If you’re an avid baker or like to experiment in the kitchen, you’ll need these substitutes for evaporated milk.
Because we all run out once in a while, and that cake can’t wait!
I mean, sure, you could head to the store. But maybe it’s raining or late, or you just don’t feel like it.
I feel you, Boo!
Luckily, there are some terrific substitutes for evaporated milk that’ll work in a pinch, so you can finish those cookies in peace.
How Do You Make Evaporated Milk?
Before we get to the substitutes, let’s take a step back.
Instead of looking for alternatives, why not just make the stuff yourself? It’s easier than you think!
You’ll need milk, a saucepan, and a stove. That’s it – no fancy ingredients, no special equipment.
Just those three things and a spatula to stir it with.
The milk doesn’t even have to be a specific type. I typically use whole milk (because it’s what I have on hand), but any kind works.
You could even use a milk alternative if necessary.
So, here’s how to make evaporated milk:
- Set the stove to medium heat.
- Add 1-2/3 to 1-3/4 cups of milk to a saucepan.
- Stir as needed to keep it from burning.
- When the milk begins to boil, monitor it more closely.
- Keep stirring until there is one cup of thickened milk left.
- Pour the evaporated milk into a glass jar to cool.
Now it’s ready to use!
Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and it’ll even have a lightly brown color and sweet taste.
10 Best Evaporated Milk Substitutes and Easy Alternatives
Alright! Now that you know how to make your own, let’s get to the substitutes.
That’s what you came here for, after all!
Just keep in mind that some of these are best suited to certain recipes, whereas others may not work as well.
So, give them a shot and see which ones you like best.
1. Half & Half
As you can guess from the recipe above, evaporated milk is thicker than regular milk.
It’s not as thick as cream, but it’s definitely got more body than normal or dairy-free milk.
So, half & half is the perfect substitute.
They both have a similar consistency, so you can swap them out in equal amounts. And half & half will bring plenty of richness to your recipe.
Of course, it doesn’t have that caramel-like flavor we love in evaporated milk. But it will work in pretty much any recipe you can think of.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/4 cup of half & half.
If you want a light sweetness, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar into the half & half.
2. Powdered Milk
Powdered milk is my second favorite substitute for evaporated milk. You’ll just have to do some extra work to make it suitable.
And by “work”, I mean add some water and mix.
To make it the same (more or less) consistency as evaporated milk, stir 1 1/2 cups of warm water into 1 cup of powdered milk.
Add 1 teaspoon of brown if you want that signature flavor.
From there, use it exactly how you would use evaporated milk.
I like this option because powdered milk has a long shelf life. So you can buy a bag and have it on hand for substitutes and all kinds of recipes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/4 cup of rehydrated powdered milk.
3. Heavy Cream + Milk
Heavy cream is rich and thick. Unfortunately, it’s a little too thick to work as a one-to-one replacement for evaporated milk.
But if you add milk, it’ll soon be pourable, just like evaporated milk.
In fact, a mix of equal parts milk and cream is how you make a half & half substitute!
This will have more calories, and you’ll really taste the difference in certain recipes, like custard or pie.
That’s not a bad thing, of course. But if you don’t want an overly rich dish, mix the cream with water instead of milk.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/8 cup of cream + 1/8 cup of milk.
Again, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar into the mix if you like.
4. Regular Milk
Okay, so we’ve talked about this one already. However, the list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning regular milk.
If you want to substitute regular milk for evaporated milk, just follow the steps from the top of the post, and you’ll soon have homemade evaporated milk.
And remember, it works with any milk: skim, whole, etc.
Just keep a careful eye on it, and don’t let it boil too long.
Of course, if you don’t have the time to cook it, you can use it straight from the carton. You’ll just need a lot less.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/8 cup of whole milk.
5. Soy Milk
Soy milk is a dairy-free alternative to the options above.
It has a similar consistency and color to evaporated milk, but the taste is different.
In recipes with lots of ingredients, it’s barely noticeable. But in recipes using minimal ingredients, you may taste the difference.
I don’t recommend using soy milk as is, though.
Instead, cook it in the same way as regular milk. That will thicken it up and make it a better swap.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/4 cup of thickened soy milk.
6. Canned Coconut Milk
Another one-to-one substitution for evaporated milk is canned coconut milk.
And the great thing is, you can often find evaporated coconut milk in stores ready-made.
But if you can’t find that, don’t worry – regular unsweetened coconut milk will do just fine.
Just be sure to get the canned kind – not the one in the milk aisle. That stuff isn’t nearly thick enough to work as a substitute for evaporated milk.
Shake the can well, then use it in your recipe.
Just remember that coconut milk has a distinct flavor.
So it’s best in sweet recipes and desserts with strong flavors that will complement the taste or overpower it.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/4 cup canned coconut milk.
7. Oat Milk
Want an evaporated milk substitute with a bit more fiber? Try oat milk.
You can purchase it or make your own by blending oats and water. Either way, you can substitute at a one-to-one ratio once it’s ready.
Unfortunately, it won’t be as thick or sweet as evaporated milk. And you might even taste the oaty flavor in certain recipes.
Try adding 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey if you’re making sweet dishes.
If you’re working on something savory, you probably won’t need the extra sweetness.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/4 cup of oat milk.
8. Condensed Milk + Water
Condensed milk is very thick and very sweet. But if you water it down, it’ll make a terrific evaporated milk swap in sweet dishes.
And I should stress that – sweet dishes!
Even after it’s mixed with water, this stuff is still mostly sugar. That means you’ll taste it in cheese sauces or pasta.
Oh, and it’s best watered down with actual water. The idea is to thin it out and reduce the richness.
You can use milk if you prefer, but then it will still be very decadent. Not a bad thing in most cases, but you may need to adjust the recipe a little.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1 tablespoon of condensed milk + 3 tablespoons of condensed milk.
9. Rice Milk + Cornstarch
I have a love-hate relationship with rice milk.
It’s a delicious, dairy-free alternative to milk. But it’s also higher in carbs and not as good for people with blood sugar issues.
Also, it’s very thin, so you have to thicken it with cornstarch before use.
Still, if all that isn’t a problem for you, rice milk is a fine option.
It’s naturally sweet, so it works best in sweet recipes like cakes and cookies. And if you make a bigger batch, it’ll keep in the fridge for about a week.
To make it a suitable substitute for evaporated milk:
- Gently warm 1 cup of rice milk in a pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
- Stir until thick – 2-3 minutes.
- Cool and use in your recipes.
How to Substititue: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/4 cup of thickened rice milk.
Note: Rice milk is often sweeter than most, so you may need to adjust the sugar in the recipe.
10. Almond or Cashew Milk
As long as you don’t have a nut allergy, cashew or almond milk are fantastic dairy-free, low-calorie alternatives to evaporated milk.
It doesn’t matter which one you use, either. The process for making them a suitable substitute remains the same.
Simply boil the milk using the DIY method listed above. Easy peasy.
The resulting product is a thinner, nuttier version of evaporated milk. (You can thicken it with a thickening agent if necessary.)
Cashew milk works well in both sweet and savory dishes. However, almond milk does best in sweet recipes because of its stronger taste.
How to Substitute: Swap 1/4 cup of evaporated milk with 1/4 cup of thickened almond/cashew milk.
Other Kitchen Substitutes To Keep On Hand
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