Easy Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk from Rice Milk, Soy Milk, or Nut Milk

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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 Substitute Recipe from Rice, Soy, Nut, or Coconut Milk - plus other options for substitution! (plant-based, vegan-friendly, plus paleo, keto, coconut-free, or allergen-free, as needed)

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!

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

Easy Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk Substitute Recipe from Rice, Soy, Nut, or Coconut Milk - plus other options for substitution! (plant-based, vegan-friendly, plus paleo, keto, coconut-free, or allergen-free, as needed)

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.

Easy Dairy-Free Evaporated Milk Substitute
 
This recipe makes the equivalent to one 12-ounce can of evaporated milk. You can use it in recipes just as you would the original! See my tips in the post above.
Author:
Recipe type: Drink
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1½ cups
Ingredients
  • 3¾ cup unsweetened dairy-free rice milk, soymilk, or nut milk
Instructions
  1. Pour the milk beverage into a saucepan, and place it over medium-low heat.
  2. 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.
  3. Store the dairy-free evaporated milk substitute in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It can be frozen into cubes if needed later.
Notes
Time Note: The time can vary quite a bit, depending on your milk beverage, humidity, stove, pot, etc. I've had it take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food 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, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

32 Comments

  1. I cannot have dairy, soy or coconut. For making fudge or pumpkin pie would doing this with almond milk work. I have gotten sick from rice milk too.

    • Brittany Daniels on

      Bonnie, Have you tried Ripple Brand Pea Milk? It has protein like soy milk, but without the dairy, soy and coconut in it.

      • As noted above, I don’t recommend using milks with added protein. Pea protein milks, like Ripple, are simply protein and oil emulsions. They can thicken oddly. I’ve tested it several times in recipes and sauces. But, their half and half might work well as a direct sub for evaporated milk. So that’s a good brand to mention!

  2. Hello! Thank you for this post! How liberating! 🙂 Can I make this ahead of time and store in the refrigerator? If so, how long do I have to use it? I want to make cinnamon rolls next weekend and have all the ingredients ready ahead of time 😉 Thank you!

    • Yes, it should keep for a week. Another quick option that should work well in cinnamon rolls is simply to use lite canned coconut milk. You will get about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups in one can.

  3. do I need to cook it down if I’m putting it in the crockpot? I’m making gluten free mac n’ cheese and was gonna use almond milk. It calls for 4 c. evaporated milk. I just need to avoid caseine.

  4. Hi. I am working on freeing my fudge from lactose, and I basically have two options for subbing the evaporated milk: boil down some almond or rice milk as suggested above, or try canned coconut milk. Have you ever tried to make fudge with either of those options? If I used coconut milk, I’m not sure whether to use the thicker milk from the can, the thinner milk, or mix them together and use that… Thoughts?

    • Hi Rachel, yes! I make fudge with canned coconut milk all the time! I typically use full-fat coconut milk. You might be able to use one light can, one full-fat can, but I haven’t tried that. It would really depend on the recipe, too. If you are worried about coconut flavor, just add a touch more vanilla.

    • Brittany Daniels on

      When Connie said her grand daughter was just diagnosed with nickel allergy and said she can’t have any canned foods, canned coconut milk is out of the question. In fact coconut and all products made with coconut (like shredded coconut, canned coconut milk, boxed and refrigerated coconut milk, coconut yogurt, coconut water, etc….) are to be avoided on a nickel free diet that her grand daughter has to be on because of a nickel allergy.

  5. My grand daughter was recently diagnosed with a “nickel’ allergy. We cannot use canned foods. My question is……….what can we use as evaporated milk to make a pumpkin pie…..(using a fresh pumpkin). thank you

  6. I am making my own creme brûlée coffee creamer using evaporated milk but I’m lactose intolerant. The recipe calls for 12oz can of evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of brown sugar and bring to a boil. Can I use Vanilla Almond milk instead?

    • I would use evaporated dairy-free milk or light canned coconut milk for a cheater option. A carton milk beverage is too thin for most recipes that call for evaporated milk, I’ve found.

  7. Alisa – I tried making custard with Almond milk and it came out grainy and just terrible. Are you sure that you can make a sufficient evap milk substiture for things like pumpkin pie and have it come out properly?

  8. Pingback: Ask the Vegan: What Can I Use Instead of Milk? | I Eat Grass

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