Substitute for Milk in Baking

When you are cooking, especially baked goods, the likelihood of you needing to use milk in your recipe is quite high.

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Milk is a beverage and ingredient that humankind has used for thousands of years. Archaeological evidence suggests that as far back as 8000 BC, during the Neolithic age, milk was being consumed in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Soon milk would become a very popular beverage creating a new industry started by small farmers who milk cows every morning to sell directly to customers who brought it to market in large tins. There was even a time when people would buy milk at local dairies. And in Italy, people would purchase their milk from these shops up until the 1970s.

For recipes such as pancakes, cakes, brownies, and pastries, milk is a staple ingredient.

There is nothing more disappointing than reaching for the milk in your refrigerator, only to realize that you have actually run out of it!

If you are ever stuck in this situation, it is useful to know some substitutes you can use instead of milk.

Substitute for Milk

In addition to this, if you cannot consume milk due to an intolerance, allergy or if you are vegan, the majority of these substitutes will allow you to still create some great recipes without the need for using milk.

We have included a wide range of different substitutes that can be used for both baking, cooking, and in coffee.


The first substitute we will be discussing is cream. While this still contains dairy products, this is a good substitute if you consume milk but have run out.

Cream is thicker and richer in comparison to milk. Given this, if you use the same amount in a recipe, it will make the food richer.

Too much cream can lead to baked goods becoming too heavy overall, which is something you will want to avoid if you are making cakes or cookies. Given this, it is best to water down the cream, so it has a consistency that is similar to milk instead.

Ideally, you will want to take the amount of milk needed in a recipe and use half milk and half water. You can choose to up the cream to 60%, if you want the recipe to taste creamier.

Sour Cream

Similarly to cream, sour cream can also be used as a substitute to milk. Sour cream can be thicker than cream, which is potentially a problem when it is being substituted for milk in a recipe.

As with the cream, if you need a lighter or thinner batter, you can water down the sour cream to make it easier to work with.

Sour cream does have a stronger taste to normal cream, but this is not overly noticeable when it is added to a recipe.


If you do not have any cream or sour cream in your refrigerator, you can opt to use yogurt instead of milk.

Ideally, the yogurt should be plain yogurt or Greek yogurt as this will not affect the overall taste of the food too much.

Like with the cream, yogurt is thicker than milk, and therefore it may need to be watered down. In addition to this, yogurt will cause the batter to be thicker, which can affect how your food cooks or bakes.

Soy Milk

If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, it is likely that you are already familiar with soy milk. Out of all the daily alternative milks, soy milk does tend to be one of the more popular ones.

While it has a similar consistency to milk, it does not taste similar to milk at all. It has a particularly distinctive taste that is not to everyone’s tastes. It can also be purchased sweetened or unsweetened.

If you are looking for soy milk for baked goods, the sweetened milk may be the better option for you.

What is great about soy milk is that it acts in a very similar way to milk when added to recipes, given this, it is a fantastic alternative to use.

Oat Milk

Oat milk is another great milk substitute, especially when it comes to adding it to a coffee or hot chocolate. It enhances the flavor with its oat taste, though this taste may not be for everyone.

While it is great for use in cereals or in hot drinks, it may not be the best option to use in baked goods – this is due to its consistency. It is quite dense when compared to milk and the soy milk alternative.

Given this, it does have the potential of changing the texture of the baked goods if too much of it is added.

However, if the recipe only requires a small amount of milk, oat milk can be a great option. The texture change is caused by oat milk being quite starchy in comparison to regular milk.

Nut Milks

When it comes to dairy alternatives, nut milks are a very popular choice. Surprisingly there are many types of nut milk that are available to purchase.

Nut Milk

The main nut milk that is drunk is typically almond, which has quite a sweet taste. Other types of nut milk include – hazelnut, macadamia nut, walnut, peanut, and cashew.

The majority of nut milks behave in the same way when they are added to a recipe. However, their tastes will vary significantly depending on the type of nut they are made out of. As a rule of thumb, the milk created typically tastes like a milder version of the nut it is made from.

These types of milk are popular choices to add to coffee and other beverages. However, they can also be used in baking too. They will add to the overall flavor, which can be a hindrance.

Milks such as hazelnut, pistachio, or peanut milk can enhance the flavor.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is not the most popular option when it comes to substituting milk, but it is a useful option to choose. It is created using water and milled rice.

Rice milk is not typically recommended to use exclusively, but it is a good option to add to baked goods if needed.

It is particularly good for those with many allergies. As it has a naturally sweet taste, it is a good option for things such as cakes or brownies.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is definitely one of the most underrated dairy free alternatives, and this may be down to its taste.

If you are a fan of the taste of coconut, then you will enjoy coconut milk as it is coconut cream and filtered water. However, if you do not enjoy the taste of coconut, it may not be the best option for you.

What is great about coconut milk is that it is fairly sweet and creamy. Given this, it is a great alternative to milk. It is worth noting that coconut milk is typically higher in fat in comparison to some other dairy free alternatives.

As it does taste like coconut it will cause the baked good to taste of coconut slightly, but this does add to the flavor. Coconut milk is also a great option to add to coffee too.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk may not be the best option as a substitute for milk, but, at a push, it can be used. This tends to be an ingredient that we have stored in our pantry, and it is useful if necessary.

