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Need to swap out whole milk? Here’s the best whole milk substitute to use in recipes and baking, including dairy and non dairy options.

Whole milk substitute

All out of whole milk? Or looking for a non-dairy substitute for allergies or diet preferences. Don’t worry: there are several options that fit the bill! Milk is an important ingredient in baked recipes: it softens the baked good, provides moisture, and helps with browning. It’s also integral in many types of savory recipes as well.

If you’re making a baked recipe: remember that baking is a science! You’ll have to be more careful than if you’re making a cooked recipe, where you can be a little more free-form in your replacements. Note that any change you make can slightly affect the texture. Here’s the best whole milk substitute to use in all your recipes!

Best whole milk substitute

1. Dairy-based whole milk substitute

Looking for a whole milk substitute in baking because you ran out? Here are some of the best dairy-based replacements:

  • 2% milk: You can use 2% milk as a 1:1 replacement for whole milk. Whole milk has 3.25% milkfat compared to 2% milkfat 2%. So whole milk is slightly richer, but you won’t notice a large difference.
  • Half and half: Half and half has 10 to 18% milkfat. Use ¾ cup half and half and ¼ cup water as a replacement for 1 cup whole milk.
  • Heavy cream: Heavy cream has 36% milkfat. Use ½ cup cream and ½ cup water as a substitute for 1 cup whole milk.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt is thicker than milk: stir in water until it resembles the consistency of milk. Then you can use it as a 1:1 substitute. To offset the tangy flavor of yogurt, add a touch of vanilla. The tang may actually enhance the baked good, similar to buttermilk.
  • Sour cream: Same as yogurt: stir in water until it resembles the consistency of milk.

2. Non dairy whole milk substitutes

Looking for a dairy free whole milk substitute? These non-dairy substitutes have much less fat than dairy milk. But they’ll work in a pinch! Here are a few options:

  • Oat milk: Oat milk is creamy and has a neutral flavor. It’s easy to find at the grocery and works well in baking. You can even use it in lattes!
  • Almond milk: Almond milk has a texture similar to water, so it doesn’t add the creamy body that milk would. But it works well in baking!
  • Soy milk: Another great option for baking! It has a creamy body and has almost as much protein as dairy milk.
  • Coconut milk: Coconut milk has a high fat content: it is 24% milkfat. This makes it closer to whole milk than any of the milks listed above. However, it has a strong coconut flavor so it’s not always the best fit flavor-wise. If you’re using it in small quantities, it should be a good fit.

Here are some recipes where you could use this whole milk substitute:

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. I am allergic to dairy. I am looking for substitutes and so far I prefer coconut milk. Both box and canned. How do I exchange coconut milk for cows milk? Is it one to one?

    1. You can use boxed coconut milk as a 1:1 replacement for cow’s milk. Canned coconut milk (regular) has more fat: it’s almost like a replacement for heavy cream! It works for milk too but depends on how you’re using it. It can work 1:1 but use it in smaller quantities if a recipe calls for whole milk or heavy cream. You could also use canned light coconut milk as a 1:1 replacement for whole milk.