Most people reach for milk when preparing pancakes because it’s the traditional way of making it. The cool thing is that other alternative ingredients can work just as well.
Almost any creamy or milk-based product is a good substitute for milk in pancakes, be it animal or plant-based. These include sour cream, plain yogurt, heavy cream, or evaporated milk. Plant-based options include coconut milk, oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, hemp seed milk, and soy milk.
Before we get started, it is important to know what you want to achieve with your pancakes before selecting an appropriate alternative ingredient. Therefore, I have highlighted the benefits of each replacement.
So, when you are out of milk and craving this amazing breakfast food, try out one of these 15 substitutes.
1. Sour Cream
When it comes to texture, sour cream will make your pancakes a bit fuller and heavier due to it being thicker than milk. Even so, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people prefer more substantial pancakes. Or, if you want to mimic milk and offset this effect, just mix a little water with the sour cream to cut down on the thickness.
Also, keep in mind that sour cream will slightly change the taste of your pancakes and give them a bit more bite. Of course, you may not even notice it if you top them with butter and syrup.
Tasty Tip: If you try this option and enjoy it, try adding some sour along with milk in the future for this and other recipes. In fact, many recipes use both milk and sour cream together. Why not for pancakes?
2. Plain Yogurt
Plain yogurt might actually be the best dairy substitute for milk. It even makes your pancakes a bit moister than milk, albeit with a bit of zip. You can also mix a bit of water in to thin it out. Not too much, though, or it can lead to dry pancakes.
When using yogurt, you will want to use a slightly lower heat setting. When replacing milk with yogurt or yogurt and water, keep the measurements equal at a 1:1 ratio.
Pro Tip: Try using Greek yogurt instead of plain. You may find it will result in a fuller pancake that is just as moist in texture due to its high protein level.
3. Heavy Cream
If you have some heavy cream in the fridge, you can use it to create awesome super-moist pancakes since it has a lot more fat than milk. Because of this, you should expect heavy cream to produce a vibrant and “creamier” pancake.
Of course, you will probably need to use less heavy cream than milk because of the higher fat content. I recommend that you slowly add in a little bit of heavy cream at a time while lightly stirring until you reach the right consistency for the batter. Or, add some water to thin it out.
Cut down on the butter or oil: The heavy nature of cream does not require you to add as much butter or oil if your pancake recipe calls for it.
4. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is basically just milk with the water removed, so it can be thinned and used as a replacement for regular milk. So, you will need to add the water back. Without doing so will result in the flavor potentially being overwhelming.
To prepare evaporated milk for use in pancakes, you will need to mix equal parts of evaporated milk and water. Once mixed, you can use the same measurements required in your recipe for regular milk.
Expect evaporated milk to produce a pancake that is slightly heavier, though it will not be as full as if you employed a heavy cream substitute.
Pro Tip: I always have a few cans of evaporated milk in the pantry since it is so versatile and can replace all types of dairy in just about every recipe. It is also very easy to store since it has a long shelf life.
5. Oat Milk
You can use unsweetened plain oat milk to make a more healthy pancake. This product is naturally sweet and works well in any recipe that is savory.
Expect the same consistency in your pancakes as you would using regular milk.
Oat mill can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
6. Almond Milk
Almond milk is a great replacement for people trying to avoid too much dairy. Some folks are hesitant to try this as a replacement because of its sweet, nutty taste; however, it works very well in pancakes. When compared to other non-dairy substitutes, almond milk has about as neutral of a flavor as one can expect.
One thing to mention is that almond milk is quite a bit thinner than regular milk. Because of the lack of bulk, pancakes may not hold together as well when being cooked. So, if you want to avoid this issue, you can add a food-grade thickener. While made of dairy, the best thickeners that work well with almond milk are butter, flour, and cornstarch.
On the other hand, if you want to keep them vegetarian-friendly, use a vegan-friendly thickening agent with the sauce. A bit of almond or coconut flour will also work reasonably well.
I know, boring, right? Maybe so, but water can be a substitute for milk in pancakes when you have no other options. However, it adds nothing in the way of taste. The lack of fat will make them not as soft or fluffy, and they will be a bit bland. However, you can offset this by adding in about one tablespoon of butter for every cup of water.
Of course, if you are trying to avoid dairy completely, butter just won’t do. Instead, try something like nut butter. Or, you can just add some extra flavor to counter the blandness. Berries, dark chocolate chips, vanilla, or almond extract will work nicely.
Pro Tip: I recommend spreading the batter thinly and treating them more like crepes. Since they are going to be thinner and more “tasteless” anyway, you might as well not fight it. Then, add some organic maple syrup or any of your favorite toppings to liven things up.
8. Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is becoming more common in kitchens around the world because it is believed that it could possibly help boost the immune system and even improve heart health. No doubt, it is full of vitamins and minerals, containing healthy fats and proteins as well. It is also an excellent substitute for milk in pancakes.
The coolest thing is that the taste of cashew milk is more akin to that of dairy milk and has a much less sweet taste than almond milk and not as strong of a nutty flavor. It is also thicker than dairy milk and is known for its inherent creaminess. When used correctly, it can yield fluffy, yummy pancakes.
Use cashew milk at a 1:1 ratio, so for every cup of dairy asked for in a recipe, you will substitute a cup of cashew milk.
Warning: Cashew milk is nut-based and thus not suitable for anyone who has a nut allergy. So make sure you are sure anyone consuming your pancakes are aware of this fact.
9. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is basically just made from coconut flesh and water. It has a lot of vitamins and can be used as a replacement for milk in pancakes; however, its coconut taste will severely alter the recipe’s original flavors. Even so, many people do enjoy using this substitute in pancakes or crepes. In fact, there are several recipes online that embrace this milk alternative, here is a really good one.
You will want to select canned coconut milk to use since it is more concentrated than other coconut beverages.
You can expect creamy, moist pancakes when you use this ingredient, especially if you select full-fat coconut milk.
The coconut milk to dairy milk replacement ratio is 1:1.
For Vegans: To make pancakes that are entirely plant-based, check out this recipe. It calls for coconut milk and is out of this world.
10. Rice Milk
Rice milk consists of milled rice and water. It is a sweeter dairy alternative that can be used in many dishes, including pancakes.
When compared to dairy milk, rice milk is a bit thinner, so it will produce a potentially drier result. As we have already discussed, an additional thickener or some fat, like butter, will need to be introduced to moisten them up. Here is an excellent recipe that has rice milk listed as an alternative replacement for milk in pancakes.
11. Soy Milk
Soy milk is a plant-based milk alternative made from soybeans and filtered water. It is a thicker substance than almond milk because thickeners have already been added in an effort to mimic milk’s volume and expand the product’s shelf life—this results in chewier yet moist pancakes.
It is crucial to choose unflavored soy milk when making pancakes. Flavored brands may have an overpowering taste. The idea is to use a muted taste as much as possible. Vanilla is an example of one of these rich flavors, and if utilized, your pancakes might develop an overly sweet taste. Of course, if you prefer sweeter pancakes, by all means.
You can also expect unflavored soy milk to have a less robust taste than your traditional pancakes. Adding a bit of extra butter and salt can offset this. Here is a good recipe for soy milk pancakes.
Replace milk with soy milk at a 1:1 ratio.
12. Hemp Seed Milk
While hemp seed milk is not that well-known or common in homes, it is an ingredient that can be used if you are out of milk. However, if you are looking for a future replacement, this is an amazing product that can be used instead of milk in pancakes.
Hemp seed milk features healthy protein and fats and about the same amount of fat that can be found in typical cow milk. These nutrients are found in even higher concentrations in hemp seed milk than in almond and rice milk.
Important Note: Hemp seed milk has a robust nutty taste. Some people enjoy this flavoring while others do not.
Hemp seed milk is also thicker than milk. This allows you to use less of this vegan-friendly product than you normally would with milk. However, if you like it thinner, you can add water. Just keep in mind that more water may lead to a dryer pancake.
Replace at a .75:1 ratio.
Cool Fact: Hemp seed milk is useable by those allergic to soy, lactose, and gluten.
Bonus Substitute: Goat Milk
I bet you didn’t expect to see this on the list.
While most people still don’t partake in goat milk, many health-conscious people around the world are making the switch to alternative types of animal milk.
Goat milk is known to be much easier to digest than traditional cow milk. This is because it has less lactose and alpha-s1-casein protein. If for no other reason, this makes goat milk a great milk alternative for pancakes or any dish.
The best part is that goat and cow milk possess a very similar flavor and can be used in pancakes, or any dish for that matter, interchangeably; however, you may notice that your pancakes are more decadent when made with goat milk. I love this fact.
Important: Remember, goat milk has less lactose, but not zero lactose. If you have strong lactose allergies you likely should not consume goat milk for this reason. However, ask your doctor if he or she thinks your body would be able to tolerate it.
Can You Make Pancakes Without Milk?
Even after listing these substitutes, people may still be unsure about whether you can (or should) make pancakes without milk.
You can certainly cook up a batch of pancakes without milk. There are numerous dairy, nut, and plant-based options available that can elevate your meal. Each ingredient will work differently. Some will give dryer, moister, lighter, or heavier pancakes, so you need to find what’s best for you.
I hope my list has helped you find the right substitute for you! Thanks for stoppin’ by.
For more, don’t miss The 32 Best Milk Substitutes for Recipes (Dairy & Non-Dairy).
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.