For many years, low carb diets have been popular. But unlike most others, the keto diet isn’t a high protein craze. Rather, it’s a high fat, adequate protein, and very low carbohydrate diet. This combination can be tricky for dairy-free consumers, since it puts many of our go-to foods on the no-go list. And many keto recipes rely heavily on dairy. Nevertheless, it’s still quite feasible to follow a dairy-free keto diet.
Gelato photos by Megan Lavin.
Dairy-Free Keto Guide with Tips, Substitutes, and Low-Sugar Recipes
To make your dairy-free keto journey easier, I teamed up with Allison Monette and Julie Bishop, the Co-Founders of O’MY Foods, to create this sponsored quick guide of low sugar and high fat foods, tips, substitutes, and recipe ideas.
Allison and Julie launched O’MY Dairy-Free Gelato several years ago, and it was an immediate hit (including in my house!). But something was still missing from their line-up of rich coconut cream flavors. According to Allison, “Our #1 consumer request was for an ultra low sugar O’MY.”
To create the best dairy-free, low sugar ice cream, Allison and Julie committed to the keto diet and did a deep dive into sugar-free sweeteners. Their endeavor resulted in two delicious flavors with just 2 grams of sugar per serving: Cake Walk and I Love Chocolate.
I interviewed Allison and Julie, and incorporated their feedback into this dairy-free keto guide. You can read it straight through, or jump to your section of choice with these quick links:
High Fat Foods for Dairy-free Keto Diets
One key to the keto diet, is finding good sources of fats that you can easily incorporate into your meals. We know that Allison and Julie love coconut cream, since it’s the base ingredient for O’MY. But Allison also shared some of her other favorite high-fat, low-glycemic foods, “I found myself eating a lot of avocado, pistachios, coconut, cashews, eggs and fish.” I put together Allison’s picks with some other options in this inspirational list.
Top 10 Higher Fat Dairy-Free Foods
- Avocados – whole, avocado oil
- Olives – whole (all types), olive oil
- Coconut – coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut meat, coconut oil, MCT oil
- Fatty Fish – salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, trout, albacore tuna, mackerel
- Nuts – pecans, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts (enjoy all other nuts in moderation)
- Seeds – chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds (enjoy all other seeds in moderation)
- Nut & Seed Butters – with recommended nuts or seeds, with oil, or in moderation
- Eggs – egg yolks are the high fat portion, the whites are high protein
- Chocolate – cacao nibs, unsweetened chocolate, cacao butter
- Grass-Fed Beef – higher in omega-3 fatty acids than conventional
What About Bacon? Many people lean on bacon with the keto diet. But before you go hog wild, check the ingredients and source to make sure it is dairy-free and the best quality product for your diet needs.
The Best Sweeteners for the Keto Diet
Unless you’re superhuman, you are going to crave a little sweetness now and then. Allison and Julie compared countless combinations of sugar-free sweeteners when creating their low-sugar O’MY line, so I asked them what they recommend.
“Allulose quickly rose to the top of our list because it functions very similarly to sugar,” said Allison. It also exceeded their low-glycemic expectations. O’MY reported the following in their Nutrition Guide.
In conducting studies as part of the GRAS process, researchers found that allulose has no impact on blood glucose and actually suppresses glycemic response of other glycemic carbohydrates when tested with carbohydrates or within a meal. When tested as a single ingredient, allulose is shown to be non-glycemic.
But O’MY faced one challenge with allulose. According to Allison, “it’s only about 70% as sweet as cane sugar.” So they added just a touch of stevia and monk fruit extract to brighten the sweetness. At home, you can also use allulose as a 1:1 substitute for sugar, and complement it with a few drops of pure stevia extract, to taste.
Most sugar-free sweeteners are dairy-free, but some brands add dairy or contain sweetener that’s derived from dairy, like tagatose. Be sure to read the label carefully if you aren’t buying the pure form of a sweetener.
How to Substitute Carb-Heavy Foods
Pasta, rice, tortillas, and potatoes seem to make their way into most meals. And keto alternatives are often made with copious amounts of cheese. But there are other options! Here are some delicious low-glycemic, dairy-free swaps.
Wrap & Bun Alternatives
Wrap your burger, sandwich, or fajita fillings in butter lettuce, flat kale leaves, collard green leaves, egg wraps, nori seaweed, or coconut flour wraps. You can also use roasted portobello mushrooms or eggplant slices as buns!
