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The 16 Best Substitutes for Milk in Muffins

When I was growing up, we had muffins a lot for dessert. My mother made delicious banana nut muffins, and her blueberry muffins were amazing. But what would you do if you wanted to make muffins and were out of milk? 

The best dairy substitutes for milk in muffins include buttermilk, cream, half and half, evaporated milk, goat milk, Lactaid, yogurt, and reconstituted powdered milk. Non-dairy substitutes are almond or other nut milks, coconut milk, oat milk, rice milk, and soymilk. You can also use fruit juice, applesauce, or water.

We will discuss in the following paragraphs each of these options as milk substitutes in muffins.

Best Dairy Substitutes For Milk In Muffins


1. Buttermilk

Using buttermilk results in tender breads, but it is most often mixed half and half with milk or some other type of liquid because it is so thick that the texture of the baked goods when using buttermilk alone will be more moist and heavy.

If using buttermilk instead of milk in making muffins, reduce the amount of baking powder by 2 teaspoons and add ½ teaspoon more baking soda than called for in the recipe for every cup of buttermilk used. 

But, there are many recipes available online for using buttermilk in muffins instead of milk like this basic recipe that can be adapted for any type of fruit, nuts, or other ingredients you wish to add.

Pro Tip: A substitute for buttermilk to be used in baking can be made by adding 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of cow’s milk.

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.

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

2. Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is a milk substitute that many people keep on hand at all times because it is so good for long-term storage. So, if this is the only milk substitute you have when making muffins, evaporated milk can be reconstituted by combining 1 can of evaporated milk and 1 can of water and then substituting that mixture for milk at a 1:1 ratio. 

When reconstituted, evaporated milk is very close in texture to whole milk and can be used in just about any recipe you are making. The taste of reconstituted evaporated milk might be obvious when used as a beverage and in some recipes, but there should be no flavor or texture changes in the muffins from those made with milk.

Without adding the water back and using evaporated milk straight from the can will result in the flavor potentially being overwhelming. However, used straight from the can, it makes a fantastic coffee creamer.

Pro Tip: To prepare evaporated milk for use in muffins, pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, or banana bread, you will need to mix equal parts evaporated milk and water. Expect evaporated milk to produce a pancake, cornbread, biscuit, or banana bread that is slightly heavier, although it will not be as heavy as if you used a heavy cream substitute.

3. Half & Half

If you have half & half on hand as a milk substitute for making muffins, it can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

Half-and-half, the combination of equal parts whole milk and cream, contains 10-18% fat, which will add a rich flavor and texture to your muffins and other baked goods.

For a lower-fat version of your muffins, a mixture of 50% Half-and-Half and 50% water can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

4. Heavy Whipping Cream

Heavy whipping cream can be substituted for milk in making muffins, but because of its high fat content (36%), it should be reduced by mixing 50% cream and 50% water to avoid a heavier texture.

Pro Tip: While cream does contain some beneficial nutrients, the primary downside is the 400 calories in each ½ cup of heavy whipping cream. A lower fat content product such as half-and-half or even whole milk is the better, healthier option.

Pro Tip: A mixture of 50% Cream and 50% water can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

5. Lactaid

Lactaid is a lactose-free milk that provides those people who are lactose intolerant a dairy product that their systems can tolerate.

Lactaid is almost the same texture as cow’s milk, but maybe just slightly thinner, and can be substituted for milk in any recipe without significantly affecting or changing the taste or texture of the food, including baked goods such as muffins. 

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

6. Powdered Milk

Powdered milk is whole milk that has been reduced through evaporation or dehydration so that once it is reconstituted, it has the same nutrients and properties that the original whole milk had and can safely be substituted at a 1:1 ratio in any recipe that calls for milk.

While many people do not like the taste of reconstituted powdered milk for drinking, it works very well as a milk substitute in most breads and cakes and should not significantly affect the taste or texture of your muffins. 

Related Article: How to Make Homemade Milk Powder | 3 Easy Methods.

7. Goat Milk

Goat Milk is very similar in texture and flavor to cow’s milk and should make any breads, cakes, or muffins indistinguishable from any baked goods made with cow’s milk. 

For those with digestive issues like lactose intolerance, goat milk is known to be much easier to digest than traditional cow’s 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 any recipe.

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

8. Plain or Greek Yogurt

Yogurt can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio in any bread or cake recipe calling for milk. However, using yogurt instead of milk will result in a heavier texture and a slightly tangy taste. 

Pro Tip: Plain or Greek Yogurt can be substituted for milk in casseroles, pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, muffins, and other breads, but like sour cream, it will need to be thinned to avoid creating a thicker texture. I would recommend using 75% yogurt and 25% water to counteract the resulting thicker texture.

