16 Best Substitutes for Milk in Cornbread


I’ve been making cornbread for over 50 years and have tried many different things over the years when it comes to substitutions. Several times I have been out of milk but still wanted to make cornbread without having to run to the store first.

Here are 16 of the best substitutes for milk in making cornbread.

Note: With all the milk substitutes, use the same amount of liquid called for in your recipe, even though some of those substitutions will be part water. 

1. Almond Milk

Almond-Milk-Sitting-on-a-Counter-Small

Almond Milk can be substituted for milk in cornbread, but because almond milk is slightly thinner than cow’s milk, the texture of the cornbread could be a little dryer.

Some people are hesitant to try this alternative because of its sweet, nutty taste; however, it works well in cornbread. Besides, when compared to other non-dairy milk substitutes, almond milk has about as neutral of a flavor as one can expect.

Almond Milk should be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

2. Evaporated Milk

Hand Holding Evaporated Milk

Evaporated Milk is basically whole milk which has been reduced by about 50%, so all that is required to use it in making cornbread is to reconstitute the evaporated milk by adding equal parts evaporated milk and water and then measuring the amount called for in your recipe and adding it to the other ingredients to make cornbread which will result in the same as or very similar to cornbread made with milk. 

Reconstituted Evaporated Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1.1 ratio.

Pro Tip: I always keep a few extra cans of evaporated milk on hand because it is such a good substitute for milk in almost every recipe and because it is easy to store long term. 

3. Powdered Milk

Some of my homemade powdered milk

Powdered Milk can be used as a substitute for milk in making cornbread. While many people do not like the taste of reconstituted powdered milk for drinking, it works very well as a substitute in most dishes that call for milk. 

Reconstituted Powdered Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1.1 ratio.

Pro Tip: Powdered milk is definitely an excellent item to keep on hand as a substitute for milk in most recipes. A dry version of buttermilk is also available that can be used as a substitute for buttermilk in many dishes that call for buttermilk. Both of these items are easy to store for long-term use.

4. Yogurt (Plain or Greek)

Bowl-of-Yogurt

Plain or Greek Yogurt can be substituted for milk in cornbread, but like sour cream, it will need to be thinned to avoid creating a heavy texture. Again, I would recommend using 75% yogurt and 25% water to counteract the resulting heavy texture. Also, a small amount of sugar can be added to balance the tart flavor of the yogurt.

A mixture of 75% plain or Greek yogurt and 25% water can be substituted for milk at a 1.1 ratio.

5. Cream or Half-and-half

Half and Half Container

Cream or Half-and-Half can be used instead of milk but will make a much denser cornbread. For that reason, I recommend using approximately equal parts of cream and water to prevent making such a dense bread. 

Of course, you may need to use less overall due to the higher fat content. I suggest that you gradually add in a little bit of the mixture of heavy cream and water at a time while lightly stirring until you reach the right batter consistency.

A mixture of 50% Cream or Half-and-Half and water can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

6. Buttermilk

Buttermilk Being Poured Into a Glass

Buttermilk is quite often used in making cornbread and is most often mixed half and half with milk in the recipe. Buttermilk is best combined with some other type of liquid in making cornbread because it is so thick that the texture of the cornbread will be more moist and heavy.

A mixture of 50% Buttermilk + 50% Other Liquid can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio. 

Cool Tip: A Vegan version of buttermilk can be made by adding either 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of soy milk.

7. Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is becoming more and more prevalent in kitchens due to the belief that it may help boost the immune system and improve heart health. No doubt, it is chock-full of vitamins and minerals and contains healthy fats and proteins. It is also an excellent substitute for milk cornbread.

While cashew milk can be substituted for milk in cornbread, because it is slightly thicker than cow’s milk, the texture of the cornbread could be a little moister.

Cashew Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio. 

Pro Tip: Cashew Milk is nut-based, so people with nut allergies should avoid using this type of milk.

8. Lactaid

Lactaid

Lactaid is almost the same texture as cow’s milk, maybe just slightly thinner, and can be substituted for milk in cornbread without significantly affecting or changing the taste or texture of the cornbread. This would be a good option for people who are lactose intolerant.

Lactaid can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio. 

9. Oat Milk

Oat Milk creates a non-dairy cornbread with a similar texture to regular cornbread made with milk but could slightly change the taste. A big plus for using oat milk would be that it will create a non-dairy cornbread option that would work for a vegetarian diet.

You can expect the same texture in your cornbread as you would get using regular milk.

