Finding the perfect substitute for evaporated milk is easier than you think.

By Kelly Vaughan
December 03, 2018
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We’ve all been there—you’re about to bake layer bars or pumpkin pie and read the recipe to find that it calls for evaporated milk. You head to the pantry to find you’re completely out. Rather than giving up on your recipe altogether or making a run for the grocery store, try one of these simple substitutes for evaporated milk.

DIY Evaporated Milk

Make your own evaporated milk by heating 2¼ cups of regular milk and gently boiling it down until it reduces to 1 cup. Evaporated milk is most commonly made with 2% milk but whole milk, 1%, or skim will also work. This is the exact method used to make evaporated milk for commercial retail, so there’s no reason why you can’t do it in your own kitchen.

You can also follow this same process using dairy-free milks like soy, almond, or oat milk for an dairy-free alternative.

RELATED: Evaporated Milk vs. Condensed Milk: What's the Difference?

Half-and-Half

If you’re under a super tight deadline, you may substitute the same amount of half-and-half for evaporated milk (i.e. 1 cup of half-and-half=1 cup of evaporated milk). While you won’t get the same slightly caramelized flavor that evaporated milk has, the creamy consistency of half-and-half mimics that of evaporated milk.

Heavy Cream

Though not the lowest fat option, heavy cream has a very similar consistency to evaporated milk. One cup of heavy cream can replace 1 cup of evaporated milk in sweet and savory dishes. In addition, the flavor will be more bland than evaporated milk’s unique caramelized tones. However, there are times when we’ll do whatever it takes to avoid last-minute baking stress.

Powdered Milk

Powdered Milk is a preserved milk product that is made by evaporating and spray drying regular milk. The result is a long-lasting, nutritious milk substitute. You can create evaporated milk by mixing 1 cup of powdered milk with 1½ cups of warm water— stir until the powdered milk has dissolved completely. The water will thicken enough to resemble the same product as what’s inside that classic 12 oz. can.

Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk

Dairy-free cooks don’t have to be deprived of the luscious, rich flavor and consistency that comes from evaporated milk. Nature’s Charm is a producer of plant-based ingredients that include evaporated coconut milk ($27 for pack of 6, amazon.com). Nestle Carnation, the most-well known maker of evaporated milk, created a dairy-free almond cooking milk that also serves as the perfect substitute for evaporated milk ($3, target.com).

Lactose-Free Evaporated Milk

Nestle Carnation designed a lactose-free evaporated milk made from milk, lactase, and a small handful of other additives (from $2.50, walmart.com).

Note that none of these options is a picture-perfect substitute for evaporated milk, so expect some variation in your finished recipes.