Dairy Free Substitutes

If you’re like me sometimes you brain and tastebuds are in sync, but your digestive system is waaaaayyyy over in left field and decides to revolt. It’s hard enough to find dinner ideas for kids and adults, but throw food issues into the mix and it can feel down right impossible. Whether you’re looking for a “dairy free for beginners” guide or are a seasoned at living the dairy free lifestyle this list of dairy free substitutes will help you to be able to enjoy some classically, dairy heavy, recipes without starting WWIII, intestinal edition.

Milk

Almond Milk

Almond milk is my favorite all around milk substitute. We like the unsweetened original for cooking and if I’m feeling fancy we get the unsweetened vanilla for baking. Most often I just use the unsweetened original in my baking creations as well. CAUTION: Don’t mix the two, original & vanilla, up when you’re cooking. You will have some oddly unpleasant tasting biscuits and gravy if you do happen to make that mistake, trust me. For cereal this is my top pick.

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk is a crowd pleaser milk substitute to use in baking. It provides a light coconut flavor that deepens the flavor profile of your bakes. If you buy it full fat in a can you can use the coconut cream (the thick stuff that forms when you leave it in the fridge overnight) to make beautiful frostings, whipped creams, and toppings for desserts. If you buy it in a carton it does not have the coconut cream but the carton coconut milk does come in handy when you’re adding it to certain recipes or just wanting to drink it in place of cow’s milk. For cereal this is my second pick.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is an interesting milk to use. When used to make a savory or sweet it is pretty comparable to Almond Milk. When used on it’s own the flavor and smell is a bit different, not nearly as mild as Almond Milk which may be off-putting to some that are considering using this substitute for cow’s milk. For cereal this is my last pick.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a fairly easy dairy product to subsititue with a dairy free alternative. You replace the buttermilk with a 1:1 ratio. So if your recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk you take 1 cup of your dairy free milk and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Then you let it sit for 10 minutes until it starts to curdle just slightly. Then you add it to your recipe whenever you would have normally added buttermilk. Voila, you have a vegan buttermilk substitute!


Cheese

Cheese Slices & Shreds

Daiya is a brand that recreates a lot of the products we know and love but without the dairy! They make their foods plant based and have a lot of different options. They have mac n’ “cheese”, “cheese”cake, sauces (Alfredo & “cheese” sauces), “cheese” sticks, etc. In my opinion their cheese slices are far superior to their cheese shreds. The slices make the most PERFECT grilled cheese and they nailed the flavor. The shreds sometimes have a metallic aftertaste, but other times you can’t taste that at all.

If you’re looking for a ricotta substitute Kite Hill makes a dairy free version of ricotta cheese with almond milk. Let’s just say, lasagna, we’ve missed you.

Cream Cheese

Kite Hill and Daiya also offer dairy free cream cheeses which are great substitutes in recipes that call for cream cheese (i.e. Alfredo sauce, cheesecake, cream cheese frosting). They have it in many different flavors so you can still enjoy a bagel topped with cream cheese.


Other

Heavy Whipping Cream

In savory recipes I prefer to substitute heavy whipping cream with plain dairy free yogurt. In sweet recipes I prefer to substitute heavy whipping cream with coconut cream or plain dairy free yogurt with a little stevia added to it and mixed together.

Another option is to blend firm or extra firm tofu until smooth. This is an option for a heavy cream substitute when a thickener is needed in sauces and soups. Pureed tofu can be substituted for heavy cream using a 1:1 ratio and is lower fat option. Be warned tofu will not whip and it is not recommended for those who have a soy allergy.

Yogurt

Yogurt is such a tricky one for dairy free replacements in my opinion. The coconut milk yogurts always have the hint of coconut which might not bother some people, but sometimes I just want a yogurt without the coconut flavor. A lot of the almond milk yogurts that I’ve tried are incredibly runny and watery. I have tried a wide variety of dairy free yogurts and have never been satisfied, until I tried the brand Kite Hill. Their yogurt was creamy, flavorful, incredible with my homemade granola. They also make a greek yogurt version of their dairy free yogurt for those seeking high protein and a lower sugar content in their yogurts.

Salad Dressings

Daiya has a wide variety of dairy free dressings. I love using some varieties of salad dressing to marinate my chicken, ranch, honey mustard and italian specifically, and Daiya makes all of those dairy free! Get ready for some incredible dairy free saucy chicken recipes that won’t make you feel yucky!

Sour Cream

Sour cream is another tricky one to replace in my opinion. One option is to take the coconut cream on top of a can of full-fat coconut milk can be skimmed off and blended with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and sea salt. This will have a slight coconut flavor which might be offputting to some.

Another option is to follow the recipe by My Whole Food Life for their cashew based dairy free sour cream.

Ice Cream

This is my favorite category. find coconut milk ice cream to be too slimy and almond milk ice cream to be to crystalized. Cashew milk ice cream is by far the best texture that is comparable to a dairy ice cream. My hands down favorite dairy free ice cream is SoDelicious Caramel Cashew Dark Chocolate Cashew Milk ice cream. It is incredibly smooth, creamy, crunchy, flavorful. It’s literally the perfect ice cream. This is in my top 3 favorite ice creams of ALL time (dairy or non-dairy). It’s really that good. I

Honorable Mentions

Kite Hill offers dips (ranch and french onion), can you say, “Hello Superbowl parties?!” and they have “cheese” filled pastas like tortellini and ravioli.

EnjoyLife offers a dairy free semi-sweet chocolate chip that is the perfect substitute for your dessert recipes.

Recommended Products

Click the images below to add these products to your kitchen!

I have no affiliation with Daiya, Kite Hill, SoDelicious, or Enjoy Life, but have tried their products and enjoy them so I wanted to share.

GoPrep LLC, Prep With Me, & Thrifty Spouse, Happy House are a participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,  we make a commission if you use the affiliate links in on our sites by linking to amazon.com.

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