Ever had a craving for waffles, just to realize you’re out of milk?
Or maybe dairy isn’t your thing, and you’re looking for a vegan substitute.
Luckily for you, there are loads of alternatives to milk that you can use in waffles, ranging from plain water to condensed milk.
For this post, I tried out 11 different ways to replace milk in waffle batter, and I take you through each one in detail.
(Spoiler: condensed milk was a real unexpected treat!)
The best milk substitute for waffles is heavy cream. Mix equal parts cream and water, then use the mix as a 1:1 milk substitute. Other milk substitutes for waffles include water, yogurt, juice, evaporated milk, condensed milk, buttermilk, powdered milk, and most vegan milks (oat, almond, soy).
A note on my experiment
After many hours making waffles, I narrowed down my potential milk substitutes to a comprehensive list of 11 (I also made a control batch with regular milk for comparison).
Some of these options are dairy-free, so suitable for vegans and anyone who is lactose intolerant.
Others are convenient pantry staples that most people will have easy access to.
The best milk substitutes for waffles:
- Oat milk
- Soy milk
- Almond milk
- Plain yogurt
- Evaporated milk
- Condensed milk
- Powdered milk
- Apple juice
For each batch of batter, I swapped the milk out in a 1:1 ratio for the substitute.
However, I thinned out the thicker liquids like cream, condensed milk, yogurt, and evaporated milk with some water.
For the sweeter substitutes, I also used a little less sugar.
While my experiment centered on waffles, many of these suggested substitutes would work great for pancakes too.
|Water||Lacked flavor||Light and crispy||OK|
|Oat milk||Creamy, rich||Similar to milk||Excellent|
|Soy milk||Similar to milk||Similar to milk||Great|
|Almond milk||Slightly nutty flavor||Similar to milk||Great|
|Plain yogurt||Tangy||Quite dense||OK (wasn’t a fan)|
|Evaporated milk||Creamy, rich||Similar to milk||Excellent|
|Condensed milk||Sweet and cakey||Slightly dense||Excellent *|
|Powdered milk||Similar to milk||Slightly less fluffy||Great|
|Buttermilk||Rich flavor||Dense, less crisp||Excellent *|
|Apple juice||Fruity, odd||Light and crispy||Avoid|
|Cream||Rich, creamy||Similar to milk||Excellent|
Most of the milk substitutes worked great. However, some were definitely better than others.
I loved the creamier, sweeter options like condensed milk or oat milk.
I wasn’t a fan of yogurt or apple juice, or water really. But water is super convenient.
With many of these substitutes, you have a bit of wiggle room.
Depending on how rich or light you want your waffles, you can adjust the ratios or even combine substitutes.
For example, if you find using just cream too heavy, you can mix it with some almond milk.
Water is the most convenient swap on my list because it’s always readily available.
However, because it lacks any fat (i.e fewer calories!) it doesn’t give the same depth of flavor that you get from milk.
The waffles weren’t as creamy, but they did have a nice light texture.
To make your waffle mix extra airy, you can use sparkling water or soda water instead of tap water.
Related: How To Defizz Soda
How much water should I substitute?
Swap the milk out for water in a 1:1 ratio.
Stir the water in slowly, making sure to catch any potential lumps as you go.
This also helps you keep an eye on how thick or thin your batter will end up being.
Taste: okay but lacking flavor, a little bland.
Texture: light and airy texture with crispy edges.
Overall: water is fine in a pinch, but it’s more of a last resort than a choice for me.
Vegan milk (oat, almond, and soy milk)
I tried three different vegan milks in this experiment: oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk.
But any vegan milk alternative will work, so pick your favorite.
An unsweetened version will be most like traditional milk (and is what I used).
If you’ve got a sweet tooth then you can go for sweetened milk, but consider reducing the amount of sugar in the batter so your waffles.
You can also experiment with different flavors. Vanilla and chocolate both sound great to me! You could even give coconut milk a go.
Which vegan milk was best?
My favorite option was oat milk.
Oat milk is slightly thicker than regular milk, and more creamy so the waffles were really tasty.
Soy milk was probably most similar to dairy-based milk. While almond milk gave the waffles a hint of nuttiness.
How much vegan milk should I substitute?
You can swap any vegan milk in a 1:1 ratio for regular milk. The consistency is very similar.
If you’re using a sweetened or flavored milk I would use less sugar in the batter, and maybe reduce the vanilla extract too but that’s up to you.
Taste: all very similar to regular milk, oat milk edged the flavor wars for me.
Texture: light and crunchy waffles, oat milk was ever-so-slightly heavier.
Overall: vegan milks work really well as substitutes for dairy milk in waffles.
Plain yogurt is the best way to go if you’re using yogurt as a milk substitute, but you can also use Greek yogurt or even sour cream (if it’s all you have).
For the adventurous among us, flavored yogurts are an option, too (hello, vanilla!).
Yogurt can have quite a strong aftertaste – a good way to counteract this is to add a little cinnamon or other warm spice.
How much yogurt should I substitute?
Thin the yogurt out with a little water and then add it to your batter in a 1:1 ratio.
How much water you add is up to you. For a thick, dense batter just add a little.
Whisk your batter well to make sure all your ingredients are combined.
