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7 Best Substitutes for Evaporated Milk in Pumpkin Pie

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In need of a substitute for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie that will work for your recipe? You’re in the right place!

Ingredients for pumpkin pie with evaporated milk in a glass jar.

Although evaporated milk is one of the less complicated ingredients out there, not all alternatives for evaporated milk will work in a traditional pumpkin recipe. You might also have to make some adjustments.

So keep reading to learn how to substitute evaporated milk for the beloved holiday treat that is Pumpkin Pie.

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What Is Evaporated Milk + Why Pumpkin Pie Recipes Use It

Evaporated milk is just regular milk that’s been heated so that around 60% of its water content is, well, evaporated. In other countries, this ingredient is also commonly known as unsweetened condensed milk.

It’s not uncommon for people to mix up evaporated milk and condensed milk. But just to clarify, evaporated milk is considered an “unsweetened” variety because it only has 10% sugar by weight, while condensed milk is called “sweetened” because it contains 55% sugar.

Evaporated milk produces a thicker and more concentrated dairy product that can do wonders for the texture of desserts and baked goods. Whether using fresh pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin, this main ingredient already has a good amount of water. So, evaporated milk makes your pie filling creamy without becoming too runny.

Evaporated milk in a can on a burlap sack.

Canned evaporated milk you buy from grocery stores goes through additional but necessary steps, such as homogenization, sterilization, and canning.

When Do You Need Evaporated Milk Substitutes in Pumpkin Pie


Evaporated milk is one of the food items you’d think will always be available in stores. That may not be the case if you’re a little late for your grocery run during the holidays.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. For the rare occasions when evaporated milk is no longer available, you’ll thank yourself for knowing the best option to use instead of evaporated milk.

Dietary Restrictions

It may seem impossible to make pumpkin pie without evaporated milk. But when someone in the family has lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, it’s definitely time to experiment with the best alternatives for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie.

Knowing the best substitutes for this particular recipe will also make it easier to prepare any dish if the recipe calls for evaporated milk, like these Overnight Pumpkin French Toast and Overnight Cherry Baked French Toast Casserole recipes.

After all, everyone in the family deserves to enjoy a sweet treat while considering food sensitivities.

Flavor Preferences

Evaporated milk is undoubtedly the best ingredient for the most traditional pumpkin pie recipes. But there will be times when you want to experiment a little, and that’s one of the fun things about being in the kitchen!

Do you want to add more sweetness to your pumpkin pie? Are you in the mood to introduce a bit of a nutty flavor to this holiday staple? Then, it’s time to try amazing alternatives while still ending up with creamy pumpkin pie filling.

Best Substitutes for Evaporated Milk for Your Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Regular Milk

There’s always the worry that regular milk would make the pie filling too watery and runny. That’s a certain way to ruin a beloved holiday dessert. However, making a few simple adjustments will make the swap perfect!

Regular milk in a glass and glass pitcher.

Most recipes for the classic 9-inch pie with pumpkin filling call for one 12-ounce can of evaporated milk, up to around 1½ cups. Follow these steps when substituting with regular milk:

  1. Pour 3½ cups of regular milk into a pan.
  2. Bring it to a slow simmer and stir constantly to avoid burning the milk.
  3. Keep the milk simmering for 20-25 minutes or until the regular milk is reduced to half its original volume. Voila, you now have homemade evaporated milk.

Sure, this extends your cooking time, and the holiday is already busy in the kitchen, but using regular milk is one of the easiest ways to stay close to the classic recipe.

Heavy Cream

Here’s one of the easiest alternatives to use. The nearest grocery store likely has this available and you might even have it in the kitchen already. Most heavy creams have a thicker consistency than evaporated milk, so you won’t have to heat it to reduce its liquid content. 

Heavy cream in a bowl substitute for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie.

It’s also typically unsweetened, so you won’t have to worry about it changing the flavor of the dish. This makes heavy cream an excellent substitute for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie.

You can use just 1 cup of heavy cream to replace 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk is a great way to whip out a rich and flavorful dessert that any kid with a sweet tooth will love. When it comes to pumpkin pie, though, there will be noticeable changes if you use this instead of evaporated milk. This alternative is much thicker and sweeter than the original ingredient.

A wooden spoon is pouring condensed milk, a substitute for evaporated milk, into a bowl.

So when substituting with sweetened condensed milk, mix all the pie filling ingredients except sugar. You may use 1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk to replace 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk. Then, make adjustments to achieve your preferred sweetness. 

