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Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

How to Substitute Condensed Milk (Buttermilk, Evaporated, Sweetened Condensed, Powdered)

Posted on by Alisa Fleming in Dairy Substitutes with 3 Comments

Click on the subtitles below for instant information on how to substitute condensed milk ingredients, such as buttermilk, evaporated milk, powdered milk, and sweetened condensed milk, with dairy-free options …

Buttermilk Subs

Most quick cooks know that buttermilk can be whipped up in a jiffy by “souring” regular milk.  Likewise, milk alternatives can be “soured” to produce a buttermilk alternative that can be substituted for the real thing using a 1:1 ratio. Simply add roughly 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar (apple cider, white, etc.) to 1 cup of non-dairy milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes before adding it to your recipe.

It may or may not “curdle” like dairy milk, but homemade dairy-free buttermilk alternative still serves it’s purpose in recipes. Buttermilk is often used when acidic ingredient is needed to activate baking soda, when a certain flavor profile is desired, or when a slightly thicker milk alternative suits the recipe. By “souring” the milk with citrus or vinegar, the same or similar end result is produced.

At this time, there aren’t any store-bought buttermilk substitutes available, but I have included a couple of homemade variations here as well as in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook …

Evaporated Milk Subs

Evaporated milk, also referred to as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed. It can be “re-hydrated” with water to make a dairy milk equivalent. Though dairy-free or vegan evaporated milk isn’t something you will easily find in stores, it is relatively easy to make, and your homemade version won’t require the processing of the canned versions! Here are some handy ways to substitute condensed milk in recipes …

Thinned Coconut Milk

Allow a can of full fat coconut milk to settle (about 1/2 hour). The coconut cream will rise to the top and can easily be skimmed off.  The thinner liquid can be substituted using a 1:1 ratio for evaporated milk. Reserve the thick cream to use as a cream substutite. This is a bit higher in fat than the other alternatives, but should yield excellent results. Coconut milk does have a distinct flavor that is best for desserts, baked goods, or savory dishes that work well with a coconut vibe. However, the watery part of the coconut milk is much less intense than the cream, allowing it to slip in undetected when your recipe has a bold flavor profile.

Milk Alternative-Based

Evaporated Milk can be simulated fairly well by using either a liquid or powder milk alternative.  The quickest option is a higher ratio of “milk” powder to water, but minimal labor is involved in evaporating rice or soymilk to substitute condensed milk.  Try one of the recipes below for an easy evaporated milk substitute right from your pantry! …

Sweetened Condensed Milk Subs

Sweetened Condensed Milk is another reduced and canned version of milk, but unlike evaporated milk, it has sugar cooked in, making it a delight for dessert recipes. Sweetened Condensed Soy Milk seems to periodically become available (it’s produced in Brazil), but has never really taken off in the U.S. market. But have no fear, there are some other sweet options to substitute condensed milk, both store-bought and homemade …

Cream of Coconut

Cream of Coconut works well as a sweetened condensed milk alternative, and can offer a wonderful tropical flavor to your desserts. Substitute it for sweetened condensed milk using a 1:1 ratio. Do not confuse this with Coconut Cream, Cream of Coconut is much sweeter, and sold in separate cans. Look for brands such as Coco Lopez, Roland, Coco Real, or Goya.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Alternative

My favorite way to make sweetened condensed “milk” is using coconut milk. It makes an amazing substitute. The recipe for that one can be found in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, but I’ve included some other great homemade option in the recipe tab below.

Powdered Milk

Non-dairy milk powders do exist, but they can be harder to find in stores. Fortunately, they are widely available online, where I recommend purchasing them for the most options and the best price. I’ve included links below to help you easily find the powdered non-dairy milk that will work best for you, and my favorite homemade option in a pinch. For more tips on how to substitute milk powder in recipes, see the dairy substitutes section in Go Dairy Free.

Soy Milk Powder

This is the most common and readily available dairy-free powdered milk. It can be found at some mainstream grocers, and at times in bulk. But, if all else fails, you can easily purchase soy milk powder online. The following brands are quite popular: Better Than Milk, Fearn, and Now Foods.

Use equal parts soy milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Rice Milk Powder

While not as common as soymilk powder, rice milk powder can be found in some stores, or fairly easily online. The two most common brands are Better Than Milk and Growing Naturals.  Since it is free of dairy, lactose, soy, and gluten, rice milk may be an excellent option for many food allergies and intolerances.

Use equal parts rice milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Potato Milk Powder

Potato milk powder can be an excellent option for those who are soy intolerant, or who are just seeking another milk alternative options, but it isn’t as readily available as soy or rice milk powders. The primary brand on the market is Vance’s DariFree Potato Milk Powder in both chocolate and original.

Use equal parts potato milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Coconut Milk Powder

Coconut milk powder would be an amazing substitute for dairy milk powder if it weren’t for one little added ingredient, caseinate (milk protein). Most brands of coconut milk powder have a very small amount of casein added for texture, and it can be near impossible to find one that is 100% dairy-free. I’ve heard rumors of one or two brands that happen to be vegan in Asian markets – if you find one, be sure to email the brand, so that I can share it!

If you can find a dairy-free one, use equal parts coconut milk powder in recipes calling for milk powder.

