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Over the past few days, we’ve been offering up some of the best kitchen alternatives to use in case you run out of baking staples. While swapping out your classic white flour and eggs can lead to some fun experiments in the kitchen, they don’t necessarily turn out as expected without a few rounds of trial and error.
As someone who regularly avoids dairy in my everyday life while also remaining an avid baker, I’ve generally had the most success with recipe swaps when it comes to taking a few liberties around dairy. Non-dairy products have come a long way in recent years, and behave much like regular dairy in the quantities needed for most recipes.
Whether you’re considering cutting out dairy from your life or have just run out of your usual staples, read on to find some of the best swaps for common dairy ingredients and you’ll be baking up a storm in no time.
Conversion: 1 part cow’s milk = 1 part non-dairy milk
These days, it’s just as easy to find non-dairy milk as it is to find cow’s milk, and with a much wider range of options than ever before. Choose from rich and creamy variations like oat or coconut milk, nutty versions like almond, cashew or hazelnut, or classics like rice and soy milk.
One cup of non-dairy milk is a straightforward swap for milk, but depending on your recipe, certain types may work better than others. Keep in mind that coconut and hemp milks add a hint of extra flavour to baked goods, and rice and almond milk have a thinner consistency than cow’s milk.
Conversion: 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk (regular or non-dairy) + 2 tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice
If your recipe calls for buttermilk, there’s no need to rush out to the store for a container of the slightly sour, thick liquid. It’s possible to make your own at home with ingredients you already have on hand by combining one cup of your choice of milk, and adding two tablespoons of either white vinegar or lemon juice. Combine and allow the mixture to sit for five minutes, and the acids will combine with the dairy to thicken and begin to curdle enough to create the same consistency and tang of buttermilk.
Conversion: 1 part butter = 1 part coconut oil/margarine
When baking, butter is an important ingredient that adds fat and flavour to many recipes, which can be replicated with other plant-based alternatives. Coconut oil remains solid at room temperature like butter does, and adds a similar texture to baked goods once incorporated into recipes. Note that it does have a slight coconut flavour that you may prefer to use for sweet treats.
Margarine is another option that you can use instead of butter, and thanks to its blend of neutral-tasting oils, there’s no additional flavour to worry about.
Conversion: 1 part heavy cream = 1 part coconut cream
Coconut cream is an easy and delicious replacement for whipped cream, which thanks to its rich and fluffy texture is perfect for topping cakes and ice cream. To make your own, begin by refrigerating a can of coconut milk (it won’t work with a boxed container of coconut milk). Once chilled, carefully scoop out just the solids and whisk them together with sugar and vanilla until the mixture is fluffy.
Conversion: 1 part yogurt = 1 part non-dairy yogurt
While not as readily available as non-dairy milk, it’s still possible to find plant-based alternatives that offer a similar taste and texture to yogurt made from dairy. Typically made from either nuts or soy, non-dairy yogurt comes in both natural and sweetened versions that can work with sweet or savoury recipes. If non-dairy is not available, you can also swap in silken tofu as an alternative for recipes that call for yogurt or sour cream to add thickness.
Conversion: 1 part condensed milk = 1 part non-dairy version
To create your own non-dairy condensed milk at home, combine one can of coconut milk with ¼ cup of either honey or maple syrup in a small pot. Allow the mixture to simmer on the stove for 25 to 30 minutes while stirring often, and once it’s done you’ll have your own thick and syrupy sauce to drizzle over desserts.
Conversion: 1 part cheese = 1 part non-dairy cheese
Whether you’re making savoury breads or biscuits, a little bit of cheese can add a whole lot of flavour to a recipe. You can make your own non-dairy version using a combination of cashews, nutritional yeast and spices, or buy packaged versions of vegan cheese to use instead. If your recipe calls for crumbly cheeses like ricotta or cottage cheese, opt for crumbled tofu instead.