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Ingredient Substitutes for Milk, Chocolate, and More!

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Ingredient Substitutes for Milk, Chocolate, and More!

Don’t stress if you’re missing some baking supplies the next time you head into the kitchen– use these healthy ingredient substitutions instead!

Baking isn’t just about flour, butter, and sugar! Some other common baking ingredients include milk, chocolate, spices, and leavening agents. If you find you’ve run out of any of these items during your next baking session, try using some of the convenient and healthy ingredient substitutions listed below. Don’t miss our other baking substitutions article with other ingredient swaps!

Need a Milk Substitute for Baking?

More often than not, liquids used in recipes are milk-based, which is a great way to incorporate calcium, vitamins D and B12, and protein. There are many forms the milk can take, which affects the nutritional properties and its function in the recipe.

  • Evaporated milk is milk that has been heated until half of the water evaporates, which yields a creamier texture and increased levels of certain nutrients.
  • Heavy cream is a dense cream perfect for whipping due to its high-fat content.
  • Sweetened condensed milk is a milk and sugar blend, which is primarily used to sweeten and thicken desserts.
  • Buttermilk is a high-protein, low-fat milk that is thicker and tarter than regular milk and is typically used to make scones and pancakes.

For a healthy baking substitution to slash calories and fat without sacrificing on moisture or taste, consider using a lower fat version of the product in your recipe. If you’re looking to swap out milk altogether, you can also try a milk alternative.

Substitution Options for Types of Milk

1 Cup Evaporated Milk:

  • 1 cup low fat evaporated milk
  • 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk

1 Cup Heavy Cream:

  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 cup Half & Half
  • 1 cup evaporated skim milk
  • For a non-milk alternative, use 1 cup canned coconut milk (note- this will impart a coconut flavor)

1 Cup Sweetened Condensed Milk:

  • 1 cup nonfat sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup low fat sweetened condensed milk

1 Cup Buttermilk:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar/lemon juice

1 Cup Milk:

  • 1 cup milk alternative (such as almond, coconut, rice, or soy milk– experiment to find one that you like best!)

Plant-based milk products make a great alternative to cow’s milk for those who suffer from dairy or lactose allergies. Soy and pea milk can provide an extra boost of protein to your baked goods (similar amount to cow’s milk), while coconut milk can help keep them moist with its creamy consistency. Whichever milk alternative you choose as your, look for unsweetened options, as they can sometimes be a surprising source of added sugar.

Chocolate Substitution Tips

Don’t forget about chocolate when thinking about healthy baking substitutions! Healthier chocolate options include using less chocolate in the recipe or switching to cocoa powder. When compared to chocolate, cocoa has many of the health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health and blood pressure, with less of the fat — cocoa has 22% fat, versus 48-50% in chocolate.

Substitutions for Types of Chocolate

1 Ounce Unsweetened/Baking Chocolate:

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa + 1 tablespoon butter, margarine, or vegetable oil

1 Cup Chocolate Chips:

  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • If you’re looking to cut down on sugar, use dark chocolate.

Everything Nice about Spice

Spice substitution is different from other baking ingredient substitutions, as there aren’t as many health implications involved. It’s simply a matter of knowing what you have in your spice rack that you can interchange to complete your recipe. In addition to contributing a specific flavor to the batter, spices can also add a different texture.

Substitution Options for Spices

All Spice Substitute:

  • 1 teaspoon Allspice: ½ teaspoon cinnamon + ½ teaspoon ground cloves + ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Apple Pie Spice Substitute:

  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice: ½ teaspoon cinnamon + ¼ teaspoon nutmeg + 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute:

  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice: ½ teaspoon cinnamon + ¼ teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon allspice + 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Kids Nutrition Cookbook and activity book Super Crew cookbookHigh and Dry Ingredients

Many people often wonder “can you substitute baking soda for baking powder?” Although baking powder and baking soda have similar names and purposes, they, unfortunately, can’t be substituted for each other. Both ingredients function as leavening agents and contribute to the shape, size, and volume of baked goods, but they react differently depending on the other ingredients they are combined with. Baking soda is just another name for sodium bicarbonate, where baking powder is sodium bicarbonate combined with an acid (usually cream of tartar). Because of this, baking soda has no substitute due to its lack of acidity, but it is possible to create a substitution for baking powder.

Baking Powder Substitute:

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder:

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

With these tips, you’ll be able to whip up your favorite treats with simple ingredient substitutions without having to run off to the store. Try some of these ideas out with this easy tasty whole-grain pumpkin bread recipe!

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About the Author

Melissa Halas, MA, RD, CDE

Melissa Halas, MA, RD, CDE

Melissa is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with a master's in nutrition education. She is the founder of SuperKids Nutrition Inc. Read more about her Super Crew children’s books and her experience as a registered dietitian on the About Melissa and Shop page. Discover how nutrition can help you live your best health potential through her plant-based books and newsletter on Melissa’s Healthy Living.
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