Dairy-free breakfast: How to make your morning meal without dairy

Have you ever wondered how to make your favorite recipes dairy-free? Let us show you the way by making some of our most well-loved recipes without dairy. In this post we explore how to make a dairy-free breakfast, complete with biscuits, scones, pancakes, waffles, and a sweet treat to end the meal.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthurflour

Note: for the sake of this post, eggs are not considered dairy ingredients. If you’re looking to bake without eggs, check out these vegan recipes.

Breakfast is quite possibly the best meal to bake and share with others. There’s coffee, plus you can have a sweet or savory baked good (or one of each). But what happens when you find out one of your breakfast companions is dairy-free? Don’t abandon your favorite recipes! We’ll show you how to make a dairy-free breakfast that’s sure to please everyone.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Dairy-free scones

I like to start breakfast with a bit of a warmup: a hot drink and a slightly sweet treat, preferably a classic scone. These humble baked goods are set apart by their craggy crust and tender crumb.

Typically scones achieve their perfect texture because of the butter and milk in the dough. But what to do when these ingredients are off the table?

We head to the test kitchen to find out. 

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

In place of butter in scones, you can use a number of dairy-free alternatives like coconut oil or shortening. These fats both add their own particular flavor, and the scones’ texture is a bit heavier and richer than usual.

To make dairy-free scones that are practically identical to those made with butter, try using a non-dairy butter alternative like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. They can be found at most grocery stores, and offer a surprisingly delightful, buttery flavor.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Most scones also call for liquid, like milk or half & half. In this case, use your favorite non-dairy milk instead. Choose plain, unsweetened milk so you can control the sweetness of the final scones.

The fat content of non-dairy milk will affect the texture of your baked goods. Higher fat milks (like coconut, hemp, and soy) create a more tender crumb and taste richer. Those milks with mid-range fat contents (almond and rice) will behave similarly to 2% milk — pleasant mouth-feel and flavor. Low-fat or fat-free milk options (cashew and flax) will make a “leaner” baked good that’s not quite as moist but still tasty.

We like the flavor and texture when either soy or almond milk is used in scones. Almond milk, in particular, has just the right amount of fat to add tenderness without making the scones greasy.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Dairy-free scones recommendation: Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and almond milk.

Dairy-free biscuits

Perhaps you’re more of a savory person and like to start off the day with a buttery biscuit. Now you might think that a biscuit without butter or dairy isn’t possible or tasty, but I promise it can be both.

We test two different kinds of recipes to find the best biscuit to add to your dairy-free breakfast menu: classic Baking Powder Biscuits and our two-ingredient Never-Fail Biscuits.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Classic: Baking Powder Biscuits

These flaky, lofty biscuits get most of their charm from the butter that’s cut into the flour. We experiment with other solid, non-dairy fats to see if any can hold a candle to butter. Coconut oil, shortening, and lard all get a chance to make a perfect non-dairy biscuit.

Similar to scones, the rich, buttery flavor comes through best when we use Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. They’re surprisingly tasty!

The other options aren’t bad either; they each impart their own flavor and texture. If you’d like to read more about what to expect from these other fats, check out this blog about using different fats and liquids in biscuits.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Speaking of liquid, that’s something you’ll want to consider too. For biscuits, we like plain, unsweetened soy milk. It’s richer (has a higher fat content) than other non-dairy milks, and when it comes to biscuits, that means a more tender crumb.

If you use other non-dairy milks, you can experiment with using an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat to achieve best results.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

It’s buttery (even without the dairy), I promise!

Dairy-free classic biscuits recommendation: Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and soy milk.

Stir-together: Never-Fail Biscuits

What about biscuits that use heavy cream or half & half to achieve their lovely brown crust and tender texture? They can be part of your dairy-free breakfast plan too!

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Our Never-Fail Biscuits are just as fast and delicious when cream is replaced by canned coconut milk, which is both dairy-free and high in fat. It’s important to use canned coconut milk; it has a high fat content, which is what we’re looking for here.

Other non-dairy milks just aren’t going to cut it in this recipe. The test versions came out wet, flat, and tough. However, you can try using plain, unsweetened non-dairy creamer if you can’t get your hands on canned coconut milk.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Dairy-free stir-together biscuits recommendation: canned coconut milk.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Dairy-free pancakes and waffles

Once you’ve had a scone or biscuit, it’s time for the main event: pancakes! Or perhaps you’re a waffle-lover. We’ll include tips for you, too.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

We test our favorite standby pancake recipe, Simply Perfect Pancakes, with dairy-free alternatives for the butter and milk.

