How to Go Dairy Free Part 2: Substitutes

If you missed part 1, you may want to read that first:  How to Go Dairy Free.  In this post I would like to talk about specific dairy substitutes I have used.  I have not been dairy free for long, and so I have not tried many of the options out there.  I am hoping, however, that my limited experience will be of help to some of you.

The three dairy ingredients that I substitute for the most are butter, milk, and cheese.  I have not bothered with substitutes for ingredients such as sour cream, yogurt or cream cheese.  That’s not to say I never will, but the dairy free versions are costly and they are not ingredients I used a lot of in the past.

Soy is a common ingredient in dairy substitutes, but you will notice that I do not recommend any soy based products.  I am soy free as much as possible because of soy’s potential negative effects on the thyroid and the fact that almost all soy grown in the United States is genetically modified.  You can read more in the article, Soy and the Thyroid, at

(Please note that the product links in this post are Amazon affiliate links.)

Milk:  I tried hemp milk once and didn’t like it.  Rice milk works, but I find that it has too many carbohydrates for me.  I stick with these two types of milk substitutes.

  • Almond Milk – I like Almond Breeze.  Some varieties do contain soy lecithin, but I have found ones that say soy free on the front.  I usually buy it in a jug in the refrigerated section at BJs.  Almond Breeze is my favorite brand of almond milk, and in some ways I prefer it to cows milk.  I use it for drinking, putting on cereal, adding to smoothies, and in cooking and baking.
  • Coconut Milk– I have used different brands, and I usually buy the kind sold in cans rather than cartons.  The reason for that is that I primarily use it for making ice cream and I like to use the full fat versions for that.  I use coconut milk occasionally in cooking, but my family does not care for the flavor in most things.

Butter:  I have found that most solid fats work well as butter substitutes.  I have used the following in baking:

I have also used Earth Balance soy free tub margarine on cooked foods, but I have not tried baking with it.

Cheese:  I mentioned in part 1 that I have used Daiya Cheese, both the shredded cheddar and mozzarella styles.  For me, Daiya does not compare to real cheese, but it is the best soy free substitute I have tried and I know that many other people like it.  I have occasionally used the cheddar cheese on tortilla chips and in macaroni and cheese.  I use the mozzarella version on pizza and find it it be better than no cheese at all, or no pizza at all.

Cream:  I don’t use cream very often, but I have found that MimicCreme is a product I like using on occasion.  I used it to make a mock Alfredo sauce which my family really enjoyed.  One of my pickiest eaters seems to especially like MimicCreme.  When I made the Alfredo sauce he said he liked it better than normal Alfredo sauce.  Then one evening I used the MimicCreme in mashed potatoes and he loved them!  I don’t think it’s always a great substitute for real cream, but it does work well in some things.

Creamer:  So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer.  Creamer is another thing I don’t use often.  In fact, before going dairy free I rarely used it.  However, I find that I like this creamer in coffee and tea better than using a plain milk substitute or MimicCreme.

What are your favorite dairy-free substitutes?

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.


  1. Alexis and Justin says

    I've heard that a lot of people that can't have dairy can safely eat ghee or clarified butter. You can make your own at home and it works great for sauteing!

    • kathy says

      very true. people get yourselves tested before you bail on butter. :-) usually you can get tested by a naturopath, a chiropractor or other holistic health care practitioner. i tested poorly for all dairy (cow, sheep, and goat), but tested fine for organic butter! it was the test where the practitioner holds a food item against you, and they can feel if the lymph is flowing away from you (food is bad for you), or towards you (your body wants and/or is ok with that food item). I had two different practitioners test me, one in like, 2008, and the other in 2011.. anyway, they both had the same exact results for me.

      i repeat… people get yourselves tested before you bail on butter…! :-)

  2. Randy says

    So Delicious coconut milk is my favorite non-dairy milk. It has the closest consistency to cow's milk, and is the perfect substitute in all of my recipes. I love their French vanilla coffee creamer, too, and their coconut milk ice cream is off-the-charts incredible!

    I love Vegan Gourmet cream cheese. It really is the best thing to happen to a toasted bagel. And Wayfare Foods We Can't Say It's Cheese Hickory-Smoked Cheddar Spread is downright delectable.

  3. Lisa Whitaker says

    Thanks for the link. I had no idea that Soy interfered with the Thyroid Medication absorption. That is super good to know.

  4. Diane-The WHOLE Gang says

    I've been living dairy free for almost 3 years. I recently made cashew cream and it was really really easy and tastes amazing. I'll be playing with that a lot more. I also like Almond Breeze original unsweetened. I've had tofutti cream cheese (soy) and the Earth Balance soy free but it has corn in it. Coconut milk makes an amazing whipped cream. I cook and bake with coconut oil and grapeseed oil. I also use Daiya for lasagna.

    There really are tons of great options and sometimes you just don't need to replace it.

    You're doing great with staying off dairy and thank you for sharing the info on soy messing with thyroid meds.

  5. Gina says

    I love coconut milk in my coffee and as a general substitute for milk and cream. Thanks for the tips on butter substitutes – I haven't tried most of those out yet. I'm interested in trying the Spectrum shortening and coconut oil where I usually use butter – those sound like the best-tasting possible alternatives.

  6. Anonymous says

    I agree with those of you who use So Delicious and So Decadent by Turtle Mountain. There coconut products are fabulous. The ice cream is amazing (or so I think because I haven't eaten dairy ice cream in a very long time) my son loves the cultured coconut milk but its very expensive even with a coupon. We use there milk for baking and cooking. All around love there products. We also use Daiya cheese. I don't love but my son does because he's never had a taste of "real" cheese in his life. I make grilled cheese and mac and cheese for him with it. I haven't tried any alternatives to butter yet though. still looking

  7. Alisa Fleming says

    These are great Linda! I haven't tried MimicCreme as I tend to make my own cream at home with nuts, and honestly, I don't miss cheese at all. But the butter and milk alternatives are frequent visitors in my fridge. I use oils for baking, coconut oil for no bakes and stir fries, and do keep some Earth Balance on hand for spreading. I don't find it necessary in baking, but it is a nice treat as a topper!

    Coconut milk beverage is our current favorite milk alternative, but canned coconut milk comes in so handy too!

  8. Karen says

    When we started this wonderful allergy free eating adventure.. my DS could not tolerate rice or oats and I have difficulty with nuts, soy and hemp milks…
    We discovered Vances Dari-free. It is a dry potato based milk substitute. You can mix it thicker for cream and evaporated milk substitutes. The taste is quite good. It is shelf stable, and you can buy 25# boxes which for us is a 3 month supply. I love never having to run out for milk. It also comes in a chocolate flavor if you can "do" chocolate (we can't so I don't know if that is any good). The website is

  9. Trish says

    I was advised that I could use goat-milk products. I now use goat – milk yogurt, and goat – milk cheese.
    The So Delicious Ice cream works well.
    I have been dairy – free longer than Gluten- free.

    • Kari says

      It was suggested that I try goat-milk products, but my doctor said not to because it contains casein. I am allergic to the casein and whey in the milk.

      • says

        Goat’s milk does contain casein, but it is a little different than cow’s milk casein, so some people do okay with it. I was able to use it for a while, but I think I started eating too much of it and I began reacting.

If you have a question about a recipe (especially substitutions and nutritional information), please read my FAQ page before asking the question in a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>