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.
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: The Best and the Rest
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
What’s Your Favorite Dairy Free Coffee Creamer? Leave a Comment!
For more dairy-free Q&A topics, see our Ask Alisa Page. Alisa 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.