Milk is one of the most crucial parts of baking. Almost every single cake, dessert, and muffin recipe will call for it. Even if it’s just a tablespoon, omitting it would cause dryness issues with your dish.
But what if you can’t or don’t want to use milk? You may be lactose intolerant or want to live a vegan lifestyle. You may just want to lose weight and find that milk isn’t helping your efforts at all. Does that mean all your baking options are limited?
Not at all! There are now plenty of milk substitutes for your baking needs. Some of them will be obvious and you’ll see them daily in the store without really realizing. However, there are others that you may not quite have considered. Milk (and milk products) is one of the easiest things you can substitute in your baking.
Here’s your ultimate list of milk substitutes for all your baking needs. There is going to be something that works for you, whether you want a creamy texture or just some moisture.
Start with Soy Milk
The first one to make the list has to be soy milk. It’s the most popular milk substitute in the world and has been around for years. It’s so popular in fact that there are baby formulas created with soy milk rather than cow’s milk to help counter children’s dairy allergies.
You can get soy milk in most of grocery stores now. They don’t cost a lot of extra money like they used to do, either.
Soy offers you the ability to get something thick and creamy. It’s perfect for those recipes where you use a lot of milk for the creamy texture. You can also add it to curries and soups to help thicken them and make them creamier than before. It’s also the perfect option for your pancake and waffle mixes! You won’t be able to taste the difference, especially if you pick up the plain varieties. The whole point is to be invisible for most of your needs.
However, the taste is slightly stronger than normal milk and other milk substitutes. When you have a delicate dessert or sauce it may not be the best option.
You can get multiple flavors of soy milk. Vanilla, chocolate, and mocha are among some of the more popular options. They’re great for your drinks and can be useful for some baking needs. However, the flavors will come through in the taste of your end products.
Soy is also the best alternative when it comes to the nutrients. It’s a complete protein and the only complete protein on the list. That means it has all the amino acids, as well as the initial burst of protein. It’s the only like for like dairy substitute because of this. So, if you want to switch to full lifestyle or diet requirements (rather than just looking for a temporary replacement) then you’ll want to seriously consider soy milk.
This isn’t an option if you’re an allergy to soy. You’ll need to look at other milk substitutes.
Opt for Rice Milk Instead
The next one on the list is known as rice milk. This is considered the closest to cow’s milk, making it the perfect option for every single baking need. It’s sweet and light, creating bouncy and delicious cakes, sauces, and more. It’s also one of the best to whisk, helping for some of your fluffier baking recipes.
One of the downsides of rice milk is the cost. While it is popular, it still has extra costs involved compared to soy milk. It’s not the most popular option, especially as a few other milk substitutes start to take over.
If you’re making savory delicacies, you’ll want to avoid rice milk. It’s much sweeter than other options naturally and this sweet taste will come through.
One of the downsides is the lack of nutrients. It has minimal protein and other nutrients that you’d get from dairy and soy milk. You’ll want to look for alternatives that have extra calcium and vitamin D added to them.
Try Out Oat Milk for Low-Fat Options
One of the issues with soy and rice milk is the fattening nature. They’re very similar to cow’s milk, in the way that they have a few extra calories and they can be thick and creamy. If you want to find a milk substitute that is great for the waistline, consider using oat milk instead.
The flavor if it is extremely mild. You’ll get a slight sweetness, but it’s perfect for your more savory options. The texture is also light, which helps to keep sauces and bakery items fluffy and moist. You can also use it in your mashed potatoes, in tea, and on cereal without too many problems.
You should be able to find oat milk in your local grocery store. It can be on the more pricier side as it’s still not one of the most popular milk substitutes. However, it’s worth the costs when you get such a delicious taste.
Consider Almond Milk for Some Baking Needs
Depending on the items you’re making, you may want to consider almond milk. This is growing in popularity and tastes excellent. It’s also low in calories, which makes it the perfect diet-friendly substitute. It’s easily available in grocery stores, with many companies putting on regular offers because so many people are turning to it.
You can get almond milk in a variety of flavors. Chocolate and vanilla tend to be the second two most popular options after plain almond milk.
With plain, you will still get a hint of the almonds. This can leave your tea or coffee with a slightly nutty texture, which isn’t for everyone. When it comes to baking, it can be great for most of needs. It’s got a creamy texture like soy make, making it the perfect alternative if you’re also allergic to soy milk. However, you may be able to taste the sweeter, nutty flavors in your baking.
