The Five Best Vegan Substitutes For Evaporated Milk

If you’re a vegan or attempting to follow a vegan lifestyle to some degree, you’re probably already aware of what a challenge it can be. This is particularly the case when it comes to making substitutes to a recipe, and evaporated milk is one of the awkward things that you may struggle to find other options for.

There are a few alternatives to evaporated milk, such as coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk, rice milk, and almond milk. Depending on the recipe, you may find one or the other of these more suitable, but they should all work in most cases, so you can pick based on your preferences and the local availability of these products.

How Do You Turn Non-Dairy Milk Into Evaporated Milk?

You can’t just pour in the same quantity of non-dairy milk when the recipe calls for evaporated milk – sadly, it doesn’t work that way. You have to process the non-dairy milk to make it similar to the evaporated milk option and a suitable alternative.

This is fortunately fairly simple, but it can take about twenty minutes, so you might want to prepare it in advance, and not start working on the main recipe until you have got the evaporated non-dairy milk ready to use. 

Start by measuring out twice the amount of non-dairy milk as you want to finish up with; a lot is going to be evaporating for this. You should then pour the vegan milk into a saucepan and mentally mark how far up the pan it comes. 

When it has finished boiling, it should come halfway up to this line; you want half of the milk to get evaporated before you have finished.

You may find you need to draw on the pan, but you should only do this if you can find a food-safe option. Alternatively, dip a wooden spoon into the milk and look at how far up the spoon the milk comes. Set the soon aside and use it to measure later, as you should have a damp line to show you where the milk reached to.

Next, you’re going to bring the vegan milk to a boil, and then lower the heat so that the milk is simmering gently. Make sure you are nearby throughout this process as some vegan milks boil fast and may spill over the edge of the pan.

Stir the milk occasionally to prevent sticking and wait until about half of the liquid has evaporated. The remainder may look a little thicker, but should otherwise be much the same. You can then turn off the heat.

The milk is ready to use at this point. It can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a week, or used in a recipe immediately. If you going to store it first, make sure it is still okay to use when the time comes.

One: Coconut Milk

coconut milk
Marco Verch Professional Photographer, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

This is often listed as the best alternative to evaporated milk because it shares many of the same properties. Coconut milk is rich, creamy, and thicker than many of the other plant milks, so it makes a good substitute for many recipes that depend on the thickness of evaporated milk. All in all, it’s probably the closest product.

Of course, coconut milk does have quite a distinctive taste that will affect the flavor of your end product. However, provided you like the taste of coconut milk, this shouldn’t be a problem, and it may actually add to the enjoyment of your dessert.

You should be looking at the tinned coconut milk here, not coconut butter or the thinner stuff you get in cartons. 

If you only have a carton of coconut milk, you still need to spend time evaporating it, whereas tinned coconut milk may not need this.

It is a good idea to try recipes with coconut milk before you attempt other vegan alternatives. If the recipe only just works with the tinned coconut milk, you can guarantee it will struggle at least to some degree with the other options.

Even if you would like to use another milk in the future, try coconut milk for your first substitution, as this is the most likely option to succeed, and the process may give you more insight into the cooking and how different ingredients behave.

Two: Oat Milk

oat milk
jacqueline, CC BY-NC 2.0, via Flickr

A second popular option, and one you can actually make at home if you’re inclined to, oat milk should work well in your cooking. Oat milk is again one of the reasonably thick milks, although you will still need to boil it and thicken it up before you start using it in cooking.

The great thing about using oats is that they don’t really affect the flavor of the recipe too much, so you can include them without ruining the original flavor and texture of the dessert. It’s a good option because few people are allergic to oats, and oat milk works to help desserts retain their texture.

However, oat milk is not as thick as evaporated milk, so you will have to add double to the pan and boil it down until it is a suitable thickness for using.

Oat milk can easily be made at home if you have a blender; you just need some water and oats. There are plenty of recipes online, but essentially, all you do is blend the oats and then remove the dregs, leaving a rich, creamy “milk” from the water and bits of oats mixed together.

Three: Soy Milk

Soy milk is another good alternative for vegans. It is also quite thick and has a neutral flavor that shouldn’t affect the dish you’re making significantly. Many people enjoy the flavor of soy milk, and as it has a protein content that is similar to dairy milk, it may be suitable if you have to watch your protein intake.

You will need to boil this to remove some of the liquid and thicken it before use, but it should work as a substitute for evaporated milk. Usually, you will want to boil about sixty percent of the milk off before it is ready to use.

One of the great things about soy milk is that it is readily available in most stores, whereas some of the more obscure plant milks may be more difficult to get hold of.

Four: Rice Milk

rice milk
Daniele Pellati, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you would prefer a slightly more unusual option, you might like rice milk. This is good if you’re trying to lose weight, as it has a lower fat content than some of the other plant milks, or full-fat dairy milk.

A lot of people also like the flavor of rice milk, and it is fortunately very easy to use. However, you should be aware that it is much thinner than evaporated milk, and you will need to boil it for longer to compensate for this and ensure your recipe doesn’t end up getting too wet.

Once your rice milk has thickened, you can use it just as you would ordinary evaporated milk. Rice milk is a great option because the flavor is pretty neutral and inoffensive, so it shouldn’t alter the taste of the dessert significantly.

A second bonus that rice milk offers is that few people are allergic to it, so if you’re catering to allergies, you will have an easier time of it. Although people can be allergic to rice, this is pretty rare, and you should be able to use it safely in most cases.

Five: Almond Milk

almond milk

Like rice milk, almond milk runs into some problems when it is used as a substitute for evaporated milk, because it is very thin and has a high water content. That doesn’t mean almond milk is unsuitable, but you may find it more difficult to cook with, especially if you are trying to create something that is moisture sensitive.

Almond milk probably won’t work as well as some of the other choices on this list, but if you boil off as much of the liquid as you can (or at least as much as is necessary), it should produce an edible end result that is “okay,” if not a masterpiece.

Almond milk does have a nice flavor, but many people find that this is too strong and messes with other flavors in the dish. However, this may depend on what sort of almond milk you buy, because some almond milks taste stronger than other kinds.

The nutty flavoring can work really well with some kinds of ingredients, but make sure it is an effect that you want to achieve first. If not, you may wish to try one of the other vegan plan milks instead!

Conclusion

There are plenty of great vegan alternatives for evaporated milk, even if you have to make some of them thicker yourself. Simply boiling them on the stove is usually enough for this. So, that’s our list of the five best vegan substitutes for evaporated milk; hopefully, you have found something suitable for you to use in your recipes now!

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Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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