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5 Perfect Dry Milk Substitutes

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Whether you’re seeking a substitute for a recipe or just want to explore a new dry milk substitute, there are plenty of milk powder substitutes available in the market. Milk is a very important ingredient that finds use not only in baking recipes but also as a beverage on its own.

It is very nutritious, lending a huge source of protein and cream, all while giving dishes a yummy taste.

If you just happened to run out of powdered milk for your cake recipes, there is no need for alarm, as there’s a variety of ingredients that can serve as a  dry milk substitute. The only thing to keep in mind is the proportion of the items used in the recipe to get perfect results.

Dry or Powdered Milk?

Dry milk—otherwise known as powdered milk—is a great substitute for regular milk. It has a long shelf life and is easily stored at room temperature. It has a low moisture content, being that it’s the result of having about 90% of regular milk’s liquid removed through vacuum evaporation. This alleviates the need for refrigeration.

Most dry milk comes from non-fat milk as it will not go rancid at room temperature. This becomes an important fact when you want to replace powdered milk with liquid milk.

Dry milk is utilized in baking pastries and cakes. In bread, dry milk makes the final product more flavorful and tender. One advantage of dry milk is that it is very convenient to use and does not compromise the flavor of the recipe.

Milk powder is more economically viable than fresh milk, especially for someone who doesn’t drink fresh milk on a regular basis. Fresh milk is more expensive and also expires faster than powdered milk.

There might be times when you simply run out of your stock of dry milk, and if you’re someone who depends on this ingredient for most of your recipes, it can be a tricky situation. More so, if you can’t afford to make a trip to the supermarket, this will cause panic to your cooking plans.

Fortunately, there are many ingredients right there in your kitchen that can make for great dry milk substitutes. For recipes that require milk, one dry milk substitute is liquid milk of course, but a few adjustments have to be made to the recipe.

Dry milk is available as a non fat, whole, and buttermilk product, but the most common of all the options are whole and nonfat milk powder. Nonfat milk has a lot of uses. One popular use is in making breads and casseroles, where it adds to their bulk. It can also be used as a beverage as well as a cooking ingredient.

However, depending on your needs, other products can step in and replace nonfat milk powder, especially in healthy shakes and baked goods. Many of the nonfat dry milk substitutes are dairy-free, which is useful for vegans and those with allergies.

How to Substitute for Dry Milk

There are many categories of substitutes available for dry milk. They are:

Dairy-free substitutes

If you have issues with dairy products, then this is likely best for you. The substitutes here are mainly plant-based milk powders that can either be sourced from a health food store or by mail order.

These non-dairy powdered milk substitutes are typically used for their culinary properties rather than as nutritional twins of dry milk because each has its own unique nutritional profile.

These substitutes for dry milk include powdered rice milk, powdered potato milk, and powdered coconut milk.

Protein-Packed Substitutes

Unlike the above, which are principally carbohydrates, this is a group of protein powders—specifically soy and whey—which are useful for adding nutrients and are often free of lactose.

They are often added to smoothies, shakes, cream soups, pancakes, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs to help with weight gain or to give a muscle-building boost.

For people with lactose intolerance, whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, or soy protein concentrate are very useful options. Whey protein isolate is less grainy and ‘bean’-tasting in baked goods, more so than soy powders.

For people with lactose intolerance, whey protein concentrates—though they are affordable powdered protein products—should be avoided.

Liquid likeness

In soups, sauces, and baked goods in which another liquid is used along with powder, liquid milk products make useful substitutes, though maybe less affordable. However, for some casserole and bread recipes where whole milk and cream will make the dish too wet, these have to be avoided.

For example, for every ¼ cup of nonfat dried milk specified in a recipe, you can use a cup of cream, whole milk, skim milk, or nonfat milk. Dairy-free liquid milk can also be used, as this is another possible substitute. When using this, ensure to eliminate all or other liquid called for in the recipe.

