mascarpone layer. Conventional powdered sugar is sometimes made using a bone char filtration method, making it not vegan. This is a great example of how an ingredient which is “plant-based” is not always cruelty-free!
Vegan Whipped Cream (Optional)
Cocowhip (made from chilled coconut cream) or homemade vegan whipped cream adds a light, pipeable airy topping that you can use if you want the top of the tiramisu to have raised peaks in addition to the mascarpone cream layer. It’s sorta a personal preference thing and more aesthetic than anything, so don’t lose any sleep over getting/making this part if that’s not how the tiramisu of your dreams looks, or you just don't want to fuss with a damn piping bag!
*See the recipe card at the bottom of the page for exact quantities, nutritional info, and detailed cooking directions.
Sicilian Tiramisu with Citrus Flavors: Ever see how houses in Sicily, often keep a bowl of lemons on the kitchen table? It’s a thing! Tiramisu in Sicily sometimes features a citrusy twist with lemon juice added to the mascarpone. One nice way to impart the citrus vibe is to add the finely grated zest of an orange or a lemon to the espresso mixture and the mascarpone layer. An orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, in place of the Marsala or rum can accent the deep coffee soak beautifully.
Vegan Almond Tiramisu: Add a tiny splash of almond extract to the cream, make the ladyfingers using 50/50 flour and almond meal, and then go all out by adding a toasted slivered almond layer in the center of the tiramisu.
📖 How to make easy vegan tiramisu
Nail this classic Italian sweet on your first shot by following these step-by-step instructions with helpful tips. Trust in the process, this is more crave-able than the best vegan chocolate cake if you follow my steps to a T.
Brew & Blend:
First, brew your espresso and let it cool down. In a shallow bowl, blend it with marsala wine or rum, and mix in the sugar until it fully dissolves.
Dunk the Biscuits:
Lightly immerse each ladyfinger into the espresso blend. Make sure they're evenly coated but not overly drenched.
✅ Sometimes ladyfingers develop a glaze from having been baked with powdered sugar that can prevent the absorption of the coffee syrup. If that seems to be the case, either increase the soaking time, or lightly scrape the top side with a fork to ensure the espresso can penetrate.
Whip together vegan mascarpone or yoghurt with melted vegan butter in a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add sifted vegan powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, blending until smooth.
Arrange a layer of espresso-dipped sponge fingers in your chosen baking dish. Gently spread half of the mascarpone blend over the ladyfingers.
Choc Chip Charm:
This is optional (like if you hate having fun in life). Sprinkle roughly chopped vegan chocolate chips over the mascarpone. If you are making a big batch, you can pulse them a few times in a food processor. Visually you just want tiny little chocolate bits that don’t visually resemble the chocolate chips. No one will guess the chocolate is just chopped chips, but they will freakin’ love you forever because you put them there.
Follow with a second layer of soaked ladyfingers and finish with the remaining mascarpone blend.
Chill and Set:
Cover the tray with a lid or foil and let the tiramisu rest in the refrigerator for at least three hours. It's even better the next day!
If you like, pipe some peaks of vegan whipped coconut cream on top of the tiramisu before you dust it with cocoa.
Before serving, generously dust the top with sifted cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder) for a classic finish to one of the best plant-based desserts you have ever made!
Vegan Tiramisu is the perfect dessert for your pizza nights, or to follow a hearty meal like pasta with vegan Bolognese or vegan meatballs and golden dairy-free garlic bread. It's equally delightful following a lighter fare such as escarole and bean soup, roasted carrot lentil soup, or as an accompaniment to a hot cup of some spiced herbal tea.
- Perfect Coffee Dipping: When dipping ladyfingers in the coffee mixture, be quick. They should be moistened but not soggy, as over-soaked ladyfingers can make your tiramisu too wet. Otherwise, if your ladyfingers have formed a glaze and are resistant to soaking up any coffee, lightly scrape them with a fork before dunking.
- Whipping to Perfection: For the mascarpone layer, whether you're using my vegan mascarpone recipe or unsweetened yogurt, ensure that it's whipped until smooth and creamy. This step is vital for achieving the right texture and mouthfeel. It shouldn’t be grainy or overly fatty.
- Layer with Love: As you assemble the tiramisu, spread the layers evenly and neatly. An offset spatula can be useful to create uniform layers.
- Chilling Time Matters: Allow enough chilling time for your tiramisu. Ideally, a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator will help the dessert to firm up and form more attractive slices.
🤷♀️ Recipe FAQs
Vegan Tiramisu should be stored, covered in the refrigerator. Either transfer the portioned pieces into an airtight container, or use foil to cover the tray you assemble the tiramisu in to prevent it from drying out or absorbing odors from the fridge.
It's best to let Vegan Tiramisu rest in the fridge for a day before serving. This waiting period allows the dessert to sit up beautifully.
Yes, you can substitute brewed regular coffee or decaf in place of the espresso for tiramisu. This is a great option if you're sensitive to caffeine or might be sharing it with your kids, who will otherwise be bouncing off the friggin’ walls all night while you find shelter under the couch from their high-octane insanity!
Absolutely! You can omit the alcohol altogether. This will change the flavor slightly because the dark rum flavor creates depth in the coffee syrup, but the dessert will still be delicious.
✌️My faves to serve this dessert after:
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- 1 cup brewed espresso
- 4 teaspoons marsala wine or rum (optional)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 16 vegan ladyfingers following my recipe, or using store-bought
Vegan Mascarpone Layer
- ⅓ cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips chopped
- ½ cup sifted cocoa powder
- 1 cup Cocowhip or vegan whipped cream for topping optional
- Start by brewing the espresso and letting it cool. If you're adding marsala wine or rum, mix it with the espresso in a shallow dish. Stir sugar into this mixture until it's well dissolved.
- Dip each ladyfinger briefly into the espresso mixture, making sure they're coated but not too soaked.
- For the vegan mascarpone layer, using a food processor or stand mixer, whip the vegan mascarpone (or vegan yogurt) with soft, room-temperature vegan butter until smooth. Gradually mix in the sifted vegan powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.
- Lay out a layer of soaked ladyfingers in your serving dish. Spread half of the vegan mascarpone mixture over these ladyfingers.
- Optionally sprinkle in chopped chocolate chips, before adding another layer of soaked ladyfingers over the mascarpone layer, then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
- Chill the tiramisu in the fridge for 3 hours, or overnight.
- Optionally, pipe vegan whipped cream on the top.
- Sprinkle generously with sifted cocoa powder before serving.