This is easy: use a neutral-flavored vegetable oil if your recipe calls for melted butter.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Bonus! Using vegetable oil makes waffles extra crispy.

As for the milk, you really can’t go wrong with any plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk. Almond and soy milk are almost always good choices if your recipe calls for either 1%, 2% or whole milk.

We like the subtle nutty taste of almond milk when it’s used in pancakes or waffles. Maple syrup brings out the best of this flavor.

Dairy-free pancakes and waffles recommendation: vegetable oil and almond milk.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

Dairy-free breakfast cake

A special breakfast isn’t complete without a sweet ending, whether you’re baking dairy-free or not. One of the most perfect ways to impress your breakfast guests is with Blueberry Breakfast Cake: a souffle/cheesecake-like treat that’s studded with berries.

At first glance, this recipe might make any dairy-intolerant baker cringe. It calls for butter, cottage cheese or ricotta, and sour cream. But believe it or not, there’s no need to skip recipes like this simply because you’re making a dairy-free breakfast.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

In this recipe, butter is melted and combined with eggs and sugar. Melting an equal amount of coconut oil works like a charm here. It can add a subtle floral flavor, depending on the kind you use. Melted Earth Balance or shortening will also work to replace the butter.

Next two cups of creamy dairy are added to the batter: 1 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta, and 1 cup of sour cream. Don’t fret! We’ve got this.

In place of the cottage cheese or ricotta, use 1 cup of coconut or almond milk yogurt. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the yogurt before you start gathering your other ingredients. By the time you’re ready to use it, it will have a small curd-like texture.

For the sour cream, use plain, unsweetened soy milk yogurt. It tends to have the tangiest flavor of all non-dairy yogurts, which helps balance the flavors in the cake.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthuflour

The final result is impressive, to say the least: a slice of Blueberry Breakfast Cake is worth including in your dairy-free breakfast.

Dairy-free breakfast cake recommendation: melted coconut oil, coconut milk yogurt curdled with lemon juice, and soy milk yogurt.

Dairy-free breakfast via @kingarthurflour

Enjoy your dairy-free breakfast!

All that’s left to do is invite some friends over and plan the menu. You’ve got a full selection of baked goods that can easily be made dairy-free.

Need to bake gluten-free too? Simply use our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour to replace the all-purpose flour in these tempting breakfast recipes, and follow the dairy-free tips shown here.

Baking dairy-free breakfast has never been easier (or more delicious)! Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for more dairy-free recipes and substitutions, there’s more to come. We’ll be exploring the best ways to make other typical baked goods dairy-free: cookies, bars, bread, pie crust, and cake/muffins in posts next winter and spring.

Do you have any other tips when it comes to baking dairy-free breakfast? If there are other recipes you’d like to see made dairy-free, let us know in the comments, below.

Thanks to Anne Mientka for taking the photographs for this post.

Kye Ameden
About

Kye Ameden grew up in Fairlee, Vermont and has always had a love of food, farms, and family. After graduating from St. Lawrence University, she became an employee-owner at King Arthur Flour and is a proud member of the Digital Engagement Team.

comments

  1. Diane Donle

    What a wonderful post!!! Thank you for addressing substitutions for today’s many exclusive diets. As always, King Arthur ROCKS.

    Reply
  2. Carrie

    This blog came in such great timing! I am nursing my baby and just gave up dairy because it was making him uncomfortable, and finding non-dairy things to eat has been difficult.. Especially for breakfast and I Love breakfast! I was so happy to see this blog and can’t wait to try out some of these alternatives!

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Congratulations on your new baby, Carrie! We have lots more dairy-free posts coming in the next few months, so you’ll be able to adjust your favorite recipes: from bread, to brownies, to muffins, and more! You and your baby will most certainly not have to go without. Kye@KAF

    2. Julie

      I’m in the same boat! LO has a milk protein allergy, so I’m done with dairy for awhile. I’m super excited for this post and the upcoming ones. I would also add that there are a couple combo coconut & almond milk blends that are sold. They’re also a good substitute that the article doesn’t mention. Thanks KAF for the post!

    3. Kye Ameden, post author

      I love using the Coconut and Almond Milk Blend for my cereal, Julie! The creamy flavor is just so tasty. You bring up a great point about using blends like this in baking. It would be a great way to cover all your flavor bases, and perhaps we’ll include some of these in future tests. Thanks for writing. Kye@KAF

  3. Shanah

    I love this information but I have concerns for family members that are gluten free. What would be the best way to make that conversion with the option for non-dairy as well. I like the measure for measure but would i still need xanthan gum? Or should I use baking mix with xanthan gum?

