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What’s a good milk substitute in baking or cooking? Here are all the best milk alternatives, including non dairy options.

Milk substitute, best milk alternative

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 good milk substitute, including both dairy and non dairy options. As with any substitution, the right answer depends on what you’re making. Here’s the best milk alternatives for various different situations and dietary preferences.

Best substitute for milk

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

1. Milk substitutes in baking and recipes

Looking to substitute milk because you ran out? For 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 ½ cup cream and ½ cup water as a substitute for 1 cup milk.
  • Half and half: Half and half has more fat than milk. Use ½ cup half and half and ½ cup water as a substitute for 1 cup milk.
  • Oat milk or almond milk: These non-dairy milk alternatives work similarly to dairy milk in baking and recipes.
  • Water: If the recipe calls for a small amount of milk like ¼ 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 if you’re using it to replace the dairy version! Here are the best options:

  • Oat milk: Easier to find than ever, oat milk has a nice creamy texture and neutral flavor. It works well in baking, smoothies, with cereal or granola, vegan ice cream, and even in lattes.
  • Almond milk: Almond milk is very popular as a non-dairy milk. The texture is very thin and more like water; it doesn’t add the creamy body that milk would. It does work well in baking and recipes as a vegan alternative (though we prefer oat milk).
  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk can work as a milk alternative, but keep in mind it has a strong coconut flavor and a high fat content. It’s good at adding creamy body and texture, but if you’re adding it to a recipe make sure the coconut flavor will pair well.
  • Soy milk: Soy milk is another non-dairy option. It does have a strong aftertaste but works well in baked goods and some coffee drinks.

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring milk alternatives:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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    1. Good catch! We changed the first heading to indicate these substitutes for milk are for baking and recipes, vs the lower list is non-dairy substitutes for dairy milk (if you’re using it in cereal, coffee, etc). Thank you!

  1. Thanks for the tips on the milk substitute. Really helped out when I ran out of milk. Saved my dinner.

    1. It depends on the quantity of the milk in the recipe! If it’s a small amount like 1/4 or 1/2 cup it should work. If it’s a large amount it may affect flavor and texture.

  2. I want to substitute regular milk for drinking with a good tasting substitute. Could you suggest the best tasting milk substitute please. I am also trying to substitute both milk and dairy products from my diet. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks