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The Best Substitutes for Milk in a Recipe | Ultimate Guide

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Realizing you are out of milk after already starting a recipe is rather annoying, to say the least. I always wished there was a definitive list available that told me which substitutes worked best in particular recipes. Also, some people may be trying to avoid dairy altogether and want this info as well. So, I decided to create my own “ultimate guide” to milk substitutes.

Here is a list of the best milk substitutes that are most similar in taste and/or texture to milk:

  • Best Dairy Substitutes- Cream or Half and Half, Yogurt, Goat Milk, Evaporated Milk, and Powdered Milk
  • Best Non-Dairy Substitutes- Soy Milk, Oat Milk, and Rice Milk.
  • “Alternative” Substitutes- Avocado, Squash or Pumpkin Puree, and Meat Stock.

The 32 Viable Milk Substitutes in Recipes:

Dairy SubstitutesNon-Dairy SubstitutesAdditional Substitutes
ButtermilkAlmond MilkAlcohol
Cream or Half and HalfCashew MilkAvocado
Cream CheeseHazelnut MilkMayonnaise
Evaporated MilkHemp Seed MilkMeat Stock
Goat MilkMacadamia nut milkMeat Stock
LactaidPistachioSquash/Pumpkin Puree
Powdered MilkWalnut MilkWater
Sour CreamCoconut Milk
Sour MilkFlaxseed Milk
YogurtOat Milk
Pea Milk
Peanut Milk
Quinoa Milk
Rice Milk
Soy Milk

In the following article, I will present a complete list of milk substitutes, not just the few mentioned above, separated into the three categories mentioned above.

Dairy Substitutes For Milk

It only stands to reason that the absolute very best milk substitutes would be other dairy products. Let’s go through the ones that I recommend and how they should be used.

1. Buttermilk

Quart of Buttermilk on a Counter

When butter is removed from whole milk, the liquid that is left is buttermilk. Buttermilk contains less fat than milk, because most of the fat has been removed along with the butter.

What Is Buttermilk Used For?

  • In making quick breads such as cornbread and biscuits, sweetbreads like banana bread, and pancakes and waffles. 
  • As a beverage with a meal or just as a snack. 
  • In making batters for frying chicken and seafood.
  • As an ingredient in coleslaw, frozen treats like ice cream and popsicles, and salad dressings.

Buttermilk in Baking

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.

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.

If you want to keep some on hand long-term, a dry version of buttermilk is available that can be used as a substitute for fresh buttermilk in many dishes that call for buttermilk. This item is easy to store for long-term use.

Health Benefits Of Buttermilk:

Buttermilk is low in fat but high is potassium, B12 (also known as Riboflavin), calcium, and lactic acids. 

Here are the top 11 health benefits of buttermilk:

  1. Aids in Digestion- Buttermilk contains beneficial bacteria which can correct any imbalance of the beneficial and the harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract that is necessary to maintain proper digestion and to prevent such conditions as indigestion and other sensitive stomach issues.
  2. Aids in Energy Production- Buttermilk contains B vitamins which are essential in aiding energy production in the body and liver functions which cleanse the body of toxins.
  3. Helps Prevent Dehydration- Buttermilk contains electrolytes which replenish your body’s fluids thus preventing dehydration.
  4. May lower Blood Pressure- Milk peptides and bioactive proteins found in buttermilk may help lower blood pressure. 
  5. Prevents Infections- There are approximately 8.1 grams of protein in each cup of buttermilk that aids in tissue growth and cell repair, plus vitamin A in buttermilk boosts the immune system, to help fight off infection.
  6. Prevents Yeast Infections- Natural probiotics in buttermilk aid in preventing yeast infections caused by antibiotics and other medications.
  7. Promotes Bone Health- Buttermilk contains high levels of calcium which promote bone health and prevent degenerative bone disease.
  8. Promotes Eye Health- According to WebMD, vitamin A in buttermilk promotes eye health.
  9. Promotes Skin Health- Lactic acid aids in skin exfoliation and reduces signs of premature aging.
  10. Reduces Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance- Because of high levels of lactic acid, buttermilk is a good substitute for milk for those who are lactose intolerant.
  11. Improves Oral Health- According to PubMed.gov, milk and fermented by-products such as buttermilk have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation of the oral skin cells. 

Did you know you can easily make buttermilk? I show you how in this video:

2. Cream or Half-and-half 

Heavy Whipping Cream Container

Cream is the yellowish layer that rises to the top of whole milk. Cream can be whipped to form whipped topping or can be churned to make butter. The milk that is left after removing the butter by churning is buttermilk.

Half-and-half is the combination of equal parts whole milk and cream.

Cream is classified by the amount of fat in the product.

  • Heavy whipping cream contains 36% fat.
  • Whipping cream contains 30-35% fat.
  • Half-and-half contains 10-18% fat.

What Is Cream Or Half-And-Half Used For?

Heavy cream or half-and-half is used in the following ways:

  • To thicken soups and sauces
  • In making ice cream
  • As fantastic coffee creamers
  • For whipping to decorate cakes, pies, and other desserts.

Cream or Half-and-Half can be used instead of milk in:

  • Casseroles for a thicker and creamier dish. (I recommend using equal parts of cream and milk or water to prevent making such a thick dish.)
  • Breads such as cornbread, biscuits, or banana bread. (I recommend using equal parts of cream and water to prevent making an extremely dense bread.)
  • Super-moist pancakes since it has a lot more fat than milk. (Because of the heavy nature of cream, reduce or eliminate the amount of butter or oil if your pancake recipe calls for it.)

Pro Tip: While cream and half-and-half do 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.

