What Are Lactose-Free Puddings?

T. Carrier

Lactose-free puddings are a dessert option for individuals with lactose intolerance. As such, the puddings are free of the milk sugar lactose. The semi-solid treat might thus make use of dairy milk alternatives like almond milk.

Carob powder can be used in pudding as a lactose-free alternative to chocolate.
Carob powder can be used in pudding as a lactose-free alternative to chocolate.

Pudding is a popular dessert found around the world. It is usually consumed with a spoon, as it possesses a solid and thick, yet somewhat runny and pliable texture. Both traditional and lactose-free puddings may be created in several flavor types, such as vanilla, chocolate, or various fruit varieties. Puddings are also generally cold and easy to make as a quick snack. The product is typically made from milk and sweet additives, but in lactose-free puddings, a milk substitute must be used.

Many people are allergic or sensitive to the lactose found in dairy products.
Many people are allergic or sensitive to the lactose found in dairy products.

Lactose intolerance usually drives the need for a lactose-free diet. This condition results when the body is unable to properly digest the milk sugar lactose. Deficiencies in an enzyme that breaks down lactose typically cause the intolerance, transforming the sugar into an irritant acid in the digestive system. Several uncomfortable symptoms can occur due to lactose intolerance, including nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Individuals can further have an allergic reaction to most dairy products that have animal milk as an ingredient, so consumption of non-dairy products is typically necessary.

Cornstarch is typically used to thicken pudding.
Cornstarch is typically used to thicken pudding.

Ideally, a traditional milk alternative will somewhat retain the appearance and taste of milk. Almond milk is perhaps the most popular milk substitute in lactose-free puddings. This substance is created from crushed almonds, and it contains a sweet flavoring that works well in desserts. Soy milk and rice milk created from soy beans and rice, respectively, may serve as lactose-free options as well. Some companies also offer lactose-free milk as a specific product, which is essentially traditional animal milk treated with a substance known as lactase that removes lactose sugar.

Almond milk, which is lactose-free, gives vanilla pudding its creamy texture.
Almond milk, which is lactose-free, gives vanilla pudding its creamy texture.

Other than milk alternatives, lactose-free puddings retain much of a traditional pudding’s ingredients and cooking style. Sweet additives like sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon can be part of the recipe. Fruits, butter, and salt are other possible additions. While regular puddings are often served in instant packets, a traditional saucepan over stove burner cooking usually works best with lactose-free puddings.

Since most puddings have a thick consistency, certain agents may be needed in lactose-free puddings to replace thickening milk or cream. Cornstarch is one common option, as are eggs or flour. In general, a small portion of the thickening agent is combined with the necessary amounts of lactose-free milk product.

Rice is used to make lactose-free puddings.
Rice is used to make lactose-free puddings.

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