I’m coming up on a year of being dairy free due to my baby’s dairy intolerance and during that time I made it my mission was to find the BEST dairy free desserts.
Turns out, you can still indulge in fantastic dairy free treats if you know where to find them.
I had no idea that dairy allergies and intolerance were so common, but I hear more and more moms telling me that they are also avoiding dairy while breastfeeding.
Unfortunately dairy is in EVERYTHING! Well, not quite, but it sure feels like it when you’re starting out.
If you’re just still considering cutting out dairy, check out my great tips to make dairy free breastfeeding easier.
I have never been very good about sticking to diets. In fact, I have never lasted more than a week or so on any other diet… ever. So I knew that I would really struggle being dairy free.
But I also knew the consequences of cheating were pain and tears for my baby as well and sleepless nights for us both. So I was motivated to make this work.
By far the hardest thing for me about avoiding dairy is the missing out on all of my favorite sweets. So if you have a serious sweet tooth, like me, being dairy free can be particularly difficult as so many desserts contain milk products.
Sure there’s always fruit for dessert, but I love chocolate and cake. Milk chocolate is obviously off limits, as are most cakes, cookies, and pastries.
Mom life can be so frustrating and exhausting, its little things that help keep me sane. One of these little things is chocolate. So I was determined to find dairy free chocolate desserts.
After nearly a year, I’ve been through all of the birthdays, special events, and holidays so I’ve found the best dairy free cakes, cookies, and sweet treats. I’ve been figuring out which dairy free desserts to buy and which to make as well as what substitutions work best.
It turns out that there are actually lots of delicious dairy free treats for sweet lovers like myself. Obviously, there’s a lot of variability in personal preference, so while I only picked foods that I find delicious, I also considered how easy these items are to make, find in stores, and cost. I hate having to run multiple places for groceries or go to specialty stores to pay a small fortune for one item. I also don’t particularly like to cook so I look for easy dairy free dessert recipes.
**Though I listed items that I use and love, ALWAYS check the labels. Companies change formulas and ingredients all the time, so make sure you double check before consuming. Also, if you are extremely sensitive to dairy, some of them have statements that they “may contain milk” so were processed in a facility with other dairy products and there’s a chance of cross contamination.
So at the risk of sounding completely food obsessed, here are the best dairy free desserts to buy and make:
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Dairy Free Brownies
Fortunately, many brands of boxed brownie mix are already dairy free (check those labels because even within a brand, not all varieties are dairy free). Many also call for oil instead of butter, so you don’t even have to make any substitutions.
I usually buy Duncan Hines, but many other brands have dairy free varieties as well.
Honestly, dairy free brownies and my top pick for the easiest dairy free dessert to make.
Dairy Free Ice Cream
If you like sorbet, then you’re in luck, because it is already dairy free (for most brands). For the rest of us though, there are lots of brands and varieties of dairy free ice cream available!
While I’ve yet to meet one that I didn’t like, my favorite is Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream – the P. B. and cookies flavor to be specific. So good…
The thing to look for with dairy free ice cream or “frozen dessert” as some are labeled is what it uses as a base – almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk…
I’m not the biggest coconut fan, so those aren’t usually my favorite. Though I must admit you can’t always taste it. I personally think that often the cashew milk ones have the most ice cream-like consistency.
As far as dairy free desserts to buy, dairy free ice cream is a great option because you can usually find some in your regular grocery store. Be prepared, they usually cost more than their dairy counterparts.
Also, you can dress up your ice cream with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup which also happened to be dairy free.
**Note: Be extremely careful reading your labels for items called “non-dairy” because it does NOT necessarily mean dairy free. Non-dairy items can contain milk protein which is exactly what you may be trying to avoid for a milk protein allergy or intolerance.
Dairy Free Cake
Sadly, dairy free cakes seem hard to find. Most bakeries do not offer them, but I have been lucky enough to find vegan cupcakes a few places.
The good news is that, dairy free cakes are not hard to make!
Many cake box mixes are dairy free (as always, check the labels). The dairy is often one of the ingredients that you add, usually butter. You can easily use vegetable oil (some boxes even mention this specifically) or a butter substitute.
Another option is Angel Food Cake which is generally dairy free, no substitutions required.
But what is cake without frosting? And that must have dairy, right? Wrong, dairy free cake frosting is actually easy to find or make!
You may be surprised to find that many of the normal brands of frosting do not contain any dairy. Obviously, check the labels and be aware that even within a brand different varieties have different ingredients.
I also use cake mix to make pumpkin muffins. They are a super easy dairy free treat! You can find that recipe here.
Dairy Free Cookies
There are some great options for dairy free cookies.
First, Oreos are dairy free, who knew? The creme filling is not actually cream, but it is delicious.
Also, if it’s Girl Scout cookie season, their best seller (and my personal favorite), Thin Mints, are also dairy free.
Finally, Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie are awesome. These protein cookies are a splurge item for me, but they’re so delicious, I find them well worth the price. They come in two size, the smaller one is a normal cookie size and the larger one is huge! With lots of flavors to try, you’re sure to find one you like. My favorite in the peanut butter chocolate chip.
If you prefer to make your own cookies, you also have lots of options. Many recipes can be modified slightly or simply switch to a butter substitute for easy dairy free cookies.
For instance, an all time favorite cookie, Chocolate chip, is easy to make with shortening instead of butter. But what about the chocolate chips??? No worries, there are dairy free chocolate chips available!
Enjoy Life chocolate chips are dairy free and you can find them at most grocery stores or on Amazon. Trader Joe’s chocolate chips are also dairy free and can save you a little money, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby.
Perhaps you don’t have time to bake from scratch, you’re also in luck. Pillsbury’s refrigerated sugar cookie dough is dairy free. This was a great find for baking dairy free Christmas cookies this year!
Dairy Free Cheesecake
I LOVE cheesecake! I pretty much assumed they would be completely off limits while dairy free.
While I have seen some recipes online… I must admit that I haven’t tried them yet. Did I mention that I’m not much of a cook?
So I was thrilled to find Daiya Cheezecake.
Now I will be honest, it is not exactly the same and real cheesecake. BUT, they’re still pretty awesome.
Out of their flavors, the key lime pie cheezecake is my favorite.
Other Dairy Free Desserts and Snacks
Larabar – These dairy free fruit and nut bars make a perfect snack or treat on the go. There’s tons of varieties to choose from, so I must admit that I do not care for every flavor. (Chocolate chips cookie dough is the best!) They have few ingredients, no added sugars, and are minimally processed so I consider them pretty healthy.
Blue Diamond Cocoa Almonds– Almonds are a great protein-packed, healthy snack. These cocoa almonds really make them a sweet dairy free treat! They are so delicious and pretty healthy, so I eat them all the time without guilt.
Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk – Ok so it’s not exactly a dessert or snack per se, but this chocolate almond milk is creamy and delicious!
Dark Chocolate – Craving some dairy free chocolate? Dark chocolate seems like the perfect answer, but you have to make sure to read the labels.
Not all dark chocolate is dairy free, in fact, most of the common brands of chocolate you find in your local grocery store likely have milk products. Look for high quality dark chocolate with a high percent of cacao. While there are many brands of dairy free chocolate, they aren’t always easy to find at your local grocery store. But at most stores you can find Lindt Excellence dark chocolate bars in 70%, 85%, 90% or 99% which are all dairy free.
Avoiding dairy can be so hard, you deserved to indulge when you can. I hope this list helps you find some amazing dairy free desserts to enjoy!
Any other dairy free moms out there? What’s your favorite dairy free dessert?