23 Dairy Free Desserts: We Test the Best

There are many different reasons why people may choose not to consume dairy. The leading reason for eliminating dairy is due to allergies, as their bodies cannot process the dairy components. The most common allergen in dairy is lactose, a sugar found in milk. This requires a lactase enzyme to digest, which some people do not have. 

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Veganism is incredibly popular at the moment, and this is another one of the main reasons people are cutting out dairy from their diets. All of the recipes included in this article are vegan for this reason. This means that they do not contain eggs or honey as well as being dairy-free. 

We have split the dessert recipes into 2 separate categories - cold and warm desserts. This means that there is a recipe perfectly suited to whatever occasion you need. The recipes included are all very easy to follow and are delicious to boot. 

Cold desserts

  1. Nice cream

Nice cream is a healthy ice cream substitute that’s perfect as a summertime dessert. This can be customized according to your personal taste, although you must like bananas! You can go as simple or elaborate as you like with this one, but you need a high-powered blender to make it work.

We love blending 2 frozen bananas with chunks of frozen pineapple. Thin out the mixture with whatever milk or dairy-free substitute you have to hand. Top with shredded coconut for a pina colada-inspired treat. There’s no refined sugar and you get a lot of nutritional bacon for your buck with this one. 

  1. Cupcakes

Cupcakes are a classic for a reason. A truly crowd-pleasing dessert that is easy to share hygienically in the time of Corona. There is no situation where cupcakes are not appropriate to serve.

If you’re having a small and intimate dinner party then you can go upmarket and make fancy cupcakes. If it’s a kid’s party, or you’re feeding a crowd, cupcakes will serve everyone with no hassle when it comes to serving. 

We love these vegan salted caramel cupcakes from Kindness Kitchen. These cupcakes are topped with a homemade coconut caramel sauce and caramel frosting. They are rich and indulgent, the perfect dessert that everyone will love.

  1. Chia pudding

Chia pudding is delicious, easy to make, and has a great nutrient profile. Chia seeds are often overlooked, but they are really good for you. They are really high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus - important nutrients for bone health. People who do not eat dairy are often deficient in calcium, so this is a delicious way to get it in.

This recipe for blueberry coconut chia pudding from Mad About Food is so creamy you will not even miss the dairy. The blueberries are so sweet that there’s no need for any refined sugar. What’s best of all is that the dessert can be made up to 5 days in advance.

  1. Key lime pie

Key lime pie is a traditional dessert that is often overlooked. The sharp freshness combined with the creamy filling and buttery biscuit crumb makes it a treat for the senses. This makes a perfect dessert at any time of the day. 

This key lime pie from Carnation is elevated by the use of Biscoff biscuits to make the crust. The speculoos flavor marries perfectly with the tangy lime to give a modern twist to a classic dessert. If you are feeling adventurous, try to make an aquafaba meringue to adorn the top. For a safer option, whip up some dairy-free cream and pile it on top. 

  1. Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies are the perfect way to round off any meal. The individual cookies make them a breeze to share out between your family and friends. They can be flavored to suit your preferences and can be decorated to be appropriate for any occasion. 

This recipe for vegan sugar cookies from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken only requires 9 ingredients and is super simple to follow. The dough is easy to roll out and cut using cookie cutters, making them easily customizable. Decorate them with colored glace icing to get the classic sugar cookie appearance. Don’t skip the refrigeration step, as this will help to prevent your cookies from becoming deformed in the oven.

  1. Raspberry cheezecake

Cheesecake is a classic dinner party dessert that never fails to elicit a smile from your guests. Being dairy-free is no reason to miss out on the creamy decadence! There are hundreds of recipes for dairy-free cheezecakes all over the internet thanks to the explosion of veganism.

We love this recipe for a vegan raspberry cheezecake from Love & Lemons. The sweet tartness of the raspberries marries perfectly with the creamy, rich filling and the nutty base. The main body of the dessert can be made with either a dairy-free cream cheese or with cashews. Both versions are delicious, it just comes down to a matter of personal preference. 

  1. Mango sorbet

Everyone loves ice cream, but sorbets are often overlooked as a dessert option. Sweet, fresh, and vibrant, we cannot see why this is the case. Sorbets tend to be made primarily from blended fruits and sugar, making them sweet and simple to create.

For a classic sorbet flavor, we recommend this mango sorbet recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef. All you require is 3 simple ingredients - mango, lime juice, and water. Blend the frozen mango with the other ingredients until a smooth, thick paste is formed. If you want your sorbet to have a firmer texture, simply allow it to chill in the freezer for a little while before serving.

