Evaporated milk, sounds a bit weird, right? Well, we’ve all been there, about ready to start cooking, and then we realize there is this one ingredient we missed in the list – evaporated milk.
Since it is easy to use and comes in a can, many have it handy in their pantry for constant use, but if this isn’t the case, you probably want to know what alternatives there are out there to work with.
What Is Evaporated Milk?
Let’s start by telling you, what is evaporated milk?
This is a high protein, creamy milk that is made from regular milk heated enough to remove around 60 percent of the water, resulting in a very thick and caramel-like consistency. The remaining liquid is sterilized and placed in a can, allowing it to last a long time if stored in a dry, cool place.
You can use evaporated milk in many dishes, but it is often used in desserts, including pumpkin pie or tres leches.
Because it is sweeter and thicker, some people even use it in smoothies and soups, to give them a rich consistency. It is still a milk product though, so it contains lactose and may not be suitable for everyone.
Related: Does Evaporated Milk Go Bad?
What Can I Replace Evaporated Milk With?
Time to get cooking! Let’s check out these great evaporated milk substitutes:
This one may be obvious because after all, evaporated milk, is still milk. But if you don’t have evaporated milk at hand, then good old milk will do the trick.
If you are using evaporated milk for sauces or thickening, you will need a thickening agent, such as cornstarch or flour. In baking, you will need to add more sugar because milk is not as sweet as it evaporated counterpart.
You can buy milk everywhere, it is a very common food item sold even in convenience stores and bodegas. We recommend you use about the same amount and add sugar and thickening too, but you can also make evaporated milk in your stove by heating it to a gentle boil and letting it reduce.
This milk product is thick and rich, it is often an essential ingredient in baking and making sauces, but it also works well in soups, stews, and frozen desserts, such as ice cream.
Consider that cream is much higher in fat than evaporated milk, and that makes it thicker as well. While it may not be also higher in calories, it also is less sweet.
To substitute for evaporated milk, you can use the cream on a 1:1 ratio, but you may have to adjust for liquid and sugar. Buying cream is easy, it can be found in any grocery store.
#3. Soy Milk
Soy milk is non-dairy, which is why it can be a good option if you are trying to be lactose-free. Made from soaked soybeans, this “milk” is high in protein, and has fewer calories than regular milk products. You can use soy milk to create an imitation of evaporated milk, as you can heat it and create a thicker, less watery product.
You can buy soy milk in any grocery store, but it has been very popular for a few years, so you can also get it in convenience stores at times. Soy milk is not as sweet and thick, so you may need more to substitute for evaporated milk, and also consider adding sugar as well.
#4. Coconut Milk
Another non-dairy option that also contains no allergens, coconut milk is sweet and thick, so it can be used in desserts, sauces, and soups without a problem. Because it is made from the meat of coconuts, it is high in calories, but also nutritious.
Coconut milk can come sweetened or unsweetened, so pick the one that goes better depending on your recipe and the sugar content it needs.
While coconut milk is not yet as mainstream as other non-dairy kinds of milk, like soy or almond, it is easy to find in any grocery store. You can replace evaporated milk for equal parts of coconut milk but adjust for sugar and thickness.
#5. Powdered Milk
Another milk product, powdered milk has been dehydrated enough that it becomes dry, which is a process done to extend its shelf life.
Most people associate powdered milk with children, but this ingredient can become “real” milk by simply adding water to it. Often, though, powdered milk is used in powder form in making cookies, cakes, or pancakes. It is also used in coffee creamer.
When you mix powdered milk with water, the thickness depends on how much water you add, so it can have a close consistency to evaporated milk. Powdered milk can be bought in grocery stores and some convenience stores.
#6. Nut Milk
This choice includes any kind of nut milk, such as almond, cashew, or hazelnut. As you can imagine, nut milk is also dairy-free and low in calories.
Some kinds come sweetened and are a bit thicker, so it is up to you to decide which one works better, but most of these are high in vitamins and minerals, making them healthier.
Any nut milk will be sweeter than evaporated milk, but it is also higher in water, so you will need to adjust for thickness, or you can try heating it enough to reach a similar consistency to evaporated milk.
Almond milk is probably the easiest to come by in any grocery store, bodega, or convenience store, but other types of nut milk are available in grocery stores and organic markets.
The main difference is truly just the water content. Regular milk is high in water, which makes it less thick, and less sweet. Evaporated milk has been heated to reach a thick, caramel-like consistency that is also sweeter.
You can make evaporated milk by heating up two cups of milk on a saucepan. Let it get to a gentle boil, stirring every couple of minutes until the water content has lowered, you can then strain the remaining thick liquid.
Yes, you can use evaporated milk, but keep in mind that it is sweeter and less liquid, so you will also need to add water to even it out. You may not need sugar either, you can just mix the batter and add water as you go.
You can use evaporated milk in many situations, but if you don’t have any at home, you don’t have to go to the grocery store. These six options are all tasty and easy to use, but you should try them out beforehand and adjust for liquid and sugar.
*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos