I always used to worry that dairy-free desserts would be thin and lacking in flavor. How can you get a thick and fluffy frosting without butter?
As it turns out, there is a treasure trove of dairy-free alternatives for you to make some of your favorite treats.
Chocolate brownies? Check. Creamy cheesecake? Sure thing. Homemade peanut butter, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream? You better believe it!
So whether you have a dietary need, or are just looking for a change, let’s look at 24 of the most delectable dairy-free desserts out there.
1. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
I would not make you wait for this one!
You’ll need an ice cream maker, but with Christmas coming up, I suggest adding one to your list. There is nothing like homemade ice cream.
This ice cream is made using soaked cashews and is blended with brown sugar, agave, coconut milk, and coconut oil.
The good news is, it’s as simple as blending everything until completely smooth.
For the cookie dough, you can always substitute almond butter, or use your favorite vegan cookie recipe in place of the peanut butter chocolate chip version used here.
Either way, it will be creamy and sweet, and you won’t even know it’s dairy-free.
2. Dairy-free Brownies
Making your brownies dairy-free is pretty simple. By substituting butter for oil, you can keep them moist and delicious but cut out the dairy.
These brownies come together easily and will bake up to be fudgy and chocolatey.
They do still contain eggs, though. So if you want to go full-vegan, try these banana brownies!
The banana flavor will be faint, and they add sweetness and moisture.
3. Dairy-free Cupcakes and Frosting
Making cupcakes and frosting without using dairy used to be a challenge.
Sure, you can use oil for a moist cupcake, but I find adding some cream or yogurt to my batter makes them better.
And dairy-free frosting? How is that even possible?
The explosion of dairy-free and vegan butters and yogurts has made it accessible.
I love that these cupcakes incorporate some vegan milk and yogurt for richness.
And with vegan butter, you can create a fluffy and smooth frosting with ease.
4. Pumpkin Blondies
As far as blondies go, I think pumpkin and white chocolate might just be my new favorite.
These come together much like a brownie mix.
Stir together the coconut oil with pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and egg, before gently adding in the dry mix.
Be sure not to over-mix, or you will have cakey and tough blondies.
5. Vegan Chocolate Pudding
With just seven ingredients, this rich and creamy chocolate pudding can be made in under 20 minutes.
After warming most of the ingredients through and incorporating your chocolate, this pudding is thickened with cornstarch.
It will need a couple of hours to set, and should be eaten within a couple of days.
6. Banana Cream Pie
Bananas are my favorite thing to work with, and banana cream pie is possibly my favorite pie ever.
So when looking to make it dairy-free, I was skeptical. After all, cream is literally in the name!
But once again, I was pleasantly surprised by what you can do with vegan alternatives and coconut whipped cream.
The texture of the crust is fantastic, with rolled oats and almonds for added flavor.
The filling is a dairy-free pudding that comes together much like the chocolate pudding above and is thickened with cornstarch.
It’s then aerated with a fluffy coconut whipped cream for a lighter texture.
7. Cinnamon Rolls
Cutting out dairy doesn’t have to mean missing out of some indulgent treats, and there’s just something special about a sticky cinnamon roll smothered in a sweet glaze.
The dough uses coconut oil and almond milk and will need to be kneaded and rested before baking.
For the filling, this recipe uses a simple brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, but I would probably incorporate some vegan butter, too.
You can make the glaze as thick or thin as you prefer by playing with the amount of almond milk you use. It might not have that cream cheese tang, but it works.
8. Raspberry Crumb Bars
Being able to use dairy-free butter for shortbread is an absolute game-changer.
I’ve used cocoa butter and oil in the past, but nothing is as crumbly as a butter-based shortbread.
Mix the base slowly and until it just about comes together. The key to keeping your shortbread short is to under-mix it. You will finish the mixing as you roll or shape it.
Par-bake your base until it just starts to brown, before topping with your raspberry and lemon filling, and the remainder of your crust.
It’s so simple but seriously delicious.
9. Gluten and Dairy-free Chocolate Zucchini Bread
I can remember when anything gluten-free had a distinct texture. Grainy and unpleasant, I gave up on it years ago.
But with the newer gluten-free flour options, you really can’t tell the difference.
You can make this moist and flavorful loaf with less than 10 ingredients in under 10 minutes.
Once everything is mixed, be sure to let the batter rest for a few minutes to let the moisture set in, and only bake for around half an hour.
Serve with a good cup of coffee.
10. Pumpkin Pie
Being able to make family favorites accessible to everyone is a real treat.
Using dairy-free butter, you can make up an incredible batch of pastry that will be tender and perfect.
And don’t worry, you won’t taste the coconut flavor in the pie. It’s so subtle that you won’t even know it’s there.
Of course, if you like that flavor, you can always top your pie with some coconut whipped cream.
11. Olive Oil Cake
I know that most of us are used to having some kind of frosting with our cake. But the truth is, it’s not uncommon to see plain cake served all over the world.
If it’s flavorful and moist, and it doesn’t need anything else.
With just eight ingredients and a careful hand, you can have this cake batter gently mixed and in the oven in just 15 minutes.
The olive oil flavor adds something different and compliments the orange flavor so well.
To be authentic, serve with a cup of tea and nothing else.
12. Lemon Curd Tart
It’s amazing how fast you can have a batch of these ready.
The crust is made using almond flour, making it beautifully flavored and gluten-free.
When making the curd, be sure to cook over medium to low heat and keep it moving. It takes a little patience, but it will thicken and become perfectly smooth after a few minutes.
