Does angel food cake mix have dairy in it?

Quick Answer

Most angel food cake mixes are dairy-free and do not contain milk ingredients. However, some brands or varieties may contain small amounts of dairy like whey or lactose. To be sure, check the ingredient list for milk, whey, lactose or other dairy-derived ingredients. Angel food cake gets its light and airy texture from beaten egg whites, not dairy products.

Ingredients in Angel Food Cake Mix

Angel food cake has a delicate texture because it relies on whipped egg whites for leavening, rather than chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda. This gives it a light, airy and foam-like crumb.

The main ingredients in angel food cake mix are:

  • Sugar – Granulated white sugar sweetens the cake.
  • Flour – Cake or pastry flour provides structure.
  • Egg whites – Whipped egg whites give volume and lift.
  • Cream of tartar – Helps stabilize the egg white foam.
  • Salt – Enhances flavor.
  • Vanilla – Provides flavoring.
  • Cornstarch – Helps keep the texture tender.

Unlike many cake recipes, angel food cake does not contain any butter, oil or other added fats. It also does not contain milk or other dairy ingredients. This contributes to its light texture.

Why Most Angel Food Cakes Are Dairy-Free

There are a few reasons why traditional angel food cake and many packaged mixes do not contain dairy products:

  • Dairy ingredients weigh down the cake – Butter, milk and other dairy products add density and richness. This takes away from angel food cake’s signature light and fluffy texture.
  • Dairy fat coats flour particles – This would interfere with the development of gluten, which gives structure to the cake. Without gluten development, the cake would collapse when baked.
  • Egg whites whip better without dairy – Even small amounts of fat prevent egg whites from whipping into a stable foam. Dairy fats like milk or butter would weigh down the egg white foam that gives angel food cake its volume.

For these reasons, most angel food cake recipes and packaged cake mixes avoid dairy products altogether. The tiny bit of fat in the egg yolks is enough to provide richness without compromising the cake’s structure.

When Does Angel Food Cake Contain Dairy?

While traditional angel food cakes are dairy-free, some brands or varieties may include small amounts of milk products like:

  • Whey: A milk byproduct sometimes added for moisture.
  • Lactose: Milk sugar that contributes browning and caramelization.
  • Milk: Powdered milk may be included for flavor.
  • Buttermilk: Some cake mix brands add buttermilk powder for tang.

These dairy-derived ingredients are typically present in very small quantities, often less than 2% of the total mix. This minimizes their impact on the cake’s texture.

Manufacturers may also add dairy to baked-in angel food cake products found in grocery store bakery sections. These cakes may contain milk or butter to produce a richer, denser texture.

So if you want to avoid dairy altogether, be sure to read the ingredient list carefully. Look for any mention of milk, whey, lactose or other milk-based ingredients.

Checking Angel Food Cake Mix for Dairy

To determine if a particular brand of angel food cake mix contains dairy, simply read the ingredient list on the package.

Here are some things to look for:

Milk: Whole milk, milk solids, powdered milk, evaporated milk or milk protein concentrates indicate the presence of dairy.

Buttermilk: Typically added in powdered form. Gives a tangy flavor.

Whey: A byproduct of cheese making, whey adds moisture.

Casein: A milk protein sometimes used as an additive.

Lactose: The natural sugar found in milk products.

Artificial butter flavor: Contains dairy derivatives, despite the name.

Natural flavors: Can be derived from dairy, so check with the manufacturer.

As long as you don’t see any of those ingredients listed, the mix should be dairy-free. Leading brands clearly label dairy-free options as such.

Making Dairy-Free Angel Food Cake from Scratch

You can easily prepare homemade angel food cake without dairy:

Use dairy substitutes: Replace milk with non-dairy milk. Swap butter for oil or shortening.

Omit butter: Angel food cake doesn’t require any added fat. You can leave it out entirely.

Whip aquafaba: The liquid from a can of chickpeas can mimic whipped egg whites.

Use dairy-free egg replacer: Replace eggs with flax eggs (1 tbsp flax + 3 tbsp water per egg).

Substitute dairy-free yogurt: Some recipes use yogurt to help emulsify the batter. Opt for coconut or almond-based yogurt instead.

