People looking to make or eat dairy-free sauces have a lot of options. Dairy-free sauces include sauces that are usually made without any milk ingredients, such as tomato sauce, as well as those made with dairy substitutes. Examples of dairy-free sauces include certain vinaigrettes, fruit sauces, and mayonnaise-based sauces.
A number of salad dressings are dairy-free. Typically, vinaigrettes are made by mixing together a type of vinegar, such as white wine or balsamic vinegar, with a high-quality oil. Dried or fresh herbs as well as aromatics, such as shallots or garlic, are usually added to the dressings. Some people like to add a bit of mayonnaise to vinaigrettes to help them stay emulsified after mixing.
Other dressings, such as French and Russian dressing, are also dairy-free. French dressing is usually made by mixing ketchup into oil and vinegar. Russian dressing typically consists of ketchup, mayonnaise, and relish.
Mayonnaise-based sauces are usually dairy-free sauces as well. Although mayonnaise is made with egg, it is not a dairy product. A cook can also find egg-free mayonnaise. Aioli is a type of mayonnaise-based sauce made with garlic and olive oil and is usually used as a dressing or a dipping sauce.
Sweet sauces can be made dairy-free. Fruit-based sauces, such as strawberry or blueberry sauce made by simmering the berries with water and sugar on the stove top, are dairy-free. Other sweet, dairy-free sauces include maple syrup, honey, and agave nectar. Chocolate sauce does not contain dairy as long as it is made with unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar syrup.
Most tomato-based sauces do not contain dairy. A person concerned about dairy in a tomato sauce, such as pasta sauce, should be sure to read the ingredient label or ask the cook what is in it, as some people do use butter instead of oil in the sauce. Sauces such as barbecue sauce and many marinades are also dairy-free, though it's important that a person read the ingredient list to be sure.
Dairy-free sauces can also be made by replacing dairy ingredients, such as butter, cheese, or milk, with non-dairy versions. Some people make a bechamel sauce, which usually calls for butter and milk, using oil or margarine and soy or another non-dairy milk. If a person who cannot eat dairy wants basil pesto, she can omit the cheese from the recipe. Dressings that usually rely on dairy ingredients, such as Ranch dressing, can be attempted using soy yogurt or soy milk.