Ask Alisa: Is there a good dairy-free substitute for coffee creamer?

118

Q: Mary – As vegetarians, our greatest challenge to becoming vegan is that we deeply enjoy our morning ritual of traditional European coffees and Australian “flat whites” (made with organic milk). Our attempts at milk substitutes have not been successful. We have tried hemp, oat, soy, and almond milks — all to no avail. We cannot seem capture the mellow flavor enhancement nor the creamy texture that milk dilution provides our coffee. And pure coconut milk as a “milk for coffee” substitute also has not worked for us – it just makes the coffee oily. Are there any other potentially viable options for dairy free coffee creamer out there that we simply have not tried yet?

A: Alisa – Yes! Over the years, I’ve researched brands, taste-tested numerous options, and pooled opinions from many coffee drinking friends to give you the best vegan and dairy free coffee creamer alternatives available to date. But because coffee creamer seems to be a very personal thing, this dairy-free creamer list offers different tastes and consistencies for all – try them out to see which one is the holy grail for your morning cup of joe.

The Guide to Dairy Free Coffee Creamer - so many alternatives and brands to choose from! Vegan-friendly, gluten-free and many allergy-friendly options.

Dairy-Free vs Non-Dairy – First, it’s important to make a quick distinction. Many coffee creamers that are labeled as “Non-Dairy” are not actually dairy-free by ingredients. With foods such as whipped topping and creamers the term non-dairy may be used if the product contains 0.5% or less milk by weight – usually in the form of casein / caseinates (reference: Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook). These products may be okay for many lactose intolerant individuals, but could still be a problem for people who are allergic / sensitive to milk (casein is the top allergenic protein within milk) and for those seeking truly dairy-free or vegan products.

The following dairy-free creamer suggestions do not contain any dairy in the ingredients (casein, whey, lactose, etc.), but as with all products, do your homework if milk cross-contamination is a concern for you. Counterintuitive as it may seem, many dairy alternatives are made (or packaged) in shared facilities or on shared lines with their dairy-based counterparts.

Milk Alternatives: Maybe for Some

I have heard reports from many people who simply enjoy almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk beverage, or just a touch of regular, full-fat coconut milk in their coffee. Though these may be rich enough, milk alternatives frequently separate in hot liquids and they don’t have the same mouth feel as commercially made creamers. For some coffee lovers this is not a problem, but for others like Mary, dairy-free creamers have been created.

Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: Liquid – Sold Refrigerated

So Delicious Dairy Free Coconut Milk Coffee Creamer (refrigerated)– This flagship dairy free coffee creamer is so popular that it comes in standard pints and larger quart sizes, too! Available in the flavors you see below, this beloved product line recently received a carrageenan-free formula overhaul. You’ll have to taste-test it to see if the new blend meets with your standards, but we thought it added a nice splash of flavor. Like most of the others on this list, it is vegan and soy-free, but this one is also tree nut-free. Updated review coming soon!

The Guide to Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: Vegan-friendly with numerous soy-free options (So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer pictured)

So Delicious Dairy Free Almond Milk Creamer (refrigerated) – I’m a big almond fan, so I liked the flavor of this mellow dairy free coffee creamer. It wasn’t as thick as expected, but this somewhat rich dairy alternative does add body and a smooth finish the second it submerges into a hot beverage. This vegan creamer has always been soy-free and carrageenan-free, too. For more details, enjoy our Full Review of So Delicious Almond Milk Creamer.

The Full Guide to Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: Vegan-friendly with soy-free options (So Delicious Dairy Free Almond Milk Creamers pictured)

Califia Farms Almondmilk Creamer (refrigerated) – We loved this product on launch, but a package and formula redesign has reportedly changed this dairy-free creamer notably. Their ingredients include both almond and coconut cream, but this product is carrageenan-free, soy-free, certified kosher parve, and it comes in 4 vegan flavors: Unsweetened, Vanilla, Hazelnut and Pecan Caramel. Though it is of the prior formula (we will update!), you can still get details and reader comments on the new formula via our Full Review of Califia Farms Creamer.