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

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Cream Or Half-And-Half?

  • 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. 
  • Heavy whipping cream and other dairy products with its natural fat content contain such health-boosting vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, D, E, and K. As a matter of fact, the full fat heavy whipping cream is healthier for you than the low-fat substitutes such as coffee creamers and whipped topping.

3. Cream Cheese

Cream-Cheese

Cream Cheese is fresh cheese that is made from cream and milk with a stabilizer added during the manufacturing process. 

What Is Cream Cheese Used For?

While cream cheese is primarily used as a spread for bagels or on toast or crackers with jam, it has many other uses. Here are a few:

  • In cheesecake.
  • As a substitute for milk in preparing casseroles and macaroni and cheese for a much richer flavor, but because cream cheese is much more dense than whole milk, only use half as much cream cheese as milk and add just ¼ cup of water to thin the cream cheese slightly.
  • In sauces and frostings, use cream cheese in addition to butter or as a replacement.
  • To make fillings for pastry or crepes.
  • As an ingredient in ice cream.

Pro Tip: As a substitute for milk, use 50% cream cheese + ¼ cup of water for every 1 part of milk called for in the package directions.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Cream Cheese?

These are the primary health benefits of cream cheese:

  • It is a nutritionally complete food as it contains almost all nutrients.
  • It is very low in lactose because when made, the majority of the lactose is converted to lactic acid leaving only 1 gram of lactose per ounce making it a high calcium option for persons with lactose intolerance.
  • As a dairy product it is naturally gluten free.
  • It contains the dietary calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and protein necessary for childhood growth and development. 
  • It is considered one of the healthy cheeses because it is low in sodium and saturated fats.

4. Evaporated Milk

Hand Holding Evaporated Milk

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.

Evaporated Milk is basically whole milk which has been reduced by about 60%, so all that is required to use it as milk 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 which will result in the same as or a very similar dish when made with milk. 

Without adding the water back and using evaporated milk straight from the can will result in the flavor potentially being overwhelming. There should be very little or no difference in the taste or texture of the dish you are preparing when using reconstituted evaporated milk.

What Is Evaporated Milk Used For?

  • Evaporated milk can be used in any way that milk can be used. It can replace milk in casseroles, soups, sauces, and in baking.
  • It can be used on cereal and can be consumed as a beverage. However, many people find the taste of reconstituted evaporated milk unpleasant.
  • Used straight from the can, it makes a fantastic coffee creamer.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Evaporated Milk?

  • Evaporated milk, like whole milk and powdered milk, contains calcium, protein, and vitamins A & D for strong bones, and is a healthy choice for any use.
  • Evaporated milk contains over 50% of the daily value for calcium, 15% of the daily value for magnesium, and 18% of the daily value for zinc, while fresh milk contains 21% of the daily value for calcium, 6% of the daily value for magnesium, and 8% of the daily value for zinc. Because evaporated milk has been condensed, it is a nutrient-dense dairy product containing more than twice the amount of nutrients in fresh milk.

Pro Tip: To prepare evaporated milk for use in 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.

Once reconstituted, you can use the same measurements of evaporated milk required in your recipe for regular milk.

5. Goat Milk

Goat-Looking-Over-Shoulder

According to WebMD, goat’s milk is the most commonly consumed dairy product in the world, providing between 65 and 72 percent of the dairy consumption worldwide. 

Goat Milk is very similar in texture and flavor to cow’s milk and should make whatever dish you are making indistinguishable from the same dish made with cow’s milk. 

What Is Goat Milk Used For?

  • Goat and cow milk possess a very similar flavor and can be used in any dish, interchangeably; however, you may notice that your pancakes and other breads are more decadent when made with goat milk.
  • While most people still don’t drink goat milk, many health-conscious people around the world are making the switch to alternative types of animal milk.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Goat Milk?

  • Studies have shown that goat milk can reduce cholesterol levels in individuals who have high cholesterol levels.
  • Goat milk is high in calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Goat milk has higher levels of beneficial fatty acids.
  • For those with digestive issues, 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 any dish.

Important: Remember, goat milk has less lactose, but not zero lactose. If you have strong lactose allergies you probably 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.

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

6. Lactaid

Lactaid

Lactaid is a lactose-free milk that is commercially produced by adding lactase to regular cow’s milk. Lactase is the enzyme produced in the human body that breaks down lactose, so for those people who are lactose intolerant, lactaid and other lactose-free milk products provide a dairy product that their systems can tolerate.

Lactaid is almost the same texture as cow’s milk, maybe just slightly thinner, and can be substituted for milk in any dish without significantly affecting or changing the taste or texture of the meal. 

What Is Lactaid Used For?

Because lactaid is a dairy product made from regular cow’s milk and is almost identical in taste and texture to regular milk, it can be used as a beverage and as an ingredient in any recipe in which you would use regular milk.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Lactaid?

  • Aids in Digestion: Lactaid and other lactose-free milk products are easily digested because of the addition of lactase which breaks down lactose and eliminates the reactions to dairy which cause gas, bloating, indigestion, and diarrhea.
  • Builds Strong Bones: Since Lactaid Milk is made from regular cow’s milk, one cup of lactaid contains 30% of the daily value of calcium and 25% of the daily value of vitamin D. Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the bones, and vitamin D aids the body in the absorption of calcium.
  • Heart Healthy: Lactaid contains calcium that not only benefits bone growth and strength, but also helps regulate blood pressure, and potassium which helps lower blood pressure by regulating sodium levels.
  • Builds Hair, Skin, Bone, and Muscle: The 8 amino acids found in each cup of milk are instrumental in building hair, skin, bone, and muscle strength.

