It’s pretty much any home cook’s worst nightmare. You’re knee-deep in a baking project when you reach into the fridge, pull out a carton of milk — and come to the horrible realization that someone stuck that puppy back in with only a few drops left.
But before you let desperation set in, these easy substitutions will help your baked goods come out just as moist and flavorful as if you had used real milk, and you probably even have them sitting around in your refrigerator or pantry.
You can use water in most baking recipes that call for milk. Use 1 cup of water and 1-1/2 teaspoons of butter for every 1 cup of milk called for in the recipe. The extra butter will help your baked goods stay moist.
Evaporated milk or dry milk
Check the back of your pantry for evaporated milk or dry milk powder. To replace 1 cup of regular milk, use 1/2 cup evaporated milk mixed with 1/2 cup water, or make the equivalent of 1 cup of milk using the dried milk powder.
Canned coconut milk
Canned coconut milk will sub beautifully for regular milk in your baked goods while imbuing a subtle coconut flavor to your food. Use 1 part coconut milk for every 1 part of regular milk called for in the recipe, skimming any coconut solids from the top of the can before measuring.
Nut, rice or oat milk
Even if you don’t have any nondairy milk in your fridge, if you keep oats, cooked rice or unsalted nuts on hand, you’re in luck. For simple almond milk, blend 1 cup of soaked almonds with 4 cups of water, then strain. Oat milk is easy and cheap too — just blend 1 cup of rolled oats with 3 cups of water, then strain. For rice milk, blend 1 cup of cooked rice with 3 cups of water, then strain.
Yogurt will add moisture and a slight tang to your baked goods. Plain yogurt is best, as Greek yogurt’s high protein content can change the texture of your food. Use the same amount of plain yogurt as you would milk in your recipe. You can also use kefir, a drinkable yogurt, as a 1:1 substitute for milk.