Can You Eat Eggs If You Are Dairy-Free?

  • Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber S
Medically Reviewed on 7/26/2022

Why are eggs sometimes confused with dairy?  

Eggs are not a dairy product. For the most part, it's completely safe to eat eggs on a dairy-free diet.
Eggs are not a dairy product. For the most part, it’s completely safe to eat eggs on a dairy-free diet.

If you’re just starting a dairy-free diet, you may wonder, “Are eggs dairy-free?” You don’t have to worry — eggs are not a dairy product. They’re animal products that are high in protein and other nutrients. They don’t contain any milk or lactose. 

Whether or not you can eat eggs depends on exactly why you’re dairy-free. But, for the most part, it’s completely safe to eat eggs on a dairy-free diet. Just don’t include milk or other dairy products in your recipe when making scrambled eggs or a quiche. 

If you’ve occasionally caught yourself thinking of eggs as a dairy product, you’re not alone. Groceries traditionally place them near dairy products in a grocery store, likely because they’re refrigerated. Even the USDA classifies eggs into a broad category labeled “dairy and egg products”. 

What should you avoid if you’re dairy-free?

If you’re on a dairy-free diet, the main foods you need to avoid include milk and products made from milk. To be certain that a food is dairy-free, you need to read the food labels. Some products to avoid are more obvious than others. 

Examples of ingredients to avoid if you’re dairy-free include: 

  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream
  • Casein 
  • Caseinates
  • Caramel color — some are okay, but you need to call the manufacturer to be sure
  • Caramel flavoring — some are okay, but you need to call the manufacturer to be sure
  • Some processed meats — like hot dogs and deli meats

Is it always safe to eat eggs if you’re dairy-free? 

Although eggs aren’t a dairy product, some diets might require you to exclude both dairy and eggs. This means that whether or not you can eat eggs when you’re dairy-free depends on the motivation for your diet. 

Reasons people are dairy-free include: 

  • Lactose intolerance: This condition commonly develops as people age into adulthood. Your body stops producing lactase needed to break down lactose, a carbohydrate found in milk. Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, and nausea. The only way to avoid these symptoms is to avoid all dairy that contains lactose. Eggs are safe on this diet. 
  • Dairy allergies: these are the most common kind of food allergies found in children and infants. People are mainly allergic to two proteins found in dairy — casein and whey. Symptoms like wheezing are caused by your immune system overreacting to the presence of these proteins. Eggs are safe to eat if you have a dairy allergy
  • Dairy intolerance is when you generally have trouble with dairy, but there isn’t a clear, specific cause. Eggs are safe if you’re avoiding dairy for these reasons. 
  • vegan diet: people on this diet can only eat plant-based foods. Eggs and milk are both animal products, so you shouldn’t eat eggs if you’re avoiding dairy for the sake of a vegan diet.  
  • Certain vegetarian diets: there are many different vegetarian diets. Lacto-ovo-vegetarians cannot eat meat, seafood, dairy, or eggs. Lacto-vegetarians can eat dairy but not eggs and ovo-vegetarians can eat eggs but not dairy.   

Are there other situations when you shouldn’t eat eggs?  

There are a few other times when you should be cautious of eggs regardless of whether or not you’re allowed to eat dairy. Eggs are very high in cholesterol. A single egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, but the usual daily allowance is only 300 milligrams. This means that two eggs would put you way over your cholesterol allowance.  

Fortunately, recent studies have shown that this high amount of dietary cholesterol doesn’t strongly influence cholesterol levels in your blood. If you’re healthy, you’d have to eat excessive eggs each week for the cholesterol to become a problem. 

But, if you have a chronic condition like diabetes or have had a heart attack, then you need to be extra cautious regarding cholesterol. This doesn’t mean you need to cut eggs out of your diet entirely. Instead, talk to your doctor about the best dietary recommendations for your condition. 

Another reason to avoid eggs is if you or your child has an egg allergy. This is a fairly common allergy. It affects around two percent of children under five years old. Kids are mainly allergic to compounds found in egg whites. Around 50 percent of children with the allergy outgrow it by three years.

What are the nutrients in eggs?

Although they’re not dairy, eggs are an incredible source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. A whole egg is considered a complete protein. This means you can get about 6 grams of protein and every essential amino acid from eating a single large USDA grade A egg. Most varieties of eggs are packed with approximately the same levels of nutrients.  

The proteins are equally divided between the yolk and the albumin, also called the egg whites. But most vitamins and minerals are packed into the yolk.  

In 100 grams of both the yolk and whites of a large USDA grade A egg, you’ll find: 

  • 12.4 grams of protein — which includes 19 different amino acids
  • 9.96 grams of total lipid fat
  • 0.2 grams of sugar
  • 48 milligrams of calcium
  • 1.67 milligrams of iron
  • 11.4 milligrams of magnesium
  • 184 milligrams of phosphorus
  • 132 milligrams of potassium
  • 129 milligrams of sodium
  • 1.24 milligrams of zinc

You’ll also find the essential vitamins and minerals: 

  • Vitamins B6 and B12
  • Vitamin A — mainly in the form of retinol, eggs don’t contain beta carotene
  • Vitamins D2 and D3
  • Folate
  • Choline

The current recommendation is to eat about one egg a day on average. For example, you could eat two three-egg omelets a week or have a hard or soft-boiled egg most days with your lunch. 

If you do, you’ll be getting one of the cheapest sources of nutrients available. Eggs are literally the lowest cost animal source for proteins, iron, and certain vitamins and minerals. 

This means that eggs are one of the best and most affordable ways to get proteins and nutrients. This is particularly true if you’re on a meat-free diet and looking for a versatile complete protein source. 


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Are there health benefits from eating eggs? 

A large number of benefits from eating eggs stem from the wide array of nutrients they contain.

Vitamin D, for example, helps with bone health and aids your immune system. Choline affects your metabolism and liver and plays a role in fetal brain development. Two compounds in the yolk — lutein and zeaxanthin — reduce the risk of certain eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration

Research into the many components of eggs and their impact on the human body is ongoing. We’re still in the process of understanding many of the health benefits of eggs.   

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Medically Reviewed on 7/26/2022

American Heart Association: "Are eggs good for you or not?"

Better Health Channel: "Vegetarian and vegan eating."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Milk Allergy Diet."

Massachusetts General Hospital: "Lactose-Free v. Dairy-Free: How to Tell the Difference."

Nutrients: "The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health."

Shore Medical Center: "Are Eggs a Near-Perfect Food?"

UR Medicine: "Milk-Free Diet."

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Eggs, Grade A, Large, egg whole," "Food Data Central Search Results."