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What Are the Different Types of Dairy-Free Sauces?

A.E. Freeman
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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A.E. Freeman
By A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and retention. With a background in the arts, she combines her writing prowess with best practices to deliver compelling content across various domains and effectively connect with target audiences.
Discussion Comments
By orangey03 — On Jan 13, 2012

For years, I avoided family cookouts, because my uncle's barbecue sauce contained milk. I would get very bloated if I ate any, because milk products just do that to me.

I did like the flavor of barbecue, though. Once I got my own place, I decided to try doing some barbecue on the grill, so I set out to look for a sauce recipe that was dairy-free.

I found one that sounded delicious. It had so many flavorful ingredients, yet there was no dairy to be found.

Among the items that gave it flavor were worcestershire sauce, ketchup, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika and onions. It had several other ingredients, but these probably delivered the most punch.

I now hold regular cookouts at my house. I use this barbecue sauce on hamburgers, chicken, and even shrimp.

By cloudel — On Jan 12, 2012

@wavy58 – That sounds yummy! I make a blackberry sauce from the vines in my yard, and I agree that homegrown fruit gives it the best flavor.

My stomach does not react very well to dairy products, so I make most of the sauces that I use myself. I just so happen to have blackberry bushes growing all along the edges of my yard against the neighbor's pasture fence, and since they are on my side, I have the right to them.

These berries are gigantic and so sweet. I don't even have to add much sugar to the sauce, so it winds up being quite good for me.

I like to pour my blackberry sauce over plain cake. I love letting it soak in and turn the cake moist.

By wavy58 — On Jan 12, 2012

Homemade strawberry sauce is pure culinary bliss to me. It has to be made from garden grown strawberries to taste right, though. Store-bought berries are too waxy and lack flavor, so I keep a small garden in my yard.

After a big harvest of strawberries, I cut them up and simmer them with sugar. This makes a wonderful waffle sauce.

I like to make some whipped cream and top the waffles with that first. Then, I drizzle hot strawberry sauce over it, and it is better than any stack of waffles I have had in a restaurant.

By OeKc05 — On Jan 11, 2012

I like to make my own pizza, but I have to be sure that I always buy dairy-free pizza sauce, because my son is lactose intolerant. We use sauce instead of cheese to glue the toppings onto the pizza.

My favorite pizza sauce uses olive oil, tomatoes, and oregano, among other things. There is no milk and no yogurt involved, and there is also no cheese included.

The oregano really gives the pizza sauce its distinctive flavor. Sometimes I make a pasta sauce with dried oregano, and it always reminds me of pizza. In fact, I call this particular spaghetti sauce “pizza spaghetti sauce.”

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman
Amy Freeman, a freelance copywriter and content creator, makes engaging copy that drives customer acquisition and...
Learn more
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