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. Batya

    I’d like to offer a suggestion regarding baking yeasted breads without dry milk powder.
    I have used instant mashed potato flakes with great success.
    They have a non-assertive flavor, they’re non-dairy and easy to keep in the pantry, and they retain moisture beautifully.
    I use 2/3 cup of potato flakes mixed in with 5 cups of KAF bread flour and 2 cups of KAF white whole wheat flour.
    My challah bread is soft, light & yummy!
    Thanks so much for your research on the non-dairy substitutions; it’s a great help.

    Reply
  2. L Rivers

    Thank you for your recommendation to this link from the other biscuit blog. I decided to go to the store tonight and pick up some soy milk and New Balance Butter to make a dairy free biscuit. Working with the dough was a little more sticky and probably should have added just a little more flour but I opted to keep it with the original measurement of flour. I dusted the clean counter top with flour and they is how I incorporated more flour. The biscuits were very moist and fluffy but didn’t necessary have the height of the original biscuits that have dairy but overall I was very satisfied with the exchange of products.

    I do have another question in regards to the dry milk. When do you use the dry milk and how do you measure how much to use to how much water to use?

    Thank you ago for your help.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad your biscuits came out fluffy and moist, it doesn’t get much better than that! Dry milk is typically called for in yeast bread recipes to add tenderness. There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but in our recipes, there’s typically about 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk for every 3 cups of flour. Annabelle@KAF

  3. Heidi

    I’ve been baking dairy for some time, as my son is allergic to milk. I often just substitute water for the milk but it definitely does not work for all recipes. We have nut allergies too… rather than using an alternative milk can you increase the fat and use water for similar results?

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Like you mentioned, Heidi, we’ve found that replacing water for milk (even when adding additional fat) isn’t suitable in all cases. Adding more fat doesn’t always achieve the same results, as the properties of the fat in milk are slightly different than the fat in butter (or oil). In recipes that call for milk, we’d recommend using soy milk for best results if nut milks aren’t on the table. Kye@KAF

  4. Stephanie

    Great information! I’ve been vegan for 28 years and have a lot of experience making substitutions but I will admit even I tend to ignore any recipes that call for sour cream or cream cheese because I don’t really like the vegan versions. I am a pretty confident baker but I’ve learned so much from the King Arthur Flour website and I am excited to see that you are experimenting in my world; even if you aren’t doing completely vegan the dairy free and egg free information is always welcome. As for substitutions, my personal favorite egg substitute for cookie baking specifically is soft silken tofu, mixed up completely smooth in a blender. Flax egg tends to make the cookies crunchy and I prefer cookies to be soft. I would love to get the perfect vegan cheesecake recipe from you; my husband, who has been vegan even longer than I have been, loved cheesecake and since I’ve never had it I am a little reluctant to even try.

    Reply
    1. Kye Ameden, post author

      Hi Stephanie, you’ve read our minds! We’ve been experimenting with using silken tofu in pastries and cookies recently. We like the results. And you’ll be happy to hear that conquering dairy-free cheesecake is on our list of things to do within this dairy-free baking series. It might take some serious work in the test kitchen, but we’ll get there! 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

    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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

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