JUST SAY NO TO CREAM * * * (dairy free béchamel)


I know what your thinking, “there’s no way that will taste good”. YES WAY!

So as you may or may not know, I work at a gluten free, soy free, nut free and for the most part dairy free bakery As their Savory chef I need to come up with different ways to get around using dairy, such as milk and cream specifically. Experimenting at home I came up with a wonderful solution that can be modified to your liking.

One variation is a béchamel with milk substituted with coconut milk. The unflavored kind. You make béchamel the traditional way which involves simmering the milk with onions and a whole clove and a dash of nutmeg. This is the traditional method. (recipe to follow).

The other way is much more simple and can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for as long as the expiration on your bottle of coconut milk states. This is just  like the béchamel but not as thick and no spices besides salt and pepper.

So great Mark but what do I use this little concoction for? I’m glad you asked inner voice! You can use i for just about any savory dish that asks for cream or milk. Now you may be wondering why you cant just use coconut milk alone when a recipe calls for regular milk as a substitution. The reason is that coconut milk just doesn’t withstand high heat. It breaks. Adding a bit of rue will tighten and hold things better. Here’s a short list of some things you can add this too:


mashed potatoes

anything creamed

Dairy free cheese sauce

Cream sauces for pasta dishes

really any recipe that calls for milk or cream. Here’s the recipes for both:

coconut milk



  • 5 cups coconut milk
  • 6 Tbsp clarified butter (or ¾ stick unsalted butter)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ onion, peeled
  • 1 whole clove
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground white pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg


    1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and taking care not to let it boil.
    1. Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the clarified butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy. Don’t let it turn brown, though — that’ll affect the flavor.
    1. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale-yellow-colored paste. This paste is called a roux. Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour.
    1. Using a wire whisk, slowly add the hot milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it’s free of lumps.
    1. Now stick the pointy end of the clove into the onion and drop them into the sauce.Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20 percent, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch at the bottom of the pan.
    1. The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it’s too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it’s just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
    1. Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and discard it now. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.
  1. Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Be particularly careful with the white pepper — and the nutmeg, if you’re using it. A little bit goes a long way! Keep the béchamel covered until you’re ready to use it.

Makes about 1 quart of béchamel sauce.



  • 5 cups coconut milk
  • 6 Tbsp clarified butter (or ¾ stick unsalted butter)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt, to taste


1. Start to heat the butter in a large pot with a heavy bottom. Add the flour and stir ill Incorporated. Stir constantly till it starts to brown just a touch.

1. Add the coconut milk slowly a little at a time until Incorporated. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.

For milk sub, shut off and cool down. For cream substitute, cook on medium for a bit longer to get a thicker cream, and then cool.

I like to keep a quart on hand now since it holds well and is wayyyyyyyy better for you than cream and extra nice if your lactose intolerant like me.

Peace out cub scouts!



4 thoughts on “JUST SAY NO TO CREAM * * * (dairy free béchamel)

  1. Sounds good, except not dairy free. Just a thought, as your bakery likely sells some “dairy free” dishes… This would send my kid to the hospital!

  2. You are using a coconut milk “beverage” not canned coconut milk as most of us use. Have you tried the recipe with canned coconut milk? Do you stir in the solidified coconut fat on the top of the can?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s