Pro Tip: Lactaid is the best milk substitute to use in making cake frostings because it is so close in taste and texture to cow’s milk.

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

7. Powdered or Dry Milk

Powdered or dry milk is made by removing the moisture from regular milk through evaporation, or dehydration, and turning it into a powder which can be stored at room temperature for a much longer period of time. The powdered or dry milk can then be reconstituted by adding water back to the powder and making a liquid that is very similar to the original milk that began the process.

What Is Powdered Or Dry Milk Used For?

Powdered Milk can be used as a substitute for milk in making any dish 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 dishes without significantly affecting the taste or texture of the dish.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Powdered Or Dry Milk?

Powdered or dry milk has the same nutrients as fresh milk so the health benefits would be the same:

  • Healthy cell structure and immune system: Calcium and vitamins A, D, E, and K promote cell repair and a healthy immune system.
  • Strong Muscles: Amino acids found in whey protein build strong muscles and provide energy.
  • Healthy Bones: Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and protein build strong and healthy bones.
  • Healthy Heart: Potassium reduces blood pressure and promotes a healthy heart.

Pro Tip: Powdered milk is an excellent item to keep on hand as a substitute for milk in most recipes, and a dry version of buttermilk is also available that can be used as a substitute for buttermilk in many dishes that call for buttermilk. Not only are these excellent items to keep on hand in the kitchen for those times when you are out of fresh milk or buttermilk, but if you are keeping a stock of food items on hand in a prepper pantry for emergency situations, both of these items are easy to store for long-term use.

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

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

8.  Sour Cream

Container-of-Sour-Cream-Large

Sour cream, which has about 20% fat content, is made by combining cream with lactic acid bacteria culture which thickens and ferments or sours the cream resulting in sour cream.

What Is Sour Cream Used For?

Sour cream is often used as:

  • A topping for baked potatoes, chili, soups, and stews,
  • For making dips for chips, vegetables, and fruits, and 
  • As an ingredient in breads, cakes, cookies, and casseroles.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Sour Cream?

Sour cream is high in fat and calories and is not a significant source of nutrients which is not a major issue because it is normally eaten in very small amounts.

Pro Tip: Sour cream will make the texture of your pancakes and other baked goods a bit fuller and heavier because it is thicker than milk, which is not necessarily a bad thing as some prefer more substantial pancakes and breads; but, it can be thinned by mixing a little water or milk with the sour cream as mentioned below to cut down on the thickness, and sour cream will slightly change the taste of your dishes and give them a bit more bite.

Sour Cream can be substituted for milk but will need to be thinned. I recommend using 75% sour cream and 25% milk or water. 

9. Sour Milk

Two Half Gallons of Milk in a Refrigerator Door

Sour milk is milk with a tart taste which has either begun to spoil or which has been soured by adding fermentation. Just because milk is beginning to taste a little sour doesn’t mean that it isn’t safe to use. The taste might be a little off-putting for drinking or pouring over cereal, but it would still be good for baking. Avoid using sour milk if it begins to separate and form lumps.

What Is Sour Milk Used For?

Sour Milk can be substituted for milk in making pancakes, cornbread, biscuits, and other breads and should not significantly change the taste or texture of the breads, even though they may be slightly heavier. As a matter of fact, baked goods made with sour milk are often tastier than when using fresh milk because the tartness of the sour milk gives the biscuits and other breads a more robust flavor.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Sour Milk?

Sour milk would not normally be consumed as a beverage in sufficient quantities to provide any significant health benefits, but as an ingredient in baking, lactic acid in sour or fermented dairy products stimulate the functions of the various digestive glands aiding in digestion to the extent that is could improve the function of the intestines to avoid constipation.

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

10. Yogurt, Plain or Greek

Bowl of Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is a dairy product that has been made by a bacterial fermentation of milk, wherein a bacterial culture that produces lactic acid is added to milk to produce yogurt along with additional ingredients such as other cultures, sweeteners, and flavorings to make the various types and flavors of yogurt.

What Is Yogurt Used For?

Yogurt is a popular addition to many meals, especially breakfast, and comes in many flavors. 

In addition, it is also used in many ways including:

  • As an ingredient in sauces, salad dressings, dips, spreads, casseroles, and soups. 
  • To make frozen treats and snacks.
  • In smoothies and parfaits.
  • As an ingredient in breads, pancakes, and French toast.
  • As a marinade.
  • As a replacement for oil, mayonnaise, butter, and sour cream.
  • As a topping for hamburgers, sandwiches, and other main courses like nachos and fajitas.
  • As a skin care product for making facial masks and hair conditioners.

Pro Tip: Try using Greek yogurt instead of plain. You may find it will result in a fuller pancake or bread that is just as moist in texture due to its high protein level.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Yogurt?

  • Yogurt is an excellent source of dairy for persons who are lactose intolerant.
  • Yogurt is often used to restore bacterial health to the intestines after taking antibiotics.
  • Yogurt is used to treat and prevent yeast infections.
  • A certain type of yogurt is used to treat high cholesterol levels.

Pro Tip: Plain or Greek Yogurt can be substituted for milk in casseroles, pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, and other breads, but like sour cream, 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.

Important: 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.

Best and Most Similar Dairy Substitutes to Cow’s Milk For Cooking

The dairy substitutes for cow’s milk that provide the most similar results when used are as follows:

  • Reconstituted Evaporated Milk
  • Goat’s Milk
  • Lactaid
  • Reconstituted Powdered Milk

These four milk substitutes are so similar in texture and consistency that it is almost impossible to tell the difference in the dishes they are used to prepare.

