Fermented foods are all the rage right now, and for good reason! I personally love fermented dairy foods such as yogurt, natural sour cream and milk kefir, but there was a time that I had to go dairy-free for years, and it was during that time that I discovered the many benefits of fermented foods. I know that you might be in the same boat, or maybe you are vegan and don’t want to consume anything containing dairy/whey.
The good news is that there are plenty of non-dairy fermented foods available!
Here’s a handy list for you:
Sauerkraut is not traditionally made with any dairy. All you really need to make sauerkraut is cabbage and salt. There are sauerkraut brands available in stores such as Bubbies, but it is also very easy to make on your own. Here’s a recipe for naturally fermented caraway sauerkraut that is 100% dairy-free.
Kimchi is a mixed vegetable ferment that can (and should!) be made without dairy. Kimchi is also one of the most widely available non-dairy fermented foods available in stores. You can find naturally fermented kimchis at farmer’s markets, local mom & pop stores, and even popular supermarkets such as Whole Foods and Publix. It’s also very easy to make at home. When making your own kimchi, you can use a base of whatever you like, such as pineapples, daikon radish, napa cabbage, bok choy and more.
3. Beet Kvass
Beet kvass is a fermented beet drink that’s often touted as a cleansing tonic. It has benefits for your liver and kidney, and in my opinion is delicious when fermented properly! You only need a few ounces per day to note benefits from this amazing drink. And while many recipes out there contain whey, my beet kvass recipe does not.
4. Coconut milk kefir
Coconut milk kefir is made with coconut milk, and that’s it! Using real milk kefir grains, it’s best to add some dates now and then to help the grains thrive, but otherwise this is a super simple non-dairy ferment to make.
5. Coconut water kefir
Coconut water kefir is just as simple as coconut milk kefir to make. It’s best made with fresh coconut water and water kefir grains. You can learn how to make coconut water kefir here. It’s super simple, and it’s a great non-dairy probiotic drink.
6. Vegan Coconut Yogurt
Vegan coconut yogurt is a non-dairy fermented food that’s very creamy and delicious. Just like dairy yogurts, you want to choose a vegan coconut yogurt that is naturally fermented and contains live probiotics. You’ll be giving your tastebuds (and your gut!) a real treat. You can purchase vegan coconut yogurt made by me in my Etsy shop.
7. Water Kefir
Water kefir is another probiotic beverage that doesn’t contain any milk or milk derivatives. It is fermented sugar water that you can flavor with your choice of fruits, vegetables, juices, herbs, and/or spices. You can learn how to make water kefir here, as well as find information on sourcing water kefir grains. It is a delicious, fizzy drink that makes taking probiotics daily a breeze.
8. Ginger Bug Sodas
Ginger bug sodas are similar to water kefir but made with a natural ginger starter. In my opinion, it gets much more fizzy and the probiotics are stronger. And for those who LOVE ginger, you’ll find that it has a much more pleasing taste, too! You can use the ginger bug starter to make awesome sodas such as this ginger beer or pineapple ginger soda.
Kombucha is a non-dairy fermented drink made by fermenting sweet tea with a specific SCOBY starter. It creates a fermented iced tea like drink that you can flavor in a similar way to water kefir beverages. It is one of the vegan probiotic drinks that are most widely available in stores and farmer’s markets all over the country. It is also very easy to make at home. You can find kombucha starters in my Etsy shop from time to time.
10. Fermented Daikon
I love fermented daikon because it has a unique taste that isn’t too harsh and it also takes on the flavors of whatever you add with it very nicely. One of my favorite daikon radish ferments is my Spicy Daikon recipe. Don’t be shy if you’re not a pepper lover, because it doesn’t have overwhelming heat. In fact, you’ll probably find that it is one of your favorite non-dairy ferments, and also super easy to make!
11. Dill Carrots
Dill carrots are super easy to make. Cut up some carrots, mix with dill and garlic, and put some 2% brine on top. Ferment for 3-7 days and you’re in business! No whey needed, and you’ll have a delicious treat. The brine is also very pleasing and helpful for quelling nausea and stomach upsets. My son used to beg me for the brine when he was younger. He still loves it now that he’s almost a teenager. Dill carrots are one of the easiest ferments for kids to love. It has a pickled taste but isn’t too sour.
12. Dill Pickles
Although many things are actual pickles, whenever most people hear “pickles,” they think of the ones made with cucumbers. And for good reason. Cucumber pickles are one of my most favorite ferments, and they are also widely available everywhere. The best cucumber pickles I’ve had are made by Bubbies, and thankfully they still contain probiotics. When buying any fermented food for the benefits of the probiotics, you want to be sure they haven’t pasteurized all the bacteria to death.
13. Fermented Soy
Although I’m not a big fan of soy products, fermented soy is a whole different story. There are many great fermented soy products that are completely free of dairy. This includes:
- soy sauce
Natto is worth noting as it is super high in K2 which is one of the building blocks for strong, healthy teeth and bones. It can be somewhat of an acquired taste but is worth it for the nutrients it provides.
14. Sourdough Bread
While sourdough bread generally only contains probiotics that have already died, it is still one of the top non-dairy fermented foods to include in your diet. Sourdough bread is a transformed type of bread that many people can and should enjoy as long as they don’t have allergies/sensitivities. Fermentation has benefits to the body, even when the probiotics have been cooked off (source).
Have you tried any of these dairy-free fermented foods?
There are so many delicious non-dairy fermented foods out there that you don’t have to worry about missing out on the amazing benefits of natural probiotics at all. You can make your own fermented beets, green beans, garlic, onions, ginger and more. You never have to use whey to ferment your vegetables or sodas, nor should you.
Once you’ve tried some of these, be sure to share which dairy-free probiotic foods are your favorites in the comments below!