• Email
  • Pin It

Baking Substitutions For Dairy Free Desserts *Giveaway*


Contributed by:



81 comments | Leave Comment


I love baking non-dairy desserts.  Most recipes I come across are dairy, though.  So I challenge myself to develop perfect non-dairy versions. Sometimes turning a recipe from dairy to dairy-free is as simple as replacing the butter with margarine.  But unfortunately, that doesn’t always work.  When developing a recipe, I never start from scratch.  I always take an existing, tried and true, recipe and tweak it.  I try to look for recipes that don’t need too much changing.  I prefer to try and change two ingredients or less.  For example, if a recipe calls for butter, milk, and sour cream, I usually stay away from it.

General Substitutions

In order to tweak a recipe, you always need to replace the dairy ingredient with an equivalent non-dairy ingredient.

  • Butter is a fat so it needs to be replaced with another fat like margarine, vegetable shortening or oil.
  • Milk can usually be substituted with soy milk.
  • Buttermilk has a little zing to it so it should be substituted with an equal amount of soy milk plus a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Sour cream should be replaced with an equal amount of tofutti sour cream.


Here is my usual cookie process.  If a cookie recipe calls for butter, I try replacing it with an equal amount of margarine.  Sometimes it works out and I do a little cheer!  If the cookies spread too much, I will chill the dough sufficiently before baking and try again.  If the cookies still spread too much I start over.  This time I replace the butter with half margarine and half vegetable shortening.  Vegetable shortening is a little more solid at room temperature than margarine so it usually helps to give cookies a nice shape.


For cake batter I usually replace butter with equal amounts of margarine or vegetable oil.  Since cake gets baked in a pan, I don’t worry about it holding its shape in the oven.  The milk gets replaced with soy milk.  I usually have success with most recipes.

Challenges and My New Secret Weapon

My toughest challenge is tackling yellow cake.  I have yet to develop the perfect non-dairy yellow cake recipe.  I’ve come close but I’m still not satisfied with the results.  Butter and milk are really the main ingredients giving dairy yellow cake its perfect flavor and texture.  The one trick I have up my sleeve is pudding mix.  I tried adding a packet of instant vanilla pudding mix to my typical non-dairy recipe and was so pleased!  Then I started wondering what other recipes would be improved with pudding mix.

I added a packet of instant vanilla pudding mix to my classic chocolate chip cookie recipe and I got a fluffy, cake-like cookie.  The pudding mix seems to stabilize the cookies and retain the moisture.  I already have a perfect non-dairy chocolate cake recipe but it yields a pretty soft cake.  I need a firmer cake for stacking tiered cakes.  I added a packet of chocolate pudding mix and voila!  Magic ingredient!  I am hoping that instant pudding mix will work in many more recipes because the biggest struggle in changing a recipe from dairy to lactose free is keeping the texture.  If pudding mix can help with that, then I will be a very happy baker.  My secret is out!

Here is an example of how I converted a recipe for Red Velvet Cake.

Red Velvet Cake by Gale Gand

1 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 ounces red food coloring
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermillk
1 tsp. red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Non-dairy version
Red Velvet Cake

1 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 ounces red food coloring
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup soy milk
2 tsp. red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

You can see that all I had to do was replace the buttermilk with soy milk and extra vinegar. The results were fantastic. Enjoy the full recipe for my Non Dairy Red Velvet Cake.

***Giveaway*** We are kicking off Summer with 10 Days of Giveaways!

Win this Duralex Picardie Glass 18 pc Set $50

To enter:

Sign up for our Recipe of the Day newsletter and let us know you did in the comments below, don’t forget to ask Melissa any of your pressing baking questions, she will answer you in the comments below too.

Contest ends July 12th  at 9:00AM EST. Make sure to check our contest page daily for new and exciting giveaways.

One winner will be chosen by online randomizer on July 12th .  Winners will be announced below.
All contests are open to US Residents 18 years old and up.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in


About Melissa Kaye Apter


Melissa is a classically trained pastry chef who uses her expertise to create delicious kosher desserts. She started her baking blog, Lil' Miss Cakes, to share her easy kosher pareve recipes and over the top cookies and cake creations. �Yum!




81 Responses to Baking Substitutions For Dairy Free Desserts *Giveaway*

  1. avatar says: niteowl

    Love Joy of Kosher daily recipes. I often rely on coconut milk as a rich parve ingredient.

  2. avatar says: Liene

    What about cottage cheese? Any good substitution?

  3. avatar says: hindyg

    I love this red velvet recipe! I am forever trying to find a way to parevize sweetened condensed milk. Any ideas? I signed up for the recipe newsletter.

  4. avatar says: dawns41

    What can I substitute for heavy whipping cream?
    Patricia Skinner on rafflecopter.

  5. avatar says: fangirl

    I sometimes like to substitute apple sauce for butter in a recipe. It gives the same moisture without the dairy and fat.

  6. I just signed up for the Recipe of the Day newsletter. I love JOK recipes, and I’m excited to get a daily reminder to check there for meal ideas.

  7. avatar says: pandora79

    I signed up for the Recipe of the Day newsletter. :)

  8. avatar says: Sizzling

    Thanks Melissa…I have the same issue baking a dairy recipe into a nondairy one! Now heres my Question: How do i make the perfect fondant?!

  9. I signed up for the daily recipe.

  10. I’m already signed up for the recipe of the day newsletter!

  11. avatar says: miriama59

    Signed up. No questions and I want to try the red velvet recipe!

  12. signed up. thanks for the ideas.

  13. avatar says: tsk11230

    I already signed up for the daily recipe.

