Yogurt is typically made from milk, which is a dairy product. Therefore, traditional yogurt is not dairy-free. However, dairy-free alternatives are available, made from plant-based sources like almond, soy, coconut, or cashew milk. These alternatives are suitable for people who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy, or following a vegan diet. If you’re looking for dairy-free yogurt, check labels and ingredient lists to ensure your product is genuinely dairy-free.
Plant-Based Substitute Bases for Making Dairy-Free Yogurt
Almond milk: It is made from ground almonds and water. Almond milk has a slightly nutty flavor and a creamy texture, making it a popular base for dairy-free yogurt.
Soy milk: It is made from whole soybeans or soy protein isolate and has a relatively neutral taste. It is a common base for dairy-free yogurt due to its high protein content and smooth texture.
Coconut milk: It is made from grated coconut flesh and has a rich, creamy consistency. Dairy-free yogurt made from coconut milk has a distinct coconut flavor and is often thicker than other alternatives.
Cashew milk: It is made from ground cashews and water and has a creamy texture and a subtle, nutty flavor. Cashew-based yogurt tends to be very smooth and is perfect for those who enjoy a milder taste.
Oat milk: Oat milk is made from soaked, ground, and strained oats. It has a mild flavor with a creamy consistency. Dairy-free yogurt made from oat milk may have a slightly grainy texture but is an excellent option for those looking for a nut-free alternative.
Rice milk: It is made by mixing milled rice and water and has a naturally sweet flavor. While it is thinner than other alternatives, rice milk can make dairy-free yogurt, especially when thickened with a suitable thickening agent like agar-agar or tapioca starch.
Best Store-Bought Dairy-Free & Vegan Yogurts
Oui by Yoplait
This dairy-free yogurt is made from coconut cream and features a rich, creamy texture, offering a satisfying plant-based option from a popular yogurt brand.
Harmless Harvest Coconut Yogurt
A smooth and creamy coconut yogurt with a mild flavor, it is known for its organic ingredients and sustainable practices.
Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative Made with Soy
This soy-based yogurt alternative is smooth and creamy, with a mild taste and various flavors, making it famous for those seeking a high-protein, dairy-free option.
So Delicious Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative
This coconut-based yogurt has a slightly sweet flavor and a rich, creamy texture, making it a favorite among those who enjoy coconut-based products.
DAH! Almond Yogurt
With a thicker consistency and a subtle nutty flavor, this almond-based yogurt is an excellent option for those who prefer a plant-based yogurt with a bit more substance.
Kite Hill Almond Milk Yogurt
Known for its smooth, creamy texture and mild almond taste, this yogurt is popular for its versatility in sweet and savory dishes.
Wayfare Dairy-Free Yogurt
Made from a unique blend of plant-based ingredients, this dairy-free yogurt has a smooth, creamy texture and a variety of flavors, making it a great option for those looking to explore different plant-based yogurt alternatives.
Tips for Buying Dairy-Free Yogurt
Check the ingredient list: Always read the ingredient list to ensure the yogurt is genuinely dairy-free. Watch for any hidden dairy-derived ingredients like casein, whey, or lactose.
Consider the base: Dairy-free yogurts come in various plant-based options, such as almond, soy, coconut, or oat milk. Select a base that suits your taste preferences, dietary requirements, or allergy restrictions.
Examine nutritional content: Compare the nutritional information of different dairy-free yogurts, especially if you are looking for specific nutrient levels. For instance, soy-based yogurts have higher protein content, while coconut-based yogurts may have more saturated fat.
Look for live active cultures: Choose a dairy-free yogurt containing live active cultures that benefit gut health. The packaging should indicate the presence of these probiotics.
Taste and texture: Some dairy-free yogurts may have a different taste and texture than traditional dairy yogurts. You might want to try a few different brands and types to find one that appeals to your taste buds.
Added sugars and flavors: Check the label for added sugars and artificial flavors. If you prefer a more natural product, opt for unsweetened or naturally sweetened options, and avoid those with artificial additives.
Dairy-Free Yogurt Recipe
Here’s a simple recipe to make dairy-free coconut milk yogurt at home. You can substitute the coconut milk with any other plant-based milk of your choice, but the thickness and flavor may vary.
- 4 cups (1 liter) of canned full-fat coconut milk
- 2-4 tablespoons of sweetener of your choice (maple syrup, agave syrup, or sugar; optional)
- 2 teaspoons agar-agar powder (or use an alternative thickener like tapioca starch)
- 2 tablespoons store-bought dairy-free yogurt or yogurt starter (make sure it contains live active cultures)
- In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and sweetener (if using). Whisk the coconut milk together to achieve a smooth consistency if the coconut milk has separated.
- Add the agar-agar powder to the saucepan and whisk well to thoroughly combine it. If using an alternative thickener, follow the package instructions for the recommended amount.
- Heat the coconut milk mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, frequently stirring to ensure the agar-agar is fully dissolved and well combined.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and let the mixture cool to around 110°F (43°C). Use a thermometer to check the temperature. It’s crucial to let it cool to avoid killing the live cultures in the next step.
- Once the mixture has cooled, gently whisk in the dairy-free yogurt starter or store-bought dairy-free yogurt with live active cultures. Make sure it’s well combined.
- Pour the yogurt mixture into clean glass jars or containers. Cover them with a clean cloth or loose-fitting lids.
- Place the jars in a warm spot to ferment, ideally between 100-110°F (38-43°C). You can use a yogurt maker, a warm oven with just the light turned on, or a cooler filled with warm water to maintain the temperature. Let the yogurt ferment for 8-12 hours or until it reaches your desired level of tanginess and thickness.
- Once the yogurt has fermented, carefully remove the jars from the incubation spot, cover them with tight-fitting lids, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill and further thicken the yogurt.
Enjoy your homemade dairy-free yogurt! You can add toppings like fresh fruit, granola, or a drizzle of honey to enhance its taste. Don’t forget to save a few tablespoons of your homemade yogurt to use as a starter for your next batch!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Yogurt Gluten-Free?
Yes. Yogurt is gluten-free, like many dairy foods. However, you must always check the ingredients when buying yogurt-infused foods.
Is Yogurt Vegan?
No. Traditional yogurt is not vegan because it is made with cow’s milk. You can have plant-based yogurt if you want to eat vegan yogurt.
Is Yogurt Vegetarian?
Yes. Yogurt is vegetarian. Vegetarians are okay with milk, honey, and eggs. You can have as much yogurt as you like being a vegetarian.
Is Dairy-Free Yogurt good for you?
It depends on the ingredients. Most store-bought yogurts are rich in sugar and highly processed. Hence, it is better to consume yogurt in moderation.
Is dairy-free yogurt always vegan?
No. A dairy-free yogurt may have honey or refined sugar. Vegans don’t eat honey or sugar processed using bone char. On the contrary, vegan yogurt is always dairy-free.