  1. Chocolate chip cookies

You cannot get more classically American than a chocolate chip cookie. They are a staple confection for a reason. Who doesn’t love a crumbly, buttery biscuit with delicious nuggets of sweet and creamy chocolate interspersed throughout? The ingredients for chocolate chip cookies are relatively simple, and mostly vegan anyway. 

This recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies comes from Cookie + Kate. They are chewy in the center and crispy at the edges. The recipe is super simple to follow and there are no steps that require you to wait patiently while the dough chills in the fridge.

  1. Chocolate torte 

A chocolate torte is one of those desserts that will always seem impressive. They require deceptively little work and effort but come out looking as though you have spent hours slaving away. They are rich and indulgent, an incredibly classy and adult dessert.

This torte recipe from Bit of the Good Stuff is a no-bake recipe that is sure to wow whoever gets to eat a slice. It is made of a rich and silky chocolate ganache poured over the top of a biscuit base. The preparation only takes about 20 minutes, then all that is left to do is wait for the ganache to set. 

  1. Orange shortbread 

Shortbread is a classic British biscuit that everyone loves. The intense butteriness of shortbread is something that you might be missing when following a dairy-free diet. There are hundreds of butter replacements available on the market now, all of which will work perfectly to create a decadent shortbread. It may seem like a simplistic dessert, but trust us, it’s anything but. 

We love this recipe for a chocolate orange flavored shortbread from Baking Mad. The classic combination of flavors is just as delicious in a shortbread form. They look super cute speckled with flakes of orange zest and topped with an indulgent drizzle of dark chocolate.

  1. Chocolate truffles 

Chocolate truffles are the perfect way to round off a classy meal. Small enough to not be overwhelming when you’re full, but sweet enough to satisfy you. There are hundreds of different truffle flavors that you could try, meaning that there’s always something for everyone. There are lots of dairy-free truffles available on the market if you want a really easy dessert option. 

Alternatively, you could try to make your own. They are deceptively easy to make and are sure to impress. This recipe from Cook, Nourish, Bliss only requires 4 ingredients and 20 minutes of time to make. They can be decorated or flavored with whatever you have on hand.  

  1. Lemon bars

Lemon bars are a classic, square-shaped dessert. They are made with a shortbread base, topped with a thick layer of lemon curd filling. Recipes for lemon bars were first published in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1962. The component parts of this recipe predate this period greatly.

This recipe from Minimalist Baker is dairy and gluten-free. The filling is rich, creamy, and indulgent. It is made from soaked cashews, coconut cream, maple syrup, salt, lemon juice, and zest. This creamy, tangy topping complements the oat and almond base. It is the perfect mouthful and a dreamy note to end a meal on. 

Warm desserts

  1. Crumble

Crumbles, cobblers, and crisps. All three of these iconic dessert types are very similar, consisting of a layer of baked or stewed fruit topped with some dough-like topping. Cobbler toppings tend to be thicker and closer in texture to a biscuit. Crumble and crisp toppings are almost identical, the notable difference being that crisp toppings tend to contain oats and nuts.

Crumbles are simple to make, requiring only butter, sugar, and flour to make the topping. These are ingredients that we all have in our homes, making this the perfect panic dessert if you have surprise guests coming over. We love this recipe for a strawberry and rhubarb crumble from Go Dairy Free.

  1. Brownies

Everyone loves a brownie. It is only improved by serving it warm, topped with a vanilla dairy-free ice cream. The contrast of the two temperatures is innately satisfying and is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. Dairy-free brownies are incredibly simple to make, and many people even say they prefer the non-dairy version. 

This brownie recipe from Jane’s Patisserie takes the classic brownies up a notch with the inclusion of crumbled Oreos. Honestly, what more could you want? Oreos are naturally dairy-free, so there is no need to worry about this. The brownies come out with a crisp shell on the top and a gooey center.

  1. Apple tart

If a crumble is not up your street but you are still after a fruity kick, we recommend a fruit tart. The combination of soft, sweet fruit with the crisp and buttery pastry is hard to beat. We recommend serving this tart warm with lashings of custard. Many commercial custard powders are dairy-free, so provided you make them up using a non-dairy milk there are no concerns about dairy contamination.

This recipe for a dairy-free apple tart from the Wallflower Kitchen is incredibly easy to make. You do not even need to make your own pastry, as the recipe calls for a pre-prepared version. The recipe has no additional fat and is relatively low in sugar, making it a guilt-free dessert.

  1. Cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls are classically served for breakfast, but there is no reason that they cannot be a dessert too. The warming cinnamon flavor is sure to make all of your guests feel comforted and satisfied. They can require a little bit of work to make, but trust us, it’s so worth the effort.

