Milk in white jug.
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12 Evaporated Milk Substitutes

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Finding suitable substitutes for staple ingredients is an art and a necessity. Evaporated milk is used for its creamy consistency and its ability to enhance both sweet and savory dishes. Whether you are lactose intolerant, have dietary restrictions or simply run out of this pantry essential, it’s important to know the best evaporated milk substitutes.

Heavy cream in clear pitcher.
Evaporated Milk. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Knowing how to use alternatives can come in handy if you run out of ingredients on a busy cooking day or have allergies or restrictions. From half-and-half to almond milk, this article will cover several different substitutes for evaporated milk. 

Where evaporated milk comes from

Evaporated milk is fresh milk that has been heated to remove about 60 percent of its water content. It is then homogenized, canned and goes through heat sterilization treatment. 

Why evaporated milk — and evaporated milk substitutes — are necessary

Leaving out evaporated milk can change a recipe completely. Here are a few reasons why you need it:

  • It thickens smoothies.
  • Evaporated milk adds sweetness to coffee.
  • It adds richness and texture to soups, chowders, sauces and oatmeal.
  • Evaporated milk adds more creaminess to recipes such as fudge and pumpkin pie.

Common evaporated milk substitutes

Always keep in mind that using evaporated milk substitutes may change the texture or creaminess of a recipe. Having the actual ingredient is ideal, but if it’s not possible because of allergies, dietary reasons or needing an alternative in a pinch, these options are great choices.

Half-and-half

Half-and-half has extra fat and a thick consistency that resembles evaporated milk but without the slightly caramelized flavor. Adding 1 cup of half-and-half replaces 1 cup of evaporated milk. It works in sweet recipes like pumpkin pie but also savory recipes like soup.

“If I run out of evaporated milk, I just use cream or half-and-half, and it works out fine. Like, for pumpkin pie, I’ve swapped cream for evaporated milk, and it makes the pie even richer. Same thing for creamy casseroles or mac and cheese. I just substitute in half-and-half, and they turn out just as tasty.”

— Jere’ Cassidy, One Hot Oven

Heavy cream

Heavy cream in clear glass next to fruit.
Heavy cream. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Heavy cream has a richer taste than evaporated milk without the caramelized flavor but a similar consistency. Adding 1 cup of heavy cream replaces 1 cup of evaporated milk. It works as a replacement in pie fillings, casseroles, soups, ice cream and sauces.

DIY evaporated milk

To make your own evaporated milk, start with regular milk and double what the recipe calls for. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of evaporated milk, start with 2 cups of regular milk. Add the regular milk to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer until it thickens and reduces in volume by about half. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. One cup of DIY evaporated milk replaces 1 cup of regular evaporated milk.

Powdered milk

To use powdered milk as a replacement for evaporated milk, add 60 percent of the water it calls for when reconstituting the milk. It can be used as a cup-for-cup substitute for evaporated milk. Powdered milk works well in both sweet and savory dishes.

“If I’m out of evaporated milk, I reach for dry powdered milk, which is essentially milk that has been dehydrated. It’s convenient to keep, since it is shelf-stable and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Here’s a tip: Use a little less water to reconstitute the milk powder for a thicker evaporated milk consistency.”

— Michelle C, Sift & Simmer

Soy milk

Soy milk has the closest texture to regular milk. Follow the same process when using soy milk as when making DIY evaporated milk. Soy milk has a higher water content, so you may need to add a thickener like cornstarch when making soups or sauces.

Coconut milk

Canned coconut milk or coconut milk from a carton can be used as a substitute for evaporated milk. Adding 1 cup of coconut milk replaces 1 cup of evaporated milk. Coconut milk from a carton has a higher water content and needs to be evaporated over heat like regular milk. It has a slight coconut flavor, so it’s best to use coconut milk in sweet and savory dishes where the flavor will compliment the dish you are making. 

Almond milk

Jar of milk next to white bowl of almonds.
Almond milk. Photo credit: Yayimages.

Almond milk needs to be evaporated over heat like regular milk. Then it can be used as a cup-for-cup replacement for evaporated milk. Almond milk tends to be sweet, so it is best for desserts.

Cashew milk

Cashew milk also needs to be evaporated over heat. One cup of evaporated cashew milk replaces 1 cup of evaporated milk. Cashew milk can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Oat milk

Oat milk can be used just like almond milk or cashew milk. It requires evaporation over heat as well. It can be used as a cup-for-cup replacement for evaporated milk. Oat milk works in baking, casseroles and sauces.

Hemp milk

Hemp milk also needs to be evaporated over heat. It is sweeter than the other milk, so it is best for baking. 1 cup of evaporated hemp milk replaces 1 cup of evaporated milk. Hemp milk can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

Flaxseed milk

Flaxseed milk can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and can be used once the water content is reduced over heat like the other options above. It can be used as a cup-for-cup replacement for evaporated milk. 

Rice milk

Rice needs to be evaporated over heat like the other options above. Adding 1 cup of rice milk replaces one cup of evaporated milk. Rice milk is thinner, so you may want to add cornstarch to thicken it. Because it is sweet, it is best for desserts and baking. 

Final thoughts

Using the exact ingredients is ideal, but evaporated milk substitutes can also work well. Make sure to follow all of the directions above carefully, and keep in mind that texture and flavor may be slightly different than when using evaporated milk. 

This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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