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Special Diets/dairy free cooking


I am not sure if you will be able to answer this or not.  2 months ago I found out that I am very lactose intolerant.  With the help of a nutrionist I have eliminated dairy and lactose from my diet.  However, I love baking.  I have found a butter substitute, but am struggling with finding a milk substitute.  Recently I have tried pancakes, both from mix and from scratch using soy milk, and neither time were they any good.  The pancakes from mix looked great but tasted awful, and the ones from scratch didn't fluff up right but tasted passable (at least to me, my daughter wouldn't even eat one bite).  Being the Christmas season, we have some baking we do every year.  My mother in law made some cut out cookies with soy milk and they taste different.  If they have frosting on them (dairy free of course) they are passable for cookies.  But yesterday I took the lid off the container and the smell of the cookies was so bad I almost gagged.  I am okay with not eating cookies and pancakes if that is what it takes, but since I am making them for my family I would like to enjoy them as well.  Is there a milk substitute that works well in baking that doesn't leave the funny smell or taste?


Dear Erin,

Thanks for your question. I'm sorry to hear that you and your family have been challenged by dairy-free baking in this way.

I hope I can help. I almost always use almond milk instead of dairy milk. It doesn't have the heavy soy taste, and it comes with protein and fiber. Another option is rice milk, which tends to be much sweeter and thinner than both soy and almond milk. I've made pancakes, cakes, and rice pudding with both, and I prefer the almond milk. You should be able to find them at your local grocery store.

Another option is coconut milk, however, I find it to be too heavy on the coconut flavor for some recipes. In others, it's delightful. Tends to be a bit high in fat for me for everyday use, though. You might find it works better for some baking recipes, though.

If you want your pancakes to fluff up a bit, before you use the almond milk, add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to it. It's makes a very good buttermilk substitute. I frequently use apple cider vinegar when baking because baking soda needs an acid to do its magic. You won't taste it at all.

You won't have to give up the cookies or the pancakes. You might also consider visiting some of the dairy-free blogs out there. They have lots of great recipes.

Here are some of my favorites:

Go Dairy Free:

Alisa Cooks:

The Sensitive Pantry:

Who knows, you might like some of the new recipes better than some of the classics.

Best of luck.

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Deb Schiff


I can answer questions on baking and cooking with agave nectar, using carob for chocolate and ways of reducing fats in dishes.


I keep a blog on using agave nectar instead of cane sugar at http://alteredplates.blogspot. I also focus on using carob for chocolate there.

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I have a BA in communication from William Paterson University.

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