The Absolute Best Vegan Substitute For Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is a kitchen staple. Made from dehydrated and homogenized whole, 2%, or skim milk, it's a shelf-stable alternative to some of the most used — and perishable — food items in your kitchen: milk, cream, and half and half. Whether diluted with a bit of water and poured over cereal or poured straight out of the can into your coffee, keeping evaporated milk in your cupboard will come to the rescue more times than not. But what happens when you've run out of evaporated milk? Or worse: What if dairy-based milk isn't something you use at all?

If you're vegan or simply have an allergy to dairy products, you could make your own evaporated milk out of whatever plant-based milk you keep in your fridge. Almond, oat, soy, cashew, and any other alternative milk base you can think of, can all be reduced on the stovetop to make a plant-based equivalent of evaporated milk. But, unlike the evaporated milk you buy in a can from the store, that takes time. Also, because it will only last a week in your fridge, you won't have the convenience of having a substitute you can store in the back of your pantry indefinitely until an emergency situation calls, which is why coconut milk is considered the best.

Coconut milk

When choosing a substitute for evaporated milk, a few things should be considered: fat content, taste, texture, and, of course, any allergies or dietary restrictions. While coconut does have a distinct coconut flavor, which may not complement every recipe, it does have a fat content and texture that is comparable to evaporated milk. Plus, being a favorite across Southeast Asian, Caribbean, and South American cuisines, coconut milk is made from the meat of fresh coconuts, so it's completely vegan and dairy-free. But the best part is that it won't require any work on your part.

Thick and with a texture like evaporated milk all on its own, coconut milk doesn't have to be reduced before being used as a substitute. Additionally, because it has a comparable fat content, it can be used as a substitute for evaporated milk in recipes using a 1:1 ratio. If that's not convenient enough, there's also the added ease of its long shelf life. Unopened, a can or carton of coconut milk will last you anywhere from two to five years, so you can stock up and keep them in your cupboard to use on a rainy day, just like you would with any old can of evaporated milk. 

It's the ideal dairy-less substitute.