Cashew Powder

In a pinch, I grind cashews to use in place of milk powder in recipes. Unlike some nuts, cashews powder easily, rather than turning immediately into nut butter. Once powdered, cashews blend nicely into recipes without any residual grit (though you may want to sift out any nut chunks!). This isn’t a good option for those who have nut alleriges, and keep in mind that the cashews will add a little more fat to the recipe than other milk powders, which could slightly effect the outcome.

For more substitute recipes and dairy alternative tips from my kitchen, see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.

How to Substitute Condensed Milk - Vegan & Dairy-Free Buttermilk, Sweetened, Evaporated, Powdered

Cream of Coconut – Photo from King Arthur Flour

About Alisa Fleming

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

View all posts by Alisa Fleming →

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living


  1. Amanda KiernanOctober 14, 2012 at 4:45 pmReply

    So very excited for this site! Being recently diagnosed with food allergies I was very dissappointed trying to substatute dairy!!!

  2. KatreenaNovember 6, 2012 at 2:53 pmReply

    Thank you so much! With the holiday season approaching, I’m finding tons of amazing desert recipes that I’d love to make for my son…except he’s allergic to milk. I’ve gotten fairly good at making substitutions, but didn’t have one for the sweetened condensed milk that so many recipes call for…but I do always have cream of coconut in stock to make pina coladas. :)

  3. AlexisDecember 21, 2012 at 8:25 pmReply

    Thank you so much for your website and all of this useful information! I have been trying to move our family to a dairy-free lifestyle since our daughter was diagnosed with a dairy allergy at 3 months old. That was 4 years ago and I’m at the point that I can’t shelter her from all of the yummy dairy-laiden recipes anymore, so I’m learning from your website how to use good substitutions instead of total avoidance. Your site is one of the most useful I have found so far, so my daughter and the rest of my non-allergic family (who have suffered through some pretty interesting recipes from other websites) just want to say thank you!!!

  4. stephanieJanuary 13, 2013 at 12:46 pmReply

    I am trying to make “ranch dressing popcorn” It calls for buttermilk powder, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt and pepper. I am allergic to dairy including Casein…which powder would you recommend for this recipe. Since it isn’t being cooked. Thanks!

    • Alisa FlemingJanuary 14, 2013 at 3:19 pmReplyAuthor

      I just skip the powder when I make ranch popcorn. It is the seasoning that matters most.

      • stephanieJanuary 14, 2013 at 10:17 pmReply

        Awesome. Thanks so much for responding Alisa :)

  5. LauraApril 22, 2013 at 8:41 amReply

    Nice website! I’m having guests aboard for a 5-day charter and one of them is allergic to Dairy products (including eggs) and I found your website very informative and helpful Thanks!!

  6. HelenJuly 4, 2013 at 9:54 pmReply

    Would like to make chicken & mushroom vol u vents for a party but my sister can’t have any dairy in her diet at all but the recipe calls for cream . what can I substitute the cream for

  7. PriscillaNovember 18, 2013 at 6:51 amReply

    Need a receipe for canned sweet potatoe casserole totally vegan, that will also appeal to non-vegans, so I don’t have to make 2 casseroles. 40oz. Of sweet potatoes; no marshmellows because of the gelatin.

    Also, what can I substitute for shortening in my homemade pumpkin breads?

    Thank you.


    • Alisa FlemingNovember 18, 2013 at 11:01 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Priscilla,

      Do you have a copy of Go Dairy Free? There is a sweet potato casserole recipe on page 189 that is vegan and meets your needs.

      I like coconut oil in pumpkin bread. Other options include dairy-free margarine, non-hydrogenated palm shortening, or in most cases, any type of oil will work in quick breads. It depends on the recipe a bit on which will produce superior results.

    • AnaraMay 4, 2014 at 10:58 amReply

      For the sweet potato casserole try using coconut yogurt, vanilla or plain. Sweeten with honey or agave, a pinch of salt, and rosemary. It’s how we make our mashed sweet potatoes to get a break from the traditional fall spices, and it is amazing! You can use any vegan yogurt, but the coconut yogurt adds a nice naturally sweet and nutty taste & gives the dish dimension. Soy yogurt adds no flavor when it’s cooked. My traditional Southern sweet potato casserole recipe uses evaporated milk, so if you don’t use the yogurt for a casserole then follow Alisa’s tips for dairy free evaporated milk. My daughter is the only one in our family who can’t have dairy, and I love dairy free recipes that the entire family enjoys!

  8. Olga D. GrovicNovember 25, 2013 at 4:18 pmReply

    Can the coconut milk be used as a sub for evaporated milk for pumpkin pies, please? Thanks!

    • Alisa FlemingNovember 25, 2013 at 5:31 pmReplyAuthor

      Yes, I usually use the lite canned coconut milk (not coconut milk beverage).

  9. PaulaNovember 27, 2013 at 5:54 pmReply

    I love your site! So much info. I just made evaporated milk from rice milk to use in a pumpkin pie. I have so many other things cooking can I just refrigerate it and use it to make the pie in the morning? Thanks so much! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

    • Alisa FlemingNovember 27, 2013 at 9:02 pmReplyAuthor

      It should work okay in the morning, too! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  10. LindaOctober 29, 2014 at 2:41 pmReply

    I’m making pumpkin pie. Can the evaporated milk recipe I be added to the mix while hot or must it cool first?

    • Alisa FlemingOctober 30, 2014 at 8:04 amReplyAuthor

      I would wait for it to cool to at least room temperature before proceeding.

  11. EveNovember 30, 2014 at 8:01 amReply

    Trying to be Vegan, this is great. Thanks!

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