I’m sure you’ve heard of cauliflower rice! It really is quite good and easy. Simply mince cauliflower (with a knife or pulse in your food processor or blender), and sauté it in some oil for 5 minutes or so. If you feel like mixing things up, sauté broccoli “rice” or shredded brussels sprouts for your bowl base instead.
Instead of potatoes, choose low-carb vegetables like turnips, delicata squash, rutabaga, celeriac, and pumpkin. They work well pureed into soups, shredded for hashbrowns, mashed, and sautéed with for breakfast.
You can spiralize various vegetables, but our favorite noodle alternatives include the following.
- Spaghetti Squash – Poke holes in the skin with a fork, place in a baking dish, and roast whole until browned and soft. Let it cool, then cut in half and shred. The “noodles” are moist but have thin and have a crisp bite.
- Kelp Noodles – We love that these are high in dairy-free calcium. They’re sold both shelf-stable and refrigerated and can be eaten cold or cooked. They have a unique moist but crunchy texture. They only soften a little when cooked.
- Shirataki Noodles – These are often known as konjac noodles or miracle noodles. They’re very soft, and remind us a bit of thin round rice noodles. We’ve seen them both refrigerated and shelf-stable.
- Hearts of Palm Noodles – This newcomer is quickly gaining popularity. The texture is more like bamboo shoots, but it provides a nice neutral backdrop. This product is sold in shelf-stable packages, and has even been spotted at Trader Joe’s!
Dairy Alternatives for the Keto Diet
Fortunately, many dairy alternatives have similar macros to their dairy counterparts. This doesn’t mean there is a good dairy-free option for every keto recipe out there, but these subs will still help you with countless recipes.
You will usually see recommendations for coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, and other oils that are considered healthy. These are great for cooking and baking in most cases (see my post on How to Substitute Oil for Butter in Almost Any Recipe). But if you’re craving the flavor of butter, most dairy-free buttery stick and spread brands fit into a keto diet with similar macros to dairy butter.
Believe it or not, many dairy-free cheese alternatives are keto-friendly! Just look for ones that skew heavily toward fat, and have no sugars and low carbohydrates, which is the majority of them. And yes, you can use shreds to make dairy-free cheese crisps!
If you’re just craving cheesy flavor, sprinkle in some nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is actually high in protein and sugar-free. But it’s virtually fat-free. So use it as a seasoning (1 or 2 teaspoons per serving) and enrich it with nutritive oil or blend it with nuts or hemp seeds.
For keto needs, choose an unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage, and avoid grain-based beverages, like oat and rice. They can be too high in carbohydrates. Most unsweetened nut milks, seed milks, and some dairy-free protein milks are good options. But there is even a dairy-free Keto Mylk on the market, if you plan to consume quite a bit of this beverage. You can also simply use my 2-Ingredient Nut Butter Milk or lite canned coconut milk (or thinned full-fat coconut milk) in place of milk and half and half in most recipes.
Coffee and tea are a go with the keto diet! For creamer, some people simply stir in a spoonful of coconut cream. But there are many dairy-free creamers on the market with no added sugar. My personal favorite is nutpods – their entire line of flavors is completely unsweetened. But Califia, Nutiva, Milkadamia, and Picnik make dairy-free keto creamer options.
As the founders of O’MY know, coconut cream is the ultimate dairy-free keto food. “Coconut cream does a superior job replicating that yummy feel of dairy in your mouth!” You can whip it, use it in sauces, and enjoy it in low sugar dairy-free ice cream. It has a light natural sweetness, but can still be used in both sweet and savory recipes. And, it’s easy to find!
Buy cans of coconut cream or coconut milk in the Asian food section. Refrigerate the can and scoop the thick, nearly solid cream from the top (see picture below), or shake the can and use it as a slightly thinner cream.
Sauces & Seasoning without Dairy and Sugar
It goes without saying that herbs, spices, salt, and pepper are all fair game on a dairy-free keto diet. Enjoy fresh options like basil, oregano, hot peppers, ginger, etc. Or use their dried counterparts. They’re all on-limits. But there are also tons of keto-friendly, dairy-free sauces at the ready.
Pour on soy sauce, top with dairy-free butter, drizzle with olive oil, shake on some hot sauce, add a dollop of mustard, whisk in some mayonnaise, toss with no sugar added marinara, or stew in broth. Here are some more sauce recipes to help jumpstart your meals in the kitchen.
