Are you lactose intolerant? Then, you’re probably always searching for dairy substitutes that are easy to implement in your daily routine.

It’s a surprising fact to many, but about 75% of the worldwide population is lactose intolerant. This condition happens when a body doesn’t produce enough lactase (the enzyme required to digest milk sugar) to digest the lactose (the sugar found in milk) in dairy products.

If you are one of the 75% affected by lactose intolerance, you have likely found yourself searching for recipes that don’t contain dairy. It isn’t always an easy task, but if you know a dairy substitute for certain ingredients, it’ll be that much easier to plan and cook meals. This way, if you find a recipe that sounds good but contains dairy, you’ll be able to substitute the dairy ingredients for something else.

If you aren’t positive that you have lactose intolerance but believe that it is a problem, it is best to talk to your doctor to ensure that there isn’t another issue causing your problem. Never diagnose yourself, as there could be a serious underlying issue that needs medical attention. In the meantime, however, avoiding dairy would be wise so that you don’t suffer from the side effects that include:

  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • indigestion
  • nausea

12 Dairy Substitutes For Lactose Intolerant People

1. Milk substitute

Let’s start with the most basic of all dairy sources: milk. We use milk for drinking, cooking, and baking, so it is crucial to figure out a suitable dairy substitute. There are quite a few options that everyone with lactose intolerance must try, however, and the final choice will be made based on your preference.

Some of the non-dairy milk options include:

  • almond milk
  • rice milk
  • oat milk
  • coconut milk
  • cashew milk
  • hemp milk
  • flaxseed milk

Each milk on the list contains different nutrients and vitamins, and some may contain other ingredients. Make sure to read all ingredient labels to watch out for things like added sugars or little nutritional value and adjust as needed.

2. Chocolate substitute

You may be surprised to know that chocolate generally contains dairy, so if you’re lactose intolerant, you may not be able to consume the regular version safely. Frequently, the semi-sweet or bittersweet baking chocolate is free of dairy, but the actual chocolate candy bars do contain dairy. It is always best to just read the ingredient labels to know for sure which are safe and which aren’t.

3. Buttermilk substitute

We often use this ingredient for dredging fried foods, making homemade dressings, homemade fluffy pancakes, and in many baked desserts. Since it contains dairy and is such a useful ingredient, it is essential to find a replacement for it. Luckily, there are a couple of different options for a dairy substitute in place of regular buttermilk.

One option is to mix 1 cup of soy milk with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. You will then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes in the refrigerator to allow it to thicken, and then use the thickened mixture in place of the buttermilk.

Another option is to use plain soy yogurt in place of the buttermilk or to use soy sour cream mixed with unsweetened soy milk in a 2-to-1 ratio.

4. Yogurt substitutes

Just like with milk, there are a variety of options at the grocery store to replace regular dairy yogurt. Some of these options include:

  • coconut milk yogurt
  • almond milk yogurt
  • soy milk yogurt
  • hemp milk yogurt

The flavored versions of these yogurts may have a high amount of added sugars, so be sure to read the nutrition information.

5. Evaporated milk substitute

Often found in desserts, sauces, and casseroles, evaporated milk is a popular ingredient in many everyday dishes. Substituting it for a non-dairy option is relatively easy, as plain soy yogurt or soy coffee creamer can fill its place.

6. Alfredo sauce substitute

Store-bought alfredo sauces are out of the question, as most of them contain milk. Your only other option is to make homemade Alfredo sauce. You can find a recipe that is already dairy-free, or you can use one that contains dairy and substitute the dairy ingredients for non-dairy options.

7. Ice cream substitute

This dairy-filled treat is relatively easy to find a delicious replacement for. You can purchase dairy-free ice cream at the grocery store that uses coconut or soy milk. Another option is to choose a sorbet, which never contains dairy and lives in the same aisle as ice cream.

You can also make your desserts at home that are similar to ice cream. One option is to blend frozen bananas and berries, to which you can also add other flavorings. This delicious substitute is likely going to be healthier and lower in calories, too.

8. Sour cream substitute

Sour cream is a staple on top of many dishes, and finding an alternative is likely vital for anyone who is lactose intolerant. Luckily, there are a couple of options to replace it with.

First, you could buy a soy-based sour cream at the grocery store, or you could buy a version that contains beans, oils, and gums. If neither of those options works for you, you can use plain dairy-free yogurt instead, as it is very similar to sour cream.

9. Cheese substitute

Cheese can be a tricky ingredient to substitute, but it is possible. The replacement depends on which type of cheese you want, as many kids of cheese are different in taste and texture.

You can make dairy-free cream cheese using cashews or almonds but, if you would prefer a store-bought option, you should be able to find one near the traditional cream cheese. If you need something similar to ricotta or cottage cheese, crumbled tofu is the best option.

For Parmesan cheese, you can use nutritional yeast to mimic the flavor. Another bonus of this substitution is that nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12.

Unfortunately, hard cheeses have been harder to replicate and, while many scientists are still trying to figure it out, there has been no perfect option created yet. Many companies have tried, however, and you may be able to find some of the products in your local grocery store.

10. Condensed milk substitute

Condensed milk is a popular ingredient in many dessert recipes and is also used in sweet, cold drinks. While you can’t buy a dairy-free version, you can make one using only one can of full-fat coconut milk and 1/4 cup real maple syrup or raw honey. This simple, 2-ingredient recipe is the most delicious substitute you could ask for.

11. Butter substitute

There are a couple of dairy butter substitutes to consider including nut and seed butter and butter made primarily of vegetable oil. The vegetable oil blends contain anywhere from 50-100 calories, 6-11 grams of fat, and no protein or carbs at all. The nut and seed butter options include anywhere from 90-130 calories, 0-3 grams of protein, 0-8 grams of carbs, 0-10 grams of fat, depending on which type of nut or seed you use.

The nut and seed options include:

  • coconut
  • coconut and cashew blend
  • nut butter

12. Dairy substitute for cream

Many non-dairy versions of the cream include coconut milk, but other variants include soy, cashews, other tree nuts, and vegetable oil. One benefit of this replacement is that non-dairy cream has fewer calories and fat than dairy cream.

Be careful if you buy the non-dairy version at a grocery store as many options contain ingredients that should be avoided, such as high-fructose corn syrup and trans fat. It would be safer to make a homemade recipe at home.

What Happens if a Lactose Intolerant Person Consumes Milk?

One or more of the side effects are bound to occur if someone with lactose intolerance consumes dairy. The severity of the side effects varies, however, as it depends on the following:

  • the amount of dairy consumed
  • the person’s severity of the intolerance
lactose intolerant dairy subsitutes
Read the research about how drinking milk might impact your health.

Final Thoughts On Trying Dairy Substitutes for Lactose Intolerant People

Being lactose intolerant can make meals and snacks difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. By learning a healthy dairy substitute for all of the standard dairy products, you’ll be opening up many possibilities for a dairy-free diet.

It is essential for a person who is lactose intolerant to eliminate dairy from their diet to prevent severe and unpleasant side effects or discomfort. Always remember to check nutritional values and ingredient lists to make sure you’re not adding harmful ingredients to your diet and to ensure all products are dairy-free.