Skim milk powder is a shelf-stable dairy product made by removing water from pasteurized skim milk. It contains milk proteins and minerals like calcium but has little to no fat. Skim milk powder is commonly used in commercial food production and in recipes by home cooks.
It can add richness, nutrients, and flavor to items like baked goods, smoothies, soups, sauces, and more. However, some people need or prefer to avoid skim milk powder due to dietary restrictions, allergies, cost, or availability. Fortunately, suitable substitutes can often be found.
Skim Milk Powder
Skim milk powder begins as liquid skim milk, which has had almost all milkfat removed. It is then pasteurized and evaporated to remove moisture. The resulting powder contains casein and whey, which are complete dairy proteins. It also provides calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, and B12.
With its mild flavor and high protein content, skim milk powder works well in boosting nutrition in foods. It can add thickness, richness, and body when reconstituted with water. Skim milk powder has a long shelf life compared to refrigerated liquid milk.
Some downsides are that skim milk powder lacks the fuller, creamy flavor of whole milk powders. It also does not impart the tenderness that the milkfat in whole milk powders provides in baked goods.
Key Takeaway: Skim milk powder is made from skim milk with moisture removed. It provides protein, calcium, and vitamins but very little fat. It adds nutrition and richness when reconstituted.
Liquid Skim Milk
The simplest substitute for skim milk powder is liquid skim milk. When a recipe calls for skim milk powder plus water, using an equal amount of skim milk instead omits the reconstitution step.
For example, if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup skim milk powder whisked into 1 cup water, you can use 1 1/4 cups fresh skim milk. The moisture content already present in liquid milk means you use less total liquid.
Liquid skim milk has a similar nutritional profile to skim milk powder. It provides the same dairy proteins, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, D, and B12. However, liquid milk has a shorter shelf life and must be refrigerated.
Using fresh skim milk also provides the proper flavor. The fresh, creamy taste is preferable in recipes where skim milk powder is not just used as a nutritional boost. Substitute liquid skim milk in recipes like smoothies, shakes, instant hot cereals, and sauces.
Those avoiding dairy due to lactose intolerance, milk allergies, or vegan diets can use non-dairy milks instead of skim milk powder. Popular options include almond, coconut, oat, soy, rice, and hemp milk.
As with skim dairy milk, use non-dairy milks in place of the skim milk powder and water combined. Reduce other liquids to account for the inherent moisture in non-dairy milks. If a recipe calls for 1/4 cup powder plus 1 cup water, use 1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk instead.
Pay attention to flavors when substituting, as coconut milk adds a tropical flair while almond milk provides a pleasant nuttiness. Sweetened vanilla varieties also impart extra sweetness and flavor. Unsweetened plain versions have the most neutral taste.
Non-dairy milks vary in protein content. Soy milk has a protein content closest to skim dairy milk, while almond and rice milk are lower. Fortified varieties can help boost calcium and vitamin levels closer to skim milk powder.
Canned evaporated milk, sometimes labeled unsweetened condensed milk, is cow’s milk that has had about 60% of the water content removed. This makes it shelf-stable and gives it a creamy, concentrated flavor.
When mixed with an equal amount of water, evaporated milk closely mimics fresh milk. It can be used in place of reconstituted skim milk powder in recipes like chowders, cream soups, macaroni and cheese, and custards.
However, evaporated milk is not a suitable skim milk powder substitute in recipes where powder is used for leavening or browning. The higher moisture content compared to powder can inhibit rising or result in a pale, dense texture.
Use a 1:1 ratio, substituting 1/4 cup evaporated milk plus 1/4 cup water for every 1/4 cup skim milk powder called for. Reduce other liquids to avoid thinning the recipe too much. Stir the evaporated milk and water together before adding to ensure uniform blending.
Dry Buttermilk Powder
Buttermilk powder, made from cultured skim milk, adds tangy flavor while providing protein and calcium. It works in recipes where some acidity is desirable, like ranch dressing, marinades, and biscuits.
However, it does not substitute well for skim milk powder in recipes where a neutral flavor is preferred. The acidic taste can clash with sweeter dishes.
Use dry buttermilk powder in a 1:1 ratio for skim milk powder. Buttermilk powder on its own lacks fat, so it cannot provide the tenderizing effect of full-fat buttermilk. Mixing a small amount of butter or oil into the reconstituted buttermilk powder can help mimic the tenderizing quality of the original.
Milk Powder Alternatives
Those avoiding dairy altogether can use powdered milk substitutes made from plant sources. These provide many of the same benefits of skim milk powder.
Soy milk powder works well in smoothies, shakes, baked goods, sauces, and more. With around 38% protein, it has high protein content like dairy milk. Calcium levels are lower but can be boosted if the soy milk is calcium-fortified.
Rice milk powder is another option. It is gluten-free and lower in calories than skim milk powder. However, it also has less protein. Rice milk powder has a mild, creamy flavor that works well in lighter desserts.
