Let’s walk though the most common ingredients used in baking and talk about how to make a dairy-free swap. There are a few things to keep in mind, like browning and melting points, but I’ll cover all of that below.
I prefer So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage for my baking because it’s neutral in taste and has more fat than other neutral flavored dairy-free milks.
1. How to Substitute Cow’s Milk
Cow’s milk contains protein, fat and natural sugars. Protein helps with structure and moisture. The fat makes your product more tender, while natural sugars help with flavor and they also give your baked goods that beautiful caramelized look. If the recipes you’re working with calls for a high fat milk, like whole milk, you’re better off reaching for unsweetened coconut milk, which is higher in fat than unsweetened almond milk. You could also use full fat coconut milk, or a combination of the two, but for most recipes it will work just fine to swap out cow’s milk for unsweetened coconut milk.
2. How to Substitute Buttermilk
Have you ever wondered what buttermilk is made of? It’s essentially cultured milk and has properties much like beloved kefir. Crazy, right? In baking, it adds a nice tang to your final product. The contrast is subtle but makes a difference.
Make Your Own Dairy-Free Buttermilk Recipe:
1 cup of dairy free milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
Stir well and let it sit for five minutes.
So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage
3. How to Substitute Chocolate
Lordy! What would we do without chocolate? The good news is that we can eat chocolate and still stay dairy-free. Where it gets a little tricky is also remaining refined sugar-free. Here’s how I make it work:
A lot of chocolate recipes call for cocoa powder, which is already dairy-free. If you need to be refined sugar-free, swap out the white sugar for coconut sugar and you should be in good shape.
For recipes that call for sweetened baking chocolate or chocolate chips, you can use a combination of unsweetened baking chocolate, coconut oil or palm shortening and honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar.
My favorite substitute for an ounce of semisweet chocolate is:
1 ounce HERSHEY’S Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar
a generous tablespoon coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup
2 teaspoons palm shortening or coconut oil
4. How to Substitute Butter
I’m going to nerd out on you for a second with some melting points but hang in with me – it will make sense!
Butter melts between 90 – 95 degrees F.
Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees F.
Palm Shortening melts at 97 degrees F.
Let’s talk this through – if you have a recipe that calls for butter and you swap out coconut oil, the fat will melt faster when you pop it it in the oven. Here’s why that matters – there’s some magic that happens before the fat melts. The leavening agent causes your cookies to rise. Your cake or cupcakes start to form. If the fat melts too early your final product will be different than anticipated. In most cases, you won’t notice a big difference. If you do, try a combination of coconut oil and palm shortening.
Or, if you want that buttery flavor try Earth Balance’s Vegan Buttery Sticks. I wasn’t able to find exact data on the melting point – I’ve got a tweet out to them now – but my experience has been that it’s about the same.
What other ideas do you need for your dairy-free baking? What works really well for you? Share with us!
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