When a recipe calls for a can of evaporated milk, did you know there’s a quick and easy substitute you can use instead? This little trick will let you make a homemade version of evaporated milk and it’s easy on the budget too!
What Is Evaporated Milk?
Evaporated milk is a shelf stable canned product made from fresh milk that has had about 60% of the water content removed. Evaporated milk first gained popularity before the days of refrigeration. If you added an equal amount of water back to a can of evaporated milk, you once again had a liquid that tasted like fresh milk.
Today, we use evaporated milk most often in recipes where we want a creamier and richer taste than just plain milk can provide.
Remember that evaporated milk is different than sweetened condensed milk which has sugar added to it (and by the way, you can also make your own sweetened condensed milk!).
2 Ways To Make Your Own Evaporated Milk
Because evaporated milk is fresh milk with some of the water removed, there are a couple ways you can go about creating a homemade version. One way is to boil milk down to about half its volume. However this takes a little more watching and stirring and guessing on when you’ve reached about half of what you started with.
Instead, I like this method that uses powdered milk at twice the ratio to water as you would normally use it. This also give you a creamier milk product with less water in it that you can stir together in just a few seconds and works great.
To make the equivalent of a 12 oz can of store bought evaporated milk, I combine 1-¼ cups water with 1 cup of dry milk powder. I’ve found that my 2-cup size measuring cup works great for this. I first measure the water out into my measuring cup. Then (using my measuring cup for dry ingredients) measure out the cup of dry milk powder and add it into the water.
Dry milk powder dissolves pretty quickly so with only a bit of stirring, I’ve got my homemade evaporated milk ready to go.
DIY Evaporated Milk
- 1-1/4 cups Water
- 1 cup Dry Milk Powder
- Measure out the water into a 2 cup measuring cup. A mixing bowl can also be used if you don't have a large measuring cup.
- Add in the dry milk powder and stir together until the milk powder is dissolved.
- Use as a substitute for a 12 oz can of evaporated milk.
Doing The Math
Now, the math-minded brains among us may be reading the recipe up there and are thinking “Isn’t the 1¼ cups of water equal to 10 ounces? How can this be equal to a 12 ounce can? Explain yourself please!”
You’ll find that when you add in the 1 cup of dry milk powder, the mixture increases in volume and you end up with exactly 12 ounces. Perfect!
Update: Since first publishing this recipe I’ve also been asked what measurements to use if you want to make the equivalent of a 5 oz can of evaporated milk. The 5 oz size isn’t quite as popular but every now and then you might come across a recipe calling for this size.
I puzzled over this for awhile too and finally decided the simplest answer was to just cut the recipe in half and make about 6 ounces. I do this by using about ⅔ cup of water with a ½ cup of dry milk powder. THEN, when it’s time to use this in your recipe, don’t use quite all of it (so that you’re using only 5 oz instead of 6 oz) and just toss out what’s left. Sometimes when you make your own you have to keep your solutions as simple as you can. 🙂
And if you need a couple ideas for using up a big box of dry milk powder, you can mix together some homemade hot chocolate mix, some homemade peppermint hot cocoa mix that you can layer in a jar for gift-giving, or some homemade pudding mix.