What breads contain dairy?

When navigating a dairy-free or vegan diet, it can be tricky to identify breads that contain milk, butter, eggs or other animal products. Many popular breads are made with dairy ingredients, so it’s important to read labels carefully.

Why does bread contain dairy?

There are a few reasons why many breads contain dairy products:

  • Milk/butter – Adds richness, moisture and flavor. Milk proteins help bread become light and fluffy.
  • Eggs – Help breads rise and give structure. The proteins in eggs bind ingredients together.
  • Buttermilk – Adds tangy flavor. The acidity helps activate leavening agents like baking soda.
  • Yogurt – Can be used to make quick breads moist. Provides a tangy flavor.
  • Cheese – Adds robust flavor in breads like foccacia or challah. Can add richness.

Even in small amounts, dairy products can improve the texture, flavor, rise and browning of many breads. This makes checking labels important for those avoiding dairy.

Common bread ingredients that contain dairy

Here are some of the most common bread ingredients that contain dairy products:

  • Milk – Fresh milk or dry milk powder
  • Butter – Salted or unsalted butter
  • Cream – Heavy cream or half-and-half
  • Cheese – Grated parmesan, cheddar, etc.
  • Yogurt – Plain or flavored
  • Eggs – Whole eggs, egg yolks or egg whites
  • Buttermilk – Cultured milk product
  • Casein – Milk protein
  • Whey – Byproduct of cheesemaking

If you see any of these ingredients on a bread label, it contains dairy. Many types of bread made at home or in bakeries also use dairy products even if it’s not listed on a label.

Common dairy breads

Here are some examples of popular breads that typically contain dairy products:


This rich French bread is made with lots of butter and eggs. Some versions also contain milk or cream.


Traditional Jewish egg bread enriched with eggs and sometimes milk or butter.


Often topped with cheese like parmesan, and can also be made with milk, butter or yogurt.

Pound Cake

Contains a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar – so it’s more cake than bread but definitely not dairy-free.

Raisin Bread

Usually contains milk, butter and eggs along with raisins and cinnamon.

Dinner Rolls

Dinner rolls and other soft rolls are often made with milk or butter for added richness.


Traditional bagel dough contains milk or other dairy products, but some dairy-free varieties exist.

Sandwich Bread

Many classic white sandwich breads include milk or whey on the ingredient labels. Check carefully.

Sourdough Bread

Traditional sourdough is dairy-free, but some commercial varieties add milk or butter.

Pizza Crust

Most pizza dough contains milk or cheese. Only specific dairy-free crusts will avoid this.

Sweet Breads

Items like banana bread, zucchini bread or pumpkin bread often have milk, butter or eggs.


Many flour tortilla recipes call for shortening or butter. Corn tortillas are typically dairy-free.


Often made with yogurt or ghee (clarified butter).

Pita Bread

Can be made with milk or yogurt for added softness.


Flaky biscuits require butter or shortening and sometimes milk.

In general, breads that are flaky, rich, chewy, sweet or extra soft tend to contain more dairy ingredients.

Tips for finding dairy-free breads

If you want to avoid dairy in your bread, here are some tips:

  • Read ingredient lists carefully
  • Look for brands marked “dairy-free” or “vegan”
  • Stick to basic rustic breads like Italian, French or sourdough
  • Choose flatbreads like naan, lavash or pizza crust marked dairy-free
  • Shop the freezer section for dairy-free doughs and buns
  • Look for dairy-free bread at health food stores or bakeries
  • Try making your own bread at home

With some diligent label reading and choosing breads made with water, flour, yeast and oil, you should be able to find options made without milk, eggs, butter or other dairy products.

What to watch out for

When evaluating bread labels, here are some subtle ingredients to watch out for that indicate the presence of dairy:

  • Lactose – Milk sugar
  • Whey – Byproduct of cheesemaking
  • Casein – Protein found in milk
  • Calcium or vitamin D – Found naturally in dairy products
  • “Enriched wheat flour” – Can contain milk-derived additives
  • Natural flavors – May come from dairy sources

Being aware of these sneaky dairy-derived ingredients can help you thoroughly inspect labels and determine if a bread is vegan and dairy-free or not.

Dairy-free bread options

If you avoid dairy, you still have plenty of tasty bread options. Here are some examples of breads that can be made without milk, eggs, butter or cheese:


Traditional sourdough is made from flour, water, salt and wild yeast – no dairy required. Look for artisan and rustic styles.

French Bread

Classic French baguettes and batards are traditionally dairy-free. The crusty breads get their chew from a long ferment.

Italian Bread

Like a French baguette, Italian breads like ciabatta use a wet dough with no dairy. The bubbly texture comes from yeast.


It’s easy to make focaccia dough dairy-free with oil instead of butter. Top with herbs rather than cheese.


Corn tortillas contain no dairy, while flour tortillas can be made with oil instead of lard or butter.


Look for dairy-free naan made without ghee or yogurt. Or make your own with water and oil.


Plain pita bread is often dairy-free. Check for added milk, yogurt or butter.


The classic French stick is shaped from a simple dough of flour, yeast and water.


Simple unleavened flatbreads like lavash can be completely dairy-free.

Quick Breads

Banana bread and other quick breads can be made milk-free by substituting oil or apple sauce for butter.

Irish Soda Bread

This hearty bread gets its rise from baking soda instead of yeast. Omit butter to make it dairy-free.

There are also many dairy-free bread mixes, premade breads and pre-made doughs available for convenience. With some adjustments, you can still enjoy delicious bread without the dairy.

Vegan bread substitutes

To replicate the richness and moisture of dairy breads, some ingredients can be used as vegan substitutes:

  • Plant-based milk – Soy, almond, oat milk
  • Nutritional yeast – Adds depth of flavor
  • Vinegar or lemon juice – Helps dough rise
  • Flax eggs – Binds and thickens like eggs
  • Banana – Adds moisture to quick breads
  • Applesauce – Replaces fat to retain moisture
  • Coconut oil – Vegan alternative to butter

With some experimenting, these substitutes can help mimic the texture, flavor and rise of dairy-based breads.

Easy dairy-free bread recipes

Making your own bread is a great way ensure it’s dairy-free. Here are some easy recipes to try:

Basic Sourdough

This classic crusty white bread requires just flour, water, starter and salt. The long ferment gives it great flavor.


Make a quick no-knead focaccia with flour, yeast, salt and olive oil. Top with fresh herbs.

Sandwich Bread

For square sliced sandwich bread, use a standard yeast dough enriched with oil instead of butter.

Flour Tortillas

Mix flour, salt, baking powder and oil or shortening. Roll out and cook in a hot pan.


This Southern classic is naturally dairy-free. Bake up a batch with cornmeal, flour, baking soda and oil.

Banana Bread

Ripen bananas add moisture and sweetness to this lower-fat quick bread. Use oil instead of butter.

With a simple dough of flour, yeast, water, salt and oil, you can easily make dairy-free breads at home. Experiment with different flours, flavors and shapes.


Many popular breads contain milk, butter, eggs or cheese, but with close inspection of labels and ingredients, dairy-free options can be found. Sticking to simpler varieties like baguettes and flatbreads is a safer bet. Homemade bread with oil instead of butter is also an easy substitute. With some adjustments to ingredients and recipes, you can still enjoy tasty bread on a dairy-free diet.

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