There are many ways in which you can make vegan versions of typical dairy products. Click the items below for more information about each.
There are many good plant-based alternatives to dairy milk. You can buy plant-based milk in both the refrigerated and non-refrigerated sections of most grocery stores. If you currently drink cow’s milk, we suggest that you start with the refrigerated milk. We like almond milk, but there are many other tasty alternatives such as coconut, oat, soy, hemp and rice. Each brand of plant milk will taste different, so the soy milk in one brand will not taste like the soy in another line. Experiment with different brands to find the one you like best.
To replace powdered dairy milk, try Better than Milk Non-Dairy Powder which can be found at natural food stores and online.
Homemade Nut Milk Recipe
You can make your own nut milk by soaking 1 cup raw and unsalted nuts (almonds, cashews – virtually any nut) in several cups of filtered water. Cover the nuts and let them soak overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, drain and rinse the nuts. Put the nuts and 3 cups of filtered water into a blender. You can also add ½ teaspoon sea salt if desired. For sweetened milk add 1 to 2 tablespoons agave and for sweetened vanilla add ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract in addition to the agave. Blend on high speed until the mixture is frothy. Add up to 1 additional cup of filtered water for a thinner consistency. Strain the milk using a fine mesh strainer or place a cheese cloth bag in a large bowl and pour the plant milk in the bag to strain. Refrigerated in a covered glass container or jar, nut milk keeps about four days.
BUTTER & MARGARINE
Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening and Earth Balance are two commercially available replacements to dairy butter/margarine. Earth Balance is widely available and comes in several flavors including original, sweet cinnamon (which is especially good for baking), soy free, olive oil and whipped. You can also use coconut oil to replace butter.
Homemade Vegan Butter Recipe
You can make vegan butter at home using “aquafaba”, which is the liquid from canned chickpeas (or the liquid from cooking chickpeas). If you are not experienced using aquafaba, we suggest that you make this recipe using liquid from canned chickpeas.
- 1/3 cup solid coconut oil
- 4 teaspoons canola oil
- 3 T Aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas)
- 2/3 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
- Pinch of ground turmeric (optional for color)
Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the oil from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature. Stir in the canola oil.
Combine the aquafaba and vinegar or lemon juice in a Mason jar and begin blending with an immersion (stick) blender. It should start to thicken within a few seconds, so begin pouring the oil mixture into it slowly, and continue blending until it thickens into something resembling mayonnaise.
At this point, taste it to see whether it needs salt; if it does, add the 1/3 teaspoon. Mix in the turmeric, if using, to give the vegan butter a little color.
Scrape the mixture into a container; refrigerate uncovered overnight or until firm. Once it’s firm, you can cover it and refrigerate or freeze, as needed.
Cashew cream is a great replacement to diary cream and can be used in place of it in almost any recipe. Below is a basic cashew cream recipe. To it we generally add a pinch of salt. For sweetened cream add a little of your favorite sweetener. For a savory cashew cream, add fresh or dried herbs of choice and nutritional yeast to taste.
Basic Homemade Cashew Cream Recipe
This is our basic go-to recipe. Soak 1 cup cashews in warm water for several hours or overnight. Rinse and drain the cashews. Place the cashews in a blender along with ½ cup fresh filtered water. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a covered glass container and refrigerate.
We generally use Follow Your Heart Vegenaise or Just Mayo. Other good commercial brands of vegan mayo are Mindful Mayo by Earth Balance and Mayonnaise by Nasoya. Both Veganaise and Nasoya make a “light” version of their plant mayonnaise and these are available at many natural grocery stores. Try several commercial brands to determine your favorite.
Homemade Vegan Mayo Recipe
- 3 T lemon juice (preferably fresh)
- ½ cup soy milk (please use soy milk for this recipe)
- 1 tsp. prepared mustard
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- 6 T vegetable or other neutral oil
Combine all ingredients except the vegetable oil in a blender and blend on the lowest speed until incorporated. Very slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture (while blending on low speed) and continue blending until mixture is smooth and thick. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate.
Native Foods Mayo Recipe
(from Native Foods cooking demo)
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1 cup soaked raw cashews
- ¼ cup raw cauliflower diced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. yellow mustard
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. organic sugar
- 1 T lemon juice
- ½ tsp. guar gum
- Pinch of sea salt
In food processor, combine water, cashews, and cauliflower, blending until creamy. Add half the EVOO and process for about 30 seconds. Add the rest of the EVOO and process until thick and creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and process. Taste. Add more salt, mustard and/or lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate to thicken.
Two widely available pre-made brands are Tofutti Better than Sour Cream and Follow Your Heart Sour Cream. If you want to make your own sour cream, you can do so using tofu or nuts (or both) or even vegetables like pureed cauliflower and seeds! Try making several different recipes to see which you prefer.
Cashew & Tofu Sour Cream Recipe
(adapted from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman)
- ½ cup raw cashews (soak overnight then rinse and drain prior to using)
- 1 package firm water packed tofu, drained (14 to 16 oz. package)
- 2 T white wine vinegar
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 2 T sweet white miso
- 2 T almond or walnut oil
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for several minutes or until the mixture is very smooth. Transfer to a covered glass container and refrigerate for up to a week. Use as you would dairy sour cream.
Tofu Sour Cream Recipe
- 1 box silken tofu
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. rice vinegar
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Chill before using.
Cashew Sour Cream Recipe
- 1 cup raw cashews (that have been soaked in water for several hours or overnight then rinsed & drained)
- 1 T white miso
- juice of 1 small lemon
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 T filtered water
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until very creamy. If desired, you can add an additional tablespoon or two of filtered water.
You can easily make plant-based whipped topping using nuts, full-fat coconut milk or the liquid from canned chickpeas!
Homemade Nutty Whipped Cream
- ½ cup macadamia nuts
- ¾ cup cashews
- 2 T agave
- 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup water
- 2 T cocoa powder (OPTIONAL – for chocolate whipped topping)
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. The mixture may appear thin, but becomes thicker once refrigerated. Transfer the mixture to a glass container and refrigerate at least two hours before using (overnight is best).
Homemade Coconut Whipped Cream
This recipe from Bonnie Kaape.
- 1 can (approximately 15 oz.) of full fat coconut milk (do NOT use reduced fat or lite)
- ¼ cup powdered sugar (more or less to taste)
- ½ tsp. vanilla or flavor of choice
Place can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for about 1 hour prior to using. Do not shake or turn the can upside down! Open the can carefully and spoon out the top layer of congealed opaque white coconut that has gathered at the top of the can. Spoon this top layer into a mixing bowl. Save the leftover translucent liquid that remains in the can for use in a smoothie or something else of your choosing. Add the ¼ cup of powdered sugar and flavoring of your choice to the mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer or electric mixer. When the consistency is that of whipped cream and holds peaks, it is ready to use!
Homemade Aquafaba Whipped Cream Recipe
- Liquid from 2 cans chickpeas
- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
- 2 tsp’s vanilla extract
- 1 cup raw sugar (more or less to taste)
Drain the chickpeas keeping the liquid (use the chickpeas to make The Best Tuna-Less Salad). Place the chickpea liquid in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Beat the mixture with an electric beater (hand-held or stand) for about 15 minutes, or until it gets fully and has the consistency of whipped cream.
There are several brands of commercial vegan cream cheese available including Daiya, Tofutti, Follow Your Heart and Galaxy Nutrition. Try several brands (and flavors) to find your favorite(s). If you want to make your own cream cheese, try the easy recipe below.
Homemade Cream Cheese Recipe
This recipe is from http://www.connoisseurusveg.com/recipes
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours
- 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ tbsp. canola oil
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- Optional: your favorite cream cheese flavorings (like 2 finely chopped scallions)
Place all ingredients except the optional ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. This may take several minutes. Remove and stir in optional ingredients/flavorings, if using.
