Best Milk Substitute

Want to change out the milk in baking or cooking? Here are all the best milk substitutes, including non dairy options.

Milk substitute

Want to swap out the milk in baking because you ran out? Or need a non dairy milk to make the recipe vegan? There are lots of options that make a great milk substitute: both dairy and non dairy! As with any substitution, the right answer depends on what you’re making. Here’s the best milk substitutes for various different situations and dietary preferences.

Best substitutes for milk

Note that how these options work depend on the type of cuisine and how the milk is used.

1. Dairy substitutes for milk

Looking to substitute milk because you ran out? For more technical baked goods like biscuits, cookies or cake, you might just want to run to the store. But if you’re willing to risk it, consider one of these dairy based substitutes for milk:

  • Yogurt: Yogurt is thicker than milk. Stir in a little water, then use it as a 1:1 substitute. To offset the tangy flavor of yogurt, you can add a touch of vanilla.
  • Sour cream: Use the same notes as yogurt.
  • Heavy cream: Cream has much more milk fat than milk. Use 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup water as a substitute for 1 cup milk.
  • Half and half: Also has more fat than milk. Use 1/2 cup half and half and 1/2 cup water as a substitute for 1 cup milk.
  • Water: If the recipe calls for a small amount of milk like 1/4 cup or less, water could work. You can also try adding 1 tablespoon melted butter per 1 cup water to add more fat: but do so at your own risk!

2. Non dairy substitutes for milk

There are lots of non-dairy substitutes for milk! Here are the best options:

  • Oat milk: Easier to find than ever, it has a nice creamy texture and neutral flavor. It generally works in baking and even in lattes.
  • Almond milk: Almond milk is very popular, but the texture is so thin it doesn’t add the creamy body that milk would. Think of it more like water.
  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk can work, but keep in mind it has a strong coconut flavor and a high fat content. It’s good at adding creaminess, but make sure the coconut flavor works in your recipe.
  • Soy milk: This milk is another option: it does have a strong aftertaste but works well in baked goods.

Related recipes

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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