A Guide to Dairy Alternatives

Are you interested in reducing or eliminating dairy from your diet? The team at How Long to Cook Calculator has created a dairy substitution guide to help make your journey more feasible, convenient, and delicious. You’ll discover dairy alternatives for milk, cheese, butter, coffee creamer, and more. A Guide to Dairy Alternatives

What Does it Mean to Be Dairy-Free?

Going dairy-free means cutting out animal-based milk and milk products, which include yogurt, cheese, kefir, butter, and ice cream. This may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately, the blossoming popularity of dairy-free alternatives is making it easier and more tasty than ever to live a dairy-free or reduced-dairy life.

What Are the Benefits of Reducing Dairy?

There are many individual, ethical, and environmental benefits of reducing dairy products in your diet. So if you are wondering, “Should I quit dairy?” this list of benefits may help you decide:

Reducing or eliminating dairy can seem like an overwhelming challenge. However, even just reducing dairy a little (like having one dairy-free day a week) can be beneficial to your health, the environment, and the welfare of cows. We hope our dairy alternatives list can help make it easier to find the right balance.

Alternatives for Animal Milk




Great For

Almond milk


Mild flavor, making it a good transition milk

Low in calories

Good source of calcium and vitamins A, D, and E

Low in protein

May contain carrageenan, which can cause digestive issues in some people

Environmental concerns (a lot of water is used to cultivate almonds)


Homemade ice cream

French toast

Pasta sauces

Soy milk

As much protein as cow milk

Low in calories

Low in saturated fat

Good source of potassium, vitamins A, B12, and D, and calcium

Common allergen

Most soy produced in the U.S. comes from genetically modified plants.




Breakfast baked goods like pancakes and muffins

Mashed potatoes

Coconut milk

Safe for most people with nut allergies

Fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D

Creamy texture makes it ideal for coffee, smoothies, and hot cocoa

Low in protein

May contain carrageenan, which can cause digestive issues in some people

Concerns over worldwide coconut shipment emissions

Asian-inspired dishes



Creamy desserts

Rice milk

Least allergenic of milk alternatives

Fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D

Naturally sweet

Tastes closest to dairy milk

High in carbs and sugar

Low in protein

Rice may have higher levels of inorganic arsenic, making it risky for children.

Light sauces


Baked goods (may need a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch)

Cashew milk

Lowest in calories of dairy milk alternatives

Rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron

Rich in antioxidants that may support eye health and the immune system

May lower risk of heart disease due to its healthy fats

Cashew farming can be dangerous because the nuts produce substances that cause painful burns.



Alfredo sauce

Oat milk

Ideal for anyone with allergies or sensitivities

Fortified with calcium and vitamins A and D

Higher in fiber and protein

Low environmental impact

Higher in calories and carbs

Creamy soups




Baked goods

Pea milk

High in protein

Low in sugar

Fortified with calcium and vitamin D

High in DHA, an omega-3 fat

Vegetable oil may be added to make it creamier



Baked goods

Macadamia nut milk

Can help reduce cholesterol

Good source of vitamins A and E

Rich in antioxidants

Nut allergen


High in calories


Hot chocolate

Dessert recipes

Hemp milk

High in protein

Lower in calories

Thick and creamy

Good source of omega-3 fats

Contains all ten essential amino acids


Beany/nutty flavor may be unpalatable for some

Low in calcium unless fortified

May contain thickeners, which can cause stomach upset

Savory dishes with thick cream sauces

Butter Alternatives




Plant-based margarine

Lower in saturated fat

Higher in heart-healthy fat

High in calories and overall fat

May contain allergens such as soy

Olive oil

Rich in healthy fats and antioxidants

Fights inflammation

Significant evidence of reducing risk of stroke and heart disease

May reduce Alzheimer’s risk

Anti-cancer and antibacterial properties

More suitable as a butter alternative for cooking rather than baking


Creamy, fatty texture suitable for baked goods

Helps protect against heart disease

Lowers blood pressure

High in potassium, folate, and fiber

High in calories

Does not melt the same as butter, possibly changing the texture of the final product


For sweet recipes, a ripe banana may replace butter.

Rich in potassium and fiber

May alter the taste of the final product

Coconut oil

Easy 1:1 replacement for butter in many recipes

May increase metabolism

May have antimicrobial effects

Heating the oil and adding a bit of salt helps neutralize the sweeter coconut taste.

High in calories

Cheese Alternatives



Almond or cashew cheese

Easy to make at home and easy to modify by adding other ingredients and seasonings

Packed with protein and nutrients

A bit of nut milk and lemon juice added can create a tangy cream cheese flavor.


Melts similarly to real cheese

Many varieties

Made from coconut oil and tapioca flour

Soy-, lactose-, wheat-, barley-, gluten-, and nut-free

Manufacturer also makes dairy-free ice cream, pizza, and cheesecake

Kite Hill

Made from almond milk

Many varieties, including cream cheese, ricotta, truffle cheese, and brie

Manufacturer also makes yogurt and dips

Soft silken tofu

Tofu blended with salt and spices can make good nacho cheese.

Smoked tofu slices can replace provolone on sandwiches.

Hard tofu

Crumbling hard tofu with truffle oil and salt can make a great topping for pasta.

Nutritional yeast

Nutty, cheesy flavor perfect for use in recipes

Packed with nutrients


Hummus can give a tangy, creamy flavor to replace cheese on sandwiches and wraps.

Yogurt Alternatives




Coconut cream

Can substitute 1:1 for yogurt in recipes

Higher in fat

Pureed silken tofu

Can substitute 1:1 for yogurt in recipes

Lacks tartness of yogurt; lemon juice can be added for tang

Soy-, coconut-, almond-, and cashew-based yogurts

Often contain beneficial bacteria just like dairy yogurt does

May not be as protein-rich as dairy yogurt

Ice Cream Alternatives



Soy, coconut, almond, cashew, and oat ice cream

Dairy-free ice cream options are becoming abundant, with big-name brands entering the market.

Contain less sugar, fat, and calories

DIY ice cream

Blend frozen bananas, vanilla, plant-based milk, and desired flavorings, such as peanut butter or cocoa, for a creamy dairy-free ice cream.

Lower in calories and sugar

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