Substitutes For Milk

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If you’re trying to reduce your dairy intake, there are several substitutes for cow’s milk available in your super market. Depending on your taste, you may prefer coconut, almond, soy, or rice milk.

Milk is a necessary staple in the kitchen. However, if you cannot tolerate cow’s milk or choose not to eat animal products, there are a wide variety of substitutes for milk on the market.

Substitutes For Half and Half When Cooking

Per wellness experts at Web MD vegan half and half options can be quite useful in recipes. It’s possible to make a cream substitute by blending half a cup of milk substitute with half a cup of canola oil for a rich replacement.

Coconut cream can be used, but be aware that the flavor of your dish will be impacted.

SEE ALSO: Can You Microwave Milk​

Substitute For Whole Milk

People with severe lactose intolerance who need the intense nutrient content of dairy milk may have better luck with goat’s milk. While goat’s milk does have some lactose, it’s easier to digest than cow’s milk.

Lactose free milk is another option, but the shelf life is even shorter than regular cow’s milk, so plan accordingly.

When a recipe calls for whole milk, it’s possible to thicken 2% or skim milk with cream or half and half. Karl S commented on ChowHound the following conversion table:​

Add the following to 1 cup of skim milk to approximate 1 cup of​

Dairy On HandCreates
1.5t heavy cream1% Milk
1T heavy cream2% Milk
2T heavy creamWhole Milk
5T+1t heavy creamHalf & Half
9T heavy creamLight Cream
1T light cream1% Milk
1T+2t light cream2% Milk
3T light creamWhole Milk
5 oz light creamHalf & Half
2T half & half1% Milk
3T half & half2% Milk
4T half & halfWhole Milk

* (t – teaspoon, T – tablespoon)

Amending any non-dairy milk with vegan half and half or coconut cream should provide the same results.

Substitute For Buttermilk

Cow’s milk can be soured with just one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. If your recipe call for buttermilk, sour milk is an acceptable replacement. Vegan milk options undergo the same souring response.

Per cooking authorities at Southern Vegan Food, buttermilk has a higher acidity than regular milk, so amending vegan milk with acid such as lemon juice or vinegar will work.

Related | How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

Substitute For Dry Milk​

dry milk powder

Keeping dry milk on hand for emergencies and to beef up creamy soups and smoothies is always a good plan.

For non-dairy milk options, be aware that some milk powders don’t tolerate heat. Soy milk and milk powder are prone to curdle under heat.

Rice milk powder adds creaminess without impacting flavor and is a great choice for savory dishes.

Almond milk powder offers a slight sweetness, as does soy, but doesn’t curdle.

Per nutrition expert Annette Lyn O’Neil, while milk-based powders can last for years, vegan milk substitutes in powdered form only have a six month shelf life. Start with a small purchase to reduce the risk of waste.​

Substitutes For Coconut Milk

Many diet trends include coconut milk in their recipes for a rich and creamy mouth-feel.

If you can’t tolerate coconut milk, or simply don’t care for it, there are many nut milks that can be used as a substitute for coconut milk.

Pureed silken tofu is another option for adding a creamy texture to your dishes. Not sure what tofu tastes like? It’s pretty bland and shouldn’t be expected to add flavor to your recipe.

Substitutes For Evaporated Milk​

evaporated milk

The canned evaporated milk available on the baking aisle of your supermarket is made by reducing or condensing cow’s milk and stabilizing it for room temperature storage.

Non-dairy evaporated milk can be made by combining a heavier non-dairy milk such as oat milk with cornstarch or arrowroot.

Per vegan cooking authorities at Vegan Nutritionista, non-dairy milks are available in a wide variety of flavors and thicknesses.

Their ranking from lightest to richest:​

  1. Rice milk
  2. Soy milk
  3. Coconut milk
  4. Almond milk
  5. Hazelnut milk
  6. 7-Grain milk
  7. Oat milk
  8. Hemp milk​

Challenges To Remember When Shopping For Non-Dairy Milk

Soy, almond and rice milk are available plain, but they also come in flavored varieties, and some have sugar added.

If you’re using any of these products in baked goods, be sure to avoid flavored options.

While a hint of sweet vanilla extract can be very tasty in some circumstances, it can be an unpleasant jolt if you’re not expecting it.

Nutritional Concerns and Personal Choices

For those who suffer from lactose intolerance, giving up regular milk is an easy choice. Lactose free milk is a useful option in that case.

It’s important to note that while dairy can trigger an allergic response, so can soy and almonds. In fact, the reaction to almond milk can be fatal.

Dairy milk offers a multitude of nutrients for those in their developing years. For children over two years of age, teenagers and pregnant women who can tolerate dairy, cow’s milk will provide the biggest nutritional punch.

If the decision to give up dairy products is personal rather than allergy related, there are many beneficial substitutions with plenty of healthy benefits.

Almond milk is lower in calories per ounce than dairy, and is naturally lactose free. However, unless fortified it contains no calcium and is low in protein.

Soy milk is high in protein and is low in cholesterol, but may be problematic for those with thyroid conditions.

Rice milk is least likely to produce an allergenic response, but is very high in carbohydrates.

A final note on the comparison between dairy milk and other options: Dairy has a shorter shelf life than the substitutes listed above.

If you have a hard time finishing dairy milk before it turns sour, you may appreciate the flexibility of one of the other products.​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.