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Shanah, the good news is we were pleasantly surprised at how well the gluten-free/dairy-free baked goods turned out! You can use the dairy-free tips shown here to replace the butter, milk, cream, etc., and then use our Measure for Measure Flour to replace the all-purpose flour in your recipes. If the recipe doesn’t contain yeast, you don’t need to make any other changes; this flour blend already contains xanthan gum. If you’d like to use the baking mix, we recommend using recipes (like these) that are specifically designed for it, and you can put the dairy-free baking tips to use. Similarly, if you’d like to bake a gluten-free recipe that contains yeast (like bread), you’re best off using a designed-to-be-gluten-free recipe and replace the dairy ingredients. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  4. Miranda Lynch

    Awesome post for those of us avoiding dairy due to allergies. Upon reading the recipe, I would have given up on the idea of something like the Blueberry Breakfast Cake, but now feel inspired (and empowered) to try it! Thanks, KAF!

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      We’re bakers who like a challenge, Miranda! If there’s ever something that seems daunting in the dairy-free category, but you’d like to give it a try, don’t hesitate to give our Baker’s Hotline a call: 855-371-BAKE(2253). We’ll see what we can do to help you enjoy all of the same delicious treats, sans dairy. Kye@KAF

    2. Miranda Lynch

      Dear KAF,

      I wanted to send a follow-up to my previous comment. I tried the dairy free version of the blueberry breakfast cake and it was a total winner! Tangy and not too sweet with a nice moist texture. I am extremely happy for this post! I followed the substitutions fairly closely, using 1 c Kite Hill unsweetened almond yogurt with 1 tbsp of lemon juice for the cottage cheese/ricotta part. For the sour cream part, I mixed 1/2 c vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand) with 1/2 c Kite Hill unsweetened almond yogurt. This worked out perfectly and I am extremely glad I tried it. 2 days in and the cake is almost gone. We will be making this again! I love that it is not too sweet, which makes it ideal as a breakfast item!

      Thanks again!
      Miranda

    3. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Miranda, thanks for taking the time to share your baking success with us. Isn’t it a great feeling to bake something that should be chock-full of dairy and make it entirely dairy-free? The texture of this breakfast cake is one of my all-time favorites: almost like a cheesecake married a soufflé. It’s delicious! Thanks for baking with us, and look out for the next few posts about baking dairy-free. Kye@KAF

  5. Elizabeth Griffin

    Well, better late than never! I remember years ago asking that since you had gotten on the gluten free bandwagon you could start promoting dairy free baking, etc, as I have a dairy allergic husband. Fortunately, I have been able to bake and cook using soy products for many years, and am happy to report that the quality of soy products has improved immensely. I make bread and other assorted baked goods with soy milk and have had great success. Even make white sauce with it.

    Reply
  6. Tina B.

    Terrific post! I’ve been vegan for 14 years and it’s great to see the alternatives addressed here. I’ve been using those ingredients mentioned and they all work well. The food always tastes great and no one misses dairy. Now if KAF would make some of their pre-made mixes without ingredients like non-fat milk powder I would buy them.

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Tina, thanks for letting us know you’ve been successful using some of these techniques too. After 14 years of baking and cooking without dairy, we might dare to call you an expert! As for your remark about our mixes, while some of them do have dairy ingredients added to them, a number of them (like our gluten-free mixes) don’t have dairy added as an ingredient. (King Arthur Flour only tests for the presence of gluten in these products and therefore can’t guarantee there may not be cross-contamination, during shipping and storage, for instance.) However, if you’re looking for mixes without dairy, you can check out the full labels by clicking on the “Nutrition + ingredients,” link when viewing a product on our website. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many don’t have dairy added to them! Kye@KAF

  7. Eileen Luck

    Thank you so much for this information. I have long wanted to know what substitutions, if any, I could use. As a gluten and lactose intolerant eater I have much to be thankful for in that I can use Lactaid Whole milk and tolerate butter. But for everything else I need to use a substitute.

