Written by Larissa Stanley, a volunteer at Calgary Family Nutrition. For more information, you can see her bio here

Nothing beats the smell of fresh baking in the house! I think sometimes I choose to bake just so I can come home later and smell the fresh baked goods!  Luckily, baking doesn’t need to stop when changing to eating dairy-free.

The two big dairy culprits in most baking are butter and milk.

Butter can be replaced with a few things.

  • In muffins, cookies, and bread, replace butter one-to-one, with:
    • Oil (like canola or olive).
    • Applesauce.
  • In cakes, the creaming of the butter and sugar is important for their light and fluffy texture. Consider replacing butter, one-to-one with:
    • Dairy-free margarine. Dairy-free margarines can have different fat contents than butter, so it might be trial and error to find the one that works best for you.

Milk in recipes can vary from regular fluid milk to heavy cream.

  • Regular fluid milk can be replaced one-to-one with fortified plant-based beverages.
    • Consider the previous post about nutrients in different plant-based beverages when choosing which one to bake with.
    • Buy unsweetened non-dairy milk otherwise your baking will come out much sweeter than expected.
    • Be aware that different beverages can add different flavours to your baking. For example, coconut milk will often leave a distinct coconut flavour. This might be a good addition in some baking and not so welcome in others.
  • Light cream can be replaced with light-canned coconut milk or non-dairy creamers.
  • Heavy cream can be replaced with full-fat coconut milk.
  • Make your own buttermilk by adding 1 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of non-dairy milk and waiting around 10 minutes.

I find that muffins are the most resilient baked good to try and adjust. If you want to experiment with dairy-free baking, muffins are a good place to start! When making muffins and they always seem to turn out tasty. My favourite recipe lately for banana muffins is actually dairy-free without any modifications. It uses applesauce instead of butter. The applesauce and banana make the muffins really moist while providing a sweet flavour without as much sugar. And of course, they make my house smell delicious. I like enjoying it with some nut-butter, to add some healthy fats, for a quick snack or breakfast.

Dairy Free Banana Muffins

Banana muffins made with applesauce. 

  • 1 3/4 cups Whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (white or brown, I have used both!)
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium Overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened applesauce (I usually use the prepackaged cups, one is ½ cup)
  • Any mix-ins you would like (Nuts, dairy-free chocolate chips etc…)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

  2. Spray your muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with oil (This is important as there is no fat in this recipe so they will stick if you don’t spray!)

  3. Whisk together applesauce and sugar. Whisk in eggs then add mashed banana. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add together and mix well. 
  4. Spoon into muffin tins

  5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes. (I made mini muffins that were done at about 18 minutes).