Home Substitutes Hamburger Helper Without Milk (13 Substitutes)

Hamburger Helper Without Milk (13 Substitutes)

If you’re about to make dinner and realize you’re out of milk, don’t fret. There are some super easy ways to make Hamburger Helper without milk.

I have 13 substitutes that will save your dinner tonight!

Homemade Hamburger Helper in a Ceramic Bowl
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Hamburger Helper is probably the most iconic dinner of my childhood.

No matter the flavor, Hamburger Helper is a budget-friendly, easy, and hearty meal. It’s perfect for busy families. 

Each box contains some form of carbohydrate and seasoning packet.

All you have to do is provide ground beef and milk, and sometimes cheese

Combine it all together, and you have one delicious, family-friendly meal. But what if you’re out of milk?

Can You Make Hamburger Helper Without Milk?

We’ve all been there.

You go to the fridge halfway through cooking, and you realize you’re out of something.

And usually, it’s something important. In this case, you’re out of milk for your Hamburger Helper. 

And if you have hungry kiddos, it may feel like you’re stuck without many choices. But I’m here to help. 

Because you can totally make a delicious Hamburger Helper meal without milk.

So, there’s no need to fret or spend extra money ordering something else.

How to Make Hamburger Helper Without Milk

The milk is important because it’s what turns the seasoning packet into a sauce.

So, basically, you just need to find something that can be sauc-i-fied. (Just pretend that’s a real word.) 

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And since the sauce is typically creamy, you want to use something cream-adjacent.

But some not-as-creamy options will work as well. You gotta do what ya gotta do. 

Luckily, those seasoning packets are incredibly flavorful!

And substituting *something* in place of milk is incredibly easy.

Just follow the package directions, but use one of these alternatives instead of milk. 

What if you have some milk on hand, but not enough?

Easy. Simply use the milk you have and finish it off with one of these substitutes.  

Best Milk Substitutes For Hamburger Helper

Obviously, the best, most effective substitutes for milk are also dairy products.

With these, you’ll get a similar taste and consistency, and any picky eaters won’t be able to tell. 

But if you can’t eat dairy, there are a few non-dairy subs that work, too. 

This is a list of my favorite milk substitutes for Hamburger Helper. 

Cream Cheese in a Clear Bowl

1. Cream Cheese

With its creaminess and wonderfully tangy flavor, cream cheese is a great substitution!

This is especially true if you like a really rich sauce. 

Cream cheese is also nice because it’s fairly low in lactose. So if you’re sensitive to dairy, but not allergic, this is great for you! 

The best part is that you can use flavored cream cheese!

Garlic and herbs, chives, or jalapeño cream cheese are delicious choices. 

Substitution Ratio: Substitute 1/2 block of cream cheese (about 4 ounces) for 1 cup of milk. Add water to thin, as needed.

Jug Pouring Water in a Glass

2. Water

Most Hamburger Helper recipes already require water for the sauce. 

A sauce made with only water will not be particularly creamy, but that’s okay! It will still taste pretty darn amazing! 

If you want it to be creamier, just add a little cheese for some gooey goodness.  

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of water for milk. 1 cup water = 1 cup milk. 

A Bowl of Shredded Cheese on a Wooden Table

3. Shredded Cheese

Speaking of cheese, you can just use cheese as a substitute! Really, you can. 

Adding your favorite shredded cheese will help thicken the sauce.

And cheese will also add a level of ooey-gooey comfort that you can’t beat! Oh, and it will add extra flavor, too. 

You can use whatever cheese your family likes best! 

Substitution Ratio: Add shredded cheese to taste.  

A Heap of Sour Cream in a Bowl

4. Sour Cream

Sour cream adds lovely thickness to any sauce. Plus, its tangy taste will make your tastebuds soar!

Not to mention, it’s protein-loaded, so you will stay fuller, longer. 

Just be sure to add it towards the end of your cooking time. Sour cream is surprisingly low-fat.

That means that it will split if heated for too long. 

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of sour cream for milk. 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup milk. Add water to thin, as needed.

Oat Milk on Glass and Oats on Wooden Spoon

5. Vegan Milk

If you’re dairy-free, you have plenty of delicious milk substitutes to choose from!

Personally, I love oat milk and almond milk, but you can use whatever one you like best. 

Just be sure to get the unsweetened and unflavored version. 

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of vegan milk for milk. 1 cup vegan milk= 1 cup milk. 