Best And Most Similar Dairy Substitutes To Cow’s Milk For Drinking

The dairy substitutes for cow’s milk that are the most similar in taste to cow’s milk are these:

  • Goat’s Milk
  • Lactaid

Goat’s milk and Lactaid are the only dairy substitutes for cow’s milk that taste so similar that they can be used as a beverage with a taste that is indistinguishable to most people. Even though evaporated and powdered milk make good substitutes for cooking, the taste is very different from regular milk and is quite unappetizing to many people.

Non-Dairy Nut-Based Substitutes For Milk

While non-dairy substitutes are never going to be exactly the same as using milk, you can definitely obtain a satisfactory result in most recipes by using nut or plant-based alternatives.

1. Almond Milk

Almond-Milk-Sitting-out-on-a-Counter

Almond milk is a nut-based milk substitute that is made from almonds and filtered water. A complete list is ingredients is: Filtered Water, Almonds, Calcium Carbonate (from limestone to add natural calcium), Sea Salt, Potassium Citrate (citric acid used to maintain quality), Sunflower Lecithin (used to prevent separation), Gellan Gum (from fermented starch to prevent separation), Natural Flavors, and Vitamin A Palmitate).

Almond milk is the easiest nut milk to find at the store. 

How Is Almond Milk Used?

  • As an alternative to milk for those with allergies to dairy.
  • In a Vegan Diet.
  • In Puddings and Pancakes: One characteristic 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 thickener that works well with almond milk is butter, but flour and cornstarch are also good options. On the other hand, if you want to keep them vegetarian-friendly, use a vegan-friendly thickening agent like almond or coconut flour in the batter. In this video I show how to make a roux with cornstarch.
  • As a Beverage: Almond milk is a great replacement for people trying to avoid too much dairy, although some folks are hesitant to try this as a replacement because of its sweet, nutty taste. However, when compared to other non-dairy substitutes, almond milk has one of the most neutral flavors.
  • In Cornbread and Other Quick Breads: 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.

What are the health benefits of using almond milk?

While almond milk is not as nutritious as cow’s milk, it does contain added calcium, protein, and vitamin D, and it contains many vitamins and minerals naturally found in the nuts.

Pro Tip: Almond Milk is the best non-dairy substitute for milk in making cake frostings because it has a creamy texture and one of the most neutral flavors of all the non-dairy milk substitutes.

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

Healthy Tip: Consider choosing a brand fortified with calcium if you do not have other non-milk sources of calcium in your diet.

2. Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is a popular non-dairy alternative milk made from cashews and water. It is the creamiest of the nut milks with a naturally light and sweet taste and a very subtle nut flavor that won’t overwhelm your desserts. The taste of cashew milk is less sweet and nutty than almond milk and is more like dairy. 

How Is Cashew Milk Used?

Even though it is slightly thicker than cow’s milk, cashew milk can be used in most recipes as a milk substitute. Here are a few excellent uses for cashew milk:

  • As a substitute for vegetable and meat stock in soups.
  • In smoothies and other beverages including coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. 
  • As a substitute for milk in pancakes
  • As a substitute for milk in cornbread and other quick breads, but because cashew milk is slightly thicker than cow’s milk, the texture of the breads could be a little more dense and moist.
  • As a base in making ice cream and sauces.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Cashew Milk?

  • It is naturally packed with healthy vitamins and minerals.
  • The fat in cashew milk comes from unsaturated fatty acids that promote heart health.
  • It is packed with magnesium that also promotes heart health and regulates blood pressure.
  • It is naturally lactose free which makes it excellent for those who are lactose intolerant.

Warning: Cashew milk is nut-based and not suitable for anyone with a nut allergy. So make sure that anyone you are cooking for is aware that you are using a nut-based alternative milk.

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

3. Hazelnut Milk

Hazelnut Milk is a nut-based substitute for cow’s milk that is made from hazelnuts and water.

How Is Hazelnut Milk Used?

Hazelnut milk is used primarily as:

  • A beverage,
  • As a base for coffee and tea beverages,
  • In smoothies,
  • Over cereal,
  • As an ingredient in oatmeal and porridge dishes, and
  • In puddings.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Hazelnut Milk?

Hazelnuts are a source of the following vitamins and minerals along with omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids:

  • Vitamin E is needed for healthy hair and skin, brain health, heart health, and is an antioxidant,
  • Antioxidants help reduce inflammation and fight damaging free radicals, and
  • Thiamine and manganese accelerate metabolism.

4. Hemp Seed Milk

Hemp Seed Milk is a nut-based dairy substitute made from hemp seeds and water. Even though it is called a seed, the hemp seed is technically a nut.

How Is Hemp Seed Milk Used?

Even though Hemp Seed Milk can be used in any way cow’s milk can be used, it works very well in these Vegan-friendly foods:

  • Smoothies,
  • Creamy soups with a light and nutty taste,
  • Pancakes,
  • Cereal, and
  • Breads.

Hemp Seed Milk can be substituted for milk in many dishes because it has almost the same fat content as cow’s milk. But, it has a strong nutty taste that will adversely affect the taste of the finished product. 

If you are interested in trying some Vegan-friendly recipes using Hemp Seed Milk, take a look at this good hemp website.

What are the health benefits of using hemp seed milk?

  • According to Healthline, Hemp Seed Milk “provides more healthy fats and protein than other plant milks.”
  • Hemp Seed Milk provides one of the few plant-based complete proteins, containing all of the essential amino acids that humans need from food while providing about the same amount of fat that can be found in cow’s 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.

Cool Fact: Hemp seed milk is usable by those allergic to soy, lactose, and gluten.

