We all plan for the big hits when transitioning to a dairy-free diet. We know that cheese is a big hurdle, and finding dairy-free ice cream is a must. But unexpected things always pop up, like classic recipes that call for ingredients like evaporated milk. Luckily, there are easy options, such as this homemade dairy-free evaporated milk substitute.
Evaporated milk is milk with more than half the water simmered off. Yes, it really is that basic. It’s just concentrated milk. You can do the same thing at home, but dairy-free and vegan-friendly, with the tips and recipe below.
Easy Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk from Rice Milk, Soy Milk, or Nut Milk
With a recipe like this, there are always questions. Here’s my little FAQ for making your own dairy-free evaporated milk substitute.
Which Milk Beverage is Best to Use?
In reality, the best ones are the ones with no additives, or minimal additives. Additives can cause curdling or make the beverage less appealing when evaporated. Nonetheless, most ordinary brands seem to work find. I’ve tested this with rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk beverages. But see my note below about quicker options if you are thinking about using coconut milk beverage.
But I do not recommend using a milk beverage with added protein. Some have naturally occurring protein which is great! But when I’ve tried cooking brands that have added protein concentrates, like pea protein, they don’t work well.
Help, My Milk Beverage Curdled!
Some milk beverages will “curdle” or separate if heated too much. If this happens, you can usually let it cool slightly, and blend it in your blender until smooth again.
Oops! I Cooked it Down Too Much!
If you accidentally steam off too much, just whisk in a little milk beverage (from the carton) to bring it up to 1 1/2 cups.
I Don’t Have Time. Is There a Quicker Option?
There are actually a few very quick options!
- My favorite quick substitute, is just to use canned lite coconut milk (NOT coconut milk beverage) in place of evaporated milk. One can contains about 1 3/4 cup. It’s nature’s version of evaporated milk. (Tip: Thai Kitchen now has a resealable, multi-serve package of lite coconut milk)
- There are a few brands of dairy-free evaporated milk that you can buy online and keep on hand. The most popular one is Nature’s Charm. But they cost much more than my first suggestion, and are essentially the same thing.
- You can make my Instant Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk Recipe.
But if you don’t have any of the ingredients on hand for the above options, or you want to make a specific type of dairy-free evaporated milk substitute, then this is your recipe. And don’t worry, it doesn’t require much hands on time at all, so you can prep or clean other things in the kitchen as it simmers!
Special Diet Notes: Easy Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk
Depending on the ingredient you use, this recipe can be dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, sugar-free, coconut-free, vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, pale, and / or keto-friendly.
- 3¾ cup unsweetened dairy-free rice milk, soymilk, or nut milk
- Pour the milk beverage into a saucepan, and place it over medium-low heat.
- Simmer, whisking occasionally, until the milk beverage reduces to 1½ cups, about 30 minutes (see Time Note below). You want it to simmer, and steam, but do not bring it to a boil.
- Store the dairy-free evaporated milk substitute in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It can be frozen into cubes if needed later.