What do you get when you cross dairy-free coconut cream with garlic and cilantro and a splash of lemon or lime? Heaven, that’s what you get. Otherwise known in our kitchen as Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce. Spiriteds, there is something even more amazing about this already tantalizing spread than just its taste. This vegan and paleo-friendly spread absolutely, completely, and totally doubles as a stand-alone appetizer. I’m not joking, thus I’m listing this recipe in the Appetizers and Snacks and Sauces and Spreads categories on the blog. It pairs as well with veggies for a pre-party nibble as it does with burgers and chicken for dinner.
I have wanted to create an aioli sauce for some time now. A marketing project of mine often takes me into the world of catering, and I mentally eat my way through the menu, of which aioli is often a condiment. TAKE MY MONEY. I WILL HAVE THE AIOLI.
But what is it, actually? And, OMIGOD, how do you even pronounce it? “Ay-olee”? “Eye-olee”? Both? Neither? All fair questions. I turned to the Internet, and the answer is…
Okay, but in all seriousness, I did do some research. Emma Saying on YouTube pronounced it both ways while Oxford Dictionaries pronounced it “eye-olee.”
As for what aioli actually is, well, according to Bob Apetit in their online post, OK, What Is Aioli, Anyway?, it can be many things, including, at a basic level, a Mediterranean emulsion of olive oil and garlic. Take your pick, and let’s dig in because you are about to make this gluten-free spread and appetizer recipe ALL YOUR OWN. It’s clearly an ALL CAPS recipe.
Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce comes complete with variations to satisfy even the pickiest of palates. For some of you, this news is a recipe dream come true. For others, you’d rather eat every meal for the rest of your life with a spork than have to navigate variations in a recipe.
But let me allay your fears. These variations do not require a degree from a top-notch culinary school. You can still whip up a batch of Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce in a matter of minutes, no matter how many or how few modifications you make along the way.
So let’s jump into those choices and make this Dairy-Free Aioli a reality each of us can enjoy.
VARIATIONS, NOTES, and BEST PRACTICES
- Work with either full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream. If you choose full-fat coconut milk, then first chill it overnight in the fridge. DO NOT SHAKE THE COCONUT MILK prior to putting it in the fridge. You want the contents to separate. As it chills, the “cream” in the coconut milk will rise to the top of the can. Skim the cream from the top of the can and use it as the base for your Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce. It should yield close to one cup of “cream.” Getting exactly one cup of cream isn’t terribly necessary. For example, I was just below that for these pictures, and the flavor turned out beautifully. However, I do like to have an extra can on hand in the fridge because sometimes the contents don’t separate as well as I’d like. When that happens, I open the second can and pick my favorite (or the thickest parts of each).
- Flavor with garlic as needed. I LOVE garlic in countless savory dishes, and Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce is no different. I’m always one recipe away from permanently warding off all vampires in my vicinity. But since not everyone is #same, I highly suggest adding 1-2 cloves at the start. Then if you still need more garlic, add extra cloves one at a time, taste-testing in between each one. More garlic may be especially helpful if you are new to dairy-free recipes or coconut milk/cream and aren’t quite sold yet on the flavor.
- Use lemon or lime juice. This will be personal preference, and, if you’re like me, will depend on what you have in your kitchen.
- Add salt to taste. I almost never add more than 1/8 teaspoon sea salt in recipes because a little sea salt goes a long way. However, in this Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce, I doubled that amount and wouldn’t rule out a little extra sprinkle dash if needed.
- Add a pinch each of garlic and onion salt (or powder). These are excellent additions to aioli, especially if you are getting comfortable with coconut milk and cream.
- Decide your preferred texture. Aioli is typically smooth, but since this creamy concoction softens on its own once you pair it with food (think hamburgers hot off the grill or chicken straight from the skillet), you have some flexibility in how you prepare it. If you want a smoother sauce, then add extra olive oil to the blender. I often work in the neighborhood of 1/3 cup olive oil when I want a smooth texture. Use more or less as desired.
Spiriteds, these variations aren’t complicated. And fortunately, you can control them as you need. It’s pretty hard to go too far in one direction without realizing it too late. I absolutely taste-test this recipe as I go to make sure I’m getting the balance I want.
Since Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce pairs so well with so many foods, you might be wondering where to start. This recipe is the perfect addition to:
- Burgers (beef or veggie)
- Fruits, like tomatoes, and veggies
- Wraps and salads
I haven’t tried it with crackers yet, however I feel like even that would be delicious. This recipe seriously knows no bounds (and coconut was absolutely an acquired taste for me). But this recipe? I’m ALL IN, no acquired taste needed.
So the only difficult thing about Dairy-Free Aioli Sauce is deciding how to pronounce it. 😂 😂 😂
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge, OR 1 cup coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
- 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Sprinkle of garlic powder and onion powder, optional
- If using chilled coconut milk, skim off the cream that has formed at the top of the can. If using coconut cream, skip to step 2.
- Scoop cream into blender and add olive oil, lemon or lime juice, pressed garlic, cilantro, and sea salt. Blend on a low to medium speed until blended, adding more olive oil as desired or needed and scraping the sides of the container periodically. Add garlic powder and onion powder, if desired.
- Store in a glass jar for about 2-3 days. Contents will thicken and separate as they stand, especially when stored in the refrigerator. If not serving immediately, stir briskly prior to serving. You can always do a quick blend with a smidgeon of extra olive oil, if necessary.