One of our favourite Indian side dishes, these fluffy vegan naan breads are so much fun to make at home. They are made with yeast and smothered with vegan garlic and herb butter for extra deliciousness!
Probably the most iconic Indian type of bread, naan is stuff made in the heavens! Soft and fluffy on the inside, nicely browned on the outside, it's a favourite side dish to curries and a well-enjoyed street food in India.
We love the flavours of Indian and Indian-inspired cuisine, and have curry of some sort at least once a week. We also love ourselves some nice yellow rice on the side. But garlic and coriander naan breads are definitely our favourite side dish to curries and their likes.
Naan is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, a wood-powered clay oven shaped like a barrel chimney. The naan breads get their typical tear shape from the hooks that are used to stick them to the hot inside walls of the oven. The flames searing past directly cook the top of the naan and char the characteristic bubbles that form during baking.
Homemade vegan naan
We haven't got a tandoor oven, and chances are you haven't either. But you can still make super delicious naan bread at home! Instead of using an electric or gas oven, use a cast iron pan to get as close as possible to actually using a wood fired oven. Yes, you can even get those bubbles and the browned-to-perfection well done spots. The taste? So yummy. And the texture? Absolutely amazing!
Traditional naan is made with yoghurt in the dough and brushed with ghee - purified butter - after cooking. To make vegan naan we use soy milk, lemon juice and oil to make a rich dough, and melted vegan butter for brushing.
We've kept the method simple and easy, so you can enjoy your delicious vegan naan without too much work. We always have so much fun cooking them!
Our favourite flavour naan is garlic and coriander, so we've included the recipe for the garlic and coriander butter. It's just so d*mn tasty!
Here’s what you need to make these vegan naan breads:
- Plain flour - aka all-purpose flour
- Dried yeast - the fast action, 'instant' type works best
- Soy milk - lukewarm to help the yeast along
- Lemon juice
- Oil - a neutral one, like vegetable or refined coconut oil
And to make our favourite, garlic and coriander naan, you'll also need:
- Vegan butter
- A couple cloves of garlic
- Fresh coriander, known in the US as cilantro
- And another pinch of salt
Step by step pictures
You can find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the end of the post, but also check out our useful tips below!
Step 1 - Whisk to combine the flour, dried yeast, sugar and salt.
Step 2 - Add all the wet ingredients - the soy milk, lemon juice and oil, and mix with a spoon or spatula to combine.
Step 3 - Knead with your hands for a few minutes to form a smooth dough that doesn't stick very much anymore.
Step 4 - Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and let the dough rest until doubled in size, about one hour.
Step 5 - Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and without knocking it back, divide into 8 equal portions (if you are using the recipe's standard amounts).
Step 6 - Roll out the pieces to about 4 mm (⅙ inch) thick. Let individual pieces of dough rest for at least 5 minutes before cooking them.
Step 7 - Heat up a cast iron skillet or pan on high heat and cook naan breads for 30 - 60 seconds on each side.
Step 8 - Melt and briefly heat up the vegan butter with pressed garlic and finely chopped coriander in a small saucepan or in the microwave.
Step 9 - Brush the freshly cooked naan breads with garlic and coriander butter while they are still hot.
These useful tips can help you understand the instructions better, and get the hang of making the most beautiful, tasty vegan naan breads at home!
- Use instant fast action dried yeast - it can be mixed straight into a dough without activating it first. If you want to use regular dried yeast, mix it with a bit of the warm soy milk, a spoonful of flour and the sugar in a small cup and wait for 15 minutes until it gets frothy and rises notably. Then it’s activated and ready to use.
- Use lukewarm milk - yeast likes it cozy. The warm liquid gives the yeast a head start as the dough will already be warm to begin with. The soy milk should feel warm to the touch but not hot - too high temperatures could kill the yeast.
- Rest the dough covered in a warm place. The warmth helps with the rise, and the cover keeps it from drying out on the top. Use a damp tea towel to cover the bowl. A well fitted lid or plate are good options too.
As a warm place to rest the dough, we use the dough proving function of our oven. But a warm (not hot!), turned-off oven, or even just the oven light on are great places to prove a dough when a warm spot is difficult to find elsewhere.
- Don’t knock back the dough after resting. It saves you time and effort. Just tip or scoop the rested dough onto a floured wooden board or work surface, and cut it into equal parts without pressing out the gas inside. Those light pillows of dough are super easy to roll out into flat naan without much resistance.
