Here's what you can substitute for evaporated milk

If you love baking, chances are your pantry is stocked full of necessities. Most of the time you're prepared when it comes to last-minute cakes, pies, and cookies, but there's always that one time you try something new — you look around and you're missing that one special ingredient. Evaporated milk is one of those ingredients that can be easily missed. Its popular counterpart is sweetened condensed milk and can be a common ingredient in recipes, but evaporated milk sometimes falls by wayside. That's why it's good to have a few options to substitute for evaporated milk in case this ever happens to you. 

Evaporated milk is canned, shelf-stable, low-moisture cow's milk (via Serious Eats). It's a great alternative to condensed milk because it offers the same rich texture minus the added sugars. With evaporated milk, your mac and cheese can be creamier, soups can be thicker, and your guests will be fighting over the last piece of your homemade pie. So, if your next recipe calls for evaporated milk and you don't have it, open the fridge — you'll likely find the best substitutes in there.

Where can you find evaporated milk substitutes?

Evaporated milk is often made of 2 percent milk, but Real Simple says 1 percent and skim will work too. You can even go dairy-free, as this process also works with soy and almond milk. All you need to do is pour 2-1/4 cups of milk into a saucepan and boil it until the milk reduces down to 1 cup. That's all it takes to make your own evaporated milk.

No milk in the fridge? No problem. Coffee lovers will be happy to know that one cup of half-and-half or heavy cream will also serve as a substitute for evaporated milk. The only disappointment when it comes to evaporated milk alternatives is the flavor. Evaporated milk has a very distinct caramelized flavor. The flavor of regular milk, half-and-half, and heavy cream will be a bit more bland, but they will still produce that creamy consistency you so desperately need.

The next time evaporated milk is needed in your recipe and it's nowhere in sight, don't panic — just make your own with what you have right in your fridge.