You will need to pre-bake your crust and let cool before adding the filling.
If you are making this ahead, try brushing the crust with a little egg white. It will bake in and create a layer, so the lemon curd won’t soak through.
13. Lime Bars
Controversial opinion: lime is better than lemon.
I know that lemon pretty much goes well with anything, including meat and fish! And I know that it has a great tart and sweet flavor. But I just prefer lime, in pretty much every case.
These lime bars are no exception. With a cheesecake-like filling and oaty crust, they are to die for.
Just remember to soak your cashews overnight so they will blend until completely smooth.
Also, don’t skimp on the zest! Lime is subtle, but that zest will kick up the flavor a bunch!
14. 5-Ingredient White Chocolate Truffles
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, white chocolate does contain milk.
So these are not technically white chocolate in the traditional sense. Instead, they use cocoa butter and macadamia nuts for a creamy substitute.
Once everything is blended together, you will need to let the mixture set before scooping and rolling in coconut.
They’re chewy and a great white chocolate alternative.
Be careful when purchasing cocoa butter. Always make sure that it’s for food and not designed for use in soaps and lotions. The package should state that it is food-grade.
15. Cranberry Pistachio Oat Bars
If you’re looking for something that is as visually appealing as it is delicious, this recipe is for you.
The vibrant green of the pistachios along with the gorgeous cranberries makes these super colorful.
With a touch of maple syrup for sweetness, they’re chewy and nutty.
When topped with dark chocolate and coconut oil glaze and a little sea salt, they’re irresistible.
16. Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is such a comfort food. It consists of day-old bread soaked in a vanilla or cinnamon-spiced custard.
This recipe may be vegan, but it’s not lacking in flavor.
Instead of an egg-based custard, this recipe uses a coconut milk and dairy-free milk custard that is spiced with vanilla and cinnamon and thickened with cornstarch.
I would advise to pour this mixture over the bread and leaving it to soak for at least an hour. This way, it can soak in before baking.
I like mine served warm, but you can leave to cool and slice.
17. Blueberry Coffee Cake
Given that this cake is loaded with blueberries, I think it would make an excellent breakfast option.
Being sweetened with applesauce, this cake is not super sweet, so you can taste all those fresh blueberries in every bite.
I think this cake would be amazing with an added crumble top and then drizzled with that coconut milk glaze.
18. Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Ice Cream
I had to do a double take with this recipe before I tried it.
Date caramel? Huh?
Now, I’ve made vegan caramel before using vegan butter and coconut milk. It’s honestly amazing, and most people won’t be able to taste anything different.
But dates as a caramel? I was intrigued.
So it obviously doesn’t have that buttery flavor, but it’s pretty darn amazing. And it has just two ingredients!
I always add extra bourbon, but I think rum would be a great alternative.
19. Apple Fries
Apple fries are as easy as they sound. And the best part is, you can dip them in the caramel from the last dessert.
Toss your sliced apples in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch and bake for 15-20 minutes until they turn golden and crisp.
Between the apples and the date caramel, it’s practically healthy!
20. Tahini Chocolate Banana Soft Serve
I jumped on the frozen banana ice cream from the get-go.
Creamy, banana-y, and absolutely just like ice cream, I’m convinced it’s witchcraft.
So being a fan, I love to find new ways to dress up my banana ice cream.
If you’ve never tried tahini before, it is a little bitter and slightly nutty. It’s not sweet but looks like a nut butter.
It might sound strange, but the combination of banana, cocoa, tahini, and sea salt is amazing.
There’s some added sweetness from maple syrup and blended dates.
I would make a half batch of the chocolate tahini and swirl it through the OG banana ice cream. Then I’d swirl it with some of that date caramel for good measure.
21. Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are great to have on hand. They are versatile and can be modified to make any number of fun and tasty cookies.
So having a go-to dairy-free recipe will be a lifesaver come the festive season!
Oh, and did I mention they’re gluten-free, too?
This recipe does include almond four and almond milk.
So if you want to go all out and make it dairy, gluten, and nut-free, you can simply use all gluten-free flour and another dairy-free milk alternative.
As a base, they’re tender and delicious. Start with the basic cookie dough and use it to make a whole platter of cookies by adding in nuts, dried fruits, or chocolate chips.
22. Spiced Applesauce Cake
For me, a loaded and dense cake with nuts, fruit, and chocolate is a little slice of heaven.
This cake ticks all of the boxes and then some.
It’s spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, along with a little bit of cocoa for a rich chocolate note.
But the best part has to be the chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, and raisins.
I think I would use golden raisins and soak them in a little rum for added moisture and a great flavor.
23. Lime and Gin Coconut Macaroons
Unlike macarons, macaroons are big, chewy, and easy to make.
You need not mix any egg whites to stiff peaks. Just mix the white with sugar, gin, lime zest, salt, and optional almond extract until it is incorporated.
Fold through the coconut and drop onto a greased baking sheet, or onto individual baking wafers.
When baked and cooled, dip the bottom in a dairy-free chocolate of your choosing for a super simple but super tasty little snack.
24. Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites
As far as cheesecake bites go, these are pretty impressive.
Not only are they a beautiful color from the fresh strawberries, but they are packed with flavor.
I love the gluten-free crust here, with dates, pecans, and coconut, but you can always use a biscuit base made using vegan butter.
The filling just needs all five ingredients blended until smooth and poured over the crust.
They’re super cute as minis, but would also work as a tray and cut into slices.
The only thing missing is a drizzle of dark chocolate or some chocolate shavings.
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