Sliced Block of Butter on a Wooden Cutting Board

6. Butter

Who doesn’t love butter? And luckily for us, it works really well as a milk substitute.

It will make your sauce extra rich, creamy, and delicious!  

Substitution Ratio: Substitute 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)  for 1 cup of milk.

 A Bowl of Powdered Milk

7. Powdered Milk

Powdered milk is just milk, but it’s been dehydrated for long-term shelf stability.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to always have some on hand. 

All you have to do is rehydrate it. Follow the directions on the package and you’re good to go! 

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of rehydrated powdered milk for milk. 1 cup rehydrated powdered milk= 1 cup milk. 

Cream in a Bowl

8. Cream

Sometimes, I skip the milk and just use cream!

That’s because it tastes utterly divine. And it makes the sauce super-duper silky. 

Heavy cream or double cream work very well. Do not use pre-sweetened whipped cream

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of cream for milk. 1 cup cream= 1 cup milk. 

For a lighter sauce, substitute an equal amount of cream and water for milk. 1/2 cup cream + 1/2 cup water= 1 cup milk. 

Evaporated Milk in a Small Jug

9. Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is another shelf-stable milk substitute that’s great to have on hand.

It’s a little thicker than milk, so your sauce will be extra creamy, but it won’t change the flavor at all!

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of evaporated milk for milk. 1 cup evaporated milk= 1 cup milk. 

Mayonnaise in a White Bowl

10. Mayonnaise

This one may weird some people out, but I promise mayonnaise is a fantastic choice!

It adds some tanginess that is simply wonderful. 

And I promise you won’t be able to tell there’s mayo in the dish.  

Substitution Ratio: Substitute mayonnaise for milk in a 1:3 ratio. 1/3 cup mayonnaise = 1 cup milk. Add water to thin, as needed. 

A Bowl of Chicken Stock

11. Stock

If you can’t consume dairy, try using stock or broth! It’s incredibly flavorful, so your Hamburger Helper dinner will be extra tasty! 

Beef or veggie stock will work best, but you can use whatever you have at home. 

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of stock for milk. 1 cup stock= 1 cup milk.

A Glass of Coconut Milk and Coconuts on Background

12. Coconut Milk

You can use either the canned stuff or the versions you find in the cooler.

Either way, you should definitely use unsweetened coconut milk. Otherwise, you’re in for a weird flavor surprise. 

But coconut milk is thick and creamy and perfect for Hamburger Helper.

Just know that it will have a slight coconut flavor. Luckily, it tastes fantastic in savory dishes. Just try coconut curry!

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of coconut milk for milk. 1 cup coconut milk= 1 cup milk. 

A Bowl of Half Whole Milk and Half Heavy Cream

13. Half and Half

Like regular cream, half and half is a fantastic choice. It yields a wonderfully rich and creamy sauce that everyone will love.

But it will be slightly less rich than a traditional cream. 

Substitution Ratio: Substitute an equal amount of Half and Half for milk. 1 cup Half and Half= 1 cup milk. 

For a lighter sauce, substitute an equal amount of Half and Half and water for milk. 1/2 cup Half and Half + 1/2 cup water= 1 cup milk. 

Hamburger Helper Without Milk (13 Substitutes)

Making Hamburger Helper without milk is so much easier than you think! By using one of these 13 substitutes for milk, you’ll have a hearty dinner on the table in no time.


  • Cream Cheese

  • Shredded Cheese

  • Sour Cream

  • Vegan Milk

  • Butter

  • Powdered Milk

  • Cream

  • Evaporated Milk

  • Mayonnaise

  • Stock

  • Coconut Milk

  • Half and Half


  • Select your favorite milk substitute.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep some Hamburger Helper in 30 minutes or less!
Hamburger Helper Without Milk (13 Substitutes)

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author avatar
Haley van der Ploeg
Haley van der Ploeg is a food writer and content creator for Insanely Good Recipes, where she authors blog posts, creates recipes, and crafts tantalizing photos.

Haley is passionate about food and its ability to gather people across cultures, languages, and generations. She believes everyone can learn to cook.

Most days, you can find Haley reading, baking elaborate cakes, and hosting get-togethers for friends and family. If Haley isn't home, she’s probably on a plane jetting off to exciting adventures and new cuisines.

She lives with her husband in the Netherlands and has taught him that vegetables *can* taste good.

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