When it comes to powdered milk substitutions, the most common are milk products. To get fresh milk, 1 cup of water plus ⅓ cup of powdered milk can easily be substituted for 1 cup of fresh milk. To get evaporated milk, you will need to mix 1 cup of powdered milk with 1¾ cups of water. Sweetened condensed milk can be made by combining ⅓ cup powdered milk plus 2 tablespoons of evaporated milk with 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 cup of sugar.

Powdered lookalikes

Dry whole milk works well in baking, either in its powdered or reconstituted form, and it lends a slightly creamier texture. Many options exist for alternatives to nonfat dry milk, and the first on the list is skimmed milk powder. The difference between this and nonfat dry milk is that powdered skim milk has a small amount of fat, while nonfat has none.

Buttermilk powder is also an option, as it provides an acidic base for tenderizing baked goods. It is also lower in fat than dry whole milk.

Cashews

Cashew nuts bear a very close resemblance to milk powder once ground. They are also less apt to add graininess to baked goods and sauces. To prepare these, use a clean coffee bean grinder or spice mill to get the finest texture. Push the powdered nuts through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the larger pieces. The obtained product is cashew powder, which adds protein to meals.

Cashew powder is higher in fat than nonfat milk powder, which has none, and furthermore, it’s not a good choice if you have nut allergies.

Substitutes for Powdered Milk

There are a host of substitutes that exist for powdered or dry milk. These substitutes, though sharing similar features with dry milk, have their own distinct features that still can be tweaked out if you so desire.

1. Regular milk

Considering the fact that powdered milk is a substitute for regular milk in the first place, the original liquid form can do the same for powdered milk. Perhaps it’s obvious, but when looking for a substitute for dry milk, your first point of interest should be regular liquid milk. It is a good substitute for dry milk in baking. Caution should be taken about the proportion used, though. Also, this is a highly feasible option only for those recipes that demand water as well.

To substitute for dry milk in bread, the process involved is easy to follow. First of all, replace all of the added liquids in the recipe with the same amount of liquid milk, up to 1 ½ cups.  The amount of milk that is added to the bread is most important, as using more than ½ cup of dry milk or its equivalent of 1 ½ cups of milk could result in a decrease in the volume of the bread loaf.

The next thing is to pour the milk into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Continue stirring continuously, or until the milk reaches a boil. This is referred to as “scalding,” and it will prevent the added milk from interfering with the dough by inactivating a specific protein in the milk.

After this, cool the scalded milk to room temperature. The next step is to combine the other liquids in the recipe with the milk, adding up to the total amount of milk required. For example, if the recipe calls for a total of 4 cups of liquid, use 2 cups of scalded milk and 2 cups of the liquid required in the recipe.

After all of this, you can simply add the milk to your recipe when instructed to add other liquids. Continue baking using the same baking time and temperature.

Aside from the procedure given above, there is a recommended conversion rate when using liquid milk as a dry milk substitute. The recommended ratio for the conversion of dry milk powder to regular milk is given below:

  • 1 cup powdered milk+ 4 cup water = 4 cup milk
  • ½ cup powdered milk + 2 cup water= 2 cup milk
  • ¼ cup powdered milk + 1 cup water = 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk + ¾ cup water= ¾ cup milk (this recipe calls for water to make milk)

2. Coconut milk powder

Coconut milk is one of several varieties of milk powder available for vegans or people with food allergies, and it can serve as a substitute for regular milk in many recipes.  Coconut milk powder can be used in place of powdered milk.  It is also a good substitute for dry milk in bread. Coconut milk powder is significantly heavier than dairy milk powder, with some brands containing as much as 70 percent oil.

If you’re using coconut milk powder to bake, the results will be heavier. So, because of the high oil content, this powder is best suited for making different concentrations of coconut milk or as a non-dairy creamer.

One thing to take note of is the difference between coconut milk powder and desiccated milk, as both are different. Coconut milk powder is made by spray-drying coconut milk or coconut cream, and it’s best suited for baking recipes, meat, or fish.

