Do you have evaporated milk or one of its substitutes in your pantry?
While it’s a versatile and shelf-stable product, it isn’t necessarily top-of-mind for home cooks. That doesn’t stop it from appearing in many recipes, though.
And it’s super frustrating to start a cooking project only to realize you’re missing a key ingredient.
The good news is that there are numerous easy substitutes for evaporated milk. Even better, you may have one in your fridge right now.
Let’s take a look!
What is Evaporated Milk?
Despite how it sounds, evaporated milk doesn’t refer to powdered milk. The name refers to the evaporation process used to create the product. Evaporated milk contains about 60% less water than fresh cow’s milk. This makes it a shelf-stable product that can last months or even years when stored properly.
Evaporated milk gained popularity in the U.S. during the 1920s and 1930s. According to Wikipedia, it was during this era that the product became widely available to consumers. It was also a time when some people didn’t have access to reliable refrigeration methods.
Due to its long shelf life, evaporated milk became a popular food source for infants in the early 20th century.
Is Evaporated Milk the Same as Condensed Milk?
American evaporated milk is very different from American condensed milk. Chances are, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised if you mistake one for the other in a recipe. And, if you’re traveling in other countries, be aware that some may not be the same as the American versions.
Four main qualities differentiate between the two kinds of milk. Condensed contains lots of sugar, while evaporated milk is unsweetened. The evaporated liquid is relatively thin, but condensed milk is very thick.
Non-fat, low-fat, and whole versions of evaporated milk exist, whereas there’s only one type of condensed milk. Finally, you’d use condensed milk primarily in desserts and sweet drinks. On the other hand, you can add evaporated milk to sweet or savory recipes.
Pro Tip: Does your recipe call for vanilla? If you love baking, find out Where Does Vanilla Flavoring Come From?
5 Substitutes for Evaporated Milk
There are lots of reasons why you might need an evaporated milk substitute. Maybe you’re vegan or following a dairy-free diet. Or perhaps you just forgot to grab evaporated milk at the grocery store.
Here are five substitutes you can use in a pinch.
#1 Regular Milk
One of the best substitutes for evaporated milk is, well, milk. The most significant difference between regular milk and evaporated milk is water content. Therefore, you can reduce regular milk and use it in any recipe.
Here’s a helpful conversion rule. Use 2¼ cups of regular milk for every cup of evaporated milk needed in a recipe. Warm the milk over medium heat and remove it from the stove once it’s lost about half its volume. This should take about ten minutes.
#2 Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is another excellent substitute for evaporated milk. Because of its thickness, you can use cream in a 1:1 ratio instead of evaporated milk. There’s no need to pull up the calculator.
Cream is higher in fat than evaporated milk, which means it’s also higher in calories. It’ll also impart a richer and more decadent taste to your dish. However, you can use it in any recipe, from soups to sauces to baked goods.
Half-and-half may be one of the best evaporated milk substitutes. It’s thicker than milk but thinner than cream and can be exchanged for evaporated milk in a 1:1 ratio. It’s also not as rich as heavy cream and won’t affect the flavor of your dish as significantly.
Half-and-half is lower in carbs and higher in fat than evaporated milk. This difference might make half-and-half a more desirable choice than evaporated milk for people on specific diets. It’ll work the same way as evaporated milk in any recipe.
#4 Nut Milks
Nut milk may be your best substitute if you have lactose issues or are hoping to cut back on calories. Although soy milk is closest to dairy milk in texture and thickness, nut milk works well too. Because of the difference in consistency, you’ll need to thicken nut milk the same way as regular dairy milk.
Nut milk may alter the taste of certain dishes. Almond and cashew milks have milder flavors than other nut milks. Once thickened, you can use these instead of evaporated milk for almost any dish.
#5 Canned Coconut Milk
Canned coconut milk is a fantastic substitute for evaporated milk. Thanks to its high-fat content, it’s yet another substitute that won’t need thickening. Canned coconut milk follows a 1:1 substitution ratio with evaporated milk.
Remember that the coconut milk in a carton isn’t the same as canned coconut milk. The carton contains light coconut milk with a much lower fat content. As a result, it won’t work the same way as full-fat milk.
Thanks to its strong flavor, canned coconut milk works best in dishes that benefit from the taste of coconut. It’s a fantastic substitute for desserts and other sweet recipes.
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Substitutes for Evaporated Milk Are Easy to Find
Finding a substitute for evaporated milk is easier than you’d think. Whether you’re looking to cut calories, eliminate dairy, or simply need a second option on the fly, any of these alternatives will work.
Don’t get discouraged by a recipe demanding this shelf-stable milk. As long as you’re mindful of differences in consistency and flavor, cooking with evaporated milk substitutes is a breeze.
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