5 Perfect Dry Milk Substitutes

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

Whether you’re looking for a substitute in a recipe or just another milk powder, there are enough milk powder substitutes available in the market. Milk is a very important ingredient that finds use in baking recipes and carries much weight on its own as a beverage.

It is very nutritious, lending a huge source of protein (to dishes) and cream, giving dishes a yummy taste when added or taken on its own.

If you just happened to run out of powdered milk for your cake recipes, there is no cause for alarm as there are a lot of ingredients that can serve as 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 is a result of about 90% of liquid in regular milk 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 breads, dry milk makes it more flavorful and tender. One advantage of dry milk is that it is very convenient to use and does not compromise with the flavor of the recipe.

Milk powder is more economical 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 one who depends on this ingredient for most of your recipes, it can be a trickier situation. More so, if you can’t afford to make a trip to the supermarket, this will cause panic to your cooking plan.

Fortunately, there are many ingredients right there in your kitchen itself that can make for great dry milk substitutes. For recipes that require milk, one dry milk substitute is liquid milk 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 them all is whole and non fat milk powder. Non fat milk has a lot of uses. One popular use is in making breads and casseroles which adds to their bulk. It can also be used as a beverage or 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 non fat dry milk substitutes are dairy-free, which are useful for vegans and those with allergies.

Categories of Substitutes for Dry Milk

There are many categories for the substitutes available for dry milk. They are categorized as:

Dairy free substitutes

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

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

These substitutes for dry milk on a one-to-one basis 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 or incorporated in cream soups, pancakes, oatmeal and scrambled eggs to help with weight gain or muscle building boost.

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

For persons with lactose intolerance, whey protein concentrates, though an affordable powdered protein product should be avoided.

Liquid likeness

In soups, sauces and baked goods in which another liquid is used along with the powder, liquid milk products make useful though less affordable substitutes. However, for some casserole and bread recipes where whole milk and cream will make the dish too wet, they 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 milks can also be used as they are also possible substitutes. When using this, ensure to eliminate all or other liquid called for in the recipe.

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

Powdered lookalikes

Dry whole milk works well in baking in either its powdered form 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 does not.

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.


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, 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 not a good choice if one has 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, but still that can be tweaked out if you do desire.

1. Regular milk

Considering the fact that powdered milk is in fact a substitute to regular milk in the first place, the original one can do the same for powdered milk. Thus, when looking for a substitute for dry milk, your first point of call should be regular liquid milk. It is a good substitute for dry milk in baking. Caution has to be taken about the proportion use though. Also, this is a highly feasible option for only 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 the milk 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 milk added to the recipe from interfering with weakening dough by inactivating a specific protein in the milk.

After this, cool the scalded milk to room temperature. Next is to combine the other liquids in the recipe with the milk to add 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 these, 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 the procedure given above when using liquid milk as a dry milk substitute, there is a recommended conversion rate. The recommended ratio for 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 only water to make milk)

2. Coconut milk powder

Coconut milk is one of the several varieties of milk powder available for vegans or persons with certain 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 used 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 is most suited for baked recipes or meat or fish recipes.

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

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

How does this work?

The method of making fresh coconut milk or cream is a pretty simple process which 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 creamy layer and use. You can also mix it well 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.

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 could contain ingredients like sugar, flavors 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 as well carry some soy milk powder with you. 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, that is good. 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, be used in desserts, smoothies or be added in 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 skin. Yes, 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 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 which has a lot of health benefits as it is gluten-free, casein-free, fat-free, and soy-free and cholesterol free. To note is the fact that it is a great option for those with severe food allergies as it is gluten free, a good source of vitamins D and B12. It also doesn’t contain protein.

How is it used?

Potato milk is usually sold in the 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 even tastes better as it has the home made taste.

Potato milk is also available in chocolate. It can be used as an alternative to dairy milk in recipes and for 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 that is available in the fortified commercial brands. You can add almonds to your Do-It-Yourself potato milk to fortify your milk with calcium.

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

5. Rice milk powder

This is another dairy substitute for vegans and 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 does not contain significant amounts of calcium or protein, cholesterol or lactose.

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


So what are you waiting for? If you already have these substitutes, you can easily use them in your recipes. Better still, you can just try out new dishes or drinks with these dry milk substitutes and enjoy. But to feel the difference between using dry milk and these substitutes, try it 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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