  14. I signed up. I’m vegan, so I never use dairy, and I also don’t use eggs. I don’t use shortening, butter, or margarine for health reasons. Baking is surprisingly delicious when you substitute healthy ingredients! I honestly enjoy unhealthy baked goods far less now that I am used to healthy products.

  15. I am a parve junky so this post is fantastic! I don’t really have any substitution questions though…

  16. what about baking recipes that call for salt? i need to limit my sodium.

  17. I signed up for the recipe of the day newsletter. Any ideas for substituting tree nuts? I am allergic and always hate not being able to make a recipe if it calls for almonds.

  18. avatar says: Lexiquin

    I signed-up for the Recipe of the Day newsletter. I’ve relied on substitutions many times in the past ;)
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  19. avatar says: Lexiquin

    Can almond milk be substituted in pudding recipes?

  20. Thanks for the giveaway…subscribed to recipe newsletter; what is your experience with using olive oil in baking ?

    • I use light tasting olive oil in my cakes sometimes, it works out perfectly. I wouln’t really use a strong or dark olive oil because it would add too much olive flavor. Unless you like that!

  21. avatar says: chana s

    i already get the recipe of the day :) . i always wondered what i can substitute for condensed milk…?

  22. yes, what CAN you substitute for condensed milk?

  23. Shoshana Ohriner has a recipe for it that works pretty well in most applications, especially quick fudge. You can find it at the bottom of this post if you are interested!

  24. avatar says: Leez

    I signed up for the recipe a day and am looking forward to receiving them!

  25. avatar says: Shirley S

    Yaaaay! I signed up for the recipe of the day.

  26. avatar says: sjs

    Is there anything that is a good substitute for raisins in bread pudding? Can I use almond or soymilk instead of milk?
    I’m already signed for the recipe of the day. Thanks!

  27. avatar says: zahvig

    What’s the best substitute for milk in baking? Does it matter whether I use soymilk or rice milk?

  28. I’ve been on the newsletter list for a long while!

  29. avatar says: chefellen

    Just joined the newsletter. Looking forward to getting those delicious recipes. I am always looking for parve cake and cookie recipes.

  30. avatar says: JoanyPony

    I signed up for the newsletter and am always looking for new pareve recipes. Thanks for the Red Velvet substitutions.

  31. avatar says: yadler

    Signed up for news letter

  32. avatar says: yadler

    I like to use rice-milk as a substitute for milk.

  33. This is something I definitely need to print out and keep handy in my kitchen! I’m constantly looking for substitutions, but it always seems like more like experiments gone wrong than baking! Thanks for taking the guess work out of it!!

  34. avatar says: SusB

    Mimiccreme from Whole Foods is pareve without junkie synthetics and very usable. Have you tried it? Works great for me.

  35. avatar says: tamarw

    If a recipe calls for shrimp or pork, is it cut and dry to use something like chicken?

    p.s I am Tam S. ;)

  36. avatar says: susan1215

    What if a recipe call for cream, I often don’t have it on hand, any substitutions I can use?

  37. Is there a suitable substitute for garlic?
    brich22 at earthlink dot net

  38. avatar says: Bonni

    I really like to use cinnamon in my baking, but what can I use to get that type of flavor as a substitute when I run out?

  39. I’m signed up.

    Wanted to say I generally prefer both almond and coconut milk over soy milk for both taste and health issues. i try to go non-soy wherever I can so that when it *has* to be soy, I don’t have to worry about how much of it is in my diet.

  40. What is a good substitute for vanilla extract?

  41. avatar says: elk99

    I’m subscribed to the Recipe of the Day… and I love the buttermilk substitution tip. I use soymilk all the time, but I didn’t know what to do about buttermilk! Thank you!

  42. i signed up for the recipe of the day

  43. Love the tips. Do you know of any for egg substitutes?

  44. avatar says: saralaya

    I have been getting the recipe of the day and I really enjoy the mailings. I would love to learn more about substitutes in baking!!

  45. avatar says: cncplus8

    Signed up for recipe of the day. I have found that Earth’s best butter replacement holds up better than most margarines. I’ve been reading a lot about using avocado as a butter replacement have you tried this?

  46. avatar says: jagar0047

    we don’t drink cow’s milk, but instead use coconut,almond or soy milk. can any or all of these be substituted for cow’s milk in baking?

    jagar0047 at yahoo dot com

  47. avatar says: kityblue

    Signed up for recipe of the day…l use substitutions often.

  48. Signed up. Todah!

  49. avatar says: shulie

    I am truly surprised that no one has suggested baking with orange juice. My mother converted her mother’s pound cake recipe from milk to orange juice,and 3 generations have been making this wonderful cake ever since. I bake bran muffins regularly, and use either orange juice or apple juice. I also have a great recipe for a one-bowl chocolate cake that uses mayonnaise and water, no eggs,and has a wonderful soft texture and great taste!

  50. avatar says: Cara

    I’m so happy I found you. I signed up !!

  51. avatar says: Ava

    I signed Up for the newsletter !

  52. Quick question… What kind of margarine do you use? I’m on a dairy free diet due to breastfeeding a HIGHLY dairy sensitive baby and the margarine I have (country crock) has whey in it which is derived from dairy……

    • I usually use Fleishmanns margarine, the original, not the butter flavored. It has no dairy but it does have soy. I’ve been switching over to earth balance buttery sticks lately, they are a vegan alternative that I really like!

  53. Hi! Thanks for doing all the work figuring out the substitutions! One question, though. You said you use pudding mix in cakes, but isn’t that a dairy product? Or is it just the milk you have to add that makes it dairy? for some reason, I thought it had milk solids in it, like instant milk, or something.
    Thanks again,

  54. avatar says: Ros Kaye

    Great site – thanks

Leave a Reply

Log in or Join For Free or leave a reply as a guest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  Notify me of follow-up comments by email