We all prepare for the big hits when switching to a dairy-free diet. We understand that cheese is a significant barrier, and finding dairy-free ice cream is essential. However, unexpected things, such as classic recipes that call for ingredients like evaporated milk, always happen. Fortunately, there are simple alternatives, such as this homemade dairy-free evaporated milk substitute.
Unsweetened condensed milk is what evaporated milk is. Heating cow’s milk makes evaporated milk remove more than 60% of its water content. The heating process also sterilizes the milk, extending its shelf life.
Evaporated milk is commonly used in beverages, sauces, and soups. People may consider substituting evaporated milk for dietary, nutritional, or personal reasons.
Evaporated milk is milk that has had more than half of its water evaporated. Yes, it is that simple, and it’s nothing more than concentrated milk. With the tips and recipe below, you can do the same thing at home, but dairy-free and vegan-friendly.
What is Evaporated Milk?
Milk generally has several forms: pasteurized, homogenized, whole, skimmed, toned, double toned, buffalo, cow, etc. Pasteurized milk is milk that goes through the process of heating to a high degree.
This removes the water content and pathogens from the raw milk but retains its rich nutrients. Pasteurized milk is one of those types with high dairy content. Still, it is good for human consumption, except if you are a vegetarian.
Evaporated milk involves both pasteurization and homogenization, pumping milk through tiny holes and at extreme pressure to reduce the fat globules into smaller portions. Evaporated milk belongs to the condensed milk family, which has sweetened condensed. It is generally produced from a mix of fat-free milk, whole milk, and lower fat. This milk is famous in several homes worldwide for various uses.
Here are Top Dairy-Free Substitutes for Evaporated Milk
Soy, rice, nut, oat, flax, hemp, quinoa, and coconut milk are just a few plant-based alternatives to evaporated milk.
Soy milk was first used over 2,000 years ago in China.
It is made by soaking dried soybeans in water, grinding them, and then filtering out the larger parts to produce a product that resembles dairy milk.
Soy milk is the most nutritionally similar to regular milk in terms of calories, protein content, and digestibility. Commercial varieties typically contain calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
One cup (240 mL) of soy milk contains 109 calories, 8.4 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, and 7 grams protein. This is about one-third the calories and half the protein of evaporated milk.
Heat soy milk and reduce the water content to use as evaporated milk. The flavor is slightly different, but you won’t notice it in most recipes. We can use it in both sweet and savory dishes.
However, keep in mind that up to 14% of children with a dairy allergy are also allergic to soy.
Other concerns, such as using genetically modified crops, may lead some people to avoid soy.
Rice milk is made by soaking rice and grinding it with water to produce a milk-like substance.
People who are lactose intolerant or allergic to cow’s milk and soy can use it.
It contains much less fat and protein than evaporated milk. One cup (240 mL) has 113 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2.3 grams of fat, and less than one gram of protein.
However, due to its high glycemic index (GI), rice milk may be the dairy-free substitute that causes the most blood sugar spikes.
Rice milk, like regular milk, can have its water content reduced by heating, and we can then substitute it for evaporated milk in recipes.
However, the finished product will be thinner than evaporated milk, so you may want to add cornstarch or another thickening agent.
Rice milk’s sweet flavor makes it especially useful in desserts and baking.
Almond, cashew, and hazelnut milk are examples of nut milk. They are made by grinding nuts with water and filtering the resulting milk-like beverage.
They are low in calories and protein, which can be beneficial if you want to reduce your calorie intake.
One cup (240 mL) of almond milk, for example, has 39 calories, 1.5 grams of carbs, 2.8 grams of fat, and 1.5 grams of protein. This is nearly a tenth of the calories in evaporated milk.
Almond milk also contains calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. However, evaporated milk contains more calcium, providing 66% of the RDI compared to 52% in almond milk.
Almond milk is best for desserts, whereas we can use cashew milk in sweet and savory dishes.
Heat nut milk to reduce the water content, just like regular milk. This produces an evaporated milk substitute, though it will not be as thick as regular evaporated milk.
