This recipe comes to us from the duo behind Sweet Laurel. Claire (our friend and contributor from The Kitchy Kitchen) and Laurel use organic, grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free ingredients to make healthy and delicious treats. Since we received a great question from this milk alternatives post about how to bake without dairy, it’s only natural that we would recruit Sweet Laurel to help us answer that question below 

What to use instead of milk when baking

At Sweet Laurel, everything we create is gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free. Since this post is all about cooking and baking sans dairy, I’m going to focus on the concept behind dairy free recipe adaptations, and throw in a few of my tips!

Baking and cooking without dairy is actually not too difficult! Nowadays, there are so many great milk alternatives that can be made right at home or purchased from the store. My top two favorite milk replacements are coconut milk and almond milk. I like coconut milk because it is full of nutrients, adding a health-minded edge and good flavor! Almond milk packs a nutritious punch as well, and is a fun one to make right at home.

When baking and cooking with almond or coconut milk, it is important to always purchase options that have the least amount of added ingredients. For example, a coconut milk that is 100% coconut milk is your best option. While it is harder to find these versions of coconut or almond milk, it is not only better for your recipe’s outcome, but for your health, too! Here’s a little cheat sheet…

To sub out milk:

In most recipes, subbing coconut or almond milk for dairy milk will work just fine! I use coconut milk in all my baking recipes. In soups, both options work great as thickeners in place of milk, as well as in pasta sauces.

To sub out cream:

Because cream is the fat scooped from the top of dairy milk, it is naturally denser. Thus, full fat coconut milk is the only replacement I have found to replace cream. When you purchase a can of full fat coconut milk, once refrigerated, the fat in the coconut milk will rise to the top and create a fat layer, much like the cream in dairy milk does. In my recipe for coconut whipped cream below, this layer of solid coconut is what we use. It whips up just like regular cream, and makes for a delicious dairy-free swap!

To sub out butter:

Butter can easily be replaced with nutrient dense coconut oil in most recipes. I use it for everything! Sautéing, baking, vegetable roasting—you name it! Some people don’t like the aftertaste of coconut oil, and in that case, I’d recommend avocado oil, which can be heated to a high heat much like coconut oil.

Now, for a delicious dairy-free whipped cream recipe…

Milk substitutes to use in baking

Delicious Dairy Free Whipped Cream


  • 1 13.5oz can coconut milk (full fat is necessary, I use Native Forest)
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Set the can of coconut milk in the coldest part of the fridge overnight so that the coconut fat solids separate from the coconut water.

2. Open the can and carefully scoop out the thick coconut cream.

3. With an electric whisk, beat the cream, maple syrup, and vanilla extract on high until peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

4. If you do not serve immediately, place the bowl of whipped coconut cream in the fridge until you plan to use it. Enjoy on top of any dessert, ice cream or freshly berries!

I hope these tips help!

Let me know if you have any dairy free alternatives that you love to use in the comments below.

X Laurel of Sweet Laurel

Photos: Sweet Laurel