Ice cream, all types of cheese, a little coffee creamer, and that morning yogurt have a special place in our hearts here at Plated. But sometimes, it’s nice to have a little break from dairy. Whether you’re trying out a vegan diet, or simply want to incorporate a few dairy alternatives into your cooking and baking repertoire, we’ve pulled together our favorite dairy-free swaps that will make your beloved cheese + milk aisle seem like a distant memory. And better yet—most of these recipes can be made with ingredients you likely already have stocked in your fridge and pantry.
Instead of cheese, try…
Cashew cream is a fantastic swap for any recipe in which you would use a cheesy or cream-based sauce. Whether drizzled atop pasta, mixed into a soup, plated with crudité and crackers, or spread on a bagel, this recipe is so easy you can’t not try it.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in enough water to completely cover the cashews
½ to ¾ cup water (depending on desired thickness of cream)
¼ teaspoon salt
Drain the cashews of their soaking water
Place cashews, ½ cup water, and salt in a high-speed blender or food processor, and blend until completely smooth (about 2 minutes in a high-speed blender, or 3–4 in a food processor). Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Drizzle in extra water as needed to reach desired consistency.
Add flavorings of choice (see below), and stir to incorporate. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Basil + chive
Garlic + herb
Instead of cow’s milk yogurt…
While making nut cheese can be a bit complicated, making coconut yogurt is super easy. All you need is a can of coconut milk and a few probiotic capsules (to thicken) and you’re ready to get started!
1 can coconut milk (full-fat works best)
2 probiotic capsules
Pour a can of coconut milk into a glass jar or ceramic bowl and whisk together the solid cream and liquid milk until most of the lumps disappear.
Empty the two probiotic capsules into the bowl, and stir using a wooden spoon (it’s very important to use a wooden or plastic spoon here, because metal spoons may interact negatively with the probiotic powder).
Cover the top of the jar or bowl with cheesecloth or a thin towel, and secure with a rubber band. Let sit for 24–48 hours at room temperature—the longer you leave it out, the more tangy the final product will be, so adjust according to taste.
Move the coconut yogurt to the fridge to thicken for 1–2 hours, and enjoy! Coconut yogurt can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Instead of cow’s milk…
As we’re sure you’ve noticed from perusing your local grocery store or ordering at your favorite coffee shop—you can make a “milk” from pretty much anything these days. From soy to coconut, pea to oat, there’s an alternative milk out there for every preference. Here at Plated, we’re partial to almond milk for its creamy texture and versatility in adapting to different flavors, but you can use this same basic recipe for any nut you like.
Instead of ice cream….
Make it banana
This has to be one of our favorite simple homemade desserts. Just throw some bananas in a blender, customize to your flavor preferences, and you have a delicious, frozen treat that comes together in less time than it takes to decide between mint chip and cookie dough in the freezer aisle.
2 frozen bananas, peeled and chopped into 1-inch slices
Optional flavor additions
Jam or preserves
Dark chocolate chips
Place the frozen banana slices into a food processor, and blend on high until smooth. Swirl in your desired toppings with a spoon, and serve immediately.
*Pro Tip: keep peeled, chopped bananas in your freezer to make this process even easier (peeling frozen bananas can be a bit of a pain).
If you have a bit more time on your hands and want to experiment with another variation of “nice” cream (as it’s often called in the non-dairy world), this coconut ice cream is a dream.
1 ½ cup canned coconut milk
½ cup alternative milk of choice (almond, cashew, soy, etc.)
¼ cup maple or agave syrup
⅛ tsp salt
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Optional flavor additions
Ground coffee or espresso powder
Dark chocolate chips
Stir all ingredients (minus optional add-ins) together in a bowl. Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze, 2-3 hours.
Blend the frozen ice cubes in a high-speed blender for 1–2 minutes, until completely smooth. Mix in any desired additional flavors. You can eat the ice cream as is for more of a soft-serve consistency, or return to the freezer for 1 hour for a firmer texture.
Store any leftovers in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
Instead of chocolate mousse, try…
If your use of avocados is limited to guacamole and toast toppers, you’re missing out on a whole world of dessert possibilities. Avocado creates a rich, creamy, silky base for the ultimate chocolate mousse, without the need for any dairy. This recipe is the perfect, no-fuss dessert to whip up for a dinner party…or to keep in the fridge for a lovely weeknight dessert.
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