This milk is not suitable for people who are allergic to nuts.
Oat milk is made by combining oats and water. You can make it at home or purchase ready-made versions.
It is one of the few options that contain dietary fiber, with 2 grams per cup (240ml). It is frequently fortified with iron, calcium, and vitamin D, though homemade versions do not have these additional nutrients (24).
Oat milk contains beta-glucans, which have been linked to various health benefits such as improved digestion, lower blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol.
One cup (240 mL) has 125 calories, 16.5 grams of carbohydrates, 3.7 grams of fat, and 2.5 grams of protein. It also has 30% of the RDI for calcium, which is lower than evaporated milk but comparable to regular milk (24).
Most recipes that call for evaporated milk can be made with oat milk. To achieve the same consistency and flavor as evaporated milk, you may need to thicken or sweeten it.
Flax milk is commercially produced by combining flaxseed oil and water.
We can also make homemade versions by combining flax seeds and water.
Commercial varieties have very few calories and no protein. They contain a lot of calcium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus (26).
One cup (240 mL) of commercial flax milk contains 50 calories, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1.5 grams fat, and no protein (26).
Furthermore, flax milk is high in omega-3 fats, linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. One brand, for example, contains 1,200 mg per serving, which is more than double the RDI.
It has one of the most neutral flavors of the non-dairy alternatives and tastes the most like regular milk.
It can also be heated to reduce water in the same way that regular milk does. To achieve the same flavor and properties as evaporated milk, you may need to thicken or sweeten it.
Hemp milk is made by combining hemp plant seeds with water. Hemp is a cannabis variety.
Even though the milk is made from hemp, it has nothing to do with marijuana, and it is legal and contains no THC, a psychoactive compound in some cannabis plants.
The nutritional profile of hemp milk varies greatly between brands. One cup (240 mL) has 83–140 calories, 4.5–20 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 5–7 grams of fat, and up to 3.8 grams of protein (30, 31).
It is also high in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. One brand has 1,000 mg of omega-3 per cup, while the minimum RDI for healthy adults is 250–500 mg.
Like other, Hemp milk can be heated and reduced to replace evaporated milk.
It has a slightly sweeter flavor and a more watery texture than other options, so you may want to thicken it with cornstarch or another thickening agent.
Quinoa milk is a newcomer to the dairy-free milk market, but it is showing promise.
Quinoa is soaked or cooked before being blended with water. Some recipe websites have also reported success with making it at home.
One cup (240 mL) of a commercial variety contains 67 calories, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1.5 grams fat, and 2 grams protein. It contains fewer calories, fats, and proteins than evaporated milk.
So far, studies have shown a similar acceptance of rice milk in terms of taste. Those who are used to drinking plant-based milk may find it more appealing than those who aren’t (34).
Because it is slightly thicker than regular milk, we can use it in some recipes without reducing or thickening.
If you make your quinoa milk, you can make it thicker by blending the quinoa with less liquid.
Coconut milk is a high-calorie, flavorful addition to many recipes and a great substitute for evaporated milk.
It is made from freshly grated coconut meat and is popular in Southeast Asian, South American, and Caribbean cuisines.
Because it is already thick, it does not need to be reduced before replacing evaporated milk and can be used at a 1:1 ratio.
Iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc are high in iron. It is, however, very high in calories and fat (36).
A cup of coconut milk has 445 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 48 grams of fat, and 4.6 grams of protein (36).
Furthermore, coconut milk contains lauric acid, which may aid brain development, immune system support, and blood vessel health. It is also high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant essential for skin health.
However, it does have a distinct coconut flavor, so consider the effect on the overall flavor of the recipe when substituting. It is suitable for both sweet and savory dishes.
What to Think About When Choosing a Substitute?
While all of these options are good substitutes for evaporated milk, there are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision:
Calorie content: The calorie content of the alternatives differs significantly. If you’re trying to lose weight, coconut milk or cream aren’t the best choices.
