AIP Dairy Substitutes for Cheese, Yogurt, Milk, and Ice Cream
Getting used to a dairy-free diet can be tough, especially when you have to also avoid so many other foods on AIP.
The food industry makes it even more difficult, as there are hardly any prepared foods that are AIP-friendly.
And then online recipes and cookbooks aren’t much help (unless you buy AIP-specific cookbooks like our’s here).
That’s why we’ve created this list of dairy substitutes. So you can still enjoy some of your favorite recipes – dairy-free and AIP-compliant.
Please note: as always, even if an ingredient is AIP-compliant, if you’re sensitive to it, please avoid it.
Why do you have to avoid dairy on AIP?
While dairy (especially in the raw and fermented forms) can be highly nourishing, it can also be problematic for many people with autoimmune conditions.
In particular, most forms of dairy we eat today is highly processed. Pasteurization destroys the beneficial bacteria and enzymes found in raw dairy that would help us to digest it.
These aren’t things you want in your body when you’re trying to heal from an autoimmune illness.
Plus, many people with autoimmune issues have sensitivities to the lactose or casein in dairy products. (3)
Dr. Amy Myers, MD is an advocate for reversing autoimmunity with diet and lifestyle. According to Myers, “Gluten and dairy are at the top of my list of foods you should never eat, especially if you have an autoimmune disease.”
In many cases, you might not think you have those sensitivities even if you do. That’s why it’s very important to avoid all dairy products for at least 30 days and then try introducing them one at a time.
AIP Ingredient Swaps for butter
1. Coconut oil (we like this brand)
The best substitute for butter or ghee on the Paleo autoimmune protocol is coconut oil.
It’s also creamy and reacts in a similar way. It’s great for baked goods or sautéing meats and vegetables.
In some baked recipes, you may be able to use coconut butter (also called coconut manna). Note that coconut butter contains coconut oil as well as dried coconut bits so it doesn’t work well as a cooking oil, but it’s a great substitute for nut butters.
Lard, or pig fat, is another great option instead of butter or ghee. Use it in cooking sautés or baking savory dishes as it does have a slightly “meaty” flavor.
AIP Swaps for milk/cream
Since nut milks, rice milk and soy milk are all out on the Paleo autoimmune protocol, coconut milk and coconut cream are the best substitutes for traditional dairy milk.
The best option is to make your own coconut milk (try this recipe here) as most of the prepackaged brands use guar gum or another non-AIP thickener to create a creamier milk.
Recently I’m seeing more brands that don’t contain funky additives, like this one here. The ingredients are just organic coconut and purified water.
To get coconut cream, just let the canned coconut milk settle for a day. Then carefully open the can and scoop out the coconut cream from the top of the can. The bottom water can be thrown away.
AIP Swaps for cheese
While the most popular types of dairy-free cheese are made from nuts (like cashews), which aren’t allowed on AIP, there are AIP-cheese options…
1. Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that looks like yellow ground flakes and tastes cheesy. It’s been popular in vegan cuisine as a cheese-alternative for years, and it’s also AIP-compliant.
As with everything that comes packaged, be sure you check the ingredients and choose a brand that doesn’t have other unwanted ingredients.
Recipes to try that use nutritional yeast:
2. Butternut “Cheese”
This AIP cheese recipe uses butternut squash, tapioca flour, nutritional yeast, gelatin, and avocado oil to create a cheese texture, color, as well as flavor.
3. Zucchini “Cheese”
Don’t have butternut squash or want a lower carb option for cheese? Check out this recipe using zucchini.
4. Cauliflower “Cheese”
This recipe uses cauliflower to create a white-colored sliceable dairy-free cheese. Omit the black pepper to make it AIP-friendly.
And this recipe produces a beautiful golden yellow cauliflower AIP cheese (colored using turmeric).
Cauliflower is also super versatile so you can also use it to create a cheesy dip like this recipe here (which is flavored using nutritional yeast).
AIP Swaps for yogurt
The main alternative to regular yogurt on the autoimmune protocol is coconut yogurt.
While many stores in the US and in Europe have started selling coconut yogurt, it’s often loaded with non-AIP ingredients (like guar gum). So the best option is to make your own.
Check out our recipe for it here: Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt Recipe.
AIP Swaps for ice cream
It’s possible to eat ice cream while on AIP…it just involves making the ice cream using coconut cream instead of the traditional cream/milk and egg yolks.
Take a look at our roundup of 21 Divine AIP Ice Cream Recipes To Enjoy All Summer Long. You’ll have plenty of ice cream ideas to try.