The Perfect Evaporated Milk Substitute for Pumpkin Pie {With Dairy Free Vegan Options}

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Pumpkin season is here! Or maybe it’s not…cause really any time to make pumpkin pie is a good idea! And a key ingredient in most pumpkin pies is evaporated milk. But what do you do when you don’t have any?? We will hunt down the best evaporated Milk substitute for pumpkin pie that will work for you!

You can use several substitutes to achieve a similar texture and flavor. Evaporated milk adds creaminess and richness without making the filling too heavy.

But before diving in, let’s ensure we understand what evaporated milk is. This will help us find the best substitute for our pie!

Evaporated Milk Substitute for Pumpkin Pie

What is Evaporated Milk?

If you’re a fan of baking, you’ve probably come across evaporated milk as an ingredient in many recipes, especially in desserts. It’s been around since 1885! This dairy product removes most of the water from fresh milk, about 60%, resulting in a concentrated and creamy liquid that can be used in various recipes.

Once they remove the water, they homogenize, can, and sterilize the milk to ensure a long shelf life. Pretty crazy what humans come up with!

How to Choose a Substitute for Evaporated Milk

If you are here, then you don’t have evaporated milk for your pumpkin pie recipe, don’t worry. Or perhaps you want a dairy-free or vegan option!

There are several substitutes you can use that will work just as well. Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a substitute:

Evaporated Milk Substitute for pumpkin filling being poured into a crust

Factors to Consider

Flavor: Consider the flavor of the substitute you’re using. You want something that will complement the pumpkin flavor of the pie. Really keep this in mind when using dairy-free options.

Texture: Evaporated milk has a thick, creamy texture. You’ll want to choose a substitute that has a similar texture so that your pie doesn’t turn out too runny or soft. No one wants pumpkin pie soup…well maybe some people.

Nutrition: If you’re looking for a healthier option, you’ll want to choose a substitute that has fewer calories or a dairy-free version of evaporated milk.

Types of Substitutes for Evaporated Milk

Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is a good substitute for evaporated milk because it has a similar texture and creaminess. Use a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream to evaporated milk in your recipe. Just remember, heavy cream is super rich and full of fat.

Half-and-Half: Half-and-half is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and light cream. It has a slightly lower fat content than heavy cream, so it’s a good option if you’re looking for a lighter substitute but still want that richness. Use a 1:1 ratio of half-and-half to evaporated milk in your recipe.

Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is a good substitute if you’re looking for a dairy-free option. It has a slightly sweet flavor that complements the pumpkin flavor of the pie, but it still has a strong coconut flavor. If you don’t like coconut then don’t use it.

And make sure you are using canned coconut milk and not the watered-down stuff in the fridge section at the grocery store. Use a 1:1 ratio of coconut milk to evaporated milk in your recipe.

Cashew Milk or Paste: Cashew milk is another dairy-free option. It has a slightly nutty flavor and creaminess that works well with the pumpkin flavor of the pie. But you will have to make your own as the store-bought version won’t cut it. A simple recipe is 1 cup of cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours and drained of soaking water and blended the nuts into a creamy paste. You can add a tablespoon or two of water.

Use a 1:1 ratio of cashew milk or cream to evaporated milk in your pumpkin pie.

Types of Substitutes for Evaporated Milk in Pumpkin Pie

Alright, let’s get down to business and look at different bases.

Cream-based Substitutes

As I mentioned earlier, if you have heavy cream or half-and-half, you can use them as a substitute for evaporated milk. These would be considered cream-based. These substitutes will make your pumpkin pie richer and creamier. Use the same amount of cream or half-and-half as you would evaporate milk.

Heavy Cream

One advantage of using heavy cream is that it can be whipped into whipped cream and used as a topping for your pie. This makes it a versatile ingredient that can be used in various ways in your recipe.


Half-and-half can also be used in a 1:1 ratio to substitute evaporated milk. However, since it has a lower fat content, it may not be as stable when heated. You may need to adjust your recipe slightly to ensure that the filling sets properly

Other not so popular options are:


As a cream base, yogurt can be used, but it must be done well. Here is my advice pick a full-fat Greek yogurt and a brand that you know isn’t too tart. This is the only way it will work otherwise, the tartness of the yogurt is offputting to the pumpkin pie even when sugar is adequate.

Cream Cheese

If you love pumpkin cheesecake then this might be a good option for you. Cream cheese will create a delicious texture and flavor to your pie, but realize it will be different than a traditional pumpkin pie. Here is a great recipe if you want to give it a try: Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie

Milk-based Substitutes

If you don’t have cream or half-and-half, you can use whole regular milk as a substitute for evaporated milk. However, remember that this will make your pumpkin pie less creamy.

Whole Milk

Keep in mind that regular milk has a higher water content than evaporated milk, which can affect the texture and flavor of your pie. To make up for this, you can use a slightly smaller amount of milk than the recipe calls for and add a tablespoon or two of flour to help thicken the filling.

Skim Milk – Non Fat Milk

Please don’t use low-fat or non-fat milk in your pumpkin pie unless you are willing to use a stabilizer. Those milks are basically water and will result in a thick pumpkin soup.

Plant-based Substitutes {Vegan and Dairy-Free}

If you’re vegan or need to be dairy free, you can use plant-based milk as a substitute for evaporated milk.

Coconut Milk – Cashew Milk – Almond Milk

The best are coconut milk (from a can) and homemade thick cashew milk/paste. You can also give almond milk/cream (not almond paste) a try if you don’t have cashews on hand. Just remember to soak the nuts for at least 3 hours before blending them up.

If you want to try storebought almond milk or other plant-based kinds of milk then I would recommend looking up a specific recipe using those kinds of milks. These milks are very thin and will need the right ratio of ingredients to stabilize it into a delicious pumpkin pie.

Please, keep in mind that these substitutes may change the flavor of your pumpkin pie. Use the same amount of plant-based milk as you would evaporate milk.

Homemade Evaporated Milk

If you want to venture into making your own evaporated milk. It’s quite simple. Here is a basic recipe.

Homemade Evaporated Milk
  • 2 1/4 cups of whole milk
  • A heavy-bottomed saucepan

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Pour the milk into the saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and let the milk simmer until it has reduced by half, stirring occasionally. This should take about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the evaporated milk cool before using it in your pumpkin pie recipe.

Pretty simple!

My Final Thoughts On Evaporated Milk Substitute for Pumpkin Pie

Now that you know about the different substitutes for evaporated milk in pumpkin pie, you can be a rock star and adjust your recipe to suit your preferences or dietary needs.

Whether you choose to use regular milk, cream, half-and-half, or a non-dairy alternative, your pumpkin pie is sure to turn out delicious.

Keep in mind that using different substitutes may slightly alter the taste and texture of your pumpkin pie, so it’s always a good idea to do a trial run before serving it to guests. My aunt once swapped out sweetened condensed milk with coconut milk but didn’t replace the sugar. We certainly had a good laugh when we all tried her “squash” pie.

A good tip also is that you may want to adjust the amount of sugar or spices in your recipe to balance out any changes in flavor.

Remember, the key to a great pumpkin pie is using fresh, high-quality ingredients and following the recipe carefully. With a little experimentation and creativity, you can make a pumpkin pie that is uniquely yours and sure to impress. And who knows it might be better than the original recipe! Happy cooking.

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