dairy free milk quirk cooking

So you can’t have dairy.  What will you use instead of milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt?  How will you make white sauce, chocolate mousse, ice cream, custard, cream?  Don’t stress – it’not as hard as it seems to replace dairy with delicious, non-dairy substitutes.  Here’s some of my basic dairy free recipes that you may find helpful…

Milk & Cream Substitutes:

cashew cream quirky cooking
Cashew Cream

– Rice-Almond Milk:  This is a great, ‘everyday’ dairy free milk recipe – drink it chilled, and use it in baking and tea and coffee.  If you want to, you can use raw cashews instead of almonds, for a smoother, creamier milk.  By making your own, you can save lots of money! 

– Almond & Sunflower Seed Milk: This milk is sweeter and creamier than rice-almond milk, and froths up really well, so it’s perfect for hot chocolate and cappucinos!

– Cashew Cream, Cashew Milk, and other nut milks: Cashews make a lovely, quick and easy raw cream for desserts and fruit salads.  Use it straight away for a pouring cream, or refrigerate it for a while for a thickened cream.  

To make Cashew Milk, (or any nut milk), use 100g nuts to 500g water – either soak nuts overnight then blend up all together, or mill activated or raw nuts 10 sec/speed 9, then add water and blend 1 min/speed 9.  Strain nut milks through a nut milk bag for best results – you can add the leftover pulp to cakes or raw fudges and bliss balls. You can heat and froth nut milk in the Thermomix for lovely, frothy cappucinos.  

Coconut Milk/Cream: Blend 300g desiccated or shredded coconut 10 sec/speed 9; add between 800-1000g water (depending on whether you want cream or milk) and blend 1 min/speed 9. Strain through a nut milk bag, squeezing well to get all the milk out of the pulp. Place pulp back into Thermomix bowl, add another 500g water, and blend again for 1 min/speed 9. Strain again, and then you can either mix the two milks, or keep them separate if you want the first lot to be really creamy (or if you are using it to make the thick coconut cream or coconut yoghurt in my cookbook). You can dehydrate the leftover pulp in a 60C oven or dehydrator until really dry, then mill 1 min/speed 9 in Thermomix to make coconut flour.

Condensed Milk: In this post you’ll find my recipe for dairy free condensed milk – and also for an amazing dairy free caramel, Dulce de Leche!

– Sour Cream:  This is a delicious dairy free ‘sour cream’, great on baked potatoes, or as a raw vege dip.  Add some sun-dried tomatoes for a yummy variation!

sour cream
Dairy Free Sour Cream


Butter Substitutes:

Butter is probably what I miss most about being dairy free. But there’s so many things you can do to replace butter in your cooking, so don’t despair! 

Homemade Herb & Garlic Mayonnaise

– Spreads: I avoid margarine like the plague, and use natural substances instead for spreads. For a savoury butter/margarine substitute for toast, I often use extra virgin olive oil – I drizzle it onto the toast then sprinkle it with salt. Sometimes I rub the toast with a cut clove of garlic first – delicious! Or ghee with a little salt is good if you can handle slight traces of dairy. 

If you’re adding a topping to the toast (jam, honey, nut butter, sauteed mushrooms, etc), it doesn’t really need butter. Same with meat or salad sandwiches – I use my homemade mayonnaise on sandwiches, sometimes with mustard, or I just use avocado – the most delicious natural spread of all!

Another option is Coconut Butter – so easy to make in the Thermomix. Just blend up 400g desiccated coconut (preservative free) 30 sec/speed 8, then add 30g coconut oil and blend on speed 8 until smooth. It reminds me of nut butter, but with a slight coconut flavour.

Then of course there’s Nut Butter – always a favourite at our house!

gf choc banana cake
Dairy Free, Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Cake

– Cakes, Breads & Scones: When a cake, bread or scone recipe calls for butter, I usually use either cold-pressed macadamia, coconut oil, or even olive oil. (Eg: GF Chocolate Banana CakeChallah and Spelt Scones.) If you substitute macadamia or olive oil for the butter in a cake recipe, be sure to slightly reduce the amount you use, otherwise it will taste too oily. Eg: Take 200g butter down to approx. 180g oil. (This is just approximate – sorry, I cook by trial and error!)

