Milk powder, also known as dry milk, is made by removing moisture from liquid milk through spray drying or roller drying until only the milk solids remain. This gives milk powder a much longer shelf life compared to regular milk since the lack of moisture prevents bacterial growth.
When mixed with water, milk powder can be reconstituted into a liquid that resembles fresh milk. It has a similar creamy texture and the same nutrients as regular milk.
However, you may need substitutes for milk powder if you run out, don't keep it regularly stocked, or want to avoid dairy.
Fortunately, there are many clever ingredients that can be used in place of milk powder in recipes and beverages.
Key Takeaway: Milk powder is dried milk that can be reconstituted into liquid milk. You may need substitutes if you run out, don't stock it, or want to avoid dairy. There are many clever ingredients that can replace milk powder.
Why Substitute Milk Powder?
There are several reasons you may need or want substitutes for milk powder, including:
- You ran out of milk powder and need a replacement for a recipe.
- You don't regularly keep milk powder stocked.
- You follow a vegan or plant-based diet and want to avoid dairy.
- You have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance.
- Environmental concerns regarding dairy production.
- You simply want variety and to experiment with different flavors.
Substituting milk powder allows flexibility in your diet and recipes. There are many plant-based alternatives that offer similar nutrients and texture.
Dairy-Based Milk Powder Substitutes
If you aren't avoiding dairy, these dairy-based ingredients can substitute for milk powder:
Regular milk is an obvious replacement for milk powder since dry milk is simply made from regular milk.
Substitution: Use 1 cup regular milk for every 1⁄4 cup milk powder. Also reduce other liquids in the recipe by 1 cup to account for the additional moisture in regular milk.
Best for: Any recipes where milk powder is used along with another liquid like water. Works well in baked goods, sauces, gravies, and potatoes.
Evaporated milk has had 60% of the water removed, giving it a thicker, creamier texture than regular milk.
Substitution: Mix equal parts evaporated milk and water, then use same amount as milk powder called for.
Best for: Delicious in cream soups, sauces, custards, and coffee.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Condensed milk is concentrated milk with added sugar for sweetness.
Substitution: Mix 1/3 cup powdered milk, 2 tbsp. evaporated milk, 1 cup sugar, and 3 tbsp. butter.
Best for: Excellent in desserts, candies, and cookies.
Malted Milk Powder
Substitution: Substitute 1:1 for milk powder.
Best for: Adds great flavor to milkshakes, baked goods, hot chocolate, and ice cream.
Non-Dairy Milk Powder Substitutes
For plant-based recipes or those avoiding dairy, these vegan milk powder swaps work wonderfully:
Coconut Milk Powder
Made from dried, ground coconut, coconut milk powder mimics the texture of whole milk powder.
Substitution: Replace milk powder 1:1 with coconut milk powder.
Best for: Adds creaminess to curries, stews, soups, and sauces.
Soy Milk Powder
Soy milk powder has a similar nutrition profile to milk powder. It mixes well in baked goods and smoothies.
Substitution: Substitute 1:1 for milk powder.
Best for: Boosts protein in shakes, smoothies, muffins, and breads.
Oat Milk Powder
Oat milk powder has a mildly sweet flavor and can be used by those with nut allergies.
Substitution: Swap 1:1 for milk powder.
Best for: Great lactose-free option for porridge, oatmeal, and baking.
Rice Milk Powder
Rice milk powder is gluten-free and works well for those with multiple food intolerances. It has a sweet, delicate flavor.
Substitution: Replace milk powder 1:1 with rice milk powder.
Best for: Excellent in custards, puddings, pancakes, and sauces.
Potato Milk Powder
Potato milk powder is hypoallergenic, dairy-free, and often used by those with multiple food intolerances.
Substitution: Substitute 1:1 for milk powder.
Best for: Provides creaminess to soups, sauces, porridge, and mashed potatoes.
Cashew Milk Powder
Cashew milk powder has a subtle nutty sweetness. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Substitution: Swap 1:1 for milk powder. May need extra sweetener.
Best for: Works well in ice cream, smoothies, curries, gravies, and baked goods.
Key Takeaway: Dairy-based milk powder swaps include regular milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and malted milk powder. Non-dairy options include coconut, soy, oat, rice, potato, and cashew milk powders.