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

5. Macadamia nut milk

Macadamia Nut Milk is a nut-based substitute for cow’s milk made by soaking macadamia nuts and then blending them with water to make a creamy milk substitute that is smooth, rich, and has an almost fruity taste.

How Is Macadamia Nut Milk Used?

  • Macadamia Nut Milk tastes exactly like the nut, so if you don’t like the taste of the nuts, you probably won’t like the taste of the milk. 
  • Because of its creamy texture and high fat content, macadamia nut milk makes an excellent cold milk beverage, hot chocolate, lattes, cappuccinos, and coffee creamers.
  • Because the macadamia nut is high in antioxidants, it is a healthy and delicious substitute to add to your puddings. It makes a delicious flavor on its own, but can also work well with other flavors.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Macadamia Nut Milk?

Because the macadamia nut is high in antioxidants, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, monounsaturated fat that is low in carbs, vitamin B1, magnesium, and manganese, it is a healthy and delicious Vegan-friendly dairy substitute to add to your diet.

6. Pistachio Milk

Pistachio Milk is another nut-based substitute for cow’s milk that is made from pistachios, water, and a sweetener. Pistachio Milk is not green as you would expect but is an off-brown color that doesn’t sound appetizing, but is actually quite tasty.

How Is Pistachio Milk Used?

Pistachio Milk works best as a beverage or with cereal, and is good as a substitute for milk in soups and ice cream. And because it froths nicely, it makes a good addition to coffee, tea, and lattes.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Pistachio Milk?

  • There is no health-related reason to switch to a nut-based milk unless you are Vegan, lactose intolerant, or have an allergic reaction to dairy for the following reasons:
  • There are only about 3 grams of protein in Pistachio Milk in comparison with 8 grams of protein per cup of cow’s milk.
  • There is very little of the pistachio nut in Pistachio Milk, which is primarily water, which means that very few of the nutrients present in pistachio nuts are found in Pistachio Milk.

7. Walnut Milk

Walnut Milk, like most of the other nut-based types of milk, is made by soaking walnuts in water for an extended period of time, and then blending them with water and straining the pulp to extract the walnut milk. The resulting Walnut Milk is smooth, rich, and delicious.

How Is Walnut Milk Used?

Walnut Milk makes a delicious and nutritious beverage, especially with your favorite cookies, and is great as an ingredient in soups and smoothies and your favorite iced coffee.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Walnut Milk?

  • Walnut Milk is high in vitamin E which gives us healthy skin and improves our immune systems. 
  • And, Walnut Milk contains polyunsaturated fat and polyphenols that act as antioxidants in fighting inflammation. 
  • Walnuts also aid in stabilizing blood pressure, contain omega 3 benefits, and promote weight loss. 

Non-Dairy Plant-Based Milk Substitutes

1. Coconut Milk

Coconut-Milk-Can

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.

How Is Coconut Milk Used?

  • Coconut milk can be used in many dishes traditionally made with dairy, but will significantly alter the taste. 
  • Many people enjoy using coconut milk to make pancakes or crepes, even though the coconut taste drastically alters the recipe’s original flavor. You can expect creamy, moist pancakes when you use this ingredient, especially if you select full-fat coconut milk.
  • Here is a really good recipe using this milk option.
  • This is one of the thickest, creamiest milk substitutes and is especially good in making dairy-free puddings. The flavor of the coconut milk blends nicely with such flavors as chocolate, tapioca, and banana. 
  • While Coconut milk is a staple in Asian cooking, it is also good when used in cereals, including oatmeal, smoothies, soups, and curries.
  • For cooking, you will want to select canned coconut milk since it is more concentrated than other coconut beverages.
  • One thing to keep in mind here is that coconut milk is high in saturated fat and calories.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Coconut Milk?

According to Medical News Today, when used in moderation, coconut milk has many health benefits including the following:

  • Weight Loss: Because coconut milk contains “medium-chain triglycerides,” the use of coconut milk has been linked to weight loss, and
  • Immune System: A lipid known as lauric acid is found in coconuts, and many researchers believe that particular lipid can support the immune system.
  • Heart Health: On the downside, coconut milk is high in saturated fat, and not a lot of research has been done on the effects of coconut milk on heart health. But, significant research on coconut oil has found that coconut oil did not significantly increase the levels of bad cholesterol, but did in fact increase the levels of good cholesterol.

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.

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.

2. Flaxseed Milk

Flaxseed Milk is a smooth and creamy plant-based dairy substitute made from either the whole flaxseed or flaxseed meal and water that can be made at home and is gluten-free, Vegan, and Keto friendly. The flavor of flaxseed milk is mild with nutty and bitter undertones.

How Is Flaxseed Milk Used?

  • Flaxseed Milk can be substituted for cow’s milk in any recipe that calls for milk. It can be used in soups, in baking, and it makes a good base for smoothies. And the vanilla flavor is good in hot chocolate and various coffee beverages.
  • Flaxseed milk is appropriate for use in diets for those who are lactose intolerant and allergic to soy or nuts.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Flaxseed Milk?

Flaxseed Milk has the following health benefits:

  • Heart Healthy: Is cholesterol free,
  • Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke Prevention: Contains omega-3 fatty acids,
  • Contains vitamins A, B12, and D.
  • Is a high-fiber option.
  • Is low in sugar and calories.
  • Is lactose free.

3. Oat Milk

Oat Milk is a plant-based milk that is made from whole oats, has a creamy texture, and has a mild oatmeal-like taste.

How Is Oat Milk Used?

  • In addition to being a delicious beverage, Oat Milk can be used in making pasta, biscuits and other quick breads, sauces, custards, and creams.
  • You can also use unsweetened plain oat milk to make a healthier pancake with the same consistency as when using regular milk.
  • Oat Milk would create a non-dairy cornbread which would be very similar in texture to 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 Vegan  diet.
  • Oat Milk would create a non-dairy Hamburger Helper which would be a very similar meal to Hamburger Helper made with milk but could slightly change the taste.

Check out there video where I give my top choices for milk alternatives in Mac and Cheese:

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Oat Milk?

Oat Milk has the following health benefits:

  • Is Vegan friendly, perfect for persons with lactose intolerance, and is soy and nut free.
  • Is high in fiber and protein which promotes a healthy digestive system.
  • Is high in vitamins B2 and B12 for cell and nerve health and strength.

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

4. Pea Milk

Pea Milk is a plant-based dairy substitute that is made from pea protein extract taken from yellow peas. Pea Milk has a somewhat chalky taste, but provides a much higher amount of protein than other plant-based milk products. 

How Is Pea Milk Used?

Pea Milk has a rich and creamy texture that is excellent with cereal and in smoothies.

What Are The Health Benefits To Using Pea Milk?

  • Pea Milk is an excellent source of plant-based protein, having 8 ounces of protein per cup, which is the same amount of protein in one cup of cow’s milk. Protein rich foods may help regulate appetite and keep you feeling satisfied longer.
  • Pea Milk contains many nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and iron which promote heart health, brain health, immune system function, and nervous system function.
  • Pea Milk is soy, nut, dairy, and gluten free, and is Vegan friendly.
  • Pea Milk is lower in calories than cow’s milk, but is rich and creamy.
  • Pea Milk is low in sugar and carbs making it appealing to people with diabetes and on low-carb diets.

5. Peanut Milk

Peanut Butter Powder

Peanut Milk is one of the nut-based dairy milk alternatives that is made with peanuts and water, plus such additives as salt, sugar, and/or cinnamon, but is higher in fat than most other plant-based options. 

How Is Peanut Milk Used?

Peanut Milk is better served cold as a beverage, but can also be used in making soups.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Peanut Milk?

  • Peanut Milk contains about 8 grams of protein per cup, which is about the same as in cow’s milk, and is rich in magnesium and potassium. 
  • Peanut Milk is appropriate for a Vegan, kosher, and dairy-free diet as well as cholesterol and lactose free, making it a healthy dairy-free beverage option. 

6. Quinoa Milk 

Quinoa Milk is a plant-based milk made from quinoa and water, and it is one of the better-tasting plant-based types of milk that is low in fat.

How Is Quinoa Milk Used?

  • As a delicious beverage that can be consumed plain or by adding other flavors to it. 
  • As a coffee creamer, 
  • As an ingredient in smoothies, 
  • In certain breads, and 
  • Over cereal.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Quinoa Milk?

Quinoa Milk provides protein, fiber, amino acids, iron, magnesium, and zinc, but often additives for sweetening, flavoring, and thickening counteract the health benefits making them negligible. So be sure to take a look at the ingredients list to see just what you are buying.

7. Rice Milk

Rice milk consists of milled brown or white rice and water. It is a sweeter plant-based dairy substitute than most of the dairy alternatives made from plants.

How is Rice Milk used?

  • Rice Milk can be used in almost any dish that calls for milk, 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 more moist.
  • If food sensitivities/allergies are the problem, rice milk is a solid option because rice is so well-tolerated and versatile. 
  • It offers a refreshing alternative to coconut or nutty flavors in your dairy-free treats and is probably the nearest flavor match to cow’s milk. 
  • Here is an excellent recipe that has rice milk listed as an alternative for cow’s milk in pancakes.
  • Even though Rice Milk is thinner than milk it can be used in making cornbread that is lighter in texture than cornbread made with milk or other dairy products. This would create a Vegan cornbread option.
  • Rice Milk can be used in making Hamburger Helper that is lighter in texture and not as creamy as Hamburger Helper made with milk or other dairy products.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Rice Milk?

  • Rice Milk is one of the most hypoallergenic of all the milk substitutes and provides balanced nutrition.
  • Rice Milk provides the lowest amount of fat of all the milk substitutes and is cholesterol free.
  • Rice Milk contains more manganese and selenium than any other milk substitute, which help protect you from many infections and cancers. 
  • Drinking rice milk can give your immune system a boost.

Major drawbacks to using Rice Milk:

  • It is high in starch and could not be used by persons with diabetes.
  • Rice Milk is low in protein and would not be good for appetite suppression or control.

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

8. 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 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. 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.

How Is Soy Milk Used?

  • Soy Milk can replace cow’s milk in most dishes, but be sure to use unsweetened plain soy milk to avoid a flavor change. This is especially true when using soy milk to make any dessert dish as the sweetened version would make the dish too sweet.
  • This also holds true 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 the rich flavors which, if utilized, your pancakes might develop an overly sweet taste. You can also expect unflavored soy milk to have a less robust flavor than your traditional pancakes. Adding extra butter and salt can offset this. Here is a good recipe for soy milk pancakes.
  • Soy Milk should make cornbread and other quick breads that are very similar in taste and texture to breads made with regular milk, but be sure to use unsweetened plain soy milk to avoid changing the taste. This makes an excellent Vegan option.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Using Soy Milk?

Soy Milk provides the following:

  • 7 grams of protein per cup, while two percent cow’s milk provides 8 grams of protein. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, soy protein can help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol.
  • All nine essential amino acids that are necessary for immune system, tissue, and cell health.
  • Calcium and iron necessary for strong bones.
  • B-complex vitamins that aid in cell function and nerve health.
Soy Milk can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

Additional Alternative Substitues for Milk

There are a few viable substitutes that many people might not even realize could work as a milk substitute. Many of the food products listed below are uncommon but still excellent milk substitutes in certain recipes.

1. Alcohol

Bottle of Amaretto Liqueur

As long as everyone is 21 and above and no one minds a little “punch” in their pudding, you can add a little liquor as the pudding liquid of choice. Amaretto works best, but again, anything you like or already have around might work well too.

Mix a small shot-sized amount of the alcohol you are using with water and use that combination in a 1:1 ratio with the milk amount you would like to substitute. More than that will overwhelm the taste of the pudding.

2. Avocado

Chunks-of-Avocado-in-a-Blender

Avocado makes an easy and healthy dairy replacement that adds fiber, B-vitamins, and heart-healthy fats, so here are a few ways to replace dairy with avocado:

  • Add one quarter of an avocado in place of yogurt in a smoothie to give you a creamy, thick texture without adding sugar or dairy.
  • Combine one half ripe avocado with one half cup of fresh coconut, process in a blender with a small amount of coconut water and garnish with some chocolate chunks for a delicious dairy-free mousse.
  • Combine in a blender one half ripe avocado with a little lemon juice, salt, and pepper for a creamy and delicious salad dressing.

3. Mayonnaise

Hellman's Mayonnaise Jar

Mayonnaise can be substituted for milk in preparing Hamburger Helper and certain other dishes to create a thicker and richer meal. However, substitute the total amount of milk for 1/3rd that amount of mayonnaise or the Hamburger Helper meal will be too thick and too sour.

Substitute 1/3rd the amount of milk called for in a recipe with mayonnaise.

4. Meat Stock

Bowl of beef broth in glass bowl on a white table

For a more savory rather than creamy Hamburger Helper or casserole, use chicken or beef stock instead of milk or a milk substitute in making the meal.

Meat Stock can be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

5. Squash or Pumpkin Puree

Squash or Pumpkin-Puree

Not only will squash or pumpkin puree add flavor, a rich thickness, and moisture to pudding, but its deep orange color will make an attractive dessert, especially in the fall and winter.

When replacing, use less than a 1:1 ratio with the milk amount you would like to substitute since squash and pumpkin are a bit thicker than milk.

6. Water

Water-in-a-Measuring-Cup

Water can be substituted for milk in Hamburger Helper and other similar dishes, but the recommendation is that 1 tablespoon of butter be added for every cup of water used to keep the fat content the same.

Water instead of milk can also be used in making any type of pudding. However, this will significantly change your pudding results. To make the consistency of the pudding more normal, have a solid thickener on hand. The best three thickeners are cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or flour, any of which can be combined with any recipe’s sugar to thicken a pudding. The three choices will all do the job, although their results will be slightly different:

  • Cornstarch leaves a slightly noticeable taste in the pudding and is a little cloudy in appearance.
  • Arrowroot powder does not change the taste at all, and it remains clear when added to a pudding or any dish.
  • To use flour, making a slurry from flour and water will do the trick.

Whichever thickener you opt for, remember to mix it into the water before adding it to the pudding to avoid lumps.

If you are using only water, it is recommended that you use a 3:4 water to milk ratio when measuring out your milk substitution. And remember, if you do so, the total pudding yield will also be less than if you were using more liquid.

Water can also be substituted for milk in cornbread, but the recommendation is that 1 tablespoon of butter be added for every cup of water used to keep the fat content the same.

This one is the best substitute for milk in scrambled eggs. If you want the texture of your scrambled eggs to be creamy, use 1 tablespoon of your favorite milk or milk substitute per egg when beating the eggs. But, if you want fluffy eggs, just add 1 tablespoon of water per egg when beating the eggs.

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

The Best Vegan Substitutes For Milk In Baking are:

  1. Almond Milk is a richer and creamier alternative to milk for people who are following a Vegan diet. Plus, almond milk is the easiest nut milk to find at the store. 
  2. Oat Milk is a plant-based milk made from whole oats, with a creamy texture, that is Vegan friendly, perfect for persons with lactose intolerance, and is soy and nut free.
  3. Soy Milk is a plant-based substitute for dairy that is made from soybeans and filtered water, is the only dairy substitute with a similar amount of protein as cow’s milk, and is Vegan friendly.
  4. Rice Milk can be used in almost any dish that calls for milk, although it is a little thinner than cow’s milk, is one of the most hypoallergenic of all the milk substitutes and provides balanced nutrition.

The Best Milk Substitutes For Coffee Creamer Are:

The Best Dairy Substitutes As Coffee Creamer Are:

  • Cream – Heavy cream has 38% fat and can really enhance your cup of coffee.
  • Half-and-half – Tastes as good as cream in your coffee but is lower in calories, and is less processed and contains healthier fats than coffee creamers.
  • Evaporated Milk – Is thicker and richer than whole milk but contains saturated fat which no one wants in their diet, but for those people who are not heavy coffee drinkers, evaporated milk makes a cup of coffee taste really good. This is my own personal favorite and I use it for my one cup of coffee a day and would not recommend it if you are a heavy coffee drinker who drinks multiple cups a day because of the amount of saturated fat in evaporated milk.