Protein content: Evaporated milk has 17 grams of protein per cup (240 mL), while most plant-based alternatives have far fewer. If you want to increase your protein intake, choose a dairy or soy alternative (13).
Allergies: If you are allergic to cow, soy, or nut milk, keep in mind that they are all allergenic. If you have intolerances or sensitivities, you should also be aware of the additives in commercial milk varieties.
Sugar: Many dairy substitutes are flavored or contain added sugars. Choose unsweetened varieties when substituting evaporated milk. You can add a sweetener later in the process if the recipe needs to be sweetened.
Taste: Some substitutes, such as coconut milk, may significantly alter the dish’s flavor.
Cooking techniques: Substitutes may not always behave as expected in a recipe, and it may take some trial and error to find the best substitute.
Nutrient content: Commercial plant milk producers supplement their products with calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients, and these nutrients will not be present in the same quantities in homemade versions.
New products are constantly being developed, and the market for plant-based milk alternatives is expanding. Lupine and tiger nut milk are two possible future varieties.
Unless you frequently consume evaporated milk, many nutritional differences are unlikely to impact your diet significantly. Nonetheless, we should consider these factors.
Evaporated Milk Uses in Recipes
Most people who use milk globally use evaporated milk for several reasons and in different recipes. First, this creamy feel makes it perfect for dishes that want such a texture. Evaporated milk works in savory recipes and is a thickener for dishes like soups, sauces, dressing, etc. This is because of its creaminess.
The excellence of evaporated milk is in its ability to give your recipe the creamy texture required instantly. Boasting great nutrition and high in protein, milk fat, and milk solids, this milk is a good ingredient choice in baking and other dishes. This usefulness and nutritional profile mix very well with other ingredients, and it emits awesome creaminess and flavor to the output of these recipes.
we can therefore add evaporated milk conveniently to several recipes, and some of such recipes are seen below:
- Bread and butter pudding
- Pineapple mousse
- Flor’s Leche flan
- Mango ice blocks
- Choc-mint cheesecake
- Fantastic lemon cheesecake
- Cathedral jelly
- No-bake lemon cheesecake slice
- Chocolate mousse
- Coconut pie
- Creamy apple custard crumble
- Strawberry cheesecake
- Standard vanilla icecream
- Passionfruit summer snow cake
- Lemon and passionfruit cheesecake
Which Milk Beverage should I Use?
In reality, the best ones are those that have no or few additives. When evaporated, additives can cause curdling or make the beverage less appealing. Nonetheless, most common brands appear to work well, and this has been tested with rice, soy, almond, and coconut milk beverages. See my note below for faster alternatives if you want to use coconut milk beverages.
However, I do not recommend using a protein-fortified milk beverage. Some contain naturally occurring protein, which is fantastic! However, when I tried cooking brands with added protein concentrates, such as pea protein, they did not work well.
When Short on time. Is There a Faster Way?
There are a couple of quick options!
You can quickly substitute canned lite coconut milk (NOT coconut milk beverage) for evaporated milk. One can contain approximately 1 3/4 cup. Nature’s answer to evaporated milk. (Tip: Thai Kitchen now sells resealable multi-serving packages of lite coconut milk.)
There are a few brands of dairy-free evaporated milk available online that you can stock up on, and nature’s Charm is the most popular. They are, however, much more expensive than my first suggestion and are essentially the same thing.
You can make my Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk in an Instant.
If you don’t have any ingredients for the above recipes or want to make a specific type of dairy-free evaporated milk substitute, this is the recipe for you. Don’t worry; it doesn’t take much hands-on time, so you can prep or clean other things in the kitchen while it simmers!
Evaporated milk is a nutritious and useful product frequently used in everyday cooking.
There are, however, many good alternatives for people who cannot consume dairy products, are on a special diet or do not have evaporated milk on hand.
To achieve a similar thickness to evaporated milk, many substitutes will require heating to reduce the water content. A thickening agent may also be required.
Your health, goals, tastes, and preferences determine the best option for you.