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Substitutes for Evaporated Milk – What can I use instead?

Evaporated milk, by its name, suggests that it is milk but with all the liquid content removed. Bizarrely, this isn’t the full truth of it as roughly only 60% of the water content has been extracted. What remains is essentially similar to condensed milk, just without all of the sweetening.

Generally, you’ll find evaporated milk in cans which can handle being stored for much longer than traditional milk – sometimes up to 18 months! One factor that endears it to its customer base is that it can be re-diluted back into milk at times when milk is scarce. As such, it can be quite a useful resource to have at your disposal.


We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be helpful to you.

Are any of these milks suitable for those who are lactose intolerant?

Lactose intolerance is way more prevalent in the population than you’d think, with approximately 70% suffering the symptoms to some degree. The symptoms vary somewhat, but nearly all can notice uncomfortable stomach symptoms due to their inability to digest the sugar in milk. Nut milks, coconut milk, and rice milk are ideal substitutes for those who wish to sidestep these symptoms entirely.

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If I’m not in any way allergic to milk, is there any other reason to want to make a change?

Simply put, yes. Some replacement milks are higher in calories than cows’ milk, and some are lower. Depending on whether you want to lose or gain weight, substituting for a higher or lower calorie alternative can really make a difference.

Substitutes for Evaporated Milk

Having gone through the basic uses for evaporated milk, we thought we’d delve into its broader context in the culinary world. This stuff is versatile! In some countries, it’s used in coffees and teas (try it, it’s delicious!) as it adds sweetness and creaminess. It does all of this while not feeling quite as heavy as real cream.

Likewise, evaporated milk features frequently in cooking, baking, and even as an addition to muesli. Other common uses are as a thickening agent in white sauces, and our favourite – using it to make fudge!

But, what if you’re all out of it and the supermarkets are closed? What if you have a vegan friend to consider in your recipe? Fear not, we’ve got you covered! Enough fuss! Here’s our rundown of the best substitutes for evaporated milk!


1. Homemade Evaporated Milk

homemade evaporated milk

There’s nothing worse than realising you’re one vital ingredient short of pulling off that perfect dessert recipe, is there? Well, thankfully evaporated milk is nowhere near as difficult to create at home as you would think! So, don’t fret; so long as you’re not looking for a vegan alternative, this method could just save the day.

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Considering that evaporated milk is really just regular milk with 60% of the water content removed, it is really easy to replicate in the domestic setting. Simply pour 2 and a quarter cups of milk into a thick bottomed saucepan. Apply gentle heat and stir frequently to avoid burning and to prevent a skin forming on the top. Allow the milk to reduce gently until only around 40% of it remains. Hey presto! You’ve got yourself some homemade evaporated milk and you’re ready to go! Strain it through a cheesecloth into an airtight container and it can be stored for a maximum of two weeks.


2. Coconut Milk

coconut milk

As far as we can ascertain, this is the closest vegan option when it comes to texture as it’s naturally thick when it comes out from the can. The flavour of some brands of this can also be exceptional, with some swearing that it’s actually better than the original! That being said – this depends entirely on how you feel about the flavour of coconut permeating through your recipes.

In terms of simplicity, this also scores bonus points in terms of its usefulness as a substitute. With an absolute minimum of boiling (at a very low temperature), you can match the consistency of evaporated milk exactly. This allows you to substitute it at a 1:1 ratio, meaning it requires little to no adjustment throughout the rest of your recipe.

It is important to note that not all coconut milk was made equal. There are some which are streets ahead in terms of flavour and texture.

3. Lactose Free Evaporated Milk

lactose free evaporated milk

Aiming at making some New Orleans-style beignets, but remembered that someone in your group is lactose intolerant? There’s nothing worse than having to scrap an entire recipe idea to merely appease everyone. Well, there is an easier way! Thankfully, quality lactose free products are becoming commonplace now, ensuring that nothing is sacrificed in terms of flavour.

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As far as we could make out, this substitute behaves exactly the same as the real deal when it comes to cooking. It even tasted the same in coffee! The consistency and flavour hold up to scrutiny and so, in most regards, it’s nearly as close to the original as the homemade evaporated milk is.

There are a few good brands out there producing quality lactose free evaporated milk at the moment.

4. Nut Milks

nut milks

There’s a whole range of nut milks out there that make great substitutes for milk products. Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or simply looking for something slightly different, there’s a nut milk that will suit your needs.

They are fabricated by grinding nuts with water and filtering the resulting material. Depending on what you intend to use the substitute for, each has its own strengths. Say for example, you’re looking to use a substitute to make a dessert, rice milk is perfect. As a bonus, nut milks are generally low in calories and protein, which can be ideal if you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake. For example, 1 cup of almond milk contains one tenth the amount of calories as regular evaporated milk.

We generally view rice milk as the most useful substitute as it can be used by those allergic to both cows’ milk and soy. However, it does have a high glycemic index (GI) so be wary if high blood sugar is an issue for you. Like with regular milk, the water content can be reduced to replicate the consistency of evaporated milk.


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We hope that you found this guide on substitutes for evaporated milk to be a valuable and informative resource and that you’ve found an alternative option. As you can see, there are several viable options out there worth considering and experimenting with. 

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