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

Best Non-Dairy Substitutes For Milk In Muffins

If you are using a non-dairy milk substitute because you choose to follow a Vegan or other dietary plan that excludes dairy or whether you are substituting for health reasons such as lactose intolerance, there are now many options for you. Some of the non-dairy substitutes are hard to find and some are quite expensive, but the ones mentioned here are available in most supermarkets and the prices are more reasonable than some of the other less common options:

9. Almond Milk

Almond Milk is one of the non-dairy milk substitutes that is easiest to find and is one of the most popular. Also, of the non-dairy substitutes, almond milk has one of the most neutral flavors, but is also quite a bit thinner than regular milk.

My experience in baking with almond milk is that it has a good flavor and will add a slightly nutty taste to the baked goods, which should be a welcome change in some cases. One potential drawback, however, is that muffins and other cakes may be a little drier which can be offset by reducing the baking time by just a few minutes. 

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

10. Coconut Milk 

Coconut Milk is one of the thickest and creamiest non-dairy milk substitutes that can be used in many dishes traditionally made with dairy but will significantly alter the taste. 

Coconut Milk can be used as a non-dairy milk substitute for making muffins that are Vegan friendly and gluten-free and will be perfect if paired with coconut frosting because your muffins are sure to have a strong coconut flavor. 

Just be sure for the Vegan option to also use non-dairy Vegan butter.

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.

The coconut milk to dairy milk replacement ratio is 1:1.

11. Oat Milk 

Oat Milk is a plant-based milk that is made from whole oats. It has a creamy texture and a mild oatmeal-like taste that could affect the taste of the recipe. 

Oat milk can be used in baking, but it is starchier than cow’s milk, so using more than ½ cup in muffins, for example, may affect the texture of the muffins or whatever you’re baking, making the final product more dense than if made with regular milk.

Oat milk is Vegan-friendly, perfect for persons with lactose intolerance, and soy and nut free.

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

12. Rice Milk

Rice Milk can be used in almost any dish that calls for milk, including muffins and other cakes and breads, but it is a little thinner than cow’s milk, so be sure to add some fat, like butter, or your favorite non-dairy thickener to make your dish a little moister.

It offers a refreshing alternative to coconut or nutty flavors in your dairy-free foods and is probably the nearest flavor match to cow’s milk. 

Rice Milk is one of the most hypoallergenic and provides the lowest amount of fat of all the milk substitutes, and it is cholesterol free.

One major drawback to using rice milk is the high starch content which cannot be used by persons with diabetes.

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

13. Soy Milk

Soy Milk is a plant-based substitute for dairy that is made from soybeans and filtered water and is the only dairy substitute with almost the same amount of protein as cow’s milk. This is one of the more common milk-replacement options that is easy to find and affordable. It is a thicker substance than almond milk because thickeners have been added to make it more similar to cow’s milk and to expand the product’s shelf life.

Soy Milk can replace cow’s milk in most foods, including cakes and breads, but be sure to use unsweetened plain soy milk to avoid a flavor change. 

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

14. Fruit Juice

For an amazing fruit-flavored muffin, just add a fruit juice of your choice to replace the milk in a muffin recipe. 

Here are some suggestions for fruit-juice-flavored muffins:

  • Orange, 
  • Lemon, 
  • Lime,
  • Pineapple,
  • Apricot, and
  • Apple.

15. Applesauce

Instead of using milk in a muffin recipe, try replacing the milk with applesauce to make an absolutely fantastic muffin that is moist and flavorful. Just be sure to use unsweetened applesauce, or the muffins might be too sweet.

Replace the milk with applesauce at a 1:1 ratio.

16. Water

Water can be used instead of milk in making a lot of dishes, including mixes like hamburger helper, in puddings, and in muffins and cornbread. However, a better choice would be to add a little butter to the recipe to replace some of the fat that the milk would have provided.

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

There are many non-dairy options.

What Is the Best Dairy Free Substitute for Milk in Muffins?

Of all the dairy-free options to substitute for milk in making muffins, soy milk will have to get my vote. Soy milk has more protein and, therefore, better than the rest of the dairy-free substitutes, and the high-protein nature of soy milk causes the muffins and other cakes and breads to brown as though they were made with cow’s milk.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line here is that if you are making muffins and are out of milk, or if you are leaving out milk for dietary reasons, you have come to the right place. You are sure to find an option in this article that will make delicious muffins or other baked goods that will also fit your dietary needs.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss The 32 Best Milk Substitutes for Recipes (Dairy & Non-Dairy).