Substitute For Milk In Cooking

There’s nothing worse than making your way down a list of ingredients to then find out you haven’t got enough of a certain ingredient.

Depending on the recipe, you may have to completely scrap your ideas and make something else.

However, things are different when it comes to milk. Creamy, fresh, and super versatile, cow’s milk or goat milk can be used in a wide range of sweet and savory dishes.

We use milk in baking to make delicious baked goods, in mashed potatoes for a creamy, thick texture, to give savory recipes a new element, and so much more.

However, one of the greatest things about milk is how easy it is to substitute.

There are plenty of milk alternatives that let us make our recipe even when we’re running low. We can easily use the likes of almond milk to make a non-dairy dish or coconut milk to avoid food allergies.

This post lists the best milk substitutes so you never have to give up on a recipe.

Let’s get straight into our list!

1. Half And Half

The first milk substitute on our list is half and half. As far as dairy substitutes go, this is one of the best cow’s milk alternatives you can use.

Because half and half is 50% made up of whole milk and 50% heavy cream, it offers very similar results.

In fact, when it comes to flavor, consistency, and richness, it’s arguably the best milk substitute on this list.

Aside from a creamy texture, half and half also offers a lovely hint of natural sweetness that goes brilliantly in baked goods.

You can use half and half as a 1:1 substitute for milk in cooking.

2. Almond Milk

Next up, we have almond milk. Almond milk is an excellent non dairy substitute for milk that’s perfect for those that can’t drink cow’s milk.

Some people prefer soy milk but either works well. The best thing about this non dairy milk is that it contains a lower fat content than other milk substitutes.

Having said that, the lower fat content does make it less rich.

Almond milk will also change the texture of your recipe differently from other milk substitutes. This is primarily because almond milk isn’t as thick.

If you’re following a non dairy diet and a baking recipe calls for milk, use almond milk as a one cup for one cup milk substitute.

3. Soy Milk

Soy milk isn’t that different from almond milk. It is another non dairy milk substitute that can be used on a cup-for-cup basis.

This makes it much easier to replace milk in your recipe. Despite working well in sweet and savory dishes, soy milk tends to work best in baked goods.

The reason for this is thanks to its texture.

Soy milk usually has a thicker structure than other non dairy milk substitutes. This leaves baked goods with a similar texture to normal dairy milk recipes.

In terms of flavor, soy milk has a more neutral flavor that imitates dairy milk better than other non dairy milk substitutes.

4. Sour Cream

Moving away from almond milk and soy milk, the next substitute on our list is sour cream.

Sour cream is another milk substitute that can be used as a 1:1 substitute.

Personally, we love sour cream as a milk substitute because it offers great natural flavors, a beautiful texture, and a divine creaminess.

This delicious substitute can be used in most recipes that call for milk. It’s a particularly good substitute in recipes that call for a thicker, more rich consistency and texture.

This goes for most baked goods.

5. Greek Yogurt

If you don’t have any sour cream in the refrigerator why not use Greek yogurt instead?

Many brands of Greek yogurt are actually made from cow’s milk instead of goat’s milk. Therefore, we can expect a similar taste and texture to regular milk.

The reason we recommend this cow milk alternative is because it adds plenty of moisture and creaminess.

Greek yogurt is also higher in fat content and thicker. This makes it a much better milk substitute than other substitutes on this list.

It’s worth noting that Greek yogurt made from goat milk is also acceptable. However, steer clear of flavored Greek yogurt.

Stick with plain yogurt instead because plain yogurt suits a wider range of recipes.

Substitute for milk in cooking

6. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is another great substitute for milk.

It doesn’t matter if you use fresh coconut milk or canned coconut milk, the effect will be just as good.

Canned coconut milk might not offer the same flavors or consistency as regular milk, but it can act as a quick solution when you have no regular milk left.

Replace milk with coconut milk on a 1:1 basis. Your dish will be imparted with coconut flavor and a rich texture, so you can use it in a baked good recipe easily.

You could even use coconut cream in sweet dishes. We find the thickness in sweet dishes to be much nicer.

7. Oat Milk

If you have any food allergies or need to stick to a dairy free diet, you could use oat milk as a substitute for milk too.

In all honesty, oat milk doesn’t taste or look like fresh milk, but it’s a great plant based milk and an awesome dairy free alternative. Other plant based milk also works but oat milk is the most popular.

To substitute oat milk for regular milk, use a ratio of 1:1 for every cup of milk you need.

Despite the differences between oat milk and regular milk, oat milk still manages to give a milk texture and consistency. The only real difference between this and regular milk is the flavor.

That is why oat milk isn’t the best milk substitute.

8. Evaporated Milk

The next milk substitute on our list is evaporated milk. A type of powdered milk, evaporated milk is one of the easiest milk alternatives you can use if you’re in a rush. Super convenient, evaporated milk can be made quickly and easily.

To use evaporated milk in place of regular whole milk, you need to add liquid back into it. This is because the canning process removes a lot of the moisture. Some evaporated milk also comes in a powdered milk form. For every cup of milk your recipe calls for, use half a cup of evaporated milk, mixed with half a cup of water.

9. Heavy Cream or Whipped Cream

Particularly around the holidays, you might have some heavy cream or whipped cream left over that you can easily use to replace milk. Whether it be milk in baking or milk in pasta or soup, heavy cream can serve a purpose.

On the other hand, whipped cream is better suited for desserts. It’s worth remembering that both are dairy products that should be steered clear from if you are lactose intolerant.

Essentially the same thing, heavy cream, and whipping cream offer a thicker texture similar to that of milk. In fact, both are a lot thicker than milk which is why they are so good for desserts.

Mix an equal amount of heavy cream and water to equal the amount of milk the recipe calls for, for the best results. Also bear in mind that heavy cream is often quite creamy and sweet.

10. Sweetened Condensed Milk

If heavy cream isn’t the solution for you, why not try sweetened condensed milk instead?

Generally speaking, sweetened condensed milk isn’t the best solution for anyone following a dairy free diet. However, you can purchase dairy free condensed milk in some stores.

The dairy free option is a super handy powdered milk that can be used by anyone that is lactose intolerant.

If you don’t need to follow a dairy free diet, simply buy ordinary condensed milk and use it like you would evaporated milk.

The only real difference between the two is that condensed milk contains added sugar.

11. Cup of Water

We’ll finish our list with a surprising substitute that could get you out of a pickle. If you’re in a serious rush and have no options left, you could use a cup of water to replace the milk in your recipe.

This is a saving grace in recipes that don’t call for much milk.

Of course, water lacks richness, flavor, and texture, but by adding a tablespoon of melted butter, you can make things better.

We only ever recommend doing this when you’ve exhausted your other options.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a list of the best milk substitutes for those times you’ve run out of milk. Whether you’re looking for an unsweetened milk substitute, plant based milks, condensed milk, powdered milk, other plant based milks, or simple plain yogurt, we’ve got something for you on our list.

Cow’s milk is a very easy ingredient to substitute.

We can use substitutes to replace whole milk in mashed potatoes, goat milk in a savory recipe, a few tablespoons of milk in a soup, and much more.

Now you have our list of milk substitutes at your disposal, save yourself the hassle of heading to the grocery stores and see what you’ve got in the cupboards.

We’re sure there’s something in there you can use to replace milk easily!

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Kathryn Sewell

Hi! I'm Kate and I have been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. I like to share the most interesting tips and recipes I try here on What Kate Baked for you to enjoy. If you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share send it over on social.

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