There are several non-dairy yogurt brands commercially available including So Delicious and Whole Soy & Co. brands. If you want to make your own vegan yogurt, check out the recipes at
- Happy Herbivore (http://happyherbivore.com/recipe/homemade-vegan-yogurt-tofu-yogurt/),
- Carrie on Living (http://www.carrieonliving.com/2013/04/26/healthy-vegan-friday-homemade-vegan-yogurt-recipe-contest/) and
- greenleavesandjam (http://greenleavesandjam.com/the-easiest-crock-pot-homemade-yogurt-vegan-plant-based/)
HALF & HALF
You can also use canned coconut cream (not milk) as a substitute for cream or cashew cream (recipe above). If you want to buy a commercial brand, try the coconut milk creamer by So Delicious as well as other brands to determine your favorite(s).
Coconut Oat Vanilla Nut Vegan Coffee Creamer
This recipe is from Kathy Hester of healthyslowcooking.com.
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup finely shredded coconut
- 1 cup water
- 1 T agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. almond extract, or to taste
Put the oats and coconut into your blender and break into tiny pieces. Add the water and let soak for 10 minutes. Blend again for 3 minutes or until smooth.
Run the creamer through a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl to strain out the oat pieces.
Put the liquid, sweetener and extract back in the blender and blend until the sweetener is incorporated and dissolved.
Rich Cashew Creamer Recipe
This recipe is from Sarahsveganvida.com
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 2 tsp. hemp or chai seeds
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. vanilla bean powder (we sub liquid vanilla extract)
- 3 to 4 large pitted medjool dates (or sub ¼ cup sweetener of your choice)(we soak the dates in warm water for 20 minutes before adding)
- 1 to 2 T maple syrup
- 1 ¼ cups filtered water
If you have a high speed blender, you don’t need to soak your cashews before-hand. If using a regular blender, soak cashews for 2 hours beforehand and discard water.
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Mixture will thicken in fridge. I keep my creamer super thick so when I add it to a drink, it creates the same effect chemical laden dairy creamers do. This recipe can be adjusted to your liking! Add in 1 packet of Stevia for a super sweet creamer and no blood sugar spike.
For each cup of buttermilk needed, mix 1 tablespoon white vinegar or 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice with 1 cup plant milk. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes before adding it to your recipe.
There are many good commercially available alternatives to dairy ice cream. Try different brands like Nada Moo and So Delicious (which come in a variety of flavors), to find your favorite(s). You can also make non-dairy “ice-cream” at home using bananas, nuts or coconut cream.
Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream Recipe
This may be the best ice “cream” ever! The ingredients must be exact in order for the recipe to be successful. It is from Ron Pickarski’s Classical Vegetarian Cookbook http://www.eco-cuisine.com/
- 13 1/2 oz. can coconut cream
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 T raw cashews (whole or course pieces)
- 1/8 tsp. sea salt
Pour all ingredients into a 1 or 2 quart blender and blend for about a minute on high speed. The mixture should be smooth and creamy with no grit when rubbed between one’s fingers.
Pour into a container and freeze.
Esther Approved Ice Cream Recipe (follow Esther at http://www.estherthewonderpig.com/ )
Step 1: Freeze 3 peeled bananas until solid
Step 2: Break each banana into about 4 pieces and place in a blender
Step 3: Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 4: Add 2-3 Tablespoons plant-milk (soy, almond, rice etc.)
Step 5: Blend!
If you have a high power blender this will be a breeze. If not, you will have to stop a few times and stir the mixture before it blends into ice cream. If it does not blend easily add extra plant-milk, a tablespoon at a time.
Warm Berry Sauce
In a sauce pan place 1/2 cup frozen or fresh raspberries, blueberries or strawberries or a combination of all and 1/4 cup water. Heat, stirring often until warm. Serve over Esther’s Ice-Cream. Because the ice cream is sweet there is no need to add sugar to the sauce.
Hot Fudge Sauce
In a saucepan add 1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips, 1/4 cup plant-based milk (soy, almond, rice etc.) and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Cook over medium heat stirring often until chocolate is melted and sauce is thick. If it’s too thick add more plant-milk. Serve over ice cream with chopped peanuts, almonds or pecans.