Oat Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

10. Rice Milk

Rice Milk is thinner than milk but can be used in making cornbread that is lighter in texture than cornbread made with milk or other dairy products. Here, again, is a vegetarian cornbread option. 

Rice Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

Rice milk consists of milled rice and water. It is a sweet dairy alternative that can be used to construct dishes like mac and cheese.

11. Sour Cream

Container of Sour Cream

Sour Cream can be substituted for milk in cornbread but will need to be thinned. I recommend using 75% sour cream and 25% water. Sour Cream will also change the taste of the cornbread and will add a slight tangy flavor which can be counteracted by using a small amount of vanilla extract. 

A mixture of 75% sour cream and 25% water can be substituted for milk at a 1.1 ratio.

Cool Tip: If you try this option and like it, you may want to try adding some sour cream 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 cornbread?

12. Sour Milk

Two Half Gallons of Milk in a Refrigerator Door

Believe it or not, milk that has gone sour can be safely used to make biscuits and cornbread. It should not significantly change the taste or texture of the cornbread, even though it may be slightly heavier. 

Sour Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

13. Soy Milk

Soy Milk should make cornbread that is very similar in taste and texture to cornbread made with regular milk but be sure to use unsweetened plain soy milk to avoid changing the taste of the cornbread. This makes an excellent Vegan option. 

Soy Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

14. Goat Milk

Goat-Looking-Over-Shoulder

I know it might seem odd to include this on the list. However, if you are able to get goat’s milk in your area I highly recommend trying it.

Goat Milk is very similar in texture and flavor to cow’s milk and should make cornbread that is indistinguishable from cornbread made with cow’s milk.

Goat Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

For those with digestive issues, goat milk does have the benefit of being easier to digest than cow’s milk.

15. Water

Water in a Measuring Cup Small

Water can be a substitute for milk in cornbread, but it adds nothing in the way of taste. The lack of fat impacts the entree’s flavor, and not in a good way for most people.

To remedy this, my recommendation is that 1 tablespoon of butter be added for every cup of water used to keep the same fat content.

Water + 1 T of butter/cup of water can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

16. Hemp Seed Milk

Hemp seed milk features healthy fats and proteins and has approximately the same amount of fat that can be found in regular cow milk. These healthy fats and proteins are found in higher concentrations in hemp seed milk than in almond or rice milk.

Because of the fat similarity, hemp seed milk will work well as a substitute for milk in cornbread, and with virtually the same texture. However, it has a strong nutty taste that will likely adversely affect the taste of cornbread.

On a positive note, cornbread made with hemp seed milk will be soy, gluten, and lactose-free. 

Hemp Seed Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

Are There Any Substitutes for Milk in Jiffy Mix?

There are many substitutes for milk that can be used in Jiffy Mix. All 16 substitutes for cow’s milk listed above can be used in Jiffy Mix. Now, I haven’t tried all 16. In fact, I rarely use Jiffy Mix because my recipe for scratch cornbread is so easy and so good that I never use anything else. But, my opinion is that any substitute for milk that can be used in regular cornbread can also be used in making cornbread from Jiffy Mix. 

During a recent trip, I discovered quite a lot about foods in different parts of the United States. For example, Northern cooks primarily make sweet cornbread which is more cakelike and is made mainly in a baking pan. Southern cooks (I know more about this method because I am a Southern cook.) on the other hand, tend to make savory cornbread with only a small amount of sugar, if any, that has a coarser texture, and is typically made in a cast-iron skillet or cornbread stick pan. 

Should you find yourself in the position of wanting to make cornbread but having no milk on hand, hopefully, this list will help you find a substitute. Of course, if all else fails, you can always try the water version.

Final Bite

Cornbread has been around since the 1700s when it was first introduced in Europe and has been made in many different ways, including a hot water cornbread made by combining boiling water and self-rising cornmeal and frying in hot oil.

In many years of making cornbread, I’ve used whole milk, buttermilk, sour milk, 2% milk, skim milk, Lactaid, and evaporated milk. And, I make cornbread hoecakes with water. As a matter of fact, cornbread hoecakes as I make them only contain two ingredients: self-rising cornmeal mix and tap water, and are then fried in hot oil.

This recipe is very similar to my cornbread hoecakes which I make with tap water instead of boiling water. Cornbread is one of the more popular quick breads which contain baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent instead of yeast.

I hope the info in this article has been helpful. Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, check out Can I Substitute Cornmeal for Flour? (With 6 Alternatives).

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

Related Articles