When a spur of the moment recipe happens, most of the time you are unlikely to have a can of evaporated milk available.
We have all been there, and that is why it is good to know that there are great substitutions available.
Whether you do not like the taste of evaporated milk, or are vegan or lactose intolerant, you can choose other types of dairy and non-dairy alternatives.
In this article we shall take a look at the likes of coconut milk, cream, and even how you can make your own evaporated milk.
1. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a great substitute when it comes to evaporated milk due to the fact they both have a thick texture. They are both super creamy too, and add an excellent addition to most recipes.
However, we shall go in with the downside first: it has a distinct coconut taste. This means that it will not suit everything that evaporated milk will.
For example, if you are wanting to use it in a pumpkin pie or a coffee, then it is very unlikely that you will want a coconut flavor running through it.
Unless, of course, you like that sort of thing. Otherwise, have at it!
Because it has the same thickness, it can be used as a 1:1 ration without any changes making it nice and easy to use.
Coconut milk also has some great health benefits too. It includes a high amount of zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. All of these are great for keeping the body happy and healthy.
It also includes lauric acid which boosts the immune system, and supports the functioning of the brain.
Vitamin E is also a good reason why consuming coconut milk is a great choice. Who doesn’t want healthy skin?
2. Powdered Milk
Powdered milk and evaporated milk have something in common: they were both created to help extend the life of dairy milk.
We all know how fast dairy milk can go bad, so it is always useful to have a milk-based product that will last for a longer time.
Powdered milk is just that, a powder. It has been dehydrated to the point where it turns into ‘dust’. To bring it back to life, water is added.
Even so, you can actually add it to recipes such as pancakes and cookies while it is in its powdered form.
To use, add less water than usual to create a thicker texture. Using powdered milk may be a little tricky at first, but once you get the ratio correct, you will have a good evaporated milk substitute.
Also, when using different brands, you may find that the amount of water you need changes too. So keep that in mind if you have nailed the amount of water needed for a particular brand.
3. DIY Evaporated Milk
If you have some regular dairy milk to hand, you can actually just make your own evaporated milk.
While it does take some time to master, you will have a ready to use cup of evaporated milk substitute in next to no time.
If you are lactose intolerant, you can substitute the dairy milk for a lactose-free milk. It will work just the same to make a delicious evaporated milk.
To make evaporated milk:
- Pour 2 and a quarter cups of milk into a saucepan using a medium heat. Stir continuously until it starts to gently boil.
- Once 10 minutes have passed, or you have noticed the milk has reduced to half (or more) of its original volume, take it away from the heat.
It is now ready to be used.
However, if you are planning to use it in a sauce or in a recipe that requires an even thicker texture, mix in some corn flour or regular flour to add bulk.
For baking recipes, you may want to add some sweetness, as well as flour to thicken it up.
4. Half And Half
You may already use half and half cream in your coffee, but it can also be used as a substitute for evaporated milk. However, you will find that the texture is much thicker which is not so useful for a lot of recipes.
Because of this, it will be best used in a recipe that needs cream or evaporated milk, rather than a recipe that asks for regular milk.
If you do want to water half and half down, then there is a solution.
By adding ¾ of a cup of milk to the half and half, you can keep the milky taste while losing the thickness. You can repeat this step until you have the consistency that you are looking for.
Half and half is made by using equal parts cream and milk. Unsurprisingly, it is much higher in fat than evaporated milk, but lower in both sugar and protein.
However, it can be used in equal measures in most recipes.
5. Heavy Cream
If you are looking to add a rich and creamy taste to a dish, then heavy cream (see also ‘13 Heavy Cream Substitutes You Should Know!‘) will be your best friend.
Not only does it make a good substitute for evaporated milk, it will enhance the overall flavor without being overpowering.
Having said that, you may want to be careful what you add it to.
Delicate flavors will be lost when using heavy cream, so stick to things such as soups, baking recipes, fillings of pies, sauces, custrards, and delicious desserts.
While it is not the healthiest option – it is much higher in fat and calories – it does have a very similar consistency to that of evaporated milk, meaning you can use a 1:1 ratio.
So, if you are looking to lose weight, there are better options out there. If you are hoping to gain weight, then heavy cream will be a great option.
6. Oat Milk
Fortunately, oat milk is readily available and is a great substitute for evaporated milk.