The Guide to Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: So many vegan options! (Califia Farms pictured)

Califia Farms Better Half (refrigerated) – In smaller pints, the newer Better Half products appears similar to the company’s almondmilk creamers in ingredients, but they are a little richer with just a smidge higher fat content. Some may prefer this added touch of indulgence for their dairy free coffee creamer. Thus far, we’ve seen Original and Unsweetened available.

The Guide to Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: Numerous vegan-friendly and soy-free options (Califia Farms Better Half pictured)

Silk Soy Creamer (refrigerated) – A recent formula change to make this dairy free coffee creamer even creamier has many former fans up in arms. We’ll see what happens with the shakeout. In the meantime, this is an option that is made without nuts, is non-GMO verified and made with whole soy (not isolates) and is pretty easy to locate chilled in stores.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (Silk Soy Creamer pictured)

Silk Almond Creamer (refrigerated) – Available in enticing Vanilla, Hazelnut and Caramel flavors, this newer option from Silk is soy-free, carrageenan-free, and starting off with rave reviews. All three are extremely low in fat (0 to .5 g per tablespoon) and sweetened with cane sugar.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (Silk Almond Creamer pictured)

Wildwood Soymilk Creamer (refrigerated) – This lesser known option has actually been around for quite a while and is reportedly the only “made with organic soymilk” creamer. It’s available only in Original, and though not as well-distributed as the other dairy-free creamers, you may stumble across it in stores.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (Wildwood Organic Soymilk Creamer pictured)

Coffee Rich Non-Dairy Creamer (refrigerated) – Though it’s far from virtuous in terms of ingredients (corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, soy protein isolate and more), this option is likely to be more like other non-dairy creamers you are used to, but it is kosher pareve and thus dairy-free. Available in Original and Fat Free.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (Coffee Rich Non-Dairy Creamer pictured)

Natural Bliss Almond Milk & Coconut Milk Coffee Creamers (refrigerated) – Coffeemate has finally emerged with dairy-free options. All fall under their Natural Bliss line, and they come in a few appealing flavors. These appear to be carrageenan-free and vegan, and are enriched with pea protein.

Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer (Natural Bliss pictured)

Store Brands of Coffee Creamer (usually refrigerated) – Some are getting in on the action with OEM versions of dairy free coffee creamer – another company such as So Delicious or Silk produces the dairy-free creamer, but the store brand’s label is affixed. Such is the case with Trader Joe’s current coconut creamer and we have seen some other stores get in on the action – maybe you have seen one?

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (Store brands, such as Trader Joes pictured)

Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: Liquid – Sold Shelf-Stable

Nutpods Dairy-Free Creamer (shelf-stable) – Of those that we’ve sampled to date, Nutpods is our personal top choice for dairy free coffee creamer. It submerses beautifully for that full, lightly creamy mouthfeel and all flavors are unsweetened, so you can sweeten for your mood that day using whatever sugar or sugar alternative that you choose. The ingredients are quite pure and the product is soy-free, certified gluten-free, non-GMO verified and made with a base of almonds and coconut. For more details, enjoy our Full Review of Nutpods.

The Full Guide to Dairy Free Coffee Creamer (Nutpods Dairy-Free Creamer pictured)

So Delicious Dairy Free Barista-Style Coconut Milk Creamer (shelf-stable) – The Barista-style is very similar to their main line of coconut milk creamers in ingredients. However, it has pea protein added, which presumably adds a little more body, and it’s shelf-stable so you can stock up! We’ve seen it in Original and French Vanilla. For some notes on ideas for using it, see my Post of So Delicious Barista-Style.

