Stock a Dairy-Free Pantry + Recipes!

Welcome to the dairy-free corner of Live Eat Learn! I hope to make this an ultra-informative place for you to come for all things dairy-free (with a vegetarian vibe). Let’s jump to the good stuff first:

Dairy-Free Recipes This Way!

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On this page, you’ll also find:


How to stock a dairy-free pantry

While my pantry is not completely dairy-free, the following are some of my dairyless-specific pantry and refrigerator staples for a well-balanced diet. Note that this isn’t absolutely everything you need in your pantry, just a few very dairy-free specific staples to help you keep good nutritional balance and make really tasty dairy-free food!

Pantry staples

  • Canned and Dried Beans: These pack a protein punch and provide calcium you may not be getting via dairy
  • Grains and Flours
    • Rice (wild grain, brown, arborio): I use brown rice as a replacement to white rice almost always. Wild grain rice tends to be more fibrous and nutty, which is fun on salads. And arborio is important for tasty risotto!
    • Quinoa: Technically a seed but treated as a grain, this contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source.
    • Oats: Rolled, instant, or steel-cut doesn’t make a difference apart from the texture you’re going for! Learn more about them here.
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Vinegars
    • Apple cider vinegar: Great in salad dressings or to bring a tart sort of bite to vegan cheeses.
    • Balsamic vinegar: My go-to salad dressing ingredient/quick flavor-maker on roasted veggies or on savory tomato/strawberry/watermelon dishes.
  • Oils
    • Olive oil: My go to for almost all stovetop cooking.
    • Extra virgin olive oil: An important member of the oil team for cold dishes, like salad dressings. This one has a lower smoke point, meaning you can’t heat it quite as high.
    • Safflower oil: With almost no flavor, polyunsaturated fats (the good kind of fat), and a high smoke point, this is your oil for healthier frying.
    • Sesame oil: This also has a high smoke point, but brings a really sesame, nutty taste. Super tasty in Asian stirfries!
    • Coconut oil: This has a high smoke point and a distinct coconut aroma and taste. It’s high in saturated fat, so use it in moderation.
  • Sweeteners
    • Maple syrup: Use a touch of maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar for a more rounded taste and more phyotchemicals and antioxidants than table sugar.
    • Medjool dates: Soak these to get them nice and soft then remove the pits and blend into a date paste. This paste works wonders for sweetening things like baked goods!
    • Stevia: The leaves of the stevia plant are dried, ground up, and sometimes removed of their color to create a substance that can be substituted for sugar.
    • Honey: Because maple syrup can be pricey, I tend to use honey a lot more in place of sugar. Also brings a more rounded flavor to things like baked goods, smoothies, and soups without the refined sugar.
  • Odds and Ends

Refrigerator Staples

  • Condiments and Sauces
    • Miso: An umami-rich paste made from fermented soybeans. It’s great for adding salt/savory/umami to soups, dressings, marinades, the works.
    • Dijon mustard: Adds a bit of spicy intensity to dishes. Even if you don’t like mustard (like me), this is an important one to have for general cooking.
    • Tahini: Made from sesame seeds, this is a potent little sauce that I incorporate into Asian dishes and baked goods alike.
    • Sriracha or chili garlic sauce: Does this one need an explanation? Spice is a necessity in my kitchen. If sriracha isn’t your thing, chili-garlic sauce is a close contender.
    • Hummus: Made from chickpeas and tahini, this is a protein-packed spread that’s great in sandwiches or as a veggies/pita bread dip.
    • Soy sauce and tamari: Soy sauce is salty and usually contains gluten, while tamari is thicker, less salty, and contains less (or sometimes no) gluten. I always have at least one on hand!
    • Salsa: Because sometimes chips and salsa for dinner is just what’s gonna to happen.
  • Alterna-milks and Dairy
    • Soy milk: A protein-rich alternative to cow’s milk.
    • Almond milk: Lower in calories and saturated fat than soy and cow’s milk, but a bit lower in protein.
    • Oat milk: I love the super oaty taste of this milk…almost like the milk left after a bowl of cereal!
    • Rice milk: High in carbs and low in protein, this one is really just good for those with allergies or lactose intolerance.
    • Earth Balance or Smart Balance butter: Margarines made from a blend of natural oils, totally dairy-free!
  • Alterna-proteins
    • Tofu: Coagulated soy milk curds (yummm!) I like to keep a few packs in the freezer! They take on a really nice texture when they thaw + you’ll never run out.
    • Tempeh: Fermented cooked soybeans. This has an earthier taste and a whole lot more protein and fiber than tofu.

Foods That May Contain “Hidden Dairy”

  • Processed breads and bread crumbs
  • Breakfast cereals and granolas
  • Rice or soy cheese (look instead for the ones labeled “vegan”)
  • Instant potatoes
  • Certain margarines
  • Processed meats, deli meats, sausages, and hotdogs
  • Any foods listing “casein”, “whey”, or “lactoalbumin” as an ingredient

Dairy-Free Substitutes

  • Whole Milk
    • Light canned coconut milk or coconut milk beverage (from a carton)
  • Whipped Cream
  • Yogurt
    • Dairy-free yogurts are becoming more and more popular, but if you can’t find any, blend 1 cup silken tofu with 2 Tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt

Dairy-Free resources


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P.S. Have an awesome dairy-free tip that’s not listed here? Send me a message and I’ll include it so we can all learn from each other! 

P.S.S. This post contains affiliate links for products I love, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission, at no extra cost to you.

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