TMW you're halfway through a recipe that calls for milk and realize "D'oh! There's no milk in the fridge!" — we've all been there, and we all know how annoying it is. So it definitely pays to know a swap or three.
The dairy and non-dairy alternatives here will do the trick without anyone knowing the difference. Be sure to keep some on hand at all times because you never know when you might need 'em. (While you're stocking up, you could buy a few boxes of shelf-stable milk, too. Just saying.)
Dairy Substitutes for Milk
Cream or Half and Half
Cream is richer than milk, so to avoid heavier dough or batter, use a ratio of about 60-percent cream to 40-percent water. With half and half, use as much as the amount of milk called for in the recipe.
Good to Know Cream or half and half that contains stabilizers can change the texture of your baked goods.
Evaporated or Powdered Milk
Evaporated milk has a caramelized flavor that can overpower other ingredients. For best results, mix it with equal amounts of water for a 50-50 ratio. For powdered milk, follow the instructions on the box and you're good to go.
Good to Know The beauty of these milk substitutes is that they have a long shelf life, so they can hang out in your pantry for a really long time. Once you open a can of evaporated milk, stick it in the fridge and use it up in three to four days. Ditto for your powdered milk mixture.
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt
Substitute for the milk in a recipe, in an equal amount; or, if you prefer a more liquid batter, thin out with a bit of water.
Good to Know Sour cream and yogurt are thicker than milk, which can affect the density of your baked goods. They're also tangier. If you're worried about that, add a bit of vanilla to the recipe to balance any sourness.
Water or Water + Butter
Pie crust or cookie dough usually needs just a couple of tablespoons of milk, so the same amount of water will keep the dough from crumbling.
Good to Know If the the recipe calls for more milk, add a tablespoon of melted butter per cup of H2O so the fat content stays similar.
Non-Dairy Milk Substitutes
If you're lactose-intolerance or going vegan-ish for health or ethical reasons, try one of these.
Whether you prefer almond, pistachio or a different kind of nut, these substitutes can be swapped for equal quantities of milk in most recipes.
Good to Know Nut milks taste, well, nutty, so choose flavors that blend in well with whatever you're baking — say, hazelnut milk with brownies. Be sure the nut milk doesn't have added sugar, as that could throw off the taste.
Substitute an equal amount of soy milk for the milk in the recipe for practically identical results.
Good to Know Pick a soy milk that doesn't contain added sugar or you'll end up with sweetness overload.
In small amounts — for instance, a few tablespoons in cookie dough or crust recipes — oat milk will do the job.
Good to Know Oat milk is starchier than cow's milk, so using more than a half cup may affect the texture of whatever you're baking.
Swap in an equal amount for the milk in the recipe and your end result will be fine.
Good to Know Stay away from the sweetened varieties because ... you should know why by now. (See "Soy Milk" above.)
Substitute an equal amount for the milk in the recipe.
Good to Know If you want batter with a more liquid consistency, thin out the yogurt with water.