If you’re not the biggest fan of almonds, you can also look at hazelnut or cashew nut milk. These both have similar tastes, but they are much harder to find.
The only reason you’re really want to avoid any of these milk is if you’re allergic to nuts. It shouldn’t need to be said, but they really are made from the nuts!
Hemp milk is another nutty alternative and is starting to become popular. If you’re not allergic to nuts, you may want to consider it if you like the nutty texture to your dishes or you’re cooking with nuts anyway. However, some people find this too chalky and gritty for their baking needs.
Opt for Sunflower or Flax Milk
When you want something like almond milk but you’re allergic to nuts, you’ll want to think about using sunflower or flax milk instead. They make excellent vegan and paleo options for your meals. They are also good for diet-friendly substitutes.
They tend to taste quite bland, especially flax milk. This is great for most of your baking needs, as you just want to replace the liquid needs to prevent your dishes drying out. They can make some of the best options for bread and cakes, where other flavors take over.
These can be difficult to find in the grocery store. You’ll want to consider a health store instead.
Think About Coconut Milk
Another popular option is coconut milk. You won’t find this in the same place as your other milk substitutes in the grocery store. It’s usually in the baking aisle and in a can because it’s much easier to store for the long term.
Coconut milk has a hint of the coconut, which can disrupt some of your dishes. You’ll have to determine whether a coconut flavor will work with the result. It can be delicious when mixed with other fruity flavors or other sweet products, but it’s the best option for your savory products.
One of the big benefits of coconut milk is its thickness. It’s perfect for thickening all types of dishes and sauces for your desserts. Of course, the thickness means a few extra calories. However, it still has fewer calories than dairy milk and it can be an excellent diet-friendly alternative.
You’ll want to look out for unsweetened coconut milk. There are already natural sugars in the milk, so there’s no need for added sugar.
Making Your Own Condensed or Evaporated Milk or Buttermilk
It’s not just normal milk products that will be off limits. You’ll also want to look for other milk products that you can replace in your baking. Many recipes will call for evaporated or condensed milk. While it’s hard to find substitutes on the shelves in your grocery store, you can make your own. This is also the case for buttermilk if you’re willing to go to the extra effort.
Use whichever milk substitute you want to be listed above to create your own dishes. Soy or rice milk tends to be the best options for evaporated or condensed milk. Soy or almond milk can be excellent options for buttermilk for the thickness.
Making evaporated milk:
Pour your milk substitute in a pan and simmer until you’ve reduced it by 60%. You’ll get a cup of evaporated milk from about 3 cups of your milk substitute.
Making condensed milk:
Once you’ve made your evaporated milk, you can make your own condensed milk.
Use a cup of the evaporated milk and have about a cup of sugar. Allow the sugar to completely dissolve in the milk while still over the heat and then allow to completely cool. You’ll get about a cup or a cup and a half of the condensed milk.
Making your own buttermilk:
For buttermilk, you just need to add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of your milk alternative. Combine the ingredients together and you’re ready to use it! It really is that simple.
Go with Taste Not Fad
There is certain milk that will go in and out of the trend. Soy milk was once the go-to dairy milk alternative. Then it was coconut milk and currently its almond milk. It won’t be surprising if hemp, sunflower, or even rice milk takes over at some point in the future.
There’s always a reason to try out the different substitutes. They can give a better taste, or they can be better for the texture. Some say that the alternatives are better for the health or they may have shown some support for weight management.
At the end of the day, it’s all about you enjoying your meals. The options above are all the milk substitutes available. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with working with a substitute that isn’t the current trend. Give a current trendy substitute a try, but don’t panic if you don’t like it. Don’t force yourself to enjoy baking with it! Opt for the milk that you like the taste and texture of the most.
You may find that you have multiple types of substitutes in your cupboard and fridge. After all, certain baked dishes will work better with some over others. You can find rice milk is excellent for your thinner, lighter dishes, while oat milk is necessary for the savory options. In all other cases, you may opt for soy or even almond milk!
Still, want to use dairy milk now and then? That’s okay! You can just use the alternatives every now and then if the only reason you’re switching is for your weight management or taste needs.
It’s Time to Start Substituting
Goat’s milk isn’t a safe alternative to cow’s milk. There are still some dairy sugars in it, so if you’re lactose intolerant you can still suffer from stomach upsets. You’ll need to look at non-dairy substitutes if this is the reason you’re looking at alternatives. Work with your dietary needs (such as allergies) and find something that works for your taste and texture needs. There are so many milk alternatives that substitution is easy.