Powdered milk, also called dry milk, is made by removing the moisture from regular milk and turning it into a powder.
Due to its low moisture content, powdered milk doesn’t have to be refrigerated and has a much longer shelf life than liquid milk.
When mixed with water, reconstituted dry milk can be used in place of regular milk in your favorite recipes. However, the powder can also be used on its own to help thicken liquid-based foods, such as soups and sauces.
Dry milk is also a common ingredient in chocolate and caramel candy recipes in which regular milk would make the final product too thin.
While convenient, you may not always have dry milk on hand. Additionally, as it’s made from cow’s milk, milk powder is unsuitable for those avoiding dairy due to allergies, intolerances, or personal preferences.
Here are six substitutes for milk powder.
1. Regular milk
Regular liquid milk is an easy substitute for reconstituted milk powder. After all, dry milk is just the evaporated solids from regular milk.
The main benefits of regular milk are its nutritional content and flavor, both of which will be similar to powdered milk.
One cup (240 mL) of whole milk provides:
- Calories: 149
- Fat: 8 grams
- Protein: 8 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Calcium: 20% of the daily value
In comparison, 1/4 cup (32 grams) of whole fat milk powder contains:
- Calories: 159
- Fat: 8 grams
- Protein: 8 grams
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Calcium: 22% of the daily value
However, given that regular milk will also contribute liquid to the recipe, only use it in recipes that call for water as well, such as soups and some baked goods. Avoid using regular milk in recipes in which the liquid would make the final product too soggy or wet.
For every 1/4 cup (32 grams) of milk powder, substitute 1 cup (240 mL) of regular milk. You’ll also want to reduce the original amount of water called for in the recipe by 1 cup (240 mL).
Whole fat, reduced fat, and nonfat milk can all be used in place of milk powder. Just note that the higher the fat content of the milk, the creamier and richer the final product will be.
Additionally, for recipes calling for buttermilk powder, it’s best to use liquid buttermilk, as the acid in the buttermilk will affect the texture and flavor of the recipe.
Summary: Regular liquid milk can be substituted for milk powder in recipes that also include added water. One cup (240 mL) of regular milk can be used for every 1/4 cup (32 grams) of milk powder.
2. Liquid non-dairy, vegan alternatives for milk powder
To make a recipe dairy-free or vegan, you can also use liquid milk alternatives, such as almond, oat, or soy milk.
As with using regular milk, liquid milk alternatives should only be used in recipes that use both milk powder and additional water.
The substitution is also the same — 1 cup (240 mL) of milk alternative for every 1/4 cup (32 grams) of dry milk and 1 cup (240 mL) of liquid in the original recipe.
To replace buttermilk powder, combine 1 cup (240 mL) of a milk alternative with one tablespoon (15 mL) of vinegar or lemon juice. Allow the mixture to sit for 5–10 minutes before adding it to your recipe.
Given that plant-based milk provides varying types and amounts of nutrients, as well as different flavors, substituting them will affect the nutritional content and taste of your sweet or savory dish.
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Summary: Liquid plant-based milk, such as almond or oat milk, can be used in place of milk powder as long as the recipe already calls for additional water. Use 1 cup (240 mL) of milk powder for every 1/4 cup (32 grams).
3. Coconut milk powder
Not to be confused with desiccated coconut, which is then dried and shredded flesh of the coconut, coconut milk powder is made by spray-drying coconut milk or cream.
One-fourth cup (32 grams) of coconut milk powder provides 240 calories, 20 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 8 grams of carbs.
As coconut milk powder is high in fat, it’s a good substitute for whole fat milk powder in cooking. In particular, it works well in soups, curries, and sauces.
Yet, given that it’s higher in fat than whole milk powder, coconut milk powder can result in heavier baked goods.
Coconut milk is naturally vegan, as well as dairy- and lactose-free. However, some brands of coconut milk powder add sodium caseinate, which contains a milk-derived protein.
In general, coconut milk can be substituted for milk powder at a 1-to-1 ratio unless stated otherwise on the packaging.
Summary: Coconut milk powder is generally a nondairy, vegan alternative to milk powder that can be used in equal amounts. It’s best used in cooking rather than baking, as it can result in dense baked goods due to its high-fat content.
4. Soy milk powder
Soy milk powder is another good non-dairy alternative to milk powder.
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As with powdered milk, soy milk powder has a long shelf life. It’s also more nutritionally similar to powdered milk than other non-dairy alternatives.
While the nutrition content may vary by brand, 1/4 cup (19 grams) of soy milk powder provides approximately 90 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs, and 4% of the daily value for calcium.
Soy milk powder can be substituted for milk powder at a 1-to-1 ratio in nearly any recipe, including baked goods. It’s also a convenient way to boost plant-based protein to homemade granola bars and smoothies.
While some specialty health food stores may carry soy milk powder, it’s generally easiest to buy it online.
Summary: Soy milk powder is a convenient dairy-free alternative to milk powder. Nutritionally similar to reduced fat milk, soy milk powder can be substituted in equal amounts for milk powder in nearly any recipe.
5. Rice powder
Rice powder, also called rice flour, is a good option for those who are vegan, lactose intolerant, or allergic to soy or dairy.
Similar to soy milk powder, rice powder is a shelf-stable, plant-based alternative to milk powder that can be substituted in equivalent amounts in nearly any recipe.
However, it’s worth noting that rice powder tends to be sweeter than milk powder. Therefore, it may be best suited for sweeter dishes like desserts, baked goods, granola bars, and smoothies. Some even use it as a non-dairy, powdered coffee creamer.
Additionally, unlike milk powder and soy milk powder, rice powder primarily comprises carbs and is low in protein, fat, and micronutrients like calcium.
One-fourth cup (39 grams) of rice powder provides 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbs, and 1% of the daily value for calcium.
Rice powder can be hard to find in stores. Instead, it’s often easiest to purchase it online.
Summary: Rice powder is a good substitute for those with multiple food allergies, such as soy, dairy, or nut allergies. Vegan-friendly and lactose-free, rice powder is sweeter than milk powder, so it’s best used in sweet recipes like desserts and smoothies.
6. Cashew powder
While nut powders can generally be used in place of milk powder, cashew milk powder, in particular, best mimics the creamy, slightly sweet texture and flavor of milk powder.
Cashew powder can replace milk powder in equal amounts unless specified on the packaging.
This substitute works well in various dishes, including savory recipes, smoothies, baked goods, and granola bars.
It’s also worth noting that some brands clump more often than others. As such, when adding cashew milk powder to recipes like soups, you may need to blend the powder with some of the liquid in a blender for a smoother consistency.
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One-fourth cup (26 grams) of cashew milk powder provides approximately 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 20 grams of carbs.
Although cashew milk powder is challenging to find in stores, it’s available online.
Summary: Cashew milk powder has a creamy texture and sweet flavor, making it another good plant-based alternative to milk powder. It can be used in sweet or savory dishes.
Milk powder is an inexpensive, nonperishable ingredient that can be convenient to have on hand.
In addition to being lightweight and shelf-stable, milk powder is added to baked goods or savory recipes to help thicken the final product.
If you don’t keep milk powder on hand or need a non-dairy alternative, there are several options to choose from, depending on the recipe you’re making and any dietary restrictions you may have.