The following is a general guide to using ingredient substitutions for milk allergy. Please verify the ingredients and safety of any products named to ensure that it is safe for your child's unique allergy issues.
If you need additional assistance in finding product suggestions or where to find ingredients for substituting, post a message in the KFA Food and Cooking Support Forum to get suggestions from other parents who are also managing the same food allergies with their children.
One of the easiest substitutions to make is for butter: simply use a dairy-free margarine instead. However, you may need to do some searching and taste-testing to find the best dairy-free margarine available in your area, as a good margarine can make a big difference in many recipes. For baked goods, try to find a dairy-free margarine with a low water content and high fat content (e.g., stick of margarine usually contains less water than a tub of margarine). Margarines with high water content may affect your baked goods.
Dairy-free cheeses are a bit of a challenge. If a child is old enough to remember "real" cheese, you may want to wait a while before introducing a milk-free version. Younger children will usually adapt more easily. Soy cheeses do not taste or melt like traditional dairy cheeses. In some cases, soy cheese will not appear melted, but will in fact be melted inside. There are now milk-free and soy-free cheeses available from several brands. They are available in shreds, blocks and slices. These milk-free and soy-free cheeses also melt much better than milk-free cheeses of the past.
Milk-free cheese may not work well in recipes for cheese sauces. If you would like to make a dairy-free "cheese sauce," check our Safe Eats® recipe database for "cheese sauce" recipes based on nutritional yeast.
There are a number of commercially-produced cow’s milk alternatives made from soy, coconut, rice, potato, oat, almond, hazelnut, cashew, hemp, flax, sunflower, and even macadamia. Most of these are available in a few different flavors (such as "regular," "vanilla," "chocolate," and "mocha"). All of these milks can be substituted 1-for-1 in recipes.
Note: Goat's milk is not considered a safe alternative for those allergic to cow's milk.
Alisa Fleming has done extensive taste-testing to determine which types of milks work best in which types of recipes. The following information is reprinted with permission from her book, "Dairy Free Made Easy" by Alisa Fleming of www.godairyfree.org:
You can make your own sweetened condensed milk substitute by making a "safe" evaporated milk and adding sugar. Evaporated milk is milk that has water content reduced by 60%. Simmer any quantity of soy or rice milk in a pan until it reduced by 60% to get evaporated milk. Approximately 3 cups of rice or soy milk will leave 1 cup of evaporated milk left at the end. Be careful not to scald it. For sweetened condensed milk, mix one cup of evaporated milk with 1-1/4 cups of sugar. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool. It will yield 1-1/2 cups of evaporated milk substitute. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Another alternative for evaporated milk is to substitute coconut milk 1:1 in the recipe. This will impart a coconut flavor to the recipe, so it works in some recipes but not all.
Substitutes for light cream: light (or "lite") canned coconut milk, soy creamer, coconut-based creamers, almond-based creamers
Full fat coconut milk can be substituted for heavy cream. A coconut milk substitute will impart a coconut flavor to a recipe, so it will work for some recipes, but not all.
You can use Kineret® brand whipped topping as a substitute for sweet cream if used straight out of the carton and not whipped.