The Best Non-Dairy Substitutes For Milk As A Coffee Creamer Are:

  • Cashew Milk – Cashew milk has a creamy texture and slightly sweet taste that makes it popular as a coffee creamer.
  • Coconut Milk – Coconut milk has a thick creamy texture and has become a favorite as a non-dairy coffee creamer because of its rich creamy and sweet coconut taste, but beware of the high fat and calorie content. Be sure to get the coconut milk that is packaged in cartons rather than cans as the milk from cans is thicker and has a more pronounced coconut flavor.
  • Hemp Milk – Hemp milk is a popular coffee creamer for its high protein content and slightly nutty taste. 
  • Macadamia Milk – Because of its high fat content, Macadamia Milk makes an excellent coffee creamer and will whip into a nice foam that will make an excellent latte or cappuccino.
  • Oat Milk – Oat milk is so rich it has almost the same texture as cow’s milk and has a creamy taste that is similar to full-fat dairy milk. Plus, it can be foamed to create lattes, has fiber which makes it an excellent choice for people with digestive issues, and has become a favorite with Vegans.
  • Pea Milk – Pea milk is high in protein, has a mild flavor, and foams well making it popular as a coffee creamer. 
  • Rice Milk – Rice milk is becoming more popular as a coffee creamer with coffee drinkers because it is nut- and soy-free making it a good choice for people with allergies and lactose intolerance.
  • Soy Milk – Soy milk has a smooth and creamy texture with a relatively neutral flavor making it a popular choice as a non-dairy coffee creamer. In addition, many coffee houses are using soy milk as a creamer because it is easily accessible and low in cost.


The Best Substitutes For Milk For Lactose Intolerance

There are actually quite a few options, both dairy and non-dairy, for people with lactose intolerance who are looking for milk substitutes. Not only can these substitutes be used in cooking, but as a milk beverage. Here is the list broken down by dairy and non-dairy:

Best Dairy Milk Substitutes For Lactose Intolerance:

  1. Buttermilk- Contains high levels of lactic acid, making buttermilk a good substitute for those with lactose intolerance.
  2. Cream Cheese- During the process of making cream cheese, lactose converts to lactic acid making it a good dairy option for lactose intolerance.
  3. Goat Milk- Goat Milk naturally contains less lactose and is much easier to digest than cow’s milk.
  4. Lactaid- Since Lactaid is cow’s milk that has had the lactose removed, this is the best dairy option available to those with lactose intolerance.

Best Non-Dairy Milk Substitutes For Lactose Intolerance:

It would be safe to assume that all of the nut- and plant-based milk substitutes are lactose-free, but there are other things to consider such as nutrient content and additives. So, here is a list of what I consider to be the 6 best non-dairy milk substitutes that are easier to find for those with lactose intolerance:

  1. Almond Milk- Has a very nice flavor that is smooth and slightly sweet, but Almond Milk only has 1 gram of protein per serving and contains carrageenan, a thickening agent that can cause gastrointestinal issues.
  2. Cashew Milk- Is high in protein and has a slightly nutty flavor that is very pleasing.
  3. Hemp Milk- Is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Oat Milk- Even though Oat Milk is higher in protein and fiber than some of the other plant-based milks, it is also higher in carbohydrates and calories.
  5. Rice Milk- is one of the most hypoallergenic foods out there, but rice milk has a thin and watery consistency and only 1 gram of protein per serving.
  6. Soy Milk- Is considered one of the best options because it has a creamy texture and is high in protein with 8 grams per serving. However, the taste of soy milk is unpleasant to many.

Ways To Replace The Fat From Milk In Recipes Without Sacrificing The Creamy Texture

You can swap out cow’s milk with nut milk, plant-based milk, soy milk, coconut milk, squash, avocado, alcohol, or even plain water. Any milk substitute you like can be an acceptable alternative in any dish. However, without the fat and protein of cow’s milk, you might need additional ingredients to ensure the food thickens nicely and has the consistency, taste, and health benefits you desire.

 Each option listed below offers different flavor profiles and texture possibilities (as well as other aspects worth considering, depending on your reasons for substituting the milk).

  • You can add in about one tablespoon of butter for every cup of water.
  • To avoid dairy completely, try something like nut butter. 
  • Another option is to add some extra flavor to counter the blandness with berries, dark chocolate chips, vanilla, or almond extract.

Best Milk Substitutes For Long-Term Storage

For those of you who are building a stockpile of food for long-term storage, of all the milk substitutes mentioned in this article, there are only 5 that are suitable for your stockpile. They are:

  1. Buttermilk in powdered or dry form – Manufacturers of powdered or dry Buttermilk say that their products will last from 3 to 5 years under ideal storage conditions.
  2. Powdered or Dry Milk – Most manufacturers of Powdered or Dry Milk say that an unopened package of their milk will remain good from 2 to 10 years, depending on storage conditions.
  3. Evaporated Milk – Evaporated Milk is packaged in cans which will remain at best quality up to 2 years and will still be good much longer than that.
  4. Coconut Milk – Coconut Milk is packaged in cans which will remain good for 2 to 5 years.
  5. Shelf Stable Milk – According to most sources, shelf stable milk is only good for 6 to 12 months unopened, and is only good for 2 to 4 weeks after its expiration date.

This list of milk substitutes is for storage without refrigeration. However, keep in mind that most dairy products and many of the non-dairy milk substitutes can be frozen for long-term storage.

Final Thoughts

All of the dairy substitutes for milk that are listed here are things that I have tried. It is easy to use one dairy product in another’s place. But, there are quite a few non-dairy milk substitutes listed here that I have never tried before. The ones I have tried, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by their taste and texture. 

Many of these options are not available anywhere except in specialty and health food stores, but most of these nut-based milks can be made at home and the recipes are not that complicated if you are interested in trying them. I intend to try some of them myself.

But, no matter what kind of diet you are following and no matter what kind of health issues or allergies you may have, there is sure to be a dairy product or a milk substitute on this list that will work for you. So, take a closer look and see what you can find.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

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