For me, dairy-free living isn’t about giving up anything but health issues. In fact, by breaking away from our dependence on one food, we’re able to discover an abundance of delicious foods to satisfy our every craving. And though I’m not one to long for cheese, I do get rich and creamy cravings from time to time … okay, daily. Fortunately, there are no shortages of foods to fulfill my creamy dairy-free demands.
Here is my top list of creamy dairy-free “power” foods along with dozens of rich non-dairy recipes for using them. All of these recipes are dairy-free / non-dairy, vegan (or with a vegan option), and gluten-free (or with a gluten-free option). Most are also soy-free, and many are nut-free, too – so enjoy exploring!
I’ve heard many moms contend that they just couldn’t imagine using avocado in anything beyond guacamole, but this luxurious fruit has unique properties that can offer decadence to desserts, body to savory sauces, and even stand-in for fat, nut butter or eggs in recipes. That is, so long as you can get past it’s brilliant green hue!
- Healthy Shamrock Shake
- Chocolate Avocado Pudding
- Roasted Garlic Avocado Soup with Herbed Yogurt Crackers (pictured)
- Cardamom Pudding Smoothies
- Cranberry Coconut Smoothie
- Raw Avocado Soup with Almond Cream
- Healthy Vegan Chocolate Frosting
- Black Bean and Corn Tacos with Avocado Cream
- Mexican Pizza with Avocado Cream Sauce
- Coconut Lime Avocado Dressing
- Creamy Veggie Pasta Primavera
- Avocado Dijon Dressing
By now you’ve likely heard of “nice cream” made with frozen bananas – this has actually been a favorite in my house for over 10 years, and frozen banana shakes are a near daily breakfast. While bananas can offer fresh indulgence, and work magic in baked goods, we think they are best when broken into chunks, flash frozen, and blended into cool treats.
- Breakfast Power Smoothie (pictured)
- Cherry Chocolate Chip Shake
- Amazing Almond Protein Shake
- Raw Walnut Banana Pudding
- Instant Banana Yogurt
- Spiced Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Sandwich
- Southern-Style Banana Pudding
The cooked version of this cruciferous vegetable has become a hip new healthy ingredients in soups, sauces, and more. We agree, it’s stark white color and low starch content make it a lovely base with lots of versatilty. Just steam until tender and blend away.
- Grilled Veggie Impasta Alfredo
- Garlicky Grilled Caesar Salad With Cannellini Herb Croutons (pictured)
- Roasted Garlic Onion and Cauliflower Cream Soup
- Creamy Cauliflower Carrot Soup
Chocolate and Cacao Butter
Chocolate is a naturally dairy-free treat… no really, it is. Many lesser brands add milk solids, lactose, butter oil, cream and other unnecessary (in my opinion) ingredients to effect the taste and consistency. But chocolate has its own natural rich ingredient in the form of cocoa butter (don’t let the name fool you, it is dairy-free!). You can take the easy way … using melted chocolate on everything (I won’t tell) or experiment with cacao butter for a pure finish.
- Raw Chocolate Superfood Tart
- Chocolate Banana Monkey Pops
- Chocolate Pudding with Raspberry Infusion (pictured)
- Pure Chocolate Truffle Snacks
- Perfectly Peppermint Fudge Bites
- Coconut Milk Truffles
Available in lite or full-fat original, the versatility of pure coconut milk is bar none: fluff it into whipped “cream,” stir into a rich savory sauce, use to make cream pies or ice cream, and even bake with it. As you can tell from the longer list of recipes, this is a popular ingredient for making just about any type of creamy dairy-free recipe!
- Strawberries ‘n Cream Chocolate Cups
- Spicy Vegetable Ranch Salad
- Papaya Mango Milkshake with Raspberry Puree
- Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Garlic Sauce
- Coconut Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Coconut-Chocolate Ganache
- Buckwheat Crepes with Whipped Coconut Cream (pictured)
- German Chocolate Mousse Parfaits
- Ice Cream Sandwich Cake with Vanilla Whip and Chocolate Cream Filling
- Curried Sweet Potatoes with Spinach
- Coconut Gnocchi with Garlic Creamed Kale
- Maple Mocha Ice Cream
- Rich Brazilian Vegan Stew
Cultured Dairy-Free Milk
Otherwise known as non-dairy yogurt, the thickening process that happens during the production of yogurt makes it a nutritious and creamy add-in, even when vegan! It does work fabulously in baked good recipes, but to preserve the probiotic goodness of creamy dairy-free yogurt, use it in uncooked recipes or add after cooking and cooling of the recipe has occurred (i.e. as a garnish on soup).
- Blueberry-Kiwi Parfait Perfection (pictured)
- Tzatziki Dip
- Tandoori Mmmm Sauce
- Low-Fat Onion Dip
- Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls
- Easy Yogurt Salad Dressing
- Limeade Lassi Frozen Yogurt Pops
- Healthy Banana Split Parfaits
- Smoked Almond Pesto Dip
- Baked Broccoli Fritters in Indian-Spiced Yogurt Gravy
From hummus to Mexican-inspired soups to cheesecake made with silken tofu, beans offer a fulfilling base to many creamy dairy-free dishes. They are sometimes a little too unctuous on their own, but when softened with a touch of add-ins, like tahini, roasted garlic, sweetener or a touch of milk beverage, everything comes together.
