7 Best Milk Substitutes for Baking

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Milk substitutes for baking may be required because cow’s milk contains casein, a protein, and lactose, a sugar. Both of these are recognized as allergens or irritants that some people may need to avoid. Also, milk is not desirable in vegan baking for obvious reasons. Fresh milk spoils easily, so your milk may have also gone bad before it could be used. Fortunately, there are many dairy and non-dairy replacements that are readily available for regular cow’s milk.

Cow’s milk is a staple in many diets, especially in the United States. Therefore, milk is one of the most common ingredients in baked goods. From pies and cakes to puddings and sweetbreads, it adds a moistness and creaminess to many recipes, but that doesn’t mean it is the only option. [1]

Milk Substitutes For Baking

There are plenty of milk substitutes for baking when you need to eliminate dairy or lactose from your sweet preparation. These best milk substitutes include lactose-free milk, evaporated or condensed milk, goat’s milk, soy and grain milk, nut and seed milk, coconut milk, and water among others.

Glass bottles of coconut milk, whole coconut, and shelled coconut meat

It is easy to make coconut milk at home. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Lactose-Free Milk

If lactose intolerance is the issue, most supermarkets carry at least one brand of milk that has had the lactose removed from it. [2]

Evaporated or Condensed Milk

Available in a can, this shelf-stable form of milk can be kept in a pantry without spoiling. The amount in a can usually correspond closely to the amount needed in a recipe as well, which makes it a handy thing to keep around for years, just in case your cow ever runs dry.

Goat’s Milk

In certain parts of the world, this variety is actually more readily available than cow’s milk. It can also add a delicious, slightly tangy flavor to a recipe. However, goat’s milk contains the same allergens as cow’s milk, so is not appropriate for lactose intolerant individuals. [3]

Soy and Grain Milk

These are usually the cheapest of the non-dairy milk. Soy milk is the most commonly available, although most supermarkets stock rice and oat milk as well. They have a neutral flavor and will not change the taste of a dish as much as some other substitutes listed here.

Nut and Seed Milk

Almond milk is the most popular, but cashew, sunflower seed, macadamia, and flax milk can all be found at specialty or vegan markets. Each of these can add a distinct nutty flavor to a recipe but may come at a slightly higher cost. [4]

Coconut Milk or Cream

Replacing cow’s milk with this substitute lends the taste of coconut to baked goods while eliminating dairy and adding some unique healthy fats to your diet.


The easiest substitute for milk, water will result in a less flavorful and creamy dish. Melt a little bit of unsalted butter with water to compensate for this shift in the consistency of your final product. [5]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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