Ingredient Intelligence

Out of Evaporated Milk? Here’s What to Use Instead.

updated Apr 28, 2020
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Can of evaporated milk
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Do you usually have a can or two of evaporated milk in your pantry? If the answer is no, do yourself a favor a grab a couple of cans the next time you’re at the supermarket. Sometimes confused with condensed milk (which is sweetened), evaporated milk is just milk that has been slowly heated to concentrate, evaporating 60% of its water content to give a purely milky flavor. It’s great for adding creaminess to soups, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese, and as a shelf-stable replacement for whole milk or heavy cream.

If you do normally stock evaporated milk in your pantry and you were just about to whip up a Do Nothing Cake, only to realize that you used up both cans making chocolate glaze for doughnuts and that poppyseed casserole, don’t worry: You can make it work with plenty of other dairy products you might already have in your kitchen. These are 4 of the best substitutes for evaporated milk.

Worth noting: You can use skim, lactose-free, dairy-free, and even coconut evaporated milk anywhere you’d use evaporated milk. These are easy alternatives if your store ever runs out of your go-to evaporated milk too.

Credit: Kelli Foster

How to Make Evaporated Milk from Milk

If you’ve got milk on hand and a bit of time, you can make your own evaporated milk. You’ll need 2 1/2 cups of milk (whole and 2% work best) for every cup of evaporated milk. Bring the milk to a bare simmer in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cook it down by at least half, stirring very frequently. This may take an hour to 90 minutes depending on your pot and stove. Cool this DIY evaporated milk completely before using it.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Substitute Half-and-Half for Evaporated Milk

Half-and-half is the best ready-to-use substitute for evaporated milk in your kitchen, thanks to its higher fat content and creamy consistency. You can make a 1-for-1 swap with half-and-half in a recipe calling for evaporated milk.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Substitute Heavy Cream for Evaporated Milk

That heavy cream you bought to whip up as a topping for your sweet potato pie can also be used in place of evaporated milk in the filling. Heavy cream has a higher fat content than evaporated milk, but it can still be used as a 1:1 swap in pies, cakes, and casseroles. Keep an eye on baking times, though, as the extra fat may extend the total time your pie needs to set.

How to Substitute Powdered Milk for Evaporated Milk

Dry or powdered milk is your baking BFF. When you run out of evaporated milk, just mix 1 cup of powdered milk with 1 1/2 cups of warm water to replace one 12-ounce can of evaporated milk in your recipe.

Swaps and Substitutions

Even the most well-stocked kitchens run out of pantry staples from time to time. Whether you’re trying to limit your grocery shopping or you need to make a last-minute ingredient swap, we’ve got you covered. This series will walk you through the best substitutions and replacements for common cooking and baking ingredients.