Coconut milk powder contains fiber and healthy fats. Its rich texture makes it a good addition to curries, stews, and cream-based soups. However, coconut flavor may overpower more delicate recipes.
As with substituting liquid varieties, use the same amount of milk powder alternatives as the skim milk powder called for. Reduce other liquids to account for the powder’s inherent moisture.
Key Takeaway: Liquid skim milk, evaporated milk, non-dairy milks, buttermilk powder, and milk powder alternatives can all substitute for skim milk powder depending on the recipe.
Skim Milk Powder Substitution Considerations
Some factors to keep in mind when substituting skim milk powder:
- Moisture content - Substitutes like fresh milk or evaporated milk add more moisture compared to powder. Adjust other wet ingredients accordingly.
- Flavor - Buttermilk powder, coconut milk, and some non-dairy milks impart their own flavors instead of a neutral dairy taste.
- Protein content - Substitutes like soy milk have similar protein levels to skim milk powder while others like rice milk are lower.
- Nutrients - Fortified non-dairy milks can help boost calcium and vitamin content closer to skim milk powder levels.
- Fat content - Skim milk powder contains very little fat. Whole milk substitutes change texture and richness.
- Reconstitution - Powdered substitutes require mixing with water first while liquid milks can be incorporated directly.
- Storage - Shelf-stable substitutes allow longer storage while refrigerated milks have shorter shelf lives.
Substitution Amount Guidelines
Use these general guidelines when substituting for skim milk powder:
- 1/4 cup skim milk powder + 1 cup water = 1 1/4 cups fresh skim milk
- 1/4 cup skim milk powder + 1 cup water = 1/4 cup evaporated milk + 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup skim milk powder = 1/4 cup buttermilk powder
- 1/4 cup skim milk powder = 1/4 cup soy milk powder, rice milk powder, or coconut milk powder
Reduce other liquids in the recipe to account for the moisture in the substitute used. Mix powdered substitutes with water before adding to recipes as needed.
Top Skim Milk Powder Substitutes
Skim dairy milk - Provides the same proteins and nutrition as skim milk powder. Imparts true dairy flavor.
Non-dairy milks - Allow dairy-free, vegan, and allergy-friendly options. Unsweetened varieties have the most neutral flavors.
Evaporated milk - Shelf-stable substitute that closely mimics fresh skim milk when mixed with equal water. Use in soups, sauces, custards.
Buttermilk powder - Adds tangy flavor profile. Use in recipes where some acidity is desirable like biscuits or dressings.
Soy milk powder - Has an equivalent high protein content to skim milk powder. Works well in shakes, baked goods, and smoothies.
Rice milk powder - Provides light, creamy flavor. Useful for lighter desserts like puddings. Gluten-free and low in calories.
Coconut milk powder - Imparts richness from natural fats. Shines in curries, stews, and cream soups.
Key Takeaway: Skim dairy milk, evaporated milk, non-dairy milks, buttermilk powder, soy milk powder, rice milk powder, and coconut milk powder are all suitable substitutes for skim milk powder depending on the recipe.
Can I use regular milk instead of skim milk powder?
Yes, you can substitute regular milk for skim milk powder. Use the same amount called for of skim milk powder plus water, typically a 1:4 ratio. So for 1/4 cup powder plus 1 cup water, use 1 1/4 cups regular milk instead. Reduce other liquids to avoid thinning the recipe.
What can I use if I don’t have skim milk powder or regular milk?
Non-dairy milks like soy, almond, or rice milk can substitute for skim milk powder in a 1:1 ratio. Evaporated milk mixed with an equal amount of water also mimics skim milk. Buttermilk powder adds tangy flavor in recipes like biscuits.
Can I just leave out the skim milk powder in recipes?
You can omit skim milk powder in some recipes, especially if it is only used in small amounts. But skim milk powder provides valuable nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamins. Substituting a milk alternative or fresh skim milk retains more of these nutritional benefits.
Is whole milk powder a good sub for skim milk powder?
Whole milk powder is not the best direct substitute for skim milk powder. Whole milk powder contains higher fat, resulting in a richer texture and different mouthfeel. Skim milk or low-fat dairy milk powders are closer nutritional matches.
How long does skim milk powder last compared to fresh skim milk?
Unopened, skim milk powder lasts 6-12 months at room temperature. Once opened, it stays fresh for 3-4 months. Refrigerated fresh skim milk lasts about 1-2 weeks. The extended shelf life is a key benefit of skim milk powder.
Skim milk powder is valued for its mild dairy flavor, protein content, and ability to add richness and body when reconstituted. While fresh skim dairy milk offers the closest match nutritionally and in taste, suitable skim milk powder substitutes exist for those who cannot consume dairy.
Non-dairy milks, evaporated milk, and powdered milk alternatives each provide their own advantages. Pay attention to flavor profiles, protein content, and inherent moisture when selecting a substitute. Adjust liquid amounts to prevent thinning out recipes.