While you can still have a sweet, tasty, and rich pumpkin pie with this substitute, expect recognizable changes in the texture. A classic pumpkin pie has a silky texture and a slightly jiggly center. Using sweetened condensed milk, while it’s a delicious alternative, will provide a tad chunkier pie.

Coconut Milk

Does anyone in the family have a lactose intolerance? Or are you expecting guests who are on a dairy-free diet? There’s no reason they can’t enjoy a delicious pumpkin pie without adding a cup of evaporated milk!

Coconut milk displayed in a jar on a wooden table with coconut on the side.

What I love about using coconut milk is that it already has a hint of sweetness (but not overpowering) and a pleasant nutty flavor. While these changes are easy to notice, they can elevate the flavor of pumpkin pie.

It’s highly recommended to use full-fat coconut milk for pumpkin pie. This will help you get closer to the richness of the original recipe. Just ensure the coconut milk is at room temperature so it’s easier to mix into the pie filling. 

When there’s not enough time to bring it down to room temperature, you can submerge the can (before opening) in a bowl of hot water, or pour it into a saucepan and heat for a few minutes.

You can use a 1:1 ratio when using this alternative, which means 1 12 oz. can of coconut milk for 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk.

Almond Milk

This crowd-favorite vegan dairy alternative can also be a substitute for making pumpkin pie. Do watch out for notable alterations to the flavor, though, because almond milk has an unmistakable nutty taste.

A glass of almond milk and almonds on a dark background, the perfect substitute for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie.

Almond milk is also much thinner than evaporated milk, so you must reduce its water content to achieve the best texture for your pumpkin pie. 

Heat 3½ cups of almond milk and reduce it by half (just like you would when using regular milk, see above) to have enough for your pie filling. It’s also best to use unsweetened almond milk to have more control over the pie’s sweetness.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is also a tasty non-dairy milk option that can be a substitute for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie and even for savory dishes. While it has a nutty flavor, it’s less prominent than almond milk. We also recommend using an unsweetened variant, but even that can be slightly sweeter than other vegan dairy alternatives.

Soy milk in a glass next to soy beans in a small bowl and wooden spoon.

Soy milk is generally thinner than evaporated milk. But you can make it creamier by heating 3 1⁄2 cups of soy milk until it’s reduced to about the same amount as a can of evaporated milk.

Another great thing about this substitute, is that you can use it even for savory recipes that call for evaporated milk, like this Creamy Garden Chicken Casserole.

Rice Milk

If you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to soy milk or cow’s milk, then rice milk may be the non-dairy alternative for you. 

a glass of rice milk and a wooden spoon  with rice on a burlap sack.

Rice milk is produced by grinding soaked rice and water. The natural sweetness of rice milk makes it particularly valuable in dessert preparations and baking.

It’s worth noting that rice milk has a relatively high glycemic index (GI), so those who have blood sugar issues should avoid this.

Rice milk is also thinner than evaporated milk. You can reduce the water content of rice milk through heating.


Is evaporated milk healthier than milk?

In general, evaporated milk has a higher nutritional value because it’s more concentrated than any regular milk.

Does evaporated milk have more sugar than regular milk?

Canned evaporated milk is typically unsweetened and has almost the same sugar content as regular milk.

Can I use low-fat milk for pumpkin pie?

I don’t recommend using milk products with lower fat content, like skim milk. They typically contain more water than regular whole milk. This could make achieving the right texture for your pumpkin pie more difficult.

You Can Get By Without Evaporated Milk in Pumpkin Pie With the Best Alternatives

When it’s a busy day in the kitchen, it will be difficult to squeeze in a grocery run for the forgotten evaporated milk. However, that shouldn’t be a reason to shatter everyone’s eager anticipation for the luscious and sweet homemade pumpkin pie.

A slice of pumpkin pie on a plate with a fork. Pumpkin and sliced pumpkin pie on the side.

So whether the holiday is around the corner or it’s still a few more months away, it will be extremely helpful to know a great sub for evaporated milk to help you serve the best pumpkin pie. Even without canned milk, you can still end the holiday dinner with a bang!

2 thoughts on “7 Best Substitutes for Evaporated Milk in Pumpkin Pie”

  1. I’ve never made a substitute for evaporated milk, but I’m so excited to try it since I don’t always have it on hand!! Thank you!


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