The Guide to Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: Vegan-friendly with numerous soy-free options (So Delicious Barista-Style pictured)

Pacific Barista Series Milk Beverages (shelf-stable) – I couldn’t find them on their website, but Pacific Foods makes a “Barista” line for coffee shops and food service that you can buy online via Amazon. They offer soy-, coconut-, and almond-based options that are reportedly perfect for making spot-on lattes. These do contain carrageenan, but the almond and coconut versions appear to be made without soy.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: vegan-friendly and many soy-free options! (Pacific Barista Series pictured)

Walden Farms Calorie Free Coffee Creamer (shelf stable) – Uniquely bottled like salad dressings, these creamers are promoted as sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free and more, and come in five enticing flavors: Original Cream, Sweet Cream, Mocha, Hazelnut, and French Vanilla. Sound to good to be true? It might be, or it might not. Overall, they get pretty strong reviews, with a few who weren’t pleased, naturally. But if you are looking for a healthier dairy free coffee creamer, this may not be it. The ingredients include your typical barrage of non-dairy creamer chemicals and they do contain carrageenan and are sweetened with sucralose.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (Walden Farms Calorie Free Creamer pictured)

ECOS Coconut Creamer (shelf stable) – This is a 100% natural dairy-free creamer made purely from coconuts: coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut sugar. No added tap water, cane sugar or preservatives (such as dipotassium phosphate) are used. Rather than chemicals, pure cream is used for richness.

Ecos Virgin Coconut Creamer - a truly dairy-free, soy-free, vegan coffee & tea creamer made almost purely of coconut!

Dairy Free Coffee Creamer: Powder – Sold Shelf-Stable

Taam Tov Instant Creamer (powdered / shelf stable) – Powdered non-dairy creamer that is truly dairy-free can seem impossible to find, but this one is certified kosher parve (OU) and vegan. It’s made with just a few ingredients, which unfortunately include titanium dioxide and carrageenan. I would check the reviews on Amazon before deciding.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (Taam Tov Kosher Pareve Instant Creamer pictured)

Coconut Cloud Creamer (powdered / shelf-stable) – At last, a truly dairy-free powdered creamer that’s also free of funny business. Yes, it’s carrageenan-free and made without titanium dioxide or caseinates (milk proteins). It provides a lightly creamy, full-bodied consistency but a very mild taste that is neither overly sweet nor strongly coconut.

Coconut Cloud Dairy-Free Powdered Coconut Milk Creamer (Review) - vegan, gluten-free, natural and portable

CACafe Coconut Coffee (powdered / shelf-stable) – This is a unique, ready-to-go coffee with creamer concept. It is an instant Columbian coffee with instant powdered dairy-free coconut creamer all in one! The ingredients aren’t too shabby and it comes in either multi-serve canisters or single-serve to-go cups (just add hot water, put the lid on and go). They have sweetened and unsweetened available, and also offer mocha and tea varieties.

The Guide to Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer: All vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and soy-free options (CACafe Coconut Coffee pictured)

Wander Life Coconut Creamer (powdered / shelf-stable) – This is a great option for purists on the go. It comes in 6 varieties, sweetened and unsweetened, and all are vegan and paleo. The sweetened varieties use coconut sugar, and the ingredient list is simple and legible.

Wander Life Coconut Creamer is available in 3 flavors - all dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and paleo.

Simple Truth Coconutmilk Creamer (powdered / shelf-stable) – Available in the Kroger grocery store chains, this powdered brand is available in canisters and single serve packets in Original and Vanilla flavors. It’s coconut cream-based, and doesn’t appear to have any caseinate. But double check the ingredients to be sure. We weren’t able to verify the ingredients on the single-serve packets.

Guide to Dairy-Free Creamers - Simple Truth Coconutmilk Creamer Powder shown

Flavorings: Dairy-Free Buyer Beware

You may be surprised to learn that some flavoring syrups actually contain dairy. They may look like pure sugar, but dairy derivatives are used in a handful of varieties, so be sure to check the ingredients carefully. The most popular brand, Torani, offers a handy allergen chart.

Likewise, some flavored versions of those beloved Keurig K-Cups may contain milk protein – most are dairy-free, but not all, so check!  It appears that Crazy Cups, which come in many fun flavors, are vegan, kosher pareve and compatible with Keurig, but of course, always check the ingredients to verify.