Evaporated milk is a lot sweeter than regular milk and thicker too. Given this, it would need to be mixed with half water before added to a recipe.

Its creamy texture and taste will enhance your bakes or pasta sauces however. It could be potentially added to warm beverages too.


If you have no other alternatives to use, in some instances you could just simply use water. However, this can cause your recipes to become bland and lack the creamy flavor.

Water is a great alternative if you are making a smoothie, oats, or if the recipe only requires a very small amount of milk. While it is not a suitable replacement for milk in things such as a cake, pancakes, or bread, in some instances it can be used.

A great tip for using water is to add a small amount of melted butter to it. While it is still not the same as milk, it will enhance the overall flavor.

Banana Milk

Banana milk may be a substitute that you have never heard before.

While it would not work so well in savory recipes, it is great for baked goods, or if you are making a smoothie.

Banana Milk

Banana milk is made from bananas, it is sweet and does have a good consistency overall. It is a healthy option. The only downside to banana milk is the taste.

Given that it is made from bananas it would only suit certain types of recipes. In addition to this, if you do not enjoy the taste of bananas, it may not be the most suitable option for you.

Flax Milk

If you are looking for an option that is not going to weigh down baked goods, flax milk is a great option to consider. It is made using 100% flax seeds, and it is a good choice for baking.

Even though it is not an overly popular choice, it is certainly worth considering. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, and it does not have a thick consistency overall, which is great for thinner batters.

While flax seeds are not nuts, their flavor is slightly nutty. Typically, flax milk does not have added sugar like almond milk does, so it does have a slightly stronger and more savory taste overall.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Substitute for Whole Milk?

One of the best substitutes for whole milk is skimmed milk, and this could be a great alternative is you are looking for a lower calorie option. It has a lower amount of saturated fat, and contains the same amount of protein as whole milk.

Skimmed milk is also richer in vitamins due to fortification. You can easily replace whole milk with skimmed milk in a variety of different recipes. If you want to add a little something extra to your recipe, then you could always opt to use a heavy cream instead of whole milk. It works well in various baking and cooking recipes, especially when it comes to desserts.

Heavy cream has a higher content of milk fat which will give your recipe a richer result. If you don’t want a recipe that is as thick as heavy cream, then you could also use half-and-half instead.

What is a Substitute for One Cup of Milk?

If you want to use skimmed milk in your recipe instead of whole milk, then you might not always have an exact substitute when it comes to measurements.

For most recipes, you can substitute with a 1:1 ratio, but with certain desserts and sauces with extra consistency, you might not get the perfect substitute. This is why it is recommended that you make a small adjustment to the recipe to make it work.

To get the same consistency and taste as you might with whole milk, you should mix two teaspoons of melted butter into 1 cup of skimmed milk, and this will be enough to replace one cup of whole milk. If you want to use heavy cream as an alternative, then you might want to consider lowering the amount of butter that your recipe requires. However, one cup of heavy cream will substitute one cup of whole milk.

How Can I Replace Milk in My Diet?

There are a variety of milk substitutes that you can choose from in grocery stores, and we will name a few for you below.

  • Almond Milk – This is a popular milk substitute due to the face that it is easy to make, cheap to buy, and many people love the taste of it. Almond milk does not have the same strong flavor that some other plant-based milks have, which makes it a great transition milk.
  • Soy Milk – Soy milk is another great alternative to regular milk that is becoming increasingly popular and is often recommended for those that need to cut dairy out of their lives. Soy milk does have a bit of a strange flavor to those that are not used to drinking it, but if you stick with it, you won’t even notice it over time. There are lots of different varieties to choose from, like sweetened and unsweetened, which makes it easier to find a type that works best for you.

What Milk Substitute Tastes Most Like Milk?

The milk substitute that tastes the most like milk is soy milk, though it might take some time for your taste buds to get used to it. Soy milk typically has a mild and creamy flavor, but the overall taste of the product will vary, depending on the brand that you buy.

It is usually sweeter than most other milk alternatives, but you can get your hands on an unsweetened version if you find it to be too sweet. So, if you are looking for a dairy-free milk that tastes as close to normal milk as possible, soy milk is probably the best option to look at.


There are so many substitutes available to use instead of milk. This is great considering how often milk is used in recipes. If you are lactose intolerant or do not drink milk it is great to know that there are many options available.

In addition to this, if you have run out of milk there are many other dairy alternatives that can be used too. While we have included a wide variety of options in this article, there are many other substitutes to choose from too.

Some options we have chosen are better for savory dishes, and others are better for sweet, baked goods. While some are great for coffee others are better for baking.

The most important thing to remember when using a thicker substitute is that often it may need to be watered down in order for it to have a similar consistency to milk.

Some of these options will be more successful than others, such as soy milk, which is a fantastic alternative to milk in all aspects.

Substitute for Milk

Substitute for Milk

Our Best Substitute for Milk in Baking

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 6 votes
Total Time 6 minutes
Course Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 178 kcal


  • Cream
  • Sour Cream
  • Yogurt
  • Soy Milk
  • Oat Milk
  • Nut Milks
  • Rice Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Water
  • Banana Milk
  • Flax Milk


  • Try our kitchen tested substitutes for milk in baking.


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Calories: 178kcal
Keyword substitute for milk in baking
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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