– Cookies/Biscuits & Brownies: If the recipe is for something that needs to ‘set’ and firm up as it cools (like brownies), or if it needs to be crispy (like cookies/biscuits), I use cold-pressed coconut oil – for example, in my Vegan Anzac Biscuits, and in my Flourless Choc Hazelnut Brownies. Of course, this works best in something that tastes good with a slight coconut flavour – chocolate, coconut, lemon and vanilla all work well. You can also use ghee if you really want the butter flavour, if it’s for people who can handle traces of dairy.

chicken sausage rolls (11)
Dairy Free Pastry

– Pastries:  For pastries, I now mostly use lard or a mixture of lard and coconut oil. (See My Chicken & Vege Sausage Rolls) Lard makes the most amazing, easy to handle pastries – the stretchy dough can be rolled very thin without breaking, (perfect for apple streudel,) and it’s lovely and flaky once cooked. (If you’re worried that lard is no good for you, read this article. Lard is about 40 percent saturated, 50 percent monounsaturated, and contains 10 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is one of the richest dietary sources of vitamin D.)  

Ask your local butcher if they can get you additive free lard, because the lard sold in grocery stores usually has preservatives in it to increase shelf life.  By the way, I also use lard sometimes in biscuits (Crunchy Gingernut Cookies), and it’s great in pates, in scrambled eggs, in preserving fermented pickles/vegetables to seal the jars, and can even be used as a spread on bread if you like. 

– For butter flavour:  When I really need the butter flavour, I use ghee. Many people who are intolerant to dairy can handle ghee, as it has the milk solids removed – but if you’re highly allergic to dairy, this won’t work for you. I sometimes use ghee in my homemade version of Nutella (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread), in my Lemon Butter, in shortbreads, as a spread on toast or sandwiches, and lots more. If you can’t use ghee, macadamia oil is the next best option as it has a buttery, nutty flavour.
lemon butter
Dairy Free Lemon Butter

– To make your own ghee: Place 500g unsalted butter (or up to 1 kg) into the Thermomix and cook 2 hours/Varoma/speed 2. (You’ll need to reset the Thermomix in between the 2 hours.) Strain through a nut milk bag once cool enough, into a large jar. Keep at room temp. It will sometimes half solidify, sometimes stays liquid – depending on temp. No need to refrigerate.

– For Shallow Frying: {Update} I now mostly use macadamia oil, tallow, duck fat, or ghee for shallow frying, as they have high smoke points. I used to use coconut oil, but you need to be very careful with frying with coconut oil as the smoke point is only 170C. A good quality Australian olive oil is about 180C smoke point. Macadamia is about 210C. Try cooking your fritters and pancakes with a mixture of macadamia oil and ghee, or if you need to use coconut oil because of allergies, fry at low heats. (Eg: Banana FrittersApple-Oat Fritters)

Banana Fritters
Banana Fritters


Cheese & White Sauce Substitutes:

– Macadamia Cheese: great as a substitute for parmesan. If you over-process this one, it will turn into a spreadable ‘cream cheese’! But for a crumbly cheese, process minimally.

‘Parmesan’ Crumbs: another substitute for parmesan, based on sourdough/artisan bread crumbs.

– Cheese Sauce: My best cheese sauce recipe is in my cookbook, in my lasagne recipe. But if you don’t have my cookbook, here’s another option. Use this as a substitute for melted cheese on pizzas, casseroles, lasagne,  broccoli/cauliflower with cheese, etc.

– 75g raw cashews

– 15g savoury yeast flakes

– 15g cornflour

– 1 tsp onion powder

– 130g red capsicum

– 2 Tbspns lemon juice

– 30g oatmeal or quinoa flakes

– 1 tsp sea salt

– pinch of each: oregano, turmeric, garlic powder, ground sage, dry parsley, celery seed

– 650g water

Blend all the ingredients in Thermomix, 1 min/speed 9, then cook for 7 mins/90 C/speed 4

If it’s not smooth enough, blend for another 30 sec/speed 9.

– Cream Cheese (savoury):  I love this on sandwiches, crackers, and on pizzas – you just spread it on the base, top with other toppings (minus the cheese of course) and bake.  Or you can spread it on a baked pizza base and top with chopped, raw veges and salad greens for a salad pizza.  

To use as a cream cheese substitute in sweet recipes, leave out the garlic (obviously)!

Dairy Free Cream Cheese on pizza


Ice Cream Substitutes:

salted caramel banana ice cream 2
Dairy Free Salted Caramel Banana Ice Cream

I have so many ice creams on my blog, and we make most of them from fruit. Here’s a few ideas…

– Chocolate Banana Nut Ice Cream:  My kids love this – they’d eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if they could!  

– If you want a plain ice cream, just use bananas and a dash of vanilla – if you like you can also add a dash of pure maple syrup.

– Toffee Pecan Crunch Ice Cream:  This one is solo good, the pecans and Rapadura toffee give it a lovely crunch!

– Salted Caramel Macadamia Banana Ice Cream: And this one’s even BETTER!!

– Fruity Dream: A light, fluffy, ‘soft serve’ type of dessert that’s very impressive to make, which I usually sweeten with a little honey or pure maple syrup. Experiment with different fruits. (Another one is Dragonberry Delight, made with red dragonfruit & strawberries… amazing hot pink colour!!)

– And there’s lots more dairy free, naturally sweetened ice creams here, on Miss C’s Ice Cream Menu!

day 4 ice cream lemon lime coconut ice cream2
See Miss C’s Ice Cream Menu for ideas!

– Sorbet:  The possiblities are endless with sorbet – and it’s so quick and easy with the Thermomix!!  Here are a few of my favourites, but use whatever fruits you have, or google ‘Thermomix sorbet recipes’ to find lots of ideas online.- Lime, Kiwi Fruit & Mint Sorbet – Chocolate Orange Sorbet – Quick Chocolate Sorbet – Dragonfruit & Lime Sorbet – Breakfast Sorbet (think ‘muesli sorbet’!!)

dragonfruit sorbet
Dragonfruit and Lime Sorbet


Custard, Yoghurt & Milk Dessert Substitutes:

cashew vanilla custard
Dairy Free Cashew Vanilla Custard

– Cashew Custard: a smooth, creamy custard, sweetened with honey. Can be made with or without eggs.

Everyday Custard: So easy to make! Weigh into Thermomix bowl: 500g dairy free milk of choice, 60g Rapadura or coconut sugar or 50g honey/pure maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/paste, 2 eggs, 40g cornflour or 2 Tbspsns gelatine if needing a starch free version. Cook for 7 mins/90 C/speed 4. 

Chocolate Custard: add 20-40g cocoa powder (or cacao powder), depending on how ‘chocolatey’ you like it. Or for an extra rich chocolate custard, grind up 60g of dark, dairy free chocolate on speed 9, then add the rest of the ingredients (not cocoa) and cook.

– Orange Sabayon:  Sabayon is made from egg yolks, orange juice, and usually some rum, amongst other things.  I make mine with egg yolks and orange juice, and it’s so easy in the Thermomix!  Very yummy.  If you’re on a low salicylate diet, you could use pear juice instead of orange juice.

choc mudcakes (3)
Dairy Free Chocolate Mudcakes with Orange Sabayon

Yoghurt: I have a delicious coconut yoghurt recipe in my cookbook!

– Apple Berry Custard Crumble: This is one of our favourite desserts made with custard.

– Chocolate Pastry Creme:  A deliciously decadent creamy chocolate creme – they’ll never believe it’s not dairy!!!  I use it for filling profiteroles, or you could roll it up in crepes for dessert.  YUM!

– Chocolate Mousse:  A really easy dairy free chocolate mousse that tastes delicious.  With little bubbles all through it, it’s light and airy, but make sure you follow the instructions or it won’t fluff up properly.  Works best with room temperature eggs. Also great with blueberries and blueberry-chocolate-almond dirt!

blueberry mousse
Dairy Free Chocolate Mousse

Milkshakes & Smoothies

– Banana Raspberry Smoothie:  A basic recipe for making smoothies without milk, using nuts, seeds, dates, water, and whatever fruit you like.  The kids’ friends are always amazed that these smoothies have no milk in them!

– Banana Nut-Butter Protein Shake:  Love this for breakfast, or a quick pick-me-up!  Creamy and delicious.

– Chocolate (or Carob) Almond Smoothie:  This is the kid’s favourite.  (And the neighbour kids’ favourite!)

– Creamy Citrus Smoothie:  I know you don’t usually think of ‘creamy’ and ‘citrus’ together, but try this – it’s so good!

– Green Chocolate Smoothie: This is the BEST green smoothie ever – so decadent! You’d swear it had ice cream in it…

And there’s lots more smoothie ideas on my FB page and blog!

green choc smoothie (4)
Dairy Free Chocolate Green Smoothie

I’m constantly adding dairy free recipes to my site, and there are even more in my cookbook that are not on my blog; so if there’s something you’re looking for that you can’t find here, just search my site, or ask on my Facebook page.