Dairy Substitutes

If you have a dairy allergy, you're probably looking for some dairy substitutes now that your favorite foods are off the table.  Luckily, there are many alternatives available.  

Some of these substitutes will only be found at your nearest specialty food store but many of them can be found at your regular grocery store next to their dairy filled counterparts.

Try these dairy substitutes in cooking, baking, and on their own!

These substitutes can be used in cooking and baking to re-create your favorite recipes in a new, dairy free form.  

If you're not very comfortable experimenting with new ingredients, check out the allergy free recipes page for recipes using dairy substitutes.

If you are allergic to dairy and soy, be sure to check out the soy substitutes page for more ideas.

Butter Substitutes


To substitute for butter in cooking, baking and spreading, try a dairy free margarine. The brand that we use (and that is becoming widely available at regular grocery stores) is Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread.

Earth Balance comes in a dairy free variety that contains soybean oil and a dairy and soy free variety that excludes soybean oil.  This is great news for those avoiding dairy and soy.  You can find both varieties in tubs as well as sticks for baking.

For more information about Earth Balance products, visit www.earthbalance.com.

Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil is a good substitute for shortening or margarine in baked goods. It is solid at room temperature but, like butter and margarine, when heated will melt. I use it in place of the shortening in this wheat free sugar cookies recipe.  It gives the cookies a delicious flavor!

Cooking Oil:

In many cases, cooking oil such as canola, soybean or olive oil can be used in place of butter in cooking and even in baking.  If substituting oil for butter in baking, decrease the amount.  For example, if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter, try using 1/3 cup oil instead.  

I use canola oil instead of butter or margarine in these oatmeal applesauce cookies.

Sour Cream

If you're missing sour cream and can have soy, you're in luck! Your specialty food store will likely have a selection of dairy free products including sour cream. One brand, for example, is Tofutti.  

The texture is not the same as real sour cream but it works well in recipes for dips and dressings and dolloped onto this Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Cream Cheese

Like sour cream, I thought we would just do without cream cheese but it turns out Tofutti makes a soy based variety of cream cheese as well.  

Like soy sour cream, the texture is a little different. When blended with other ingredients, however, it works just fine. I use it in the filling in this Fruit Pizza recipe and have used it in many different dips and spreads.


If you're a yogurt fan and are not allergic to soy, several different brands of soy based yogurt are available (Silk is one example). 

So Delicious brand coconut yogurt is a great option if you're allergic to soy AND dairy.

Try using it as a dip for fruit or buy plain and use it to make a dressing for creamy salads like this Crunchy Apple Coleslaw recipe.


Cheese must be pretty difficult to duplicate using dairy free ingredients because it is one dairy substitute that I have struggled to find.   With that said, there are some decent options that can be used for cooking (pizza!) and mixed with other foods.

If you check out the Allergy Free Food Finds page where visitors share their own food finds, you'll see that several people recommend Daiya Cheese.  It comes in several varieties and melts nicely.

Rice Vegan Slices is another option.

Ice Cream

Ice cream happens to be one of my favorite foods so it was top priority to find a dairy substitute for the creamy treat.

My son's dairy allergy was a great excuse to purchase an ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer...and boy, has it come in handy! I have made countless batches of ice cream, sorbet and gelato.

Here are two recipes we love:

If you aren't into making your own ice cream, you're in luck! You can find many dairy free ice cream options at a specialty food store (and sometimes even at the regular grocery store). These dairy free ice cream options are often soy based but there are also rice "cream" and coconut milk ice cream options. 

Read about one of our favorite dairy free ice creams.


If you're like me, chocolate is another dairy substitute that must be discovered!

If you only have a dairy allergy and have no issues with nuts, you should be able to find baking chocolate like semi-sweet and bittersweet at the regular grocery store. I have found them but they often contain the advisory statement "may contain nuts".

If nuts are an issue, try Enjoy Life Foods Gluten-Free Chocolate Chips. They are made in a nut free facility, are dairy free and soy free and they work well in cookies, muffins, sauces and frosting. 

Here are some recipes using dairy free chocolate chips:



Frosting is a dairy substitute that is easy to find at the regular grocery store. The one that I currently use is a variety by Pillsbury (the one with the blue lid). Please be sure to check labels, though, because many of the same brand DO contain dairy AND product ingredients change far more often than I update this page!

Cherrybrook Kitchen also makes a ready made frosting and can be found at many regular grocery stores.

If you can't get to the grocery store, make this easy frosting recipe that works great on sugar cookies.

Or, for a great cupcake topping, try this whipped cream frosting recipe.

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