Crazy Cups - a vegan, kosher pareve option for K-Cups in tons of flavors!

What’s Your Favorite Dairy Free Coffee Creamer? Leave a Comment!

For more dairy-free Q&A topics, see our Ask Alisa PageAlisa Fleming is the founder of GoDairyFree.org and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. In addition to her own dairy-free lifestyle, Alisa has experience in catering to the needs of various special diets, including gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, vegan, and multiple food allergies. Need Go Dairy Free now? Order the E-Book for immediate delivery or download it to your Kindle

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

118 Comments

  1. This is such a great resource Alisa, especially for my kosher family and friends. I remember my mom serving Rich’s when I was a kid and when I got older and looked at the ingredients I couldn’t believe my eyes! It’s so great to know about other options that are better for you!

  2. Since being diagnosed with liver disease and realizing how bed my beloved Coffeemate is for my health, I’ve been looking for a creamer that is actually creamy … I mean, isn’t that the whole idea? Everything, and I mean everything, I have tried makes my coffee look like mud and leaves no creamy taste at all. If anyone can tell me of a good, healthy, creamy product, with no sweetener in it, you’ll be my hero!

  3. I am having so much trouble finding dairy free, soy free, coconut free, sweetner free coffee powdered creamer. I am allergic to all of the above…and prefer a powder creamer. There are no high end or soecialty grocery stores near me…

  4. Thank you so much for this info!! I just recently found out that I have an allergy to dairy – it’s very slight and makes me feel tired and icky. I just looked at my “lactose-free” creamer and I see the Sodium Caseinate ingredient. I need to be more careful! The products above will be on my shopping list now. 🙂

    P.S. – The Silk Soy Milk link doesn’t work. Their site is just Silk.com. I checked all of the other links (I can be OCD on silly stuff) and found that the WildWood & SoyGo links also doesn’t work correctly.

    • I know, crazy isn’t it – that non-dairy creamers actually have milk protein in them! Thank you so much for checking the link, too, Heather – I’ve actually got this post slated for a big update, so check back as there will be even more options listed and all the links should work 🙂

  5. You can find the Taam-Tov non-dairy creamer at http://www.veganstore.com/product/taam-tov-non-dairy-instant-creamer/ for $6.99 per 12 oz, as opposed to Amazon that charges $23 for the same amount. The Vegan site DOES charge shipping, but I ordered two, and with shipping, it was still less than ordering one from Amazon.

    (I am trying this product because I have Early-Onset Parkinson’s, and protein, especially those containing trytophan, interferes with my medication)

  6. I found some great recipes I wanted to try, but they call for nonfat dry milk. Can I use this at all while trying to stick to fast metabolism diet at all or is there another substitute

  7. Dear Alisa,

    Thank you for your research and suggestions. Trying to convert to veganism I was very interested and will look for So Delicious creamer and also try canned coconut milk as suggested by one of the comments. Right now I just use whatever plant milk I happen to be using and have found it is just a matter of taste adjustment. I also find I enjoy and taste a really good cup of coffee more (and I drink decaf) with the lighter milks. It’s just getting used to it. My main reason for writing though is that I noticed Silk was mentioned quite a bit and I wanted to make you and your readers aware, if you weren’t already, that the White Wave Silk company is no longer organic and was bought up by big-food industrial giant Dean. They have also inconspicuously changed the wording on their cartons from organic to natural. For more info on this and other companies, go to http://www.blacklistednews.com/Organic_Food_Industry_Bought_Up_By_Corporations_Like_Coca_Cola_/18768/0/0/0/Y/M.html. Hope this is helpful.

