Put away those lactaid pills, I have good news! Most sourdough bread you’ll find on a grocery store shelf does not contain dairy.
But there are some exceptions!
Whether homemade or store bought, I’ll give you a quick rundown of when to expect dairy in sourdough bread.
Is All Sourdough Dairy-Free?
No. Any type of bread from brioche to French bread can be “sourdough” if it is made with a sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast.
But don’t get discouraged, sourdough bread takes almost twice as long to make as commercially yeasted bread.
Because of this, the majority of bakeries only offer 1-2 types of basic sourdough and those are almost always dairy-free.
Below, I’ve described the most common type of sourdough:
The classic sourdough boule - A round or oval loaf with a crusty, golden outside. Usually packed in paper or plastic.
Always check the ingredient labels to be sure, you never know when a bakery may add something like “Evaporated Milk Powder” to add extra flavor.
Which Breads Are Usually Dairy-Free?
A bread loaf labeled with nothing more than “Sourdough” will typically be dairy-free
Whole Wheat Bread
Challah (contains eggs, but typically no dairy)
Which Breads Are Usually NOT Dairy Free?
Buttered-Garlic Bread (usually wrapped in foil)
Any loaf containing cheese
Most types of Dinner Rolls or Buns
Processed Sandwich Breads
*Always check the ingredient label to be sure.
Non-Dairy Free Ingredients to Look Out For
Sometimes, especially in larger bakeries, you’ll find a very long ingredient list for something as simple as a loaf of whole-wheat sandwich bread.
Now, while this item is typically made without dairy, bakeries that use extremely cheap, generic ingredients often find they must add “filler” ingredients to achieve a tasty, finished product.
Some common ingredients that contain dairy but you may not always think to look for are:
Non-Fat Milk Powder (often used in pastries or cookies to boost flavor)
Casein (Makes up 80% of the protein in cow's milk)
Egg Wash (Sometimes made with milk or cream)
A common practice to watch out for is a dairy-free loaf or bun that is baked in a buttered tin. Or brushed with an egg-wash made with milk.
Eggs and dairy products should always be listed on an ingredient label, but you can always double-check with the baker to be sure.
Is Sourdough Bread Vegan?
Great news! Most sourdough bread is vegan, especially the Classic Sourdough Loaf found at most grocery stores.
Watch out for specialty loaves that may contain non-vegan ingredients such as a Whole Wheat Honey Loaf.
If you’re buying from a local bakery that specializes in bread, odds are good you can find some fantastic vegan and dairy-free breads from them.
Just tell them your needs and most of the time, they’ll be thrilled to help you find something.
And if you just need a good loaf of vegan bread at the grocery store, keep looking! Or ask an associate, most stores are adding more and more vegan-friendly options as the demand for them increases.
Most sourdough breads are dairy-free. Especially the most common sourdough loaves that are round or oval-shaped with a golden, crusty exterior.
There are some exceptions though.
Any type of bread can be sourdough if it's made with a sourdough starter. Including breads enriched with dairy, such as a brioche.
To be sure your bread is dairy-free or vegan, always check ingredient labels or check with the baker about their process.
Watch out for ingredients like whey protein and non-fat milk powder that contain dairy. These can be added to baked goods that would otherwise be dairy-free.