How to Substitute Milk Powder in Recipes
When substituting milk powder in recipes, keep these tips in mind:
- For non-dairy milks, you can typically replace milk powder 1:1 with the same amount of your chosen milk powder alternative.
- Reduce other liquids in the recipe if swapping milk powder for a liquid like regular milk. This helps compensate for the extra moisture.
- Nuts and coconut milk powders are higher in fat. Reduce slightly in baked goods to prevent dense or heavy results.
- Add a bit more sweetener to account for the subtle flavors of some milk powder swaps.
- When using soy or coconut milk powder, whisk vigorously with warm water for best solubility.
- Store opened milk powder substitutes in the refrigerator or freezer to maximize freshness.
How to Make Your Own Milk Powder Substitutes
You can also make DIY milk powder substitutes at home from ingredients you likely have on hand:
Non-Dairy Creamer - Dissolve 1 cup non-dairy creamer powder into 2 cups hot water. Let chill then use.
Cornstarch - Mix 2 tbsp cornstarch + 1 cup non-dairy milk. Use in sauces or gravies.
Tofu - Blend silken tofu + non-dairy milk into a liquid, then dehydrate into a powder.
Oat flour - Grind old-fashioned oats into a fine flour using a blender. Works great in baking.
Chickpea flour - Has a high protein content. Add to smoothies or shakes.
Key Takeaway: When substituting, use same 1:1 ratio for most milks. Reduce liquids to account for moisture in milks like regular milk. Make your own substitutes from items like creamer, cornstarch, tofu, oats, or chickpea flour.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Milk Powder Substitute
When selecting a milk powder alternative, keep these factors in mind:
Dietary needs - Choose substitutes that fit your dietary preferences and restrictions, like plant-based or dairy-free options.
Allergies - Avoid ingredients you are allergic or intolerant to. Check labels for common allergens.
Nutritional profile - Compare fat, carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals to find an appropriate nutritional match.
Purpose - Consider if you need thickness, protein, creaminess, emulsification, or simply flavor.
Flavor - Milk powder replacements impart subtle flavors. Ensure it complements your recipe.
Solubility - Pick milks that dissolve smoothly into liquids when reconstituted.
Cost - Check prices, as some milk powder swaps like soy or cashew may be pricier. Homemade versions can save money.
Availability - Opt for accessible ingredients from regular grocery stores or online retailers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is powdered milk unhealthy?
No, powdered milk has the same nutritional content as regular milk - it just has the moisture removed. As long as you tolerate regular milk, powdered milk is not unhealthy and makes a convenient substitute when fresh milk is unavailable.
Can I use powdered milk in place of fresh milk when baking?
Yes, you can substitute powdered milk for fresh milk when baking. Powdered milk adds richness and enhances flavor in baked goods. The substitution ratio is generally 1/4 cup powdered milk for every 1 cup fresh milk. Be sure to reduce other liquids in the recipe by about 1 cup to account for the moisture difference.
What can I use if I don't have powdered milk for bread?
You can use liquid milk, non-dairy milk, buttermilk, plain yogurt thinned with milk, soy milk powder, or oat flour as substitutes for milk powder in bread recipes. The moisture content might change the dough properties slightly, but it will still bake up nicely.
Can I leave out milk powder entirely from a recipe?
You can omit milk powder entirely from a recipe, but it may impact the flavor, texture, moisture, rise, and overall quality. Milk powder gives baked goods a tender, delicate crumb. It helps biscuits, scones, and pastries rise higher. If avoiding milk powder altogether, add a touch more leavening and fat to improve moisture and texture.
Is malted milk powder the same as dry milk?
Malted milk powder contains barley malt, wheat flour, and powdered milk, while plain dry milk is just evaporated milk. They have slightly different tastes and textures. However, you can generally substitute them 1:1 in recipes, since malted milk powder provides a similar function to regular powdered milk. The malt simply adds a unique flavor.
Milk powder is a handy ingredient to keep stocked for baking, making hot chocolate, adding to smoothies, and whipping up quick sauces or gravies.
However, there are many suitable substitutes for milk powder like regular dairy milk, non-dairy milks, evaported milk, and DIY options.
Choosing the best milk powder alternative depends on your dietary needs, recipe requirements, cost, nutritional profile, taste, and availability of ingredients.
With so many excellent options for replacing milk powder, you can adapt nearly any recipe to fit your lifestyle and ingredients on hand.