DIY Evaporated Milk

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!

DIY Evaporated Milk - Use this quick hack using powdered milk and water to make your own easy substitute for a can of evaporated milk

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.

DIY Evaporated Milk - Use this quick hack using powdered milk and water to make your own easy substitute for a can of evaporated milk

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

Make a quick and easy substitute for a can of evaporated milk using this simple method of combining water and instant dry milk powder.


  • 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!

DIY Evaporated Milk - Use this quick hack using powdered milk and water to make your own easy substitute for a can of evaporated milk

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. 🙂

I’ve used this recipe as a substitute for evaporated milk in my favorite tuna chowder and it worked perfectly. I’ve also used it with success in my pumpkin pie recipe.

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.



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  1. So many things we can make ourselves that are less expensive and without those mystery ingredients!
    I’ve made home made sweetened condensed milk and it it excellent. Just like the canned version.
    We need to experiment with these things instead of throwing away money.

  2. Can u use the powder carnations milk to make cake love to have receipe for the homemade powder carnations milk

    1. Well those bags or boxes of milk powder are usually a large size and last a long time, so if you have that sitting in your pantry it’s an excellent way to not have to go to the store for evaporated milk in a pinch.

    1. I have not tried to whip this mixture, and it might be worth a try, but I’m rather doubtful that it will work.

      1. Well, it won;t whip like CREAM, because it’s milk, not cream. I’ve tried and it didn’t do much of anything when I tried to whip it. Powdered milk is usually non-fat.

    1. Yes, I think that method would still work with nonfat milk as I think some of the water content would still reduce away.

    1. Half & Half could perhaps be a substitute if you are in a bind, however it has a creamier taste than evaporated milk and might change the taste of your finished recipe.

  3. I was excIted to find this substitute, but disappointed with the result. I used 3/4 C water and 1/4 C powdered milk to make 1 cup Evavaporated milk. When I used this in my coconut pecan frosting, the frosting tasted like powdered milk. The ratio must be very important.

    1. Oh yes! Ratio is everything! If you can remember the exact measurements, then always remember equal parts water to powdered milk, adding a little powdered milk to adjust thickness.

    1. There is no need to boil the water, and you really don’t even need hot water. Powdered milk dissolves very well in lukewarm water right from the faucet.

  4. Thank you!! Can I use regular milk or lactaid in a recipe for flan that calls for evaporated milk?? Thanks!

    1. Evaporated milk has a richer, creamier flavor than regular milk or lactaid. If you substitute regular milk in a recipe, I think the texture of your final product will be OK, but it might not have quite as rich of a flavor.

    1. I have successfully substituted this homemade version of evaporated milk in recipes, however I have not tried it in fudge. Even though I haven’t tried it personally I think it would work and would certainly be worth giving a try.

      1. I found your recipe tonight while I was all geared up to make fudge and realized I was out of evap. milk! I was using the “quick” recipe that uses sugar, chocolate chips, butter, marshmallow creme, vanilla, and evaporated milk. I substituted the DIY version for the milk and the recipe worked great. Next time I would probably thin it out with a TINY bit more water as the sugar, butter, and milk mixture seemed to come to a boil very fast and there was some crystallized sugar that didn’t have time to dissolve thoroughly. Overall, though, I’d call this one a win! Thanks!

        1. Love your story Debra! That’s my hope for many of the DIY ideas I share here. They might not be something you do all the time, but they are great tricks to have up your sleeve when you need a resourceful solution in a pinch. AND if you do choose to do them all the time, that’s fine too and they can be helpful money savers.

  5. Will this work for a homemade nonfat whipped cream? The recipe for homemade whipped cream calls for evaporated milk.

    1. I’m not sure this would work for a nonfat version. I think you need the heavy whipping cream (not evaporated milk) to make a good homemade whipped cream.

          1. Even then I can’t seem to find it… I checked at the health food store… sigh, no go… do you know a brand….

  6. Ty for the recipe! Me and my husband are changing our eating lifestyle to healthier foods so I bought powdered milk and just made a pumpkin pie!

  7. Hi!

    I use evaporated milk to make my Coquito (puerto rican egg nogg). I get a lot of orders during the holidays and I’m wondering how long this recipe will last? Alcohol is in the coquito and they’re stored in glass bottles.


    1. I think the best strategy for your purposes would be to use distilled water or filtered water so you have very pure water for your homemade evaporated milk. I also think the alcohol in the mixture should help for shelf life too. I’m not sure if Coquito is refrigerated (I haven’t heard of it before) 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing. I avoid recipes calling for evaporated milk because I never have any on hand. Like the savings too!

    1. If you have a box of powdered milk in the house, it’s definitely an easy way to be able to make any recipe calling for evaporated milk too!

  9. I really didn’t know this! Thanks so much for sharing this. There are times when I am baking or cooking and am short of evaporated milk, now I don’t have to worry about it any more!

    Thanks for linking to the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party.

  10. Thank you for this money saving information. I often make a dessert typical of my country and asks for a can of both evaporated and condensed milk. I usually have powder milk in my cupboard and now it’s going to be used. 🙂

    1. That’s why I like this recipe too . . . it’s a great way to be able to use what you have in the cupboard to make what you need.