    Eileen

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hang in there, Eileen! Baking gluten-free and dairy-free can be a challenge, but we have bakers like you in mind when we do our testing. We’ll be sure to include more gluten-free and dairy-free versions of our tests when we explore the other common types of baking in future posts, just to ensure we’re providing tips that will give you, a gluten-free baker, great results too. Kye@KAF

  8. Michelle M.

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve learned most of the tips you listed through trial and error but am encouraged to see KAF actively addressing this baking challenge. I, too, have had to go dairy-free on and off while nursing my babies and then when offering them table foods until the intolerance to dairy was outgrown. I discovered my own dairy sensitivity through the process. I hope this blog post will help other moms navigate the already stressful learning curve of motherhood with food challenges. Glad to see in your response above that there are dairy-free baking mixes available, too. I will be checking those out! Way to go, KAF! Thanks again!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We love your enthusiasm, Michelle! We thought it might be helpful to share some of our favorite mixes that don’t have dairy added to them as ingredients, so you have a place to start. Here’s a selection of my personal favorite: Cranberry-Orange Muffins & Quick Bread, Fabulous Fudge Brownies, Coconut Macaroon Cookie, and our Gluten-Free Pumpkin and Banana Bread mixes, both of which are well-loved even by those who don’t need to eat gluten-free! Kye@KAF

  9. Melinda Hawkins

    I can’t believe this! I was just in the kitchen today making my favorite “no fail” biscuits wondering if it would ok to use coconut milk? So I get the delicious biscuits made, eat 3 of them, and what do I spy? An article about using alternative dairy! I wonder if it was coincidence? I’m completely addicted to the little “no fail” biscuits. I make them big, add more cream & bake longer. Looking for a simple, easy jelly to make except fruit is expensive. Maybe I could find a vegetable & sweeten it. Also wondering how to get these little biscuits on top of peaches for cobbler? My biscuits were so good … tender, slightly browned, flakey, buttery. A little crumbly. I could swear they had little smiley faces looking up. They were so good.

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      What can we say, Melinda? Great bakers think alike! We’re glad to hear your biscuits turned out so fantastic. Since you loved the results so very much, we’d recommend using the same formula to make biscuits for topping your cobbler. You might want to make the dough a bit looser by adding an additional tablespoon or two of water, and scoop the dough into smaller biscuits so the topping isn’t too thick. As for your comment about making a jam or spread for your biscuits, you might want to try making our Easy Microwave Lemon Curd recipe. It only takes some butter, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs to creamy a lusciously thick, perfectly sweet topping. We hope that helps, and happy baking! Kye@KAF

  10. Chrissy M

    Thank you so much. Now I can join the rest of the family and have a lovely breakfast. Keep publishing dairy-free recipes!

    Reply
  11. Victoria

    Thank you for posting this – it’s very helpful for those of us who bake for people who don’t consume diary. Please give tips on egg substitutions also!

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Victoria, thanks for joining in the discussion. When it comes to replacing eggs, we love using Golden Flax Meal blended with water. (1 tablespoon of flax + 3 tablespoons of water = 1 egg.) It works like a charm in most recipes! The only cases where you’ll need to use caution is when baking gluten-free recipes, recipes that use more than 2 or 3 eggs, recipes that whip the eggs or use just the whites or yolks. For full details on how to make the most successful egg replacement, you can use this article here to guide you. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  12. Tracey

    Thank you so much for this post! My son and I are Lactose-Intolerant but I love baking!! Luckily we are able to tolerate the Lactaid brand dairy items (milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, sour cream!) and also have found Organic Valley (lactose free half-and-half is great for making ice cream) and Green Valley Organics (yogurt and BUTTER!!). It is often difficult to find Dairy-free recipes or menu items without them also being Gluten free, so thank you for all the recipe ideas!

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      You’re very welcome, Tracey, and know that there are more dairy-free recipes and tips coming! Look for upcoming blogs about baking more delicious dairy-free treats of all kinds — dare we say cheesecake? You bet! We’ve also discovered the gems of Green Valley Organics. I love baking with their lactose-free cream cheese and sour cream. Both of those products have become staple ingredients in my kitchen. Happy baking to you and your son! Kye@KAF

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      You’ve read our minds, Valerie: this is something that we’re currently working on in the test kitchen. We want to find the best way to make yeast breads without milk or other dairy products, especially dry milk powder since it’s commonly called for in bread recipes. Without coming to definitive conclusions yet, we’d recommend using your favorite plain, unsweetened dairy-free milk to replace the liquid in the recipe, and omit the dry milk powder. Soy, almond, coconut, and rice milk are all suitable options. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      You can use your favorite plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk and add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of milk to recreate the slightly tangy flavor of buttermilk. We also like using plain soy yogurt and adding lemon juice to create a thicker, more sour mixture. If you’re looking for an assertive flavor, choose the latter option. Otherwise, you can “curdle” the non-dairy milk you have on hand with lemon juice. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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