How to make any recipe gluten free, dairy free or egg free

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How to make any recipe gluten free, dairy free or egg free

Niki Bezzant has a practical guide to substituting in recipes so the whole family can enjoy your favourites.

Being diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance can be quite disorienting and confusing to start with – it can feel like meals as you know them are over!

But it doesn’t have to be this way – living free from the foods that cause you problems can be really positive and delicious as well, and it is possible to keep making some of your favourite recipes with a few small changes once you know the tricks.

How to substitute in most recipes

Milk in saucesDairy-free stock
Soy milk
Lactose-free milk (if it's only lactose that upsets you)
Milk in bakingRice milk
Soy milk
Tofu – mashed or puréed
Lactose-free milk (if it's only lactose that upsets you)
Cheese as toppingBreadcrumbs mixed with herbs and spices
Puréed tofu flavoured with herbs and spices
Butter in most recipesDairy-free reduced-fat spread
Stock powderDairy-free soup mix
Homemade stock


How to substitute in main meals

Breadcrumbs for coatingCrushed gluten-free rice crackers
Flour for coating (eg. fish, schnitzel)Cornflour (check it’s made from maize)
Rice flour
Flour for thickening (eg. gravy, stew)Arrowroot (halve quantity)
Cornflour (halve quantity)
Stock powderGluten-free soup mix
Gluten-free stock powder
Homemade stock

How to substitute in baking

You can successfully substitute gluten-free varieties of flour or baking mixes for wheat flour in baking recipes. Some recipes adapt better than others.

Recipes which work well

  • recipes with only small amounts of flour
  • recipes with ground nuts, eg. almonds (but watch the fat)
  • recipes with high fruit content, eg. carrot or banana cake
  • recipes with coconut

These types of recipes tend to have a heavier, moister texture naturally, which compensates for the dryness of gluten-free flours and means substituting generally works well.

Recipes which are more difficult

  • recipes with high flour content
  • recipes that are traditionally light and fluffy, eg. sponge, scones
  • bread

Try baking and bread mixes

Ready-made gluten-free baking mixes are especially formulated to give good results in baking recipes. They’re great for convenience and consistency, and you know there is no risk of cross-contamination.

Mixes can be substituted in the same quantities as wheat flour. It is also possible to make your own mix of flours for baking. Try this one:

  • 1 part maize cornflour
  • 2 parts soy flour
  • 2 parts rice flour
  • 3 parts potato flour

How to substitute in main meals

Eggs in batter: for 1 eggButtermilk (approx 1/4 cup)
Egg replacer (eg. Orgran: 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons water)
Yoghurt (approx 1/4 cup)
Eggs for binding (eg. mince mixtures): for 1 egg2-3 tablespoons:
– arrowroot
– cooked red lentils
– cornflour
– egg replacer (see above)
– finely-crushed breadcrumbs
– mashed potato or instant potato flakes
– rolled oats
– tomato paste
– wholemeal flour
1-2 tablespoons oil

How to substitute in baking

Eggs for binding (eg. biscuits, loaves, muffins, denser cakes): for 1 eggEgg replacer (eg. Orgran: 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons water)
1 tablespoon cornflour/custard powder + 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup tofu blended with the liquid ingredients in the recipe
1/2 small banana, mashed
1/4 cup apple purée; mashed pumpkin; or puréed dates/prunes.
*For a lighter texture, add an extra 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to the mix
Eggs as raising agent (eg. sponge cakes)Above suggestions, plus extra 1/2 teaspoon baking powder for each egg

General rule: If a recipe calls for 3 or more eggs, consider using a different recipe.

Here are some recipe examples showing ways to adapt recipes.

  • dairy-free (DF)
  • gluten-free (GF)
  • egg-free (EF)

Beef schnitzel

4 (about 500g) beef schnitzels
2 tablespoons flour (GF: replace with cornflour or potato flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten (EF: use yoghurt or egg replacer)
1 cup dried breadcrumbs (GF: use gluten-free bread or fine polenta or LSA)
2 tablespoons oil

Date and walnut loaf

1 cup boiling water
1 cup (180g) dates, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons reduced-fat spread (DF: check dairy-free)
1 egg, beaten (EF: use egg replacer or puréed fruit)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour (GF: replace with 3/4 cup soy flour, 1/3 cup rice flour and 1/3 cup potato flour OR 1 1/2 cups gluten-free baking mix)
3 teaspoons baking powder (GF: use gluten-free baking powder)

Chicken curry

1 tablespoon oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder (GF: use gluten-free version)
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder (GF: use gluten-free version, or homemade, or gluten-free chicken soup)
1 cup water
500g chicken breast
1 tablespoon plain flour (GF: replace with 2 teaspoons cornflour or potato flour)
2 cups green beans (fresh or frozen)

First published: Dec 2010

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