dairy free alternatives
dairy free | Food

The Best Dairy Free Alternatives

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It can feel really overwhelming when you have to go dairy free. I know because I’ve been there. Cheese is just…. soooo good! How in the world can you ever find dairy free alternatives that mimic cheese? And then it feels overwhelming to sift through all the products that you already know and love and realize how many of your favorite things contain dairy. 

Prior to 2015 milk and cheese were my jam. I’d guzzle a large glass of skim milk with dinner each night, I’d melt gooey cheese on just about everything and real butter was slathered all over my gluten-y rolls. Dairy and I were besties… until we weren’t.

Dairy products are commonly found in MANY different foods, making dairy free eating a real challenge. The good news is these days, there are sooooo many dairy substitutes that you can use to make your dairy free recipe just as good. I rounded up a list of some of my favorite dairy free products below.

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What To Know About Going Dairy Free

Going dairy free can be very hard and feel overwhelming, and that is why finding GOOD dairy alternatives are so important. I have tried a lot of products, and while there are a lot of options, not all products are created equal.

Why Go Dairy Free?

There are many reasons why someone might choose to go dairy free including lactose intolerance, a change in diet due to a milk protein allergy, people who chose to live a vegan lifestyle, inflammation from dairy, breastfeeding a baby with a dairy sensitivity, and other lifestyle reasons.

Many dairy products contain lactose (milk sugars) which is not easy to digest for some individuals. Once dairy is removed from someone’s diet who may be sensitive, they often notice results quickly. 

Dairy Free Alternatives

Here is a list of some of the top dairy free dairy product substitutes for you to try in your dairy free recipes.

Dairy Free Creamer

Nutpods are a great dairy milk alternative AND they are also sugar free (although they now make sugar versions as well). They have multiple flavors including the vanilla which is my favorite. I actually bring it with me when I travel. They also offer several other flavors including: chocolate, hazelnut, French vanilla made with oat milk, cinnamon swirl and so many others!

Another pro-tip, you can also use this coffee creamer for your oatmeal or even use it in baking recipes that call for cream. It has a nice creamy flavor and doesn’t leave a bad after taste.

Dairy Free Cream cheese

The Kite Hill dairy free cream cheese will add that creamy texture to your bagels or dips, and you won’t even realize it’s missing the dairy. I personally like the chive dairy free cream cheese the best. This cream cheese is made from almonds.

Dairy Free Milk Options

Soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, Ripple Milk, oat milk, macadamia milk, coconut milk

These dairy free milk options are great dairy substitutes. They all have their own unique flavor and are the perfect dairy replacement. Soy milk is great for baking, cashew milk contains a nice amount of calcium, and almond milk is high in Vitamin E. Ripple milk is just fun to say out loud (it’s dairy free, lactose free and soy free). Finding the right “drinking milk” takes a lot of trial and error. Personally, I like the organic unsweetened almond milk from Aldi and I also enjoy the Simple Truth Organic unsweetened almond milk (which is sold at my local Kroger store.)

Dairy Free Ice Cream

Ice-cream is my weakness, and It was crucial I found a delish dairy free ice-cream alternative. I love Nada Moo brand dairy free ice cream, it’s sooooo yummy. It’s a great dairy substitute that tastes so much like the real thing, you’ll be checking the label to make sure it doesn’t have milk or cream.

Dairy Free Cheese

I love the this dairy free vegan mozzarella alternative from Miyokos. It tastes very similar to mozzarella, and is made from cashews. I use it to make dairy free pizzas, dairy free grilled cheeses, dairy free paninis and anything else that calls for dairy.   

Dairy Free Queso

There are now several dairy free quesos on the market, and my favorite one is from Good Foods! It has a ton of “real cheese” like flavor and texture, making it perfect for topping off your tacos, or anything that needs a cheesy kick.

Dairy Free Butter

So dairy free butter really exists? Yes! And it even tastes buttery! I’ve tried a lot of dairy free butter throughout the years, and I always come back to Melt butter.

I like it because they sell it in a large tub, but also in dairy free sticks which are easy to use for baking. Melt “butter” is a must for baking dairy free cakes, cookies, and other desserts. You’ll never know it’s dairy free!

*I am also allergic to pea protein and this is one of the rare dairy free butter options on the market that does not contain pea protein.

Dairy Free Yogurt

For all the yogurt lovers out there, this dairy free yogurt is a must have. I use it in my morning smoothies or in overnight oats. Yogurt is packed with healthy probiotics, even the dairy free kind.

Dairy Free Sour Cream

This dairy free sour cream from Kite Hill is AMAZING. It is great for dairy free dips or any dairy free recipe that calls for sour cream. It is made with almonds, and is perfect to plop on top of your next bowl of chili, tacos or baked potato.  Another dairy free dairy alternative that is a must have!

Heavy Cream Substitute

Have a recipe that calls for heavy cream, but you need a dairy free alternative? Coconut milk works fantastically as a swap. I use this often in my favorite “cream” based soup and stew recipes. Make sure you are buying unsweetened coconut milk in the can, I like this kind, and stirring it well before you add it to he dish. I promise you won’t even notice the coconut flavor at all! It adds just the perfect consistency.

Dairy Free Chocolate Milk

Dairy free chocolate milk DOES exist, and it’s perfect for kids and adults. It tastes just like the real thing, but obviously without the dairy! My favorite is the almond chocolate milk from Aldi. It has a ton of flavor and doesn’t taste chalky like some pre-made chocolate milks can.

Dairy Free Pesto

I LOVE pesto but it’s often loaded with fresh parmesan cheese. The vegan pesto at Trader Joe’s is not only FULL of flavor, but it is also dairy free.

Dairy Free Buttermilk

Making dairy free buttermilk is way easier than you think! It’s great for any recipe that calls for buttermilk. Simply combine 1 cup of your favorite non-dairy milk and 1 TBSP of apple cider vinegar. The key is to ensure that your dairy free milk is room temperature. Stir the milk and vinegar with a spoon or a whisk and allow it to settle for 5 to 10 minutes. The almond milk will thicken just like buttermilk and can be used in exactly the same way.

Dairy Free Tzatziki

I LOVE this dairy free tzatziki dip from Target. It’s not just a wonderful dip for my favorite gluten free snacks, but it goes great on our homemade chicken gyros. I’ve even been known to dip my French fries in it.

I hope you enjoyed this dairy free substitute list. If there is anything else anyone would like to know about dairy free substitutes, or dairy free recipes please leave me a comment below.

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    1. My daughter used to have a dairy allergy, so she started off with almond milk. She prefers the taste now and doesn’t want to switch!

  1. I’ve always struggled with dairy products all the time these are definitely something I’m gonna look into trying!

  2. Thank you for doing the dirty work of tasting all the terrible alternatives to find the gems. I’ve tried a few of these but others I like are silk half and half, daiya ice cream bars and earth balance butter.

  3. Great post, thanks! With a teenager with milk allergy, it is great that there are so many tasty dairy free options available now. We unfortunately have to avoid the nut based milks/cheese etc, but there are still so many great choices.

    1. That is one of the hardest parts! My little guy is allergic to nuts, and a lot of the dairy free options contain nuts. It’s a hard balance!

  4. Such a good time to be vegan! Just looking at the selection of dairy free alternatives made me so happy. Unfortunately I don’t live in a area where I can find them but I hope I can try these soon.

  5. I try to do dairy free but sometimes don’t know what to use so this guide is great!! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to try some of these products!

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