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5 Whole Milk Substitutes You Should Absolutely Try!

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

There are several ingredients that can serve as whole milk substitute. Depending on the recipe and available ingredient options, many dairy and non-dairy options such as yogurt, oat milk, sour cream, coconut milk, and 2% milk can be used as a replacement.

Whole milk substitutions will make your baked goods, soups, or craft coffee beverage perfect without using whole milk.

Whole Milk
Whole Milk


 Yogurt is regarded the most appropriate whole milk substitute

Yogurt is a dairy product that is thicker than milk. When using it as a substitute, add a small amount of water to the yogurt to take on a more vicious quality. Once liquid, yogurt can be used as a one-to-one replacement in most recipes, which is great for novice chefs since no conversations are needed.

Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, can have a tangy flavor. In baking and when making sweet recipes, cooks can add a bit of vanilla flavor to offset the tanginess. When baking, leverage that special tangy quality in yogurt, which offers a similar taste to buttermilk.

Oat Milk

Oat Milk is often a great way to substitute whole milk
Oat Milk

Oat milk is rapidly gaining popularity, and coffee shops and cafés across the country are using oat milk as an alternative to whole milk. It is a natural product with a creamy flavor, and it is easy to find in grocery stores across the country.

In most recipes that call for whole milk, cooks will use a one-to-one ratio of oat milk instead. Oat milk has a mild flavor, so there will be no strong flavor considerations that might change the outcome of a dish.

In addition to making lattes and cappuccinos using oat milk, other common uses might be making pancakes for breakfast or using milk to make a creamy, cheesy pasta sauce. This is one of the best non-dairy options to use as a substitute for whole milk.

Sour Cream

Sour Cream
Sour Cream

Sour cream is a dairy alternative to whole milk that can be used in most recipes. Like yogurt, it will require some thinning with water before cooks can add it to a recipe at a one-to-one ratio. Sour cream is, like its name says, sour, so adjusting for taste or only using this alternative in recipes where extra tanginess makes sense is critical for chefs when working in the kitchen.

Some recipes actively use sour cream as an ingredient, like a sour cream pound cake, so using this alternative in baking is a fantastic option that can increase flavor intensity. It is also smart to use sour cream in savory recipes like pasta bakes or casseroles to replace whole milk.

Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk
Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is an excellent non-dairy alternative to use in recipes instead of whole milk because it has a high-fat content. Coconut milk is twenty-four percent milk fat, making its composition close to whole milk.

While the consistency is most comparable to whole milk, coconut milk does have a strong coconut flavor, so be sure to consider how that taste will impact the outcome of your recipe.

It is the perfect option if you want to add or enhance coconut flavor intentionally. Otherwise, use coconut milk in small quantities to not impact the recipe’s final taste. Using coconut milk as an alternative to whole milk and recipes like cakes and biscuits can be a tasty addition.

Also, it’s a great ingredient to use when making some traditional Indian dishes like korma or coconut-based curry since coconut milk will enhance the flavor and maintain the creaminess.

2% Milk

2% Milk
2% Milk

One common household ingredient that home cooks can easily substitute for whole milk is 2% milk. It can be used as a one-to-one replacement and contains only about 1% less milk fat than whole milk, so it will hardly impact any recipe that calls for whole milk.

Understanding that one of the best alternatives is a common household ingredient like 2% milk is imperative for chefs. It is nice to use ingredients already stored in your refrigerator, especially if a grocery store runs in the middle of mixing a recipe is inconvenient.

From adding milk to a bowl of cereal to whisking milk as part of a savory sauce, substituting 2% milk for whole milk is easy and convenient.

The best part of using 2% milk is that it is readily available in most homes and in all grocery stores, but please note that skim milk is not a good alternative to whole milk, so any dairy option with less than 2% milkfat will not create the same taste or texture in your final dish if you make a substitution.

Whole Milk Substitutes in Baking

Many baking recipes, from cakes to cookies to biscuits, all call for some type of milk ingredient. They often require whole milk due to its thick and creamy consistency. Baking is an exact science, so understanding which substitute works best for the recipe is vital to ensure success.

Yogurt is the best one-to-one alternative for baking. In addition to yogurt, other one-to-one substitutions are great alternatives but pay close attention to any warnings or caveats that a recipe may specifically list.

Whole Milk Substitutes for Soup

Many soups, especially those that have a cream base, require a significant amount of whole milk. For instance, creamy tomato soup or lobster bisque need cups of whole milk to ensure the taste and consistency is what a person enjoying that dish would expect.

Using a substitute for soup can still allow home chefs to create creamy, rich, and delicious soups. Sour cream is a tasty substitute, especially with soups like creamy tomato or broccoli and cheddar soup.

Two-percent milk is another excellent option to use if you do not have enough whole milk to use in a soup or bisque. Other alternatives might include heavy cream or half-and-half or some combination of the above.

Can you substitute heavy cream for whole milk?

You can substitute heavy cream for whole milk, but heavy cream has a very high percentage of milk fat–thirty-six percent! To successfully use heavy cream as a substitute, you need to mix a half cup of heavy cream and a half cup as water. Then use that mixture as a one to one then substitute as required by the recipe.

It is important to note that heavy cream is not the same as whole milk, which is a common misconception. When shopping options at the grocery store, carefully read the labels when purchasing your dairy-based milk option, especially if your recipe calls for whole milk since the cabinet often has whole milk, heavy cream, and half-and-half side by side.

Can you use half and half instead of milk?

 Half-and-half is another dairy-based option with a very high milk fat percentage, so it cannot be used immediately as a one-to-one exchange for whole milk. You should mix three-fourths of a cup half-and-half with one-fourth a cup of water and then use that mixture to substitute.

While it is possible to use half-and-half instead of whole milk in many recipes, some of the other options listed in our comprehensive list might be a better fit for your dish.

You might also be interested in: Evaporated milk substitute

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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