This cinnamon roll recipe from the Minimalist Baker requires only 7 ingredients and the recipe is vegan, meaning everyone can enjoy them. The cinnamon rolls are coated in a thick drizzle of dairy-free cream cheese glaze when they are fresh out of the oven for the ultimate decadent hit.

  1. Bread and butter pudding

This is a classic British dessert that is made using stale bread. This is a perfect dessert to make if you have some old bread lying about that you do not wish to waste. The bread is soaked in a flavored custard and then baked. This transforms the hard, bland bread into a soft and pillowy dessert that everyone will love. 

This recipe for vegan bread and butter pudding comes from The Veg Space. It is flavored with lemon, sultanas, vanilla, and nutmeg. If you like, you can add a boozy hit with the inclusion of some brandy. It is the perfect comfort food. 

  1. Baked apples

Baked apples have been a staple dessert for many years. It is such a simple dish, but so incredibly satisfying. The classic recipe incorporates butter, brown sugar, raisins, and spices, but feel free to experiment with your choice of fillings. 

This recipe from Avocado Pesto gives a new take on baked apples. They are cut in a Hasselback manner and topped with oats, walnuts, and honey before being baked. They take only 30 minutes to cook, making them the ideal quick dessert. 

  1. Poached pears

Poached pears are a dessert that allows the fruit to take center stage. There are hundreds of variations on it, altering the poaching liquid to give you vastly different results. You can choose to poach your pears in red wine if you fancy a more traditional dessert or pomegranate juice for a non-alcoholic alternative.

This recipe from Go Dairy Free suggests that you poach the pears in a pan of sweetened coconut milk, flavored with star anise. This is a unique twist on the traditional dessert and is sure to impress whoever you serve it to. This makes a great dessert served with a berry coulis and a sprinkle of granola. 

  1. Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding is a dessert that has existed for many years. It is traditionally served in the UK following a Sunday roast, but the dessert has gained worldwide popularity. Traditional sticky toffee puddings are made with the use of dates, however, many modern versions omit this. Instead, it is replaced with refined sugar and golden syrup. 

This sticky toffee pudding recipe from the Dairy Free Baker uses soy cream, dairy-free butter, and 2 types of sugar to make a sweet, sticky, and indulgent toffee sauce. This sauce is so delicious that you will want to add it to everything that you eat!

  1. Rice pudding

Rice pudding often gets a bad reputation, but we think that it is altogether undeserving. Soft and sweet rice topped with a berry coulis is a match made in heaven. Rice pudding is an incredibly versatile dessert and can be served hot or cold, depending on your personal preference. 

This recipe from Connoisseurus Veg is creamy and rich thanks to the coconut milk used to cook the grains of pudding rice. It incorporates raisins for pockets of additional sweetness. The rice is delicately flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg to make it incredibly comforting and cozy. 

  1. Crepes Suzette

Crepes Suzette is a classic French dessert, so revered that it has its own day of celebration - the 6th of May. The dessert is made using delicate crepes that are doused in a delicate and sweet syrup. This syrup is made from the juice of oranges, butter, and sugar. This is then flambeed tableside with a liqueur such as Cointreau for the ultimate show-stopping dessert. 

This recipe for vegan crepes Suzette comes from Lyle’s Golden Syrup and is super easy to follow. All you need are 6 simple ingredients that you probably have at home anyway. This is a great dessert to really show off to your guests and give your dinner the wow factor. 

  1. Blueberry clafoutis 

A clafoutis is a classic French dessert. It is essentially a baked batter filled with fruits that can be served warm or cold. Traditionally clafoutis contains cherries, but any kind of fruit will work. It is similar in flavor and texture to a pancake and is definitely a crowd-pleaser. 

We love this recipe for a blueberry clafoutis from Everyday Maven. It is really simple to make and can be pulled together in under 10 minutes. Add on an hour of cooking time and your dessert will be ready. We recommend serving it warm with a generous drizzle of maple syrup to kick the sweetness up a notch, giving off pancake vibes.

  1. Cookie dough 

There’s not a person alive who can genuinely say that they don’t enjoy warm cookie dough. The melted chocolate contrasting with the soft and buttery dough is a treat for all of the senses.

Take your cookie dough dessert up a level with the addition of a dairy-free salted caramel sauce and some cold vanilla ice cream. Children and adults alike will love this dessert and it is the perfect dish to serve for any kind of dinner event. 

This recipe for a vegan skillet cookie from Food With Feeling is great. It is super simple to make and can be customized according to your personal preferences.

The cookie dough is baked in a skillet which gives you the experience of going out to a dessert parlor but from home. The recipe does not call for any unusual ingredients and can be whipped up in under an hour. 

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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