What condiments contain dairy?

Many popular condiments like ketchup, mustard, and relish are dairy-free. However, some condiments do contain milk, cream, butter or other dairy ingredients. Being aware of which condiments have dairy can be helpful for people with milk allergies or lactose intolerance.

Condiments That Contain Dairy

Here are some common condiments that contain dairy:

  • Ranch dressing – Contains milk, buttermilk and/or sour cream
  • Blue cheese dressing – Contains blue cheese (made from cow’s milk)
  • Caesar dressing – Contains Parmesan cheese and sometimes anchovies (processed with milk)
  • Alfredo sauce – Contains Parmesan cheese and heavy cream
  • Hollandaise sauce – Contains butter
  • Béarnaise sauce – Contains butter
  • Cheese sauce – Contains milk and cheese
  • Queso dip – Contains milk, cream and cheese
  • Sour cream – Dairy product made from cream
  • Whipped cream – Dairy product made from cream
  • Butter – Dairy product made from milk/cream
  • Margarine – Contains milk derivatives in some brands
  • Mayonnaise – Contains egg yolks by default, some brands add milk or cream
  • Aioli – Contains egg yolk, some brands add dairy
  • Tartar sauce – Often contains mayonnaise
  • Pesto – Contains Parmesan cheese and pine nuts
  • Cheese dips – Contain various cheeses
  • Nacho cheese sauce – Contains milk, cream and cheese

As you can see, many creamy dressings, sauces and dips contain milk, butter, cream or cheese. It’s important to read labels carefully.

Common Dairy-Free Condiments

Here are some popular condiments that are generally dairy-free:

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Relish
  • Hot sauce
  • BBQ sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Steak sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sweet and sour sauce
  • Duck sauce
  • Plum sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • Pizza sauce
  • Marinara sauce
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus
  • Tzatziki sauce
  • Harissa
  • Chimichurri
  • Mango chutney
  • Mint chutney
  • Curry paste
  • Tahini
  • Gochujang
  • Sambal oelek
  • Peanut sauce
  • Oil and vinegar salad dressings

When buying these condiments, always check the ingredient list for any hidden dairy, especially in flavored varieties. Some brands may add milk or cheese to certain flavors.

Making Dairy-Free Substitutes

Many condiments that traditionally contain dairy can be made dairy-free at home using plant-based substitutes:

Condiment Dairy-Free Substitute
Ranch dressing Use oil, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, herbs
Blue cheese dressing Use oil, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, spices
Caesar dressing Use oil, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, garlic
Alfredo sauce Use cashews, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, pepper
Hollandaise sauce Use oil, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, seasonings
Cheese sauce Use potatoes, carrots, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, spices
Queso dip Use oil, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, spices
Sour cream Use oil, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, vinegar, salt
Whipped cream Use chilled coconut cream or aquafaba (chickpea liquid)
Butter Use vegan butters made from oils like coconut oil, olive oil or avocado oil
Margarine Use non-dairy margarines made from plant oils
Mayonnaise Use oil, aquafaba, lemon juice or white vinegar, mustard
Aioli Use oil, aquafaba, lemon juice or vinegar, garlic
Tartar sauce Use vegan mayonnaise, pickles, herbs, capers, onions
Pesto Use basil, oil, nuts, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper

With some creativity, you can recreate almost any condiment at home without dairy. Nutritional yeast is a handy vegan substitute for cheesy flavors.

Checking Labels for Hidden Dairy

Since many condiments contain unexpected dairy ingredients, it’s important to always read the label carefully. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Milk – Skim milk, whole milk, condensed milk, powdered milk
  • Butter – Real butter or butter oil
  • Cream – Heavy cream, half-and-half, sour cream, whipped cream
  • Cheese – Hard cheeses like parmesan or soft cheeses like cream cheese
  • Whey – A protein derived from milk
  • Casein – A protein from milk
  • Lactose – Milk sugar
  • Ghee – Clarified butter
  • Curds – Milk curds
  • Milk solids – Dehydrated milk solids
  • Natural flavors – Can be derived from dairy

Terms like “nondairy”, “dairy-free” or “vegan” on the label indicate a dairy-free product. But always scan ingredients to verify.

Dairy-Free Doesn’t Mean Allergy-Free

It’s important to note that while a condiment may be dairy-free, it could still contain other allergens like wheat, soy, nuts or eggs. Always read labels carefully if you have multiple food allergies.

Shopping Tips for Dairy-Free Condiments

Here are some tips for finding dairy-free condiments:

  • Check health food stores for vegan and allergy-friendly options.
  • Look for plant-based, dairy-free or vegan brands.
  • Scan ingredient lists carefully even on condiments labeled dairy-free.
  • Buy plain varieties instead of creamy or cheese flavors.
  • Make your own substitutes like ranch dressing or whipped cream.
  • Look for brands that avoid cross-contamination with dairy.

What About Eating Out?

Dining out with a dairy allergy can be tricky since many menu items and sauces contain hidden dairy. Here are some tips:

  • Ask about how dishes are prepared and which condiments are used.
  • Request sauces and dressings on the side.
  • Avoid creamy sauces or cheese-based menu items.
  • Check if vegan options are available.
  • Politely ask if substitutions can be made, like olive oil instead of butter.
  • Explain your dairy allergy clearly to staff.

With some preparation and menu awareness, you can enjoy dairy-free dining. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!


Many popular condiments and sauces contain hidden dairy ingredients like milk, cream, butter and cheese. Reading labels carefully and knowing what to look for is key. Opt for oil-based dressings, plant-based substitutes, plain flavors and vegan brands to avoid dairy. With some adaptions to recipes or shopping habits, it’s certainly possible to find delicious dairy-free condiments.

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