Can You Substitute Milk For Water?


Last updated on August 26th, 2022 at 11:16 am

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It sometimes happens when you’re making a new recipe that you reach into your fridge for milk and find that you don’t have any. Maybe your kids or spouse drank it all or maybe you just forgot to get some from the store, either way you are out.

In this case, you have alternates to what you can do. One of the alternates is simply using water. However, milk adds a layer of creaminess to the recipe that water cannot replace. Thus, water may not be the best alternative under certain conditions. Your recipe is the most important reference point when it comes to substituting ingredients.

Fish Stock Substitute | Use this if...
Fish Stock Substitute | Use this if you're out or want to go vegetarian
The simple answer is that you can add water if you don’t have milk depending on what your recipe requires. You can use water with a dairy product like butter as a substitute in baking to replace milk. Water needs some fats to be a viable substitute for milk.

You have to understand, though, that milk has dairy components in it. On the other hand, water doesn’t have any dairy components to it. For this very reason, water can’t be a complete substitute for milk.

In the article below, we’ll discuss all the possible substitutes present for milk.

Substituting Milk For Water

The most significant role that milk plays in a recipe is adding moisture and dairy qualities. If you’re thinking about baking a wonderful cake, milk plays the role of ensuring that the batter is wet enough so chemical reactions can take place. If you can’t add milk due to unavailability, then water will work just as well.

If a recipe asks for a cup of milk, you will find that you need to use water and 1.5 teaspoons of butter instead.

When you substitute water and butter in your baking, the substitution may drastically alter the nutrition of the food you eat. One cup of whole milk also has a lot of saturated cholesterol, which people may want to avoid. If you add 1.5 teaspoons of butter to water, the amount of saturated fat you will get is also significantly less.

Thus, water and butter could be a better alternative if you’re on a health kick or if you want to avoid using milk due to lactose intolerance.

You must have the right ingredients when you’re preparing a recipe for the best results in the end. However, if you don’t have the elements, you must consider that your result will not look as it should.

However, you may find that adding water and butter to cakes lets you have the dairy aspect from butter while still having some liquid and moisture from water.

Other Substitutes For Milk

We know now that we can substitute water in place of milk. However, it’s also necessary to understand that there are other ingredients that you can substitute if you don’t have milk around. The list below mentions replacements that you may have lying around and ones to use when you’re trying to opt for the material that doesn’t have any dairy components.

Dairy Substitutes

1. Evaporated milk

If you have a can of evaporated milk in your pantry, you can add a little more water to the milk, and it will make the perfect milk substitute. All you have to do is create the ideal blend of evaporated milk and water, and you can try to use this in place of milk.

2. Sweetened Condensed Milk

If you’re looking to make a dessert or something sweet like a cake, you can use sweetened condensed milk instead. You can add 50% of sweetened condensed milk and 50% water. You have to keep in mind that sweetened condensed milk has a lot of sugar, so that you will have to remove some of the extra sugar.

3. Sour Cream and Plain Yogurt

If you’re looking to make a savory item, you can use yogurt instead of using milk. You can place both of these ingredients in a 1:1 replacement for milk in cakes and even baked goods.

You can just as well add sour cream and plain yogurt in savory dishes with mac and cheese. They will contribute a creamy texture along with a degree of tanginess. You will have to add some ingredients to counteract the tanginess.

However, the creaminess is more than enough with this substitution.

Some vanilla or fruit yogurt will also work if you’re making something sweeter. If you only have Greek yogurt, you may want to thin it down to reach a milk-like consistency.

4. Heavy Cream

If you have heavy cream in the fridge, you don’t necessarily need milk. For every cup of milk that the recipe calls for, you would need a quarter cup of cream and three quarts of water. This concoction will thin the heavy cream to the correct consistency, and the fat content will be similar to that of milk.

Dairy-Free Milk Substitutes

If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you can use plant-based milk to replace dairy and achieve similar results.

1. Almond Milk

The milk has a sweet and nutty flavor, so you can easily replace it in a cake recipe that calls for it.

2. Soy Milk

You can use soy milk for sweet or savory dishes. However, you want to opt for soy milk which has not been flavored immensely. Soy milk is an excellent pick for sauces and casseroles, which can take the heat. You can use soy milk in baked goods that need milk or vinegar. The milk is also extremely rich in protein, which means it’s good for you.

3. Rice Milk

Rice milk has the same flavor profile as cow’s milk. However, it is extremely thin compared to cow’s milk. Thus, it doesn’t work well with creamy sauces and casseroles.

Final Thoughts

You can replace milk with water. However, milk has fats and solids that water doesn’t. Thus, you have to be careful of what your recipe calls for.

There are many milk substitutes. Some of these substitutes have dairy, and others don’t. Before you choose, you want to keep in mind that the replacement will affect the end product.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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