Evaporated milk and condensed milk are basically the same things. The main difference is that condensed milk is sweetened. If you want condensed milk that isn’t sweetened, it’s evaporated milk you’re after.
Evaporated milk in a can has been commercially available in the US since before the Civil War. It’s used most often in baking and cooking various dishes. But is there a dairy-free evaporated milk option?
While you might not be able to readily find it in stores, you’ll be happy to know that you can make a dairy-free substitute for evaporated milk from plant-based beverages. Here, we’ll show you how!
Evaporated milk is milk that’s been heated until 60% of its water content is removed. What’s left is a denser version of milk which can look a bit like cream. But unlike cream, evaporated milk is no higher in fat than the milk it’s made from.
Evaporated milk is used in recipes for pies, cakes, casseroles, soups and sauces. Some people even use it in their coffee because it has a thick consistency but less fat than cream. You can also put evaporated milk into your smoothies and smoothie bowls as a thickening agent.
Choosing a plant-based beverage for evaporated milk all comes down to your personal preferences. If you want something a little sweeter, you may enjoy using oat milk or almond milk. If you enjoy a thicker consistency, coconut milk may be the way to go. For an earthy, more savory taste, cashew milk could be your best option.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the different types of dairy-free milks to find the best evaporated milk substitute for you. It may take a little trial and error, but in the end you could end up with the perfect evaporated milk for all your cooking and baking needs.
If you’re trying to find a ready-to-use dairy-free substitute for evaporated milk, you may be able to find options at your local store or buy them online. However, they’re not always widely available, so you may find it easier to make your own from a plant-based beverage.
Just about anything that can be made with cow’s milk can also be made with plant-based beverages as a dairy-free substitute. Evaporated milk is no exception.
Below are six plant-based alternatives for dairy-based evaporated milk. Each has its own distinct flavor, but they all have the same basic consistency as traditional evaporated milk.
If you’re making evaporated milk out of a plant-based beverage, use one that isn’t sweetened and doesn’t have additives. Remember, evaporated milk has no added sugar in it, so it’s important that you start with an unsweetened plant-based milk substitute. Always check the ingredients.
Allow your mixture to reach room temperature before using any of the recipes on this list. This is the consistency and temperature expectation for evaporated milk in cooking. You can store any excess evaporated milk in a sealed container, such as a jar, for about a week in your fridge.
The recipe for preparing evaporated milk substitute using a plant-based milk is very simple. Since evaporated milk is milk with 60% of its water removed, you just simmer a plant-based beverage until it’s a little less than half the amount of liquid you started with. This can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes, and it’s important to whisk the mixture often so it doesn’t clump or burn.
Some plant-based beverages are more likely than others to develop a film, even if you whisk them. If a film develops, either spoon off the film with a wooden spoon or strain the mixture.
To make evaporated almond milk, you can use unsweetened almond milk from a box or carton. Begin by bringing 2 cups of almond milk to a simmer in a 3-quart saucepan on the stove. Whisk occasionally to prevent scorching. Simmer for about 35 minutes or until about 60% of the water has evaporated, leaving with you about ¾ cup. You can also use a 1.5-quart saucepan, it will take about 45 minutes to reduce in that smaller sized saucepan.
You’ll know you’ve got the right consistency when you’ve got a little less than half the amount of liquid you started with. If there’s any film on top, you can spoon it off with a wooden spoon or strain the mixture through a mesh strainer.
Cool completely before using and store up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
As with any of these evaporated plant-based milks, you can accidentally cook it down too far. If this happens, just carefully stir in a splash more of the almond beverage to thin it.
A can of light coconut milk is already the same consistency as evaporated milk, so you can use it in recipes exactly as you would use evaporated milk.
If you’re working with thinner coconut milk from a box or carton, use the same technique described above for almond milk. Simmer it on the stove until you achieve the desired consistency, with about 60% of the water evaporated. Coconut may be thicker at the outset than almond milk, so you may not need to simmer it for much more than 35 minutes.
Coconut milk has the highest fat content of all plant-based milks, so evaporated coconut milk will be the highest in fat as well. In a dessert recipe, that high fat content might be a real plus. However, if you’re watching your calories, evaporated coconut milk might not be your best option.
Soy milk is the dairy-free alternative that’s been around the longest. Its chemical makeup actually comes closest to that of dairy milk. However, of all the plant-based milks, it’s also the one people are most often allergic to.
If you don’t have any issues with soy, you’ve got more preparation options than you do with other plant-based beverages. Soy is readily available in a powder. Powdered soy milk has been dehydrated until it’s completely dry.
To turn powdered soy milk into liquid evaporated milk, follow the recipe on the container for rehydrating the powder, but use less water than what’s called for. Since consistency is key, it’s best to add the water a little at a time. You can start by adding half the water the recipe calls for. After that, add water a teaspoon at a time and whisk until you have the desired consistenc
If you’re working with a liquid soy beverage, just simmer off the excess water, whisking occasionally. You want to reduce the volume of your soy milk to about half. The consistency will be thicker but still liquid. If your mixture resembles pudding, you’ve gone too far; add back some water a teaspoon at a time.
Hemp is a great source of mega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which is part of the reason a lot of people use it in cereals and smoothies. If you’ve got a hemp beverage at the ready when a recipe calls for evaporated milk, you can use it as a dairy-free substitute.
Just simmer your hemp milk until 60% of the water evaporates. Make sure to whisk and stir it occasionally while you’re heating it.
Hemp milk doesn’t thin out quite as easily as most other plant-based beverages, so you may have to add a little cornstarch or xanthan gum to the mixture to thicken it. You could also add a little powdered soy milk to create a thicker consistency.
Cashew milk has a distinct flavor that might be just the ticket for savory recipes. It’s earthy and grounding, so it’s great in vegan casseroles, sauces and soups.
Simply simmer and whisk your cashew milk until 60% of the liquid has evaporated. Cashew milk can sometimes be thicker than almond milk, so you may need to simmer it for only 30 minutes. Just keep a close eye on it to ensure you’re not simmering off too much water. If you do, just add cashew milk a tablespoon at a time until it’s the right consistency.
If a recipe calls for evaporated milk, Pacific Foods makes a wide variety of plant-based beverages for people who don’t want to consume dairy. Even if you’re not dairy-free, it’s always nice to have ways to prepare foods that your loved ones can safely eat.
With more than 20 options to choose from, it’s easy to find the right plant-based beverage for you. Stock up your pantry by shopping our plant-based, dairy-free products today.