  8. I have some of the same complaints about all the atlernative “milks” and found none of them tasted good at all in my coffee. I am allergic to soy, I hate coconut, and the hemp, rice, wheat, and almond didn’t appeal to my taste buds, and I had to use too much to get the color I desired in my French roast coffee. I have tried Mimic and it was OK, but not easy to find. I am nearly vegan, but in addition, I have a health requirement that I must have soy-free, dairy-free, cholesterol/fat free products to replace dairy. It’s really challenging! I also prefer organic and that’s challenging as well. Thanks for all your tips, and I’ll keep searching for the right product for my morning coffee.

    • According to Wikipedia, they closed their doors in late 2012, and were looking for a new manufacturing facility. They haven’t resurfaced since, but I think so much of their product was still in distribution in 2013 that we’re just now feeling the product loss.

  9. Thanks for these suggestions. I have a violent reaction to casein. Will try the MimicCreme. I was using soymilk until I made the connection between it and my itchy, watering eyes and wheezing. I started using almond milk but it just doesn’t do it. This is all very helpful. Thank you.

    • I like my coffee with a splash of Silk or Trader Joe’s soy creamer (tho I’m currently looking for a soy-free alternative) and a spoonful unrefined coconut oil. I know a lot of people like just straight oil & no creamer but I like mine a little creamier. It adds a lovely texture & froth to the coffee, plus a delicate hint of coconut. Start with a very small amount and work your way up, as some people can feel hot from it because it boosts your metabolism.
      You have to emulsify it in, either w/an immersion blender, in a regular blender, or shake manually.
      If you don’t want to mess w/a blender, put the creamer & oil in a large glass jar w/tight fitting lid and microwave uncovered for ~20-30 secs. Put the lid on TIGHTLY and give it a shake. Now crack the lid to release the pressure, reseal & shake vigorously until it’ severe frothy. Now pour the coffee into the jar and enjoy! You can also pour the mixture into your coffee in a mug but sometimes it separately slightly so I prefer a larger container to swill it back together.
      Cheers!
      PS There is also a trend starting with Bulletproof coffee (emulsifying organic/grassfed butter & coconut oil into coffee – no cream). I tried it but found the butter element too rich/almost gaggy for me, but I know a lot of people like it. I read about it on Wellness Mama.

      • Thanks for sharing Elysia! If you haven’t tried it yet, a soy-free option for the creamer portion of your blend is So Delicious coconut milk creamer. I’ve heard good things about it.

        • Thanks!! I’ll try that. I tried their regular coconut milk before and didn’t like it but it sounds like the creamer is different. The Mimic Cream sounds interesting too…
          Thanks for the info!

  10. I love my coffee mate French vanilla but since it has casein in it, I created something similar. I added one package of unprepared French vanilla pudding mix to a carton of mocha mix and it treats great!

  11. I really appreciate the research that you did, but as a recent vegan, and as someone who has spent more than a decade in the specialty coffee industry, I have to say that So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer tastes nothing like half & half, and does not come close to the taste or the mouthfeel of real cream. And it tastes like coconut. Who wants coconut in a great cup of coffee? Unfortunately, nothing else tastes like cream either. The only product on your list that I have not tried is MimicCream, which I will order online. So far, drinking my coffee black is better than any of the cream alternatives, but it is just not as satisfying as real half & half.

  12. I have gotten into the habit of using coconut milk (from a can, not the beverage. I find the beverage too watery) for my coffee. It is glorious and coconut fat is a good fat that actually boosts your metabolism and immunity.

  13. I very much appreciate your reviews on these products. I’ve been on the hunt for a good dairy free creamer and so far the only thing I’ve tried is silk. Hated it! Too sweet! And I made sure not to get a flavored version. Oh well. My fear is that I won’t like anything that I try as they will all be too sweet. None of the research I’ve done mentions whether one takes sugar in their coffee. I got really excited about a concoction someone said you can make from scratch, but when i started reading their recipe they had the addition of agave syrup. No! Just curious, which creamer you’d recommend that won’t sweeten my coffee. Thanks.

    • Kerry, I believe a few of the ones listed above come in unsweetened. Some people simply opt to use a rich milk beverage, like coconut milk beverage in the carton in an unsweetened variety in place of creamer.

Leave A Reply