An indispensable ingredient for many Southeast Asian dishes, coconut milk powder works just as well for any of these recipes. The proportion of coconut milk powder that you use as a substitute should be approximately equal to that of powdered milk. Before using coconut milk powder, read the labels on the package, especially if you have a casein allergy or are lactose intolerant. Some coconut milk powders contain sodium caseinate.

In cases where it is difficult to get coconut milk powder, you can make use of fresh coconut milk, as it is also a good milk powder replacement.

How does this work?

Making fresh coconut milk or cream is a pretty simple process tha- involves soaking finely grated coconut flesh in warm water. The flesh is squeezed and the solution strained. Upon refrigeration, the coconut milk separates into two layers of coconut cream and water.

For recipes that demand cream, you can just extract the creamy layer to use. You can also mix the two layers to get thick coconut milk. This works well with recipes that call for regular milk. If you cannot go through the whole process but have canned coconut milk, that’s good too.

3. Soy milk

Another milk powder alternative is soy milk powder. This is soy milk from which all the water has been removed, similar to cow’s milk powder. The powder is white to beige in color and mixes very well with both warm and cold water. It can either be plain, flavored, or combined with extra ingredients like sugar and calcium.

One advantage of soy milk powder is that it is easier to store and does not spoil. If for example, you want to travel and you are not sure of the availability of soy milk at your destination, you can carry some soy milk powder with you. As a vegan powdered milk substitute, it is not as common as cow’s milk powder, but soy milk powder can be found in some stores in the US.

If you are someone who has homemade soy powder, that is, you made it yourself—this can work also. Soy powder makes a healthy addition to the diet and can be incorporated in homemade protein bars and soy powder-based recipes. Soy milk powder can also be added to water to make soy milk, used in desserts, put in smoothies, or mixed into any recipe of your choice to increase the protein content of a meal.

It is also said that many individuals use soy powder in a warm bath for softening the skin. Apparently, consistent use for a long period of time will bring about improved skin and hair appearance. To use soy milk powder in the place of powdered milk, replace it in equal parts. Store soy milk powder in the freezer or refrigerator.

4. Potato milk powder

One of the lesser-known dry milk substitutes is potato milk powder. Potato milk is a non-dairy powdered milk substitute that has a lot of health benefits, as it is gluten-free, casein-free, fat-free, soy-free, and cholesterol-free. Something to note is the fact that it is a great option for those with severe food allergies, as it is gluten-free, as well as being a good source of vitamins D and B12. It also doesn’t contain protein.

How is it used?

Potato milk is usually sold in powder form and so can be mixed with water to create liquid milk. Potato milk can be made at home by blending cooked potatoes and water with a sweetener. This tastes even better as it has a homemade taste.

Potato milk is also available in chocolate. It can be used as an alternative to dairy milk in recipes, cereals, and beverages. One disadvantage of potato milk is that it doesn’t contain protein, and if you make your own potato milk, it will not provide the same level of nutrients available in the fortified commercial brands. You can add almonds to your DIY potato milk to fortify your milk with calcium.

Although it is a bit more challenging to find in the market, it is available online. If you’re not ready to buy before you try, you can easily make your own potato milk at home.

5. Rice milk powder

This is another dairy substitute for vegans which is often consumed by people who suffer from lactose intolerance, are allergic to soy or milk, or have PKU. Rice milk contains more carbohydrates but it does not contain significant amounts of calcium, protein, cholesterol or lactose.

Slightly sweeter than dairy milk, rice milk is a great substitute to use in baked goods, cereals, coffees, smoothies, or tea. This powder is available in some natural food stores and can also be found online. When substituting, use an equal amount of rice milk powder as milk powder called for.

Conclusion

So what are you waiting for? If you already have these substitutes, and now you can easily use them in your recipes. Better still, you can try out some new dishes or drinks with these dry milk substitutes to enjoy. But to really feel the difference between using dry milk its substitutes, try one out in a recipe you’re already familiar with!

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Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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