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Evaporated Milk Substitutes

Discover how you can make evaporated milk substitutes at home. Whether you’re facing an empty pantry or dietary constraints, we will uncover many alternatives for cooking and baking.

A bottle of evaporate milk next to a jar.Pin
Photo Credit: Canva

We’ve all been there; you have your heart set on making that fudge, and you open the pantry and rummage for 5 minutes until you finally realize there is no evaporated milk. Instead of heading to the store or giving up making it, don’t stress.

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It’s straightforward to make some at home. We will walk you through eight easy and delicious substitutions to use for the can of evaporated milk you lack.

What is Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk, sometimes called unsweetened condensed milk, is real cow’s milk with at least sixty percent of its water removed. This milk was very common before refrigeration since it was shelf-stable and lasted so long. You can add water to it and end back up with regular milk.

It is used to make cream-based sauces and soups extra creamy. It’s the ingredient that makes a pumpkin pie filling extra silky.

Commercial processors remove about 60% of the water from regular dairy milk by heating it under low pressure in an evaporator. It is then commercially homogenized and canned under high pressure.

IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT can homemade evaporated milk at home!

Evaporated Milk vs. Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk is simply evaporated milk that has had sugar added. It generally has a lot of sugar added, 40-45% sugar, in fact. It is used to make sweet confections like candy and pudding.

What Types of Milk to Use?

You can use any milk in the pantry or fridge to make evaporated milk. Common choices are:

Direct Substitutes

  • Half-and-half: Half-and-half is the best substitute for evaporated milk. It has a slightly higher fat content but will produce almost identical results. Substitute it at a one-to-one ratio. In other words, use 12 ounces of half-and-half to substitute for a 12-ounce can of evaporated milk.
  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk will have the whitest color and creamiest texture if you’d like to use it for something white, like coconut cream pie. This milk is our favorite non-dairy milk to use. Substitute it for evaporated milk at a one-to-one ratio.
  • Heavy cream: Heavy cream is smooth and creamy, like evaporated milk. It has a bit more fat. To directly substitute for a 12-ounce can of evaporated milk, mix 1¼ cups of heavy cream with ⅓ cup of whole milk.
  • Dry milk or powdered milk: Dry milk is readily available at grocery stores and has a long shelf life. It is a great product to keep on your pantry shelf to use when you run out of milk. It is usually made with skim milk, so it will not have evaporated milk’s fat content. Add about ½ cup minus one tablespoon of water with ¼ cup of powdered milk to make your substitute.

Substitutes that Require Cooking

  • Whole Dairy Milk: Whole milk will make the thickest, creamiest evaporated milk. It is an excellent substitute for evaporated milk.
  • Skim, 2% or 1% Dairy Milk: These will all make a suitable product, but they aren’t as thick as whole milk because they don’t have the fat content. They will absolutely work in a pinch, though.
  • Nut milk: Almond and cashew milk are good choices. They make delicious-tasting milk but will be a bit on the brown side, colorwise. Cashew milk is the least favorite because the flavor is very strong.
  • Soy, oat, quinoa, rice milk: These will make a mild flavored evaporated milk substitute.

Equipment you will Need

  • Medium Saucepan: Use a stainless or an enameled cast pan to cook the milk.
  • Wooden Spoon: It is best to use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the saucepan to remove all chance of it sticking.

How Long to Cook The Milk Down?

  1. Place your milk choice, dairy, nut, oat, or soy milk, in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a low boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer it for thirty to ninety minutes until the milk reduces slightly more than half. Stir the milk every 5-10 minutes so it doesn’t stick.
  3. Let the milk cool to room temperature. Place it in an airtight container if you are not using it immediately. Refrigerate until you use it.
A spoon drizzling evaporated milk from a white bowl.Pin
Photo Credit: Canva

What to make with evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk is so versatile. Use it in any recipe that requires heavy cream or whole milk to make the dish even more thick and creamy.

Pasta dishes like mac and cheese are great recipes to try. It will make the dish extra thick and creamy. There is also little chance of the white sauce “breaking.” Breaking refers to the butter separating from the sauce.

Cream Pies, like Pumpkin Pie recipes, often call for evaporated milk. It will make your pie extra silky.

As previously stated, it will make delicious cream-based soups, such as bisque and chowder. Cream of mushroom, cream of tomato, lobster bisque, clam chowder, and cream of potato soup are good examples.

Sauces like the cheese sauce in this cauliflower au gratin are even more delicious with the condensed milk.

Baking: There is actually a vintage cake from the 1960s that was an evaporated milk cake. Pound cakes often call for evaporated milk. That is what gives them that ultra-moist consistency.

Desserts like custard, pudding, and tres leches cake are even creamier with evaporated milk.

