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Milk Substitutes for a Dairy-Free Diet

By: Beth Ann Morley, Editor,

Not only is milk a refreshing drink, but it's also essential for making desserts, sauces, and savory dishes. Plus, it's great to include in your smoothies, coffee, and cereal. Unfortunately, if you're on a dairy-free diet, then milk is off-limits.

But don't worry; we have five different substitutes for all of your milk needs. Between soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk, there are so many options for people following a dairy-free diet. But before you go out and buy these dairy-free milks, read below to learn about what they taste like and what you should use them for. 


Milk Substitutes for a Dairy-Free Diet

Tips and Tricks to Dairy-Free Milk

Soy Milk

Soy Milk – Thick and creamy, this is a heartier substitute. Plain soy milk may taste slightly sweet and a bit nutty. Make sure you buy unsweetened soy milk. Soy milk is high in protein and antioxidants.

When to Use:

  1. Savory dishes
  2. Hearty sauces
  3. Baking
  4. Cereal
  5. Pancakes
  6. Waffles
  7. Smoothies
  8. Coffee
  9. A refreshing drink

When to Avoid:

  1. Delicate desserts
  2. Light cream sauces

Recipe to Use Soy Milk: Raspberry Breakfast Casserole




Rice Milk

Rice Milk – Many people agree that rice milk tastes most similar to dairy milk. It’s perfectly light, sweet, and refreshing. This milk substitute is thinner than others, so you may need to use a thickening agent when baking with rice milk.

When to Use:

  1. Desserts
  2. Baked goods
  3. Coffee
  4. Cereal
  5. Curries
  6. Lighter cream soups
  7. Lighter cream sauces

When to Avoid:

  1. Savory dishes

Recipe to Use Rice Milk: Delightfully Decadent Chocolate Cake



Check out our collection of gluten free and dairy free recipes!


Almond Milk

Almond Milk – Almond milk has a nutty flavor that many people love. Low in fat, this milk won’t give you the same richness as 2% milk but it is a great substitute for fat-free or low-fat milk. If you’re looking for a sweeter milk option, then you can buy vanilla almond milk, but make sure you buy the unsweetened version.

When to Use:

  1. Coffee
  2. Cereal
  3. Smoothies
  4. Desserts
  5. Oatmeal

When to Avoid:

  1. Savory dishes

Recipe to Use Almond Milk: Cinnamon Roll in a Mug




Oat Milk

Oat Milk – Light in texture, oat milk would be a great substitute for low-fat or fat-free milk. After trying oat milk, you’ll agree that this milk has a mild flavor with just a hint of sweetness. Perfect for both sweet and savory dishes, this milk can be used for most, if not all, of your needs.

When to Use:

  1. Cereal
  2. Smoothies
  3. Baked Goods
  4. Curries
  5. Lighter cream soups
  6. Lighter cream sauces
  7. Mashed potatoes
  8. A refreshing drink

Recipe to Use Oat Milk: Vanilla Birthday Cupcakes




Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk – Rich and creamy, coconut milk is gaining in popularity. Coconut milk is high in fat with 4.5 grams of fat in every cup. When adding coconut milk to recipes, you may find that it adds a subtle hint of coconut flavor. Make sure you buy the coconut milk beverage and not the coconut milk in a can. However, the canned variety would be great for sauces, soups, stews, or making a homemade whipped cream. 

When to Use:

  1. Baking
  2. Coffee
  3. Cereal
  4. Smoothies
  5. A refreshing drink

Recipe to Use Coconut Milk: Homemade Nutella


Want even more gluten free tips and tricks? Click here!


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