Not only is it suitable for vegans and those who cannot consume dairy products, but it includes beta-glucans too which are beneficial for reducing blood sugar, helping to lower cholesterol and improve digestion.
Having said that, when it comes to oat milk (like a lot of non-dairy alternatives), it all depends on which brand you buy.
Some have added salt and sugar, as well as other ingredients to make them heat friendly, tastier, or last longer.
Keep this in mind if you are looking for a healthy milk substitute.
The upside is that regular oats do not include the likes of vitamin D, calcium, or iron, but commercially available oat milk has these added for an all-round whopper of a milk.
As an evaporated milk substitute, the oat milk does well.
Just like any other milk, heating it on a saucepan to remove some of the water content is a great way to achieve a similar consistency to evaporated milk.
However, it will not achieve the exact thickness that you will want, so you may need to add something like flour to make it thicker – though be careful of adding too much. You may also need to sweeten it.
7. Nut-Based Milk
Speaking of non-dairy milks (look above), nut milks are another great vegan-friendly alternative to using evaporated milk.
They include the likes of hazelnut, cashew, and almond. However, they will not be suitable for anyone with nut allergies, so it will be best to look at other options.
Another thing to be aware of is the taste of the nut milk. Some varieties are stronger than others and this may impact the flavor of the recipe.
For example, almond milk is a good option when creating a sweeter dish.
On the other hand, cashew milk is very mild in flavor (similar to dairy milk) so can be used in a variety of different recipes, both savory and sweet.
Leaving the nut milk as it is will not make a good evaporated milk substitute, so you will need to heat it over a medium heat in a saucepan to reduce the volume of water.
The result will not be as thick as evaporated milk, but it will do a good job.
However, if you are wanting a substitute which is low in calories, nut milk is a fantastic choice.
8. Hemp Milk
Do not worry, you will not be getting high with this milk!
Hemp seeds are taken from a cannabis plant, but it does not include the THC compound that is used in marajuna. THC is what causes a person to become high.
While cannabis is not legal in most places, hemp most certainly is. The hemp milk is made by the hemp seeds being soaked in water to retrieve the milky substance.
The good news is, hemp milk contains some pretty good stuff. This includes essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6 which are beneficial to the immune system, the functioning of the brain, and so much more.
Using just the hemp milk as is will not create the delicious and thick evaporated milk substitute that you are after. You will need to place it in a saucepan over a medium heat to reduce the water content.
Doing so will thicken it up, but it still may not be the exact consistency you need it to be. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this.
Adding something like flour or cornstarch will make it into a thick liquid ready to be used.
9. Rice Milk
Rice milk is made in a similar way to other milk of this nature (soy, for example) which involves leaving the rice to soak and then grinding it alongside water to release what is known as the rice milk.
While not as commonly drunk as other vegan-friendly alternatives, it is a good substitute for those who are lactose intolerant, or who want to stay clear of animal derived products.
That being said, it might not be as simple to find in your local grocery store.
Despite the fact it is low in fat (and also protein), it does have a GI (glycemic index) that is considered to be high.
This means that it will spike your blood sugar to higher levels, which is not suitable for those who are diabetic.
The taste of the rice milk is sweet, so it will not be a great option to use in savory recipes, and instead best used in baking and with desserts.
The milk as it is will not be suitable to use as an evaporated milk substitute, so you will need to heat it over a medium heat to remove at least half of the volume of water.
While the end result will not be as thick as evaporated milk, adding something like cornstarch will make it usable.
10. Quinoa Milk
If you want to try something completely different, then quinoa milk is the go-to.
While new to the vegan-friendly milk sector, and not as widely known, it does have a similar taste to that of rice milk.
In the usual fashion for dairy-free milks, quinoa is soaked to become soft, and then mixed with water to create the milk. Sometimes they are even cooked first for a richer flavor.
You can make quinoa milk yourself by soaking them in water and blending. To avoid it becoming too liquidy, just use less water to create a thicker milk.
Quinoa milk is also low in calories and fat, however it is also low in protein too.
The shop bought variety has been fortified with good stuff such as calcium however, as you cannot get these types of benefits from quinoa in a natural way.
The milk itself is thicker than other milks, so can often be used as is in recipes.
However, there may come a time when you need to thin it which can be done by reducing the water content over a medium heat.
