Substituting for Dairy
You simply make a one to one switch for all products such as milk, yogurt, cream cheese, or sour cream in any given recipe.
If you’re substituting with a soy product for dairy, you won’t often find much of a difference in your desserts or cooking. If you use a rice product, you will find that you may have to increase your dry ingredients by a tablespoon or two because rice produces a thinner, runnier milk, and you’ll need to increase your fats by a tablespoon or two because rice milk has no fat in it, unlike the milk you’ll be replacing. If you’re using an almond or coconut milk or yogurt, make sure you like the taste of either, because the subtle taste will underlie whatever you’re baking or cooking.
Substituting for Heavy Cream
The most difficult recipes to substitute for are if you want to make something which requires heavy cream. For soups and anything else you would normally thicken with cream, pureed cooked veggies work really well as a substitute. For cakes, whipped cream, mousses, and other such goodies canned coconut milk does the trick, providing you have no allergies to coconut and also like the taste of coconut. I know some folks who say that pureeing raw cashews with water is also a good substitute, but I haven’t tried that myself since I’m allergic to tree nuts. Another option is to use aquafaba which is the liquid formed from cooking chickpeas. You can purchase no salt, no sugar added canned chickpeas and use the liquid as you would heavy cream by putting it into your mixer and whipping it.
Replacing Liquid Dairy
If you simply want to replace the dairy produce altogether, though, you can also substitute with other types of liquids and foods. For baked goods calling for milk, substituting water or 100% fruit juice works excellently. Simply decrease the amount by 1/4 since milk tends to be a thicker liquid. As with rice milk, though, you sometimes need to add a tablespoon or two to your fat amount to compensate for the fat that would be in the milk.
Replacing Solid Dairy
If you want to substitute the dairy in something like a pumpkin pie or cheesecake, silken tofu works well. For pies, you’d replace the 14 oz can of evaporate milk with one package of silken tofu. For a cheesecake, if a recipe called for four packages of cream cheese and I didn’t want to substitute all four packages with soy cream cheese, I would substitute with two packages of the soy cream cheese and two packages of silken tofu.
And if you really do need to use a vegan cheese, which I do in a lasagna, for pizza, and in a macaroni and cheese dish, the only brand I have found to work as a real cheese substitute is the Daiya brands. Their mozzarella and cheddar do tend to melt similarly to real cheese, and they don’t have that aftertaste that many of the other vegan cheeses seem to have. My tip for you, though: After you bake your dish, broil the top for a couple of minutes to fully melt the cheese into that gooey-ness you like from a real cheese. If you want to try other brands, Go Veggie and Follow Your Heart are other ones easily found at grocery stores.