Candies, like truffles, fudge, and caramels. You can also make chocolate-covered coconut-filled candy, like Mounds bars,

Eggs: Use a splash in omelets, quiches, or scrambled eggs to give them extra creaminess and make them fluffy.

Homemade ice cream is so much better with evaporated milk. It inhibits ice crystals from growing and makes the ice cream infinitely creamier.

Smoothies or milkshakes can become silky, smooth, and delicious with a splash of evaporated milk.

Creamer: Use it instead of coffee creamer in your coffee or tea. This is especially popular in East Asia.

How to Store Leftovers

Storage: If you make more than you need, as with all milk products, store the leftovers in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It is best to make only the amount you need for your recipe. If you have a bit left over, it makes delicious creamer for coffee and tea.

Freezing: Do not freeze leftover milk. It will separate after thawing.

Canning for Longterm Storage: DO NOT can evaporated milk, either in a water bath canner or a pressure canner. It is not shelf-stable and could potentially make you or your family ill.

FAQs

  • Will my recipe have exactly the same taste and creamy texture as it would with evaporated milk?
    • The easy answer is yes and no. Some substitutes are better than others, and most will produce a similar flavor and texture. Some recipes for baking, like cream pies, may have a slightly different texture. Other recipes, such as ice cream or egg recipes, will not be affected at all. Be sure to cook it down to be as thick as canned evaporated milk for best results.
  • Can I substitute condensed milk for evaporated milk?
    • If you are making a sweet recipe, you can substitute it. Be aware that you may have to reduce or eliminate the added sugar in your recipe, or the dish may be too sweet. Do not substitute condensed milk in savory dishes like soups or cream sauce.
  • Is evaporated milk vegan?
    • Non-dairy alternatives, such as coconut, almond, oat, and soy milk, are vegan. The ones made with dairy milk, heavy cream, and half-and-half are not vegan. These milks are also not dairy-free.
  • Can I substitute whole milk for evaporated milk?
    • The only way to substitute whole milk is to cook it down to remove some of the water content.
  • Important notes: Most of these recipes are not allergy-friendly. Nut milk can be dangerous for those with a nut allergy. No one with lactose intolerance can tolerate dairy milk.

These DIY evaporated milk substitutes could save the day when you’d like that luscious, creamy dish but you lack this pantry staple. It is easy and will produce recipes similar to those of evaporated milk.

White spoon dripping evaporated milk into a white bowl.Pin

Evaporated Milk Substitutes

Discover how you can make evaporated milk substitutes at home! Whether you’re facing an empty pantry or dietary constraints, we will uncover many alternatives for cooking and baking.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
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Course: tutorials
Cuisine: American
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 ounces
Calories: 24kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk see notes below

Instructions

  • Place the milk in a heavy bottom saucepan. Bing it to a low boil over medium-high heat. Keep a close eye on it and stir it often so that it doesn't stick or boil over.
    2 cups milk
  • Reduce the heat to low and cook down for 30-90 minutes until it is reduced by 60%, stirring often. Timing will depend on the type of milk used and the burner's heat.
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Notes

Direct Substitutions
  • Half-and-half: Half-and-half is the best substitute for evaporated milk. It has a slightly higher fat content but will produce results that are almost identical. Substitute it at a one-to-one ratio. In other words, use 12 ounces of half-and-half to substitute for a 12-ounce can of evaporated milk.
  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk will have the whitest color and creamiest texture if you’d like to use it for something white, like coconut cream pie. This is one of our favorites to make. Substitute it for evaporated milk at a one-to-one ratio.
  • Heavy cream: Heavy cream is smooth and creamy, like evaporated milk. It has a bit more fat. To directly substitute a 12-ounce can of evaporated milk, mix 1¼ cups of heavy cream with ⅓ cup of whole milk.
  • Dry milk or powdered milk: Dry milk is readily available at grocery stores and lasts a very long time. It is a great product to keep on your pantry shelf to assist in times just like this when you run out of milk. It is usually made with skim milk, so it will not have the fat content evaporated milk has. Add about ½ cup minus one tablespoon of water with ¼ cup of powdered milk to make your substitute.
Substitutes that Require Cooking
  • Whole Dairy Milk: Whole milk will make the thickest, creamiest evaporated milk.
  • Skim, 2% or 1% Dairy Milk: These will both make a suitable product, but they don’t end up as thick as whole milk.
  • Nut milk: Almond and cashew milk are good choices. They make delicious-tasting milk but will be a bit on the brown side, colorwise. Cashew milk is the least favorite because the flavor is very strong.
  • Soy, oat, quinoa, rice milk: These will make a mild flavored milk substitute.
See article for important tips and tricks.

Nutrition

Serving: 12ounces | Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 61mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Calcium: 50mg
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