In today’s food culture, finding the right foods for your particular diet is easier than ever. The grocery stores have vegan, organic, no pesticides added aisles right next to the gluten free snacks and breads. Restaurants have all the ingredients listed right on the menu.

For someone who can’t have dairy in their life, finding dairy-free foods should be no problem, right? Not exactly. If you’re like me, a somewhat ignorant but passionate lover of food, you don’t have the slightest clue what foods contain dairy. Did you know lactose is added to deli meats? Me either. And even vegetarian cheeses can still have traces of milk or dairy.

If you’re lactose intolerant, have a dairy allergy, are on a weird diet, or you’re just simply curious, I’ve found seven dairy-free foods that I didn’t know were dairy free, and you probably didn’t either.

1. Oreos

Photo by Megan Prendergast

Lactose-free foodies, rejoice because Oreos have no dairy. That’s right, the cream in the middle isn’t actually quite so creamy. Everyone’s favorite middle is instead made up of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch and soy.

And even better, Oreos are completely vegan. This makes these classic cookies the perfect treat for anyone, whether you eat them on their own or use them in tons of yummy Oreo recipes. And because they’re dairy-free, they must be healthy. At least, that’s what I try to tell myself as I reach for another handful.

2. Coffee Creamer

Photo by Alexa Nakamura

Cream and milk have always been interchangeable additions to my coffee. I like it double-double and it doesn’t matter which I’m adding as long as it sweetens up my dark roast. There is one big difference between the two, though — dairy. Milk (not counting soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc, etc — it’s not a surprise that these substitutes are dairy0free) contains dairy, while coffee creamer (like CoffeeMate) has absolutely none.

Instead of dairy, coffee creamer is made up of mostly water, sugar, some type of oil, corn syrup and a bunch of other chemicals that are hard to pronounce. Maybe I’ll just stick to soy milk from now on.

3. Brownies

Photo by Abby Wang

There’s good news and bad news. Not every brownie you eat is dairy-free, unfortunately. But luckily for you, brownie mixes you can find at your local grocery store, like Duncan Hines, do lack just what we’re (not) looking for.

The mix consists of cocoa powder, sugar, and wheat flour. As long as you’re not making the milk chocolate variety – duh, milk chocolate – these tasty treats won’t flare up your lactose intolerance, but they will satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you really want to show off your baking skills to all your friends in the dorm, you can make them some 100 calorie pumpkin brownies using the Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownies mix.

4. Frosting

Photo by Amanda Nguyen

It’s creamy. It’s delectable. It’s the perfect topping to that Insta-worthy rainbow cake you’ve been dying to make ever since you saw it on Pinterest. And did you know, some grocery store frostings are dairy-free?

Take Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Frosting, a great addition to your Duncan Hines brownies you can also whip up. A run through of all the ingredients shows sugar, vegetable oil shortening and water, among others, but there’s no milk and butter to be found. That means that you enjoy spoonful after spoonful of this mouthwatering topping without regret — well, lactose-induced regret, anyway.

5. Marshmallows


Photo by Isabelle Chu

Marshmallows are a world of possibilities: Peeps, S’mores, Rice Krispies, slutty brownies, ooey gooey marshmallow cookies, etc. And surprisingly, they’re completely dairy-free. Marshmallows are made up of basically just sugar, water and gelatin, which makes the recipe super easy to duplicate and fits into the lactose-free diet perfectly.

Go ahead and indulge in a big fluffy marshmallow pressed between two toasty graham crackers and a piece of chocolate — as long as it’s dark — heck, even have two.

6. Jell-O Pudding

Photo by Abigail Wang

I’m sure we all remember Jell-O and Jell-O pudding from our childhood, but did you know that our favorite after school snack was actually dairy-free? Even some of the age old classics can fit into your diet.

This beloved snack is made with cornstarch, cocoa and a bunch of chemical names, including some lovely artificial coloring. Hey, I never said that these were surprisingly healthy, just dairy-free. Jell-O is undeniably tasty, though, and its low price point means that the Jell-O pudding shots you’re bringing to the party fit your college student budget.

7. Dark Chocolate


Photo by Rebecca Block

This may have been the biggest surprise to me, out of all the foods I found. A chocolate without any dairy? Hello, sign me up. Instead of milk, simple dark chocolate is made with cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla.

Dark chocolate is not only dairy-free, but surprisingly good for you too. It has little to no added sugar and generates endorphins, or “happy hormones.” Eating a square a day not only fits into your special diet, but can help greatly to reduce stress and anxiety. The best thing is, anything you make with milk chocolate can simply be substituted for dairy-free dark chocolate, like puppy chow.