As wonderful and nutritious and versatile as milk is, it may not be the best thing for sensitive digestive systems. If you’re looking for a milk alternative for someone who is lactose intolerant, has a lactate allergy, or who just wants something a little healthier to drink, there are plenty of milk alternatives to choose from.
Not all of these are created equal, however, with some definitely falling short when it comes to taste or how you can use them in cooking recipes. What’s the best alternative for milk in baking or to put in your cereal?
Let’s talk about the different ways you can use milk and what serves as a good substitute in different situations.
Milk Alternatives for Baking
When you’re baking and need to use milk but require a substitute, what works best? Maybe you don’t have milk on hand and you need to use something else in a pinch. These will work well.
If you’re cooking with milk, probably the best alternative is evaporated milk. You can’t use it as a one-to-one ratio replacement for milk, however. You’ll need to mix the evaporated milk with the same amount of water to create a good milk substitute. Once you’ve done that, you can use it in the place of milk, using the same amounts for whatever recipe you’re making.
Sweetened condensed milk can be used just like milk in a recipe, but you need to be aware that it has some added sugar. You may want to reduce the amount of sugar in whatever recipe you’re making, if you’re using sweetened condensed milk rather than regular milk.
Rice milk makes for an excellent non-dairy substitute, but keep in mind that it’s thinner and more watery than regular milk. That makes for a less creamy milk.
You can also use almond milk as a non-dairy substitute. This is sweeter than regular milk, which means you may need to dial down the sugar in your recipe if you’re using it.
Soy milk is another great baking substitute for regular milk, as it is non-dairy and the taste and texture are very similar. Be aware that some soy milk is flavored, and that can affect the flavor of your dish you are baking as well.
Best Milk Alternative for Cereal
If you’re pouring a milk substitute into your cereal for breakfast, you want to use a liquid that is similar in taste and creaminess to milk. Some of the best substitutes come from nut milks, like almond. Soy milk can work as well, but it’s kind of bland and not as sweet as regular milk. You may want to choose a flavored soy milk.
Keep in mind that the flavor will be a little different from regular milk, but you may get used to how the nut milks or soy milk taste in your cereal after a while.
If you don’t mind dairy, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk can work too, but the evaporated milk will need to be mixed with some water to put it on par with regular milk.
Best Milk Alternative for Coffee
To easily sweeten your coffee without using regular milk or sugar, try sweetened condensed milk. It makes for an excellent creamer, sweetener, and milk substitute all on its own.
Hemp milk makes a good substitute for coffee as well. It has a grassy taste to it that is subtly sweet, and it foams really well. It’s excellent for making cappuccinos and other coffees where foam may be an important consideration for you.
When substituting something for milk, consider not just the taste, but also the texture and the different characteristics of the milk substitute you’re using. What milk alternatives taste the most like milk may not always be the ones that work best for whatever dish you’re substituting them in.
While rice milk does taste a lot like regular milk, it’s probably not going to be great for most coffee lovers as a substitute because of how thin it is. It can make the coffee kind of watery.
Best Milk Alternative for Babies
If you’re giving a baby a substitute for regular milk, you’re probably not wanting to substitute breast milk. Once the baby has moved on beyond needing breast milk as much, you can use a substitute without much problem.
Soy milk is the best substitute for babies, as it has a lot of the same nutrients as regular milk. Keep in mind that if the baby is still young and needs a lot of nutrients in their milk and milk is their main part of their diet, they should still get breast milk or a nutrient-rich baby milk formula.
Other milk substitutes might not be as healthy for them, as they will probably lack some essential nutrients.
What is the healthiest milk alternative for babies? Although soy milk is the best milk alternative in this case, nut milks like almond milk work pretty well too. You can also use grain milk, like oat milk, for your baby.
Milk Alternative for Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese benefits from a thick and creamy milk alternative, like condensed milk, soy milk, or almond milk. Be careful about using any milk that’s very thin in your mac and cheese, such as rice milk, since that can thin out the dish and make it lose some of its creaminess and texture.
Milk Alternatives for Mashed Potato
If you’re substituting milk in mashed potatoes, you also want to think about the thickness, creaminess, and texture of the milk. You don’t want something too thin, if you can help it.
The best mashed potatoes are rich and creamy and flavorful, so you can use a milk substitute like soy milk or almond milk for best results. If you don’t mind a dairy-rich substitute, try using condensed milk or evaporated milk in your mashed potatoes.
Coconut milk makes an excellent substitute as well, as it can be used in place of heavy cream.