Gluten Free

Does Tiramisu Have Dairy?

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We all love no-bake desserts that are easy to assemble. However, their dairy content could be limiting, and we may not want to experience that tiring symptom of lactose intolerance.

Tiramisu is an art, and once you experience it, you’ll keep coming back for more. It is a layered dessert, just like banana puddings, and could be made with just a few ingredients, but is it dairy-free? Here is all we know about tiramisu and its dairy content.

What is Tiramisu?

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert commonly found in bakeries and on dessert menus in Italy and most places in the U.S.. It originates from the Italian city of Treviso, invented by the owner of a then-house of pleasure, who intended to make a sort of aphrodisiac that would reinvigorate her customers, solving problems they have in carrying out their conjugal activities effectively.

This dessert is characterized by its unique layers of ladyfingers soaked in coffee, cream derived from mascarpone, sugar, eggs, and sometimes Masala wine, rum, Cognac, coffee liqueur, fernet, and brandy are used to add notes of alcohol. With tiramisu, you will find out that most American homes have their own bespoke recipe, as this dessert boasts lots of variations.

Read: Does tiramisu contain gluten?

Ingredients in Tiramisu

  • Ladyfingers: Ladyfingers, also known as sponge fingers, are made of egg whites, sugar, egg yolks, powdered sugar, and flour. These ingredients are combined to form a smooth batter that is pipped into long, thin fingers and baked until it becomes airy and light. The resulting mild taste and delicate texture make it great for layering desserts like banana pudding and tiramisu, as they soak up moisture and yet are still able to hold their own.
  • Eggs: Both the white and yolks of eggs are crucial to the tiramisu dessert. The whites are combined with the batter of the ladyfingers and contribute to the airy texture. While the yolks are usually mixed with the mascarpone cheese and liquer to add creaminess to the mixture while also helping to stabilize it,.
  • Expresso Coffee: Coffee is significantly recognized in tiramisu for its rich taste and aroma, which makes the dessert irresistible. Coffee provides the base on which ladyfingers are soaked and is sometimes added to the creamy filling.
  • Mascarpone: Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese with a rich, slightly tangy flavor and is usually the base ingredient in the creamy filling. It is joined with egg yolks and sugar to form that velvety texture we all love.

Notably, liquor, cocoa powder, vanilla extracts, heavy cream, orange zest, and sometimes mint leaves are added to different variations of this dessert.

Does Tiramisu have Dairy?

Tiramisu has dairy. Tiramisu contains mascarpone cheese, which is the key to the signature creamy texture and rich flavor of its filling. However, mascarpone cheese is derived from cow’s milk, making tiramisu not dairy-free and not safe for highly lactose-intolerant individuals.

Also, the ladyfingers are sometimes made with milk and butter, which could contribute to the overall dairy content of tiramisu. The best way to ensure you have a dairy-free tiramisu is to make them yourself, substituting dairy-containing ingredients with non-dairy-containing ingredients.

When I want to dine out and possibly have some tiramisu, I ensure to research the restaurant hours before I get there. You can also do this research and call the restaurants beforehand to ensure you’ll be getting a gluten-free version. Also, for store-bought options, you could look into their labels.

Can You use Coconut or almond cream instead?

Yes, coconut cream or almond cream can be used instead of mascarpone cheese and heavy cream. However, coconut cream has a strong taste of coconut and may impact the overall taste of tiramisu, but if you enjoy the coconut taste, I assure you that it creates a unique flavor of tiramisu you’ll always love to make.

The almond cream is also a better alternative. It has a mild, nutty flavor that doesn’t interrupt the coffee, biscuits, or other ingredients used. It guarantees you’ll enjoy your tiramisu. I used Reddi Wip non-dairy almond whipped cream, and it works just fine.

Substitute ingredients

If you’re lactose intolerant, it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying desserts like panna cotta or tiramisu, as there are alternative ingredients that may taste just like the original. Here are the best substitutable ingredients for tiramisu:


Ladyfinger is an essential unit in every tiramisu recipe, but not all are dairy-free; always check the labels. However, some alternatives can equally do the job.

Although taste may be sacrificed, the preparation method may be adjusted to fit the alternative used. Sponge cakes, amaretti cookies, and diary-free lady fingers, which can be easily accessed in stores around you, will do just great.

Heavy cream and Mascarpone Cheese

The high fat content of the heavy cream adds to the richness and creaminess of tiramisu. Mascarpone cheese, on the other hand, also contributes to the texture and flavor of tiramisu.

However, they can both be replaced with coconut cream, almond cream, or silken tofu and cream cheese. There are dairy-free heavy creams available in your local stores; check the labels.

The more you use these alternatives, the better you’ll become at achieving a better texture. I make my almond cream myself most times, and when I use it, you may not notice much of the difference.

These are the best alternatives you could use. However, indulge more in making your own ladyfingers and almond cream (I prefer it for its nutty, mild taste), and over time, your tiramisu will become as perfect as you want it.

Final Thoughts

If you have been craving tiramisu, you could still enjoy it without dairy-containing ingredients like mascarpone cheese. Ever since I went dairy-free, I have come to explore the rich taste of nondairy-containing recipes, and I can say the difference is hardly noticeable when done well; some times, the nondairy version is even better.

With that in mind, you can go ahead and request for a dairy-free tiramisu in your local dairy-free-friendly restaurants, or you can get your hands messy and make them yourself.

Try and get creative, and if your version tastes awesome, do not hesitate to share it with us. Thanks!

Cortiso Davids

My culinary adventure began at an early age when I would stand on a chair to help my mom stir pancake batter. Over the years, I've honed my skills and knowledge, drawing inspiration from family recipes, celebrated chefs, and the vibrant food cultures that make our world so diverse and fascinating.

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