With just a few simple substitutions, you can easily make dairy-free angel food cake at home. Play around with different non-dairy milks, fats and egg replacements to achieve the texture you prefer.

Are There Any Health Benefits to Dairy-Free Angel Food Cake?

Going dairy-free with angel food cake offers some potential benefits:

Lower in saturated fat and cholesterol: Using oil instead of butter reduces the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol. This may benefit heart health.

Fewer calories: Angel food cake has fewer calories and fat grams than other cakes. Eliminating high-fat dairy products enhances this benefit.

Helps manage lactose intolerance: People with lactose intolerance can enjoy dairy-free angel food cake without GI discomfort.

Supports vegan or paleo diets: Dairy-free cake fits into vegan, paleo or dairy-free lifestyles and restrictions.

Avoids dairy allergies: Prevents allergic reactions in those with milk protein hypersensitivities.

Overall, angel food cake is a lighter cake choice. Going dairy-free maximizes its benefits for health conditions like heart disease, lactose intolerance, vegan diets or food allergies.

Tips for Making Dairy-Free Angel Food Cake

Here are some tips for baking perfect dairy-free angel food cake:

  • Allow eggs to come to room temperature before whipping for greater volume.
  • Use cream of tartar to stabilize the whipped egg whites.
  • Don’t grease the pan so the cake can “climb” the sides as it bakes.
  • Sift the flour to prevent dense spots.
  • Fold the egg whites and flour gently to retain air.
  • Cool the cake completely upside down to prevent collapse.
  • Use superfine or castor sugar for the finest texture.

With these basics down, you can whip up tall, fluffy and delicious angel food cakes without dairy!

Delicious Dairy-Free Angel Food Cake Recipes to Try

Here are some tasty dairy-free angel food cake recipes to bake up:

Classic Angel Food Cake

This recipe sticks close to the traditional version but uses aquafaba instead of eggs for an egg-free, vegan cake:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups superfine sugar
  • 1 1⁄4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Pumpkin Angel Food Cake

Pumpkin puree gives this cake a festive fall flair:

  • 1 1⁄4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1⁄4 cups superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup aquafaba
  • 1⁄2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Lemon Angel Food Cake

The addition of lemon juice and zest brightens up this cake:

  • 1 1⁄4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups superfine sugar
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt
  • 12 egg whites
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

With these dairy-free recipes, everyone can enjoy a slice of sweet, airy angel food cake!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does angel food cake have milk in the ingredients?

Traditional angel food cake recipes do not contain milk or other dairy products. The light, airy texture is achieved through whipped egg whites rather than dairy ingredients. However, some packaged cake mixes or prepared angel food cakes may include small amounts of milk products.

What can I substitute for milk in angel food cake?

Since most angel food cakes don’t require milk, you can simply omit it from homemade recipes. But if you need a dairy-free substitute for milk, try non-dairy milks like almond, coconut, oat, soy, rice or hemp milk. You can also use water or juice in some cases.

Can you use oil instead of butter in angel food cake?

Yes, angel food cake is traditionally made without any added fats, including butter. Replacing butter with oil or shortening is an easy way to make a dairy-free version. The small amount of fat in the egg yolks is sufficient.

Is powdered milk in angel food cake mix?

Some brands of packaged angel food cake mix include powdered milk or buttermilk powder. To avoid dairy, check the ingredient list for milk, buttermilk or whey powder. Many labels clearly state if a cake mix is “dairy-free” or “non-dairy”.

Why do you have to use cake flour in angel food cake?

The lower protein content of cake flour results in a more tender, delicate crumb compared to all-purpose flour. This light texture is signature to angel food cakes. Using some cornstarch also keeps the cake soft and fluffy.


While traditional angel food cake avoids dairy ingredients, some modern packaged mixes do contain small amounts of milk products. To enjoy dairy-free angel food cake, either choose a mix that is labeled dairy-free or make your own from scratch omitting any dairy. With a few simple substitutions, you can whip up angel food cakes that everyone can enjoy, whether avoiding dairy for health or dietary reasons. The end result is a sweet cake with a cloud-like, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

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