Evaporated milk is an item widely used for baking purposes. The lactose content in it makes a few people to look for closer alternatives. There are thankfully many other alternatives and the major substitutes are listed here.
Evaporated milk is prepared by eliminating most of the water content (more than half of it) from milk. It is done by heating milk. The resultant outcome is a thicker version of milk.
But, some people may not like the taste of evaporated milk, while some also have reported allergies to the lactose in such milk. There are also people who may need to avoid evaporated milk due to their preference of vegan diet (which is not derived from animals), health related factors (mainly for hormonal and skin health), decreasing the consumption of proteins (as evaporated milk is noted to be high on proteins) or for weight related goals (to lose body weight).
There are fortunately a few substitutes which are both non-dairy based as well as dairy-based.
Among non-dairy based substitutes, the main alternatives are-
#1. Coconut milk- Its flavour and high calorie content make this a great alternative for evaporated milk. The milk from coconut is found to have lauric acid. This can boost the health of your blood vessels as well as catalyse development of brain function. But, as the flavour is unique, you may have to be mindful of the changes it can cause to the final taste of your dish.
#2. Flax milk- It is made by mixing oil extracted from flax seeds and water, or by simply adding flax seeds to water. This mix is known for its omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can decrease the risks associated with strokes or heart disorders. Unlike milk extracted from coconuts, this milk is nearly tasteless. This property enhances its ranking as a great substitute for evaporated milk.
#3. Oat milk- This milk is made by mixing water with oats. As it is simpler to make, it can also be made at your home. This milk can reduce your cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels. As an added benefit, it is also known to boost your digestion. Its fiber content makes it a rare substitute; a property not many substitutes can afford to claim.
#4. Nut milk – Nuts commonly used for making this milk include almonds, cashew, hazelnuts etc. Water is added to the ground nuts and thoroughly filtered to give it a consistency which is similar to evaporated milk. Nut milk is endowed with benefits such as vitamins (especially, E) and calcium. This substitute has one of the lowest levels of calories among alternatives; nearly one-tenth. Cashew milk can be used in more versatile fashion than almond milk. The latter is used mainly for sweet cuisine.
#5. Soy milk – This milk has been in existence over several centuries. Dried soybeans are soaked and ground, then blended with water. The filtered product makes it a near substitute for evaporated milk. Its properties such as protein content, calories and digestion-friendliness come very close to milk sourced from dairy. The other benefits are the presence of minerals, calcium and a few vitamins. Its calorie content however is nearly a third, while its protein content is half of that found in dairy-sourced milk. A few people may not be comfortable with soy milk as the beans may be crops that are be genetically modified.
#6. Rice milk – Soaked rice when ground and added with water yields this milk substitute. It is a great alternative to soy as well. The only drawback is its notable level of glycemic index. It can hence increase your blood sugar level immediately after consumption. The milk has a thinner texture, and hence thickening agents are usually blended to add more richness to it.
#7. Quinoa milk – This milk is prepared by soaking quinoa and mixing with water. Its main attraction is the low quantum of calories, proteins and fats. As it enjoys natural thickness, you may not require an additional thickening agent while using this milk.
Dairy-based substitutes include-
#8. Powdered milk – This is a dehydrated form of milk which is known for its extended shelf life. In its dry form, it can be directly used to make baked products such as cakes or cookies. However, by adding water to the powder, you can make milk with ease. Commercially available brands of powdered milk may vary from one to another. Hence, the right quantum of water to b added may also differ from one brand to another.
#9. Cream – It is used as a direct substitute for evaporated milk and can be used in baking, sauces and soups. However, its fat content and calories are higher than those found in evaporated milk. If you wish to shed some pounds, this may not be a recommended option. On the other hand, if your goal is to enhance the intake of fats and calories, this is the alternative to opt for.
#10. Milk – The normally available milk can be a lighter alternative to evaporated milk. Milk has less than half the quantum of calories, fats and proteins when compared to its evaporated counterpart. However, if you wish to make it as a good alternative, you may need to add thickeners. Commonly used thickeners are corn flour or any other flour. If you have lactose intolerance, then a lactose-free version of normal milk may be used.
There are also other substitutes such as hemp milk (made from seeds of hemp). Half and half is another alternative made with equal proportions of cream and milk.
You can choose a substitute that suits your diet goals best. People lay more emphasis on the calories, fats, proteins, taste and versatility of the alternative while choosing a variant that suits them well. You may have to be careful with the selection as some alternatives may pose serious limitations while used in different dishes. For example, almond milk may go well with sweets and not with savories. On the other hand, milk extracted from cashews is known to go well with both savory as well as sweet dishes.