Yogurt can sometimes cause clumping.
Taste: a little tangy from the yogurt, which I didn’t love.
Texture: quite nice and tender, if somewhat dense and not super crisp.
Overall: I probably wouldn’t use this option again unless I had no alternative and didn’t feel like using water.
But I think there is a target market for this method. It’s just not me.
Evaporated milk is the sort of thing people buy and then forget about.
Have a look in the back of your cupboard – you might find some!
And if you don’t have any, it’s worth buying a few cans to have for the next time you’re out of milk.
It’s milk that has been boiled to reduce its water content, so it tastes very similar (just a bit thicker and creamier).
How much evaporated milk should I substitute?
You can use evaporated milk as a 1:1 substitute for regular milk, thinning it out with a bit of water if you want a light batter.
I didn’t use any water, and the waffles were great.
Taste: similar to the control waffle, but very slightly richer.
Texture: same as usual, no significant difference.
Overall: a great substitute that I would recommend anytime.
Condensed milk is not so much a milk substitute as it is a game-changer.
Not to be confused with evaporated milk, condensed milk is very sweet and contains extra sugar.
It turns waffles from a breakfast meal into a delicious, cakey treat with a soft but dense texture.
Because of its high sugar content, ensure your waffle iron is non-stick, or use extra cooking spray to prevent sticking or burning.
How much condensed milk should I substitute?
You can substitute regular milk with condensed milk in a 1:1 ratio but add some water to thin it out, or it can become overwhelmingly sweet (and gloopy).
I would also reduce the amount of sugar you add to the batter.
(or even omit it completely).
Taste: mouth-watering but definitely not like your typical waffle. Much sweeter and more like a cake.
Texture: dense, moist, and cakey.
Overall: big fan. I would bake these again because I liked them so much.
Powdered milk is just dehydrated milk, containing the same nutrients, minerals, and protein content as regular milk.
It’s a fantastic pantry staple because it can always be whipped out in a pinch and mixed with water to emulate the real thing.
There may be a slight difference in texture when you use powdered milk in waffles (it’s a bit heavier), but not at all in taste.
How much powdered milk should I substitute?
To substitute regular milk with powdered milk, start by mixing it with water according to the instructions on the packet.
Once you have it at the right consistency, add it to your batter mix in the same quantity as the recipe calls for milk.
Taste: great taste, wouldn’t know it wasn’t fresh milk.
Texture: a little denser and not as fluffy, but equally crispy around the edges.
Overall: perfect substitute that I would use again.
Buttermilk is a wonderful substitute for cow’s milk in waffles and is often used as a preference in recipes – you might find you prefer it.
Buttermilk is more flavorsome than milk so give the waffles a unique (yummy) taste.
But it is a bit heavier, so the waffle won’t be as light.
Tip: if you do end up loving buttermilk, you can make it yourself by adding a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to regular (or vegan) milk and leaving it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
How much buttermilk should I substitute?
Use in a 1:1 ratio.
Buttermilk is slightly thicker than milk, so if you want a light texture thin it out with a small amount of water.
Taste: delicious, rich flavor.
Texture: denser and a little less crisp, but moist.
Overall: I would absolutely recommend buttermilk not only as a milk substitute but as a must-try if you have it. You won’t be disappointed.
You can use fruit juices as a substitute for milk in waffles if you don’t feel like using water.
You can use any flavor.
I’ve seen orange be recommended but I happened to have apple in the fridge, so that’s what I went with.
One thing to be wary of when you’re using fruit juice is the sugar content – it can be very high!
How much juice should I substitute?
Add to your batter in a 1:1 ratio, but do so incrementally, as you may end up using slightly less.
You don’t want your batter to be too thin.
Also, consider reducing the sugar in your batter (or omitting it completely).
Taste: I wouldn’t recommend this method. My waffle had a really odd flavor.
Texture: relatively light and fluffy, with a nice crisp.
Overall: not going to try this again. Water is better.
Cream is an excellent substitute if you have it to hand, and you can whip up the leftovers to use as a topping!
The heavier the cream, the heavier the waffle.
If you prefer a light waffle half and half would work better (or you can just mix some water into your cream).
How much cream should I substitute?
I made a mixture consisting of 50% cream with 50% water and added that to my waffle batter as if it was milk.
But if you feel like more indulgent waffles, you can use more cream. Or vice versa for a lighter version.
Taste: I couldn’t distinguish between my creamy waffle and my control waffle, and both were equally delicious.
Texture: similar to milk. Gets denser the more cream you add.
Overall: a great option that I would use again.
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Best Milk Substitutes For Waffles
- 1 portion water
- 1 portion vegan milk oat, almond, soy
- 1 portion cream
- 1 portion juice apple, orange
- 1 portion yogurt unflavored or greek
- 1 portion buttermilk
- 1 portion powdered milk
- 1 portion evaporated milk
- 1 portion condensed milk
- Most milk substitutes can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio in whatever recipe you choose.
- If using powdered milk, mix according to the insructions on the packet.
- For cream and condensed milk, mix each with water in a 1:1 ratio.
- Evaporated milk can be used in a 1:1 ratio, but you may wish to thin it out slightly with a splash of water.