- Rest before cooking - To get a light inside texture and those beautiful, big bubbles on the top, allow the rolled pieces to relax and puff up for at least 5 minutes before hitting the hot pan. The longer you wait, the larger those bubbles will be and the fluffier the cooked naan breads will be!
- Use a cast iron pan - a properly hot cast iron pan is the closest thing you can get to a wood fired tandoor oven.
- Cook very hot, very short - Cooking naan bread very hot is the reason they puff up into those beautiful bubbles. You also get the beautiful charred flavour without cooking for too long, so the inside stays soft and moist.
- For the most beautiful bubbles, stick to the tips above about resting and cooking very hot. A rested dough is stretchy and has more air pockets to puff up, while the high heat produced a lot of steam inside quickly before the top of the naan is cooked.
Substitutions and variations
In place of the soy milk and lemon juice, you can use vegan yogurt.
For deliciously sweet peshwari naan, make a filling of desiccated coconut, raisins, brown sugar or maple syrup, and optional ground or flaked almonds. Place a spoonful of filling on a rolled out piece of dough, close it up like a dumpling, then roll out flat again and cook as normal.
Instead of coriander leaves/cilantro, you can also use chopped parsley, mint or a mixture of all three!
Fancy some seeded naan? When rolling out your naan breads, sprinkle some sesame seeds or nigella seeds (also known as black onion or kalonji) on top, and roll over to firm them in.
Serving and storage
Naan breads are best served fresh. We usually time the meal so that they are ready to cook whilst the curry or dal is just simmering and doesn’t need much attention.
To keep them warm before serving you can stack them and wrap in a tea towel, or keep them in a oven on low heat.
If you have leftover naan, then you can store them in an airtight container for a few days.
To reheat naan you have a couple of options. Our preferred option is to heat them in a pan as this gives the nicest texture and is very quick.
Skillet/Pan - Preheat a heavy based pan or cast iron skillet on the hob, and then reheat your naan bread for about 15-30 seconds on each side.
Microwave - Individual naan breads take around 30 seconds depending on the power of your microwave.
Oven - Sprinkle or spray your naan bread with water, then place on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 200ºC / 400ºF for 2 - 3 minutes.
We hope you enjoyed this vegan naan recipe! We think you might also like these recipes:
Red Lentil Dal (One of our absolute staple meals, as pictured above)
Vegan Korma (Lots of veggies in a mildly spicy and creamy sauce)
Vegan Tikka Masala (Marinated tofu and veggies in a tangy and incredibly tasty masala sauce)
Red Lentil Flatbreads (Another easy side dish and gluten free flatbread option)
Vegan Naan Bread
Garlic Coriander Butter
- 2 tbsp (30 g) vegan butter
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- ¼ cup fresh coriander finely chopped
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, dried yeast, sugar and salt.
- Add soy milk, oil and lemon juice to the mixing bowl and stir to mix, using a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes until all the flour is well incorporated. Scrape or rub off any bits of dough from your hands, and shape the dough into a ball.
- Rest the dough in the mixing bowl, covered with a damp tea towel, in a warm place until doubled in size - about 1 hour, or longer as needed if cooler.
- Tip the rested dough out onto a floured work surface or wooden board, and without knocking back use a knife or dough scraper to divide it into 8 equal portions (see notes).
- Roll out the dough pieces about 4 mm (⅙ inch) thick, keeping the surface and rolling pin lightly dusted with flour. Flip them over a couple of times for easy rolling.
- Before cooking, allow the naans to rest and relax for about 5-10 minutes for the best texture after cooking. (see notes)
- Heat up a cast iron pan on high heat. Wait for it to get properly hot before cooking the first naan.
- Place a naan in the hot cast iron pan and cook it for 30 - 60 seconds. Big bubbles should form on the top. Flip over and cook for 30-60 more seconds. Adjust the heat level if the naan get dark too quickly or not enough.If no bubbles form, the naans either haven't had enough time to rest before cooking or the pan isn't hot enough.
- When done take the cooked naan out of the pan and immediately brush it with melted vegan butter or oil, or use the instructions below to make garlic and coriander naan.Served best fresh and still warm.
Garlic and coriander butter
- Melt and briefly heat the vegan butter together with the salt, pressed or minced garlic and washed and finely chopped coriander, to infuse it with the flavours.Microwave: Place the ingredients in cup or a small bowl, and microwave for 30 seconds (or longer if necessary). Stove/hob: Place the ingredients in a small saucepan or skillet on medium heat, until the butter is melted and hot.
- Stir to combine.
- Brush the top of the naan breads with the garlic and coriander butter when they are fresh out of the pan.