11 Dairy Substitutes You Should Know

5 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

If you’re living with a lactose allergy or intolerance, you’re probably aware of the options out there for you. However, when you add food allergies on top, it often gets hard to shop. Start a search today to explore dairy substitute you can enjoy.

Luckily, you don’t have to lose out on your favorite foods just because of your allergies. There are plenty of ways to substitute non-dairy items and still enjoy cooking and eating just like you used to. Read on for some exciting dairy substitutes!

11. Almond Milk

Almond milk is one of the oldest dairy substitutes out there – it’s been used for years in recipes and is tasty enough to simply drink plain. Many people prefer the rich, nutty taste of almond milk to thinner cow’s milk. The only thing to note is that it doesn’t contain as much protein as regular milk, so it’s important to adjust your diet if you make a complete switch to almond milk.

Plus, if you switch to almond milk that’s unsweetened, it’s a grand total of zero grams of sugar per cup as compared to the 12 grams that are in regular milk. You can swap it in anywhere you would usually use regular milk – just bear in mind the taste.

10. Rice Milk

Rice milk is made almost the same way as almond milk – grains of rice are soaked in water, then the final product is used as a “milk.” Most commercial rice milk contains added vitamins and calcium, but on its own it contains around two grams of fat and less than one gram of protein per cup.

Rice milk is also higher in carbs than most other types of non-dairy milk, so be aware of that when you’re at the grocery store. Rice milk is great for people who may be allergic to soy or nuts. You can bake with it, but because it’s thinner than cow’s milk, you may have to adjust your recipe.

9. Soy Milk

Another of the non-dairy milks that’s super popular today is soy milk. Like the other milk on this list, it’s made by soaking a product (in this case, soy beans) in water. Commercial soy milk has vitamins added, but it’s actually one of the healthiest milk alternatives just on its own.

It only contains four grams of carbs, but has a healthy seven grams of protein per cup. The reason many people don’t rely on soy milk more often is because soy is a very common allergen. Soy milk is great for baking – use it in place of milk in any recipe, and you can even use it to make a great vegan buttermilk.

8. Coconut Milk

People are often confused by coconut milk – it can come in cans, but when it does it’s often called coconut cream. It can also come in Tetra Pak containers and is still called coconut milk, but what’s inside is a much thinner, drinkable liquid. Lucky for you, we’re here to sort you out.

Coconut cream, which is coconut flesh blended with water, is used in its thick form in both baked goods and savory dishes. Drinkable coconut milk is actually regular canned coconut milk diluted with water. You shouldn’t use it in the same places that call for canned coconut milk, but it does make a great milk alternative if you enjoy the coconut taste.

7. Coconut Oil

Another coconut product that people have been using more and more often is coconut oil. Coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat, and has plenty of uses in both baking and cooking. Coconut oil has become prized as a cooking oil because it has a very high smoke point.

Chefs have used it in curries for years, but now it’s becoming more popular and consequently more widely available for home cooks. However, it should be noted that coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, so you shouldn’t use it for everything – it’s great in moderation.

6. Tofutti

Tofutti is a brand name that encompasses an entire line of soy-based, dairy free products. Although the company first attracted consumer attention with their line of non-dairy ice creams, they have since expanded their offerings to include non-dairy cream cheeses, sour creams, and sliced cheeses.

The company was originally founded to cater to Jewish dietary requirements. Milk and meat cannot be eaten in the same meal, so founder David Mintz came up with a people-pleasing, non-dairy dessert. Now, his company Tofutti sells their products all around the world, and boasts that they can be substituted into any recipe that calls for dairy.

5. Coconut yogurt

Coconut yogurt is a great alternative for people who enjoy eating yogurt but can’t tolerate dairy. Coconut yogurt is made with canned coconut milk, and can be treated exactly like regular yogurt. Add it to your morning granola or muesli, eat it topped with berries and honey, or even bake with it.

Most grocery stores carry coconut yogurt alongside regular dairy yogurt, but if you’re having a hard time finding it, you can just make your own. If you want to make it totally vegan, use agar-agar flakes to thicken the yogurt. Just be aware that since it’s made with coconut milk, coconut yogurt will contain much less protein than regular yogurt.

4. Daiya Cheese

Daiya Foods is a company founded in 2008 on the principle that all food should be plant based. They carry a line of “cheese” products that are all made with cassava and arrowroot powder, and they’re known for their excellent taste and consistency. Many people find it unbelievable that something made with plant powders can melt exactly like cheese, but Daiya has done it.

Their products are amazing, and you can use them exactly like you would use regular cheese – throw it in a sandwich, on top of pizza, or even on a burger. It’ll melt exactly like you want it to, and it is completely allergen free.

3. Cashew Cheese

Cashew cheese is a great alternative to cheese that’s super easy to make at home. It’s completely vegan, and is full of vitamins, healthy fats, and calcium – just like regular cheese!

The secret to making cashew cheese taste just like regular cheese is to use nutritional yeast, which gives it its signature cheesy flavor. Cashew cheese keeps well in the fridge, and you can use it anywhere you would use a soft cheese, like ricotta or cottage cheese.

2. Margarine

Margarine has been around for ages and many people believe its peak has passed. It was invented in 1869 as a cheap and stable substitute for butter. It reached the peak of its popularity in the last half of the 20th century, before research on trans fats in the 1990s caused many people to stop using it altogether.

It’s still easy to find in grocery stores, but many fast food chains, including McDonald’s, made the switch to butter within the last few years as a way to try and make themselves seem more health-conscious. Most margarine manufacturers have removed trans fats from their products, and many people still rely on it as an easy non-dairy substitute for butter.

1. Cool Whip

For many people, a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas isn’t complete until the giant tub of Cool Whip comes out of the fridge. You may not realize this, but Cool Whip is almost 100% dairy-free. It doesn’t contain milk, or lactose, but it does contain a small amount of the milk derivative caseinate, which is still a no-go for some people.

Cool Whip was invented by General Foods in 1966, and is made of primarily water, vegetable oil, and corn syrup. It’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but in small amounts a few times a year, there’s really nothing to worry about. You can use it anywhere that you would use regular whipped cream.

Jordana Weiss