Cheese and butter are staples in a lot of classic brunch dishes, like omelets and pancakes, and when you first go dairy-free, it can feel nearly impossible to make a satisfying breakfast that doesn’t include some milk product. That’s why it’s helpful to know a few dairy-free breakfast hacks, so you can both enjoy your breakfast and steer clear of dairy. The easiest place to start is finding a substitution for traditional cow’s milk, but that’s kind of a no-brainer since there are so many milk alternatives available these days, from almond to soy. The challenge comes when you’re trying to figuring out how to replace the yogurt and butter and cheese in your fridge and favorite breakfast recipes without expending too much extra effort or cash.
These seven dairy-free breakfast tips take ingredients you might already have lying around the kitchen if you’re following a dairy-free diet and transform them into butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, and even cheese. Yes, you read that right. Giving up dairy doesn’t mean you have to let go of that cheesy taste, or any of your favorite brunch dishes, for that matter. With these simple ingredient swaps and cooking hacks, preparing reliably delicious dairy-free breakfasts will be a breeze.
Avocado Toast (Duh)
Butter on toast might be a classic combination, but subbing in an avocado makes this simple breakfast staple instantly healthier, more delicious, and totally dairy-free. All you have to do is slice up half an avocado, mash it onto the toast, and season to your taste with salt, pepper, and even a little cayenne if you like things spicy. It’s a nearly instant and totally dairy-free breakfast.
Substitute Silken Tofu
Greek yogurt is a common ingredient in many high-protein breakfast recipes, from puddings to pancakes, and it’s easily replaced with silken tofu. This is an instance where the texture of the tofu can make or break the dish, since using firm or even soft tofu instead of silken won’t give you that same yogurt-like consistency.
Use Applesauce Instead of Butter
Replace butter with applesauce if you’re baking a brunch dish on the sweeter side, like banana bread or muffins. Use half the amount of applesauce as you would butter. That means if a recipe asks for one cup of butter, use half a cup of applesauce instead, preferably unsweetened.
Sleeping in and making banana pancakes in the morning (like in that Jack Johnson song that might’ve been stuck in your head in 2005) takes on a whole new meaning with these two-ingredient, dairy-free banana pancakes. All you need are ripe bananas and eggs, and maybe a little bit of vanilla extract, if you’re so inclined. Mash it all together, throw on a griddle, and in no time at all, you’ve got banana pancakes. You can even throw some carob nibs into the batter if you want to get really crazy without adding any dairy.
Bagel with Tofu Schmear
Instead of ordering a bagel with schmear, ask for tofu spread, which has the same texture as cream cheese and is so close in taste that it’s hard to tell the difference. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own tofu spread at home, by blending together silken tofu, cashews, and some other dairy-free ingredients, but this is a case where buying the pre-made version is often easier.
Coconut Oil in Coffee
Black coffee doesn’t have the same richness as coffee with cream, especially if you’re used to drinking coffee with milk in the morning, and a lot of the time, traditional milk substitutes like soy or almond milk just don’t cut it. The ultimate hack for creamy, dairy-free coffee is to put a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil into your drip coffee then throw the whole mix into a blender for 30 seconds. You’ll end up with a frothy, almost latte-like cup of coffee.
Get Cozy with Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast, those bright yellow flakes you might see on the shelves at health food stores and the occasional Whole Foods, is a quick and easy substitute for grated cheese on salads, popcorn, risotto, omelets—pretty much anything. Nutritional yeast might look a little scary, and perhaps radioactive, but once you taste that distinctively cheesy nuttiness, you’ll be sprinkling it on everything, wondering why anyone eats real cheese anyway.