If you can’t use evaporated milk in your next recipe it’s not a problem. Keep reading to discover five excellent substitutes for evaporated milk that use everyday ingredients.


Evaporated milk is the underdog in the dairy family, often overlooked for other options like milk, cream, condensed milk or cream cheese. That’s probably a bit harsh though because it’s an excellent dairy ingredient that is versatile and relatively low in fat and calories.

To make evaporated milk, whole milk is heated until around 60% of the water is removed. The result: a thicker, off-white colored liquid that’s perfect for adding to hot beverages, mashed potatoes, soups, sauces and also baking.

In saying that, not everyone wants to use evaporated milk. There are plenty of reasons, but we’ve listed the most common ones below.

4 reasons you may need an alternative to evaporated milk

  • You don’t have any in the cupboard and buying a can isn’t an option.
  • The slightly sweet, mildly caramel taste isn’t to your liking.
  • Dietary reasons such as lactose intolerance or you follow a vegan diet.
  • Reduce (or increase) the calories, fat and other macro nutrients in your diet.

Let’s dive in and look at some excellent back-up options if evaporated milk isn’t your thing.

Recommended evaporated milk substitutes

1. Make your own

Best option: if you don’t have a can of evaporated milk in the cupboard and need a solution fast.

Milk heating in a panMake your own condensed milk by simmering whole milk in a saucepan on medium-low until it reduces by 60% in volume. For example, heat 2 cups of milk until it reduces to a little under 1 cup. Once it’s done you’ll notice the milk is thicker and a slightly darker color.

In a hurry? Forget heating the milk and go for this method instead. Combine a ¼ cup half-and-half with ¾ cup whole milk to get yourself one cup of evaporated milk. It won’t look the same, but in most recipes for soups and sauces it will work in a similar way.

2. Milk

Best option: to reduce the calories, carbs and fat in your diet.

Milk in bottlesIf you have a dash of evaporated milk in your coffee occasionally then using milk won’t make a huge difference to your diet. However, if you regularly make sauces, soups, smoothies and baked goods with it, then milk may be a healthier alternative.

If you consume 1 cup of condensed milk a week, you can change to whole milk and reduce your fat intake by 9 grams, carbohydrates by 12 grams and 192 calories. Every little bit helps when you’re looking to lose weight and in many cases the difference to your food will barely be noticeable.

If you use milk is your sauces and soups, you may need to add a tablespoon of corn flour to help thicken the texture.

3. Cream

Best option: to increase the creamy richness of the dish.

Cream poured into a dish for bakingEvaporated milk is a wonderful addition to sauces, soups, casseroles and even sweet desserts like ice cream and custard. If you want to create a creamier, richer dish then use cream instead. For many, cream will provide a better final product. However, you’ll need to weigh up the health implications as cream dials up the fat content.

To substitute in cream you can use the same ratios. If the recipe calls for ½ cup of condensed milk, use ½ cup cream instead.

Note: Another option is to use Half and Half which is an equal mix of cream and milk. This option offers more richness than evaporated milk but the nutritional value is similar.

4. Soy milk

Best option: if you need a versatile non-dairy replacement

Soy milk in glassSoy milk is a good option if you’re on a diet that excludes dairy. It is made from filtering soybeans soaked in water. The nutritional values of soy milk, such as fat, calories, protein and even calcium are similar to evaporated milk.

To achieve a suitable consistency, soy milk needs to be simmered until its water content has reduced – leaving a thicker liquid to cook with.

Soy milk offers a unique flavor that you won’t get from evaporated milk. Choose dishes that have strong flavors, such as curries, to overwhelm the soy taste. Soy milk wouldn’t work well in a custard, unless you really enjoy the flavor.

Alternative non-dairy options include: flax milk, rice milk, oat milk, quinoa milk, nut milks.

5. Coconut milk

Best option: Use in recipes that are lifted by the flavor of coconut.

Coconut milk in glassCoconut milk is commonly used in Asian, Caribbean and South American cooking. The milk is made from fresh coconut flesh and has a distinct coconut flavor. Naturally, this won’t be suitable for many uses. For example, most wouldn’t appreciate a coconut flavored coffee or French onion soup. However, for dishes that taste good with coconut added this is a good option.

Coconut milk is a good substitute for evaporated milk because it has a similar texture; meaning it can be used at a ratio of 1:1 in recipes.

What to consider when choosing an alternative milk


No-one enjoys a funky, unexpected flavor when they’re eating so be careful when substituting milks. Non-dairy milk substitutes all have unique flavors so be careful using them. Coconut milk is especially strong and can spoil a dish, just as easily as it can lift a dish.


Always check food labelling before buying a milk substitute as they often contain allergens such as soy or nuts.


Different milk types behave in unique ways when heated. Trial and error will help develop your cooking skills. If you’re cooking for special guests who can’t eat evaporated milk, you may want to test the amended recipe ahead of time to make sure the back-up option works.


If you’re trying to lose weight then check the nutritional panel closely as the fat content and calories vary significantly depending on the milk type. Coconut milk is especially high in fat and calories.

Rice milk in a glassFAQs

What’s the difference between evaporated milk and regular milk?

Evaporated milk is regular milk that has been heated until its water content is reduced by 60%. It is thicker and slightly darker in color with a faint taste of sweet caramel.

Can I substitute sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk?

Sweetened condensed milk is a lot sweeter than evaporated milk so they shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

Can I substitute heavy cream for evaporated milk?

Heavy cream is a good option for replacing evaporated milk if you enjoy dishes that are rich and creamy.

How many cups in a 12 oz can of evaporated milk?

A 12 oz can of evaporated milk contains 354ml or 1 ½ cups.