To note: for those of us who aren’t soy allergic or averse, organic silken tofu can provide a lean, protein-rich creamy dairy-free finish for the occasional treat or savory dish. Just like any food, keep this legume in moderation and stick to organic, if possible, since this is a common GM food. Silken tofu is sometimes available in different consistencies, from soft to firm, with applications ranging from smoothies to chilled cream pies!
- Low-Fat Ginger-Sesame Creamy Salad Dressing (pictured)
- Smokey Black Bean Bisque
- Vegan Brie
- Chocolate Mousse Cups
- Creamy Garlic and Green Pea Soup
- Low Sugar Chocolate Mousse
- Pea Soup Shooters
- Artichoke Curry Spinach Dip
- Tofu Benedict with Vegan Hollandaise
- Peanut Butter Mousse
If you can do cashews or macadamia nuts, they are the ultimate in creamy dairy-free luxury. I use cashews most often for their versatile, lightly sweet flavor, less oily consistency, and fair price tag. That said, other nuts do have their place when “rustic” or more richness will do. Almonds, peanuts (yes, I know, a legume, but we enjoy them like a nut!) and pine nuts are a few other gems that I reach for whenever the flavor profile fits. All nuts can be ground into a flour, then a paste, then a rich nut butter. When freshly ground and blended into soups and sauces, they soak up moisture and quickly act as a natural thickener with a silky finish.
- Creamy Roasted Tomato Vodka Sauce with Penne (pictured)
- Anti-Inflammatory Salad Dressing
- Cookie Dough Apple “Donut” Snacks
- Nutritious Creamy Vegan Pasta Primavera
- Chocolate Ice Cream with Natural Maple-Almond Sauce
- No Bake Maple Creme Tartlets
- Super-Veggie Pot Pies
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancakes
- Slow Cooker Tomato Queso Dip
- Savory Brunch Muffins with Curry Sauce
- Veggie Skewers with Perfect Peanut Sauce
- Chips & Queso
- Savory Almond Sauce
- Roasted Asparagus with Romesco Dipping Sauce
- Best Ever Creamy Vegan Alfredo
- Chocolate Cashew Truffles
- Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal
From coconut to extra-virgin olive, flax to sesame, nutritive oils are a wonderful staple in my kitchen. Coconut oil helps chilled goods set up, while other liquid oils can provide a luxurious base, add that finishing touch, or even be emulsified into a creamy whip. And did you know that mayonnaise is a naturally dairy-free oil emulsion? It does contain eggs though – fortunately, vegan mayo is pretty darn good, too.
- No Bake Strawberry Macaroons
- Chocolate Hazelnut Shell Dessert Topping
- Hot Toffee Nog
- Breakfast Grits
- Key Lime Cheesecake Bars (pictured)
- Potato Salad with Olive Oil-Mustard Vinaigrette
- Green Salad with Hemp Oil Dressing
- Vegan Cheesecake Cups
Like cauliflower, many root vegetables dissolve into a rich abyss when cooked. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are particularly tender, but don’t be afraid to experiment with other earthy vegetables, from parsnips and carrots to celery root! They work great as a base to soups, sauces, and even shakes.
- Cream of Celery Root Soup (pictured)
- Better Sweet Potato Pie Shake
- Lemongrass Potato Leek Soup
- Sweet Potato Curry Soup
- Kale Pierogi wth Sweet Potato Filling
- Asian Spring Potato Risottos
More pronounced in taste and not quite as creamy as nuts, seeds still have a place in creamy dairy-free recipes. Tahini in particular adds amazing pungency and just a dab will do it. I also adore chia seeds for the body they provide to milk beverage and sunflower seed butter as an allergy-friendly stand-in for peanut butter or nut butters.
- Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with Fresh Fruit
- Herbed Nut & Seed Spread
- Forest Berry Yogurt Chia Parfaits (pictured)
- Island Paradise Green Smoothie
- Tahini Noodle Stir Fry
- Super Olive Hummus
- Moroccan Soup with White Beans and Kale
- Chilled Soba Seed Noodles Salad
Think of squash, such as butternut or pumpkin, like sweet potatoes only less starchy, and more silky. The creamier consistency makes squash ideal for soup, sauces, smoothies, baking, you name it really. I’ve even seen a few butternut mac and “cheese” recipes that are reportedly quite amazing.
- Super Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake
- Chocolate Pumpkin Butter Cups
- Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Shake
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Cashew Tart with Chocolate-Pumpkin Filling
- North African Spiced Butternut Soup
- Moroccan Spice Pumpkin Hummus
What other foods help you satisfy your creamy dairy-free cravings?
This post was made possible by our sponsor, So Delicious Dairy Free, but the food picks are all my own personal recommendations.