You can also add cornstarch to thicken it up if need be.
11. Soy Milk
Originating from China thousands of years ago, soy milk has become very popular among those who want a dairy alternative.
To make, dry soybeans are soaked in water, and then grinded to help remove the end product which has a similarity to regular milk in both color and texture.
The soy milk itself has a very similar makeup to dairy milk with its protein content, calories, and how it digests in the body.
However, vitamins, calcium, and minerals are often added to the varieties that are sold at the grocery store and other places. This is because it does not have nutrients naturally occurring within the soy.
Despite soy being a great non-dairy alternative, some children (who are allergic to dairy) have experienced allergic reactions, so keep this in mind if you are baking something for somebody else.
Just like with regular milk, heat the milk gently in a pan to reduce its water content.
Soy can be used in most recipes as it will be difficult to detect the flavor making it a highly versatile substitute.
12. Flax Milk
Flax milk is not as commonly drunk as other non-dairy alternatives, even though it has a neutral taste that is one of the best when it comes to mimicking regular dairy milk.
It is made by mixing water and flaxseed oil together, though you can also just make your own version.
While it might not be the most tasteful thing to add to your coffee, all you need to do is blend flax seeds and water together in a blender.
It also does not contain any protein, but it is high in vitamin B12, calcium, and phosphorus.
Drinking flax milk may help to support your bones, DNA, and help to repair cells and tissue inside the body.
It does also include essential fatty acids such as omega-3 which is beneficial for the heart to reduce the risk of stroke and disease.
To use it as a substitute for evaporated milk you will need to reduce its water content by heating it in a pan. Because it does not have much of a flavor, you might want to sweeten it too.
13. Sour Cream
While at first sour cream might sound like the odd one out on this list, hear us out first.
There are many occasions when sour cream makes a great milk substitute in recipes. Despite its sourness, it can actually add a wonderful creaminess to bakes.
If you are going to use sour cream in place of evaporated milk, mix in equal parts of baking soda before adding it into the recipe. Now you have the perfect solution.
While sour cream can be used as a substitute in place of evaporated milk, you can also use it as an alternative to regular milk and buttermilk.
Never underestimate that bottle of sour cream (see also ‘14 Sour Cream Substitutes‘) in your refrigerator!
When you do not have evaporated milk to hand, or if you are lactose intolerant or vegan, then you will be happy to know that there are some great substitutes when it comes to swapping it for something else.
You can also just make your own evaporated milk too, which can save some money on buying it in the future.
Hopefully this article has saved your dish, be that a delicious doughnut bake, or a tasty pumpkin pie. Find more interesting (and very helpful) substitutions on the website.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Use In Place Of Evaporated Milk?
There are many common items that you can substitute for evaporated milk. Some of these include using milk (heated in a pan), nut milks, heavy cream, oat milk, powdered milk, rice milk, and many more.
What Makes Evaporated Milk Different From Milk?
Regular milk has a high water content. Evaporated milk has gone through a process which removes half (or more) of its water content.
This results in a much thicker and creamier liquid. This can then be used in savory and sweet recipes.
Are You Able To Drink Evaporated Milk?
While it is mainly used for cooking and baking with, it can be consumed on its own just fine. It may be thicker than the milk you are used to drinking, but it does have some benefits.
Evaporated milk includes high volumes of vitamins A and D, along with calcium and protein.
Is Evaporated Milk Much Healthier Than Normal Milk?
While evaporated milk has similar benefits to regular milk (high in calcium and protein with vitamins A and D) there is a much higher calorie content in the former. Also, the nutrient benefits are higher too.
This does mean that the fat content is on the high side compared to regular milk, unless it is a low fat version.
What Is Evaporated Milk Used For?
Evaporated milk is used in a variety of ways within cooking, baking and even beverages.
For example, you can use evaporated milk to thicken and cream up a coffee. You can also add it to a smoothie to make it thicker.
It is also a good alternative if you don’t want to use condensed milk which is often much sweeter.
Is Evaporated Milk Healthy To Consume?
While it is high in fat, it does have some benefits too. It contains vitamins A and D, and is high in both calcium and protein.
It is considered to contain higher amounts of these nutrients compared to regular milk, too.
However, if you are concerned about putting on weight, then you might want to consider lighter options.