22 Favorite Dairy-Free Keto Meal Recipes
Get started right away with these delicious low-glycemic, dairy-free recipes – no need to make any swaps or substitutions!
And don’t be afraid to get adventurous with some of your favorite flavors. Allison of O’MY uses inspiration from German cuisine to make this throw together dairy-free, keto dish:
I enjoy salads that are light on the greens and heavy on the good stuff. One of my favorites recently is some mixed greens with a big heaping of sauerkraut. Pour olive oil over the top to add some fat, then add a generous handful of sunflower seeds, some salt and pepper and toss really well. I pair this with sausage.
10 Dairy-Free Keto Breakfast Recipes
Of course, you can enjoy any of the meal recipes above in the morning, but here are some options if you’re craving more traditional breakfast fare.
- Sheet Pan Eggs with Plant-Based Pecan “Sausage”
- Homemade Coconut Almond Yogurt
- Keto Cranberry Orange Scones
- Crustless Mini Quiche
- Coconut Raspberry Smoothie
- Joel’s Perfectly Creamy Scrambled Eggs
- Almond Butter Green Smoothie Bowl
- Breakfast Hash
- Cinnamon Power Mug Muffin
- Sugar-Free Golden Milk
Allison at O’MY also shared one of her favorite dairy-free keto breakfasts with us:
I love the versatility of scrambled eggs, which I pair with sautéed peppers a lot. I top with avocado and some hot sauce for Mexican flavors, or add fresh thyme and top with some blistered cherry tomatoes.
Essential Dairy-Free Keto Snacks
The number one enemy on any diet is hunger. It can urge you to reach for familiar foods or whatever is available, rather than sticking to your commitment. So it’s helpful to have suitable snacks on hand at all times.
Dips and Dippers
Grab some paleo chips, vegetable chips, almond crackers, bell pepper strips, broccoli florets, cauliflower bites, cucumber slices, and/or celery and dip into one of these delicious options.
Yes, Dairy-Free Keto Dessert!
Allison at O’MY says she has a huge sweet tooth (that makes most of us!). Rather than denying herself, she might save her carbs for a modestly sweetened treat topped with O’MY. But for days when she’s indulged earlier in the day, she sticks with a scoop or two of an O’MY keto-friendly flavor to satisfy her cravings. We brainstormed, and put together a few more dessert-worthy, low-sugar, dairy-free ideas.
- Fresh Berries with Dip – Make my Foolproof Coconut Whip or Dairy-Free Cheesecake Dip, but sweeten with allulose and stevia, to taste.
- Pudding – Sugar-free Dairy-Free Chia Pudding and Avocado Mousse are delicious, creamy, and satisfying.
- Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate – The darker, the better, but make sure it’s at least 70% dark chocolate and keep an eye on the portion size relative to the sugars. If you have trouble finding dairy-free, sugar-free chocolate, you can make your own.
- “Milk & Cookies” – Enjoy dunking some dairy-free keto cookies, like Catalina Crunch Cookies in your favorite sugar-free, dairy-free milk beverage.
- Dairy-Free Keto Ice Cream Sundaes! – You can straight up enjoy a scoop (or two) of dairy-free, low-sugar frozen dessert, or make it a sundae with some keto-friendly toppings. Allison of O’MY makes this special treat:
My favorite dairy-free, low-glycemic dessert is the keto-friendly I Love Chocolate flavor of O’MY Dairy Free Gelato topped with crunchy coconut chips and drizzled with dairy-free dark chocolate sauce.
More Tips & Resources
This dairy-free keto guide is for informational purposes only. It offers tips and ideas if you are seeking to increase the fat and/or lower the sugar in your dairy-free diet, but should not be construed as medical advice. Before embarking on any change in diet, always consult your physician. For more information on the keto diet, we found these posts very helpful:
More Information on O’MY Dairy-Free Gelato
Thank you to my friends at O’MY Foods for sponsoring and helping make this post happen. O’MY Dairy Free Gelato is available in the frozen dessert section at about 1,700 stores nationwide. It can be found in several independent grocery and natural food stores, and at the following major retailers.
- Natural Grocers
- Kroger Atlanta and Mid-Atlantic regions
- Winn Dixie/ Bi-lo
- Savemart/Lucky Supermarkets
- Mollie Stones
For detailed product information, they have also provided a thorough Nutrition Guide.