All of the milkshakes I’ve ever had and all of the milkshake recipes I’ve ever seen list milk as one of the ingredients. Ice cream and milk with some sort of flavoring like vanilla extract or Hershey’s cocoa are your basic ingredients. But what do you use as a substitute for milk in milkshakes if you are either out of milk or on a diet that excludes milk?
Here are 12 of the best substitutes for milk in making milkshakes, half of them dairy and half of them non-dairy. These substitutes are familiar to almost everyone and are available in most supermarkets and grocery stores.
The Best Dairy Substitutes For Milk In Milkshakes
Cream can be used instead of milk in making milkshakes, and with 36% fat will make a milkshake that is thicker, creamier, and full of flavor. While one-half cup of cream adds a whopping 400 calories to the milkshake, that amount can be reduced by thinning the cream with water before adding it to the milkshake.
Cream is the best dairy substitute for milk in milkshakes because of its rich and creamy taste. With its high-fat content, it contains the most calories of all the options but also the best flavor.
In the past, it was believed that the high fat content of cream would lead to obesity and heart disease. But, recent studies have shown that the opposite is true and that individuals with a higher intake of cream have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes than those using low-fat substitutes.
A mixture of 50% Cream and 50% water can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
2. 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 a milkshake is to reconstitute the milk by adding equal parts evaporated milk and water and then measuring the amount called for in the recipe. There should be no difference in the taste or texture of a milkshake made with evaporated milk and that made with regular milk.
But, for a super thick and creamy milkshake, add the evaporated milk straight out of the can without combining it with water.
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.
Half & half is another milk substitute that will make a thick and creamy milkshake, and because half-and-half is the combination of equal parts whole milk and cream, it has a fat content of only 10-18%, which is a much healthier option than those with a higher fat content such as cream.
A mixture of 50% Half-and-Half and 50% milk or water can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
Lactaid is almost the same texture as cow’s milk, maybe just slightly thinner, and can be substituted for milk in milkshakes without significantly affecting or changing the taste or texture. And because Lactaid is milk that has had the lactose removed or neutralized, this would be a good option for people who are lactose intolerant.
Lactaid can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
5. Powdered or Dry Milk
Powdered Milk can be used as a substitute for milk in making milkshakes. While many people do not like the taste of reconstituted powdered milk for drinking, it will work very well as a substitute in milkshakes after adding ice cream and flavorings such as vanilla extract or Hershey’s chocolate syrup which will dominate the taste of the milkshake.
Reconstituted Powdered Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1.1 ratio.
Pro Tip: Powdered milk is definitely a good item to keep on hand as a substitute for milk in most recipes because it is easy to store for long-term use.
6. Yogurt, Plain or Greek
Plain or Greek Yogurt can be substituted for milk full strength in milkshakes for a thick and creamy texture.
Using plain yogurt will not affect the flavor of the milkshake as much as Greek yogurt, but it could possibly add a little tartness.
Using Greek yogurt will change the flavor of the milkshake because it isn’t as sweet as plain yogurt.
The Best Non-Dairy Substitutes For Milk In Milkshakes
7. Almond Milk
Almond Milk can be substituted for milk in preparing milkshakes, and even though almond milk is slightly thinner than cow’s milk, there should be very little difference in the finished product, maybe just a little less creamy, which can be compensated for by adding a little extra ice cream.
By using almond milk and non-dairy ice cream, the milkshakes will be Vegan friendly.
A big plus for those who are lactose intolerant is that almond milk is nut-based rather than dairy, which is much easier on the stomach.
Almond Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
8. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a thick milk made by grating the flesh of the mature brown coconut and mixing it with just enough water to form the thick liquid that can be used to replace cow’s milk. It is rich and creamy and has a strong coconut flavor. For these reasons, coconut milk is one of the best non-dairy substitutes for milk in making milkshakes.
The flavor of coconut milk blends nicely with such flavors as chocolate, tapioca, and banana, but one thing to keep in mind is that coconut milk is high in saturated fat and calories.
For a Vegan option, mix non-dairy ice cream with coconut milk and sugar for an excellent treat.
Pro Tip: Coconut water is the liquid found in the center of the coconut, while coconut milk is made from the flesh of the coconut.
9. Oat Milk
Oat Milk is a plant-based milk made from whole oats that has a creamy texture and a mild oatmeal-like taste. Here again, is a dairy-free milk substitute that will produce a thick and creamy milkshake, and oat milk will pair well with any of the flavor options you choose: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, etc.
Oat milk is high in fiber and protein, which promotes healthy digestion and will provide a Vegan-friendly option that is perfect for persons with lactose intolerance, as well as being soy and nut free.
Oat Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
10. Rice Milk
Rice milk is made from milled brown or white rice and water and is a sweeter plant-based dairy substitute than most of the dairy alternatives made from plants. It also offers a refreshing alternative to coconut or nutty flavors in your milkshakes and other dairy-free treats and is probably the nearest flavor match to cow’s milk.
Rice milk is a little thinner than cow’s milk and will not create a milkshake that is as thick and rich as some of the other options, but it is Vegan friendly and a solid option for folks with food sensitivities/allergies. Even though rice milk is one of the most hypoallergenic of all the milk substitutes and provides balanced nutrition and the lowest amount of fat of all the milk substitutes, it is high in starch and cannot be used by persons with diabetes.
Rice Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
11. Soy Milk
Soy Milk is a plant-based substitute for dairy that is made from soybeans and filtered water and is the only non-dairy substitute with a similar amount of protein as cow’s milk. This is one of the more common milk-replacement options that is easy to find and is affordable.
Soy milk is a thicker substance than almond milk and rice milk because thickeners have already been added in an effort to mimic milk’s volume and expand the product’s shelf life, so it should create a thick and rich milkshake, but be sure to use unsweetened plain soy milk to avoid changing the flavor of the milkshake unless the flavor you are using will enhance the taste of the milkshake you are making.
Soy Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.
Many people ask if water can be substituted for milk in milkshakes, and the answer is yes, but only if adding it to another ingredient such as heavy cream, evaporated milk, or powdered milk to thin those ingredients so that they are closer to the consistency of milk.
But water alone or crushed ice should not be used when making milkshakes as they will just water down the flavor and consistency of the milkshake.
What Is The Best Dairy Free Substitute For Milk In Milkshakes?
Of all the dairy-free options to substitute for milk in making milkshakes, I would have to say that soy milk is the number one option because it is easier to find, is reasonably priced, and is the most similar to cow’s milk in amount of protein, texture, and taste.
Tips For Making The Best Dairy-Free Milkshake:
- Use only the best quality ice cream to ensure a creamy milkshake.
- For a thicker milkshake, use more ice cream, less milk, and don’t over-process.
- Add flavorings or fresh or frozen fruit.
Jelly Grandma’s Dairy-Free Milkshake
- 1-pint Vegan ice cream
- ¾ cup milk (Almond, Oat, Rice, or Soy)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Milkshake Flavor Options:
Jelly Grandma’s Dairy-Free Milkshake recipe is delicious as is, but here are a few flavor options to try:
- Banana– Add 1 fresh banana and increase the milk to 1 cup.
- Blueberry– Add ½ cup fresh blueberries.
- Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup – Add chocolate syrup to taste in addition to vanilla extract.
- Oreo– Add 2-3 Oreos into the blender.
- Peach– Add ½ cup chopped fresh peaches.
- Strawberry– Add ½ cup fresh strawberries while blending.
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.