It’s no secret that baking is all about chemistry. Unlike cooking, it isn’t easy to change up the ingredients in recipes.
When you change the ingredients you are using or the amounts of the ingredients that you are adding, whatever you are baking might not turn out as planned.
When you’re trying to bake with almond milk instead of cow’s milk, you should try to find recipes that use almond milk in their original ingredients list rather than trying to substitute almond milk in for cow’s milk.
However, if you need to bake a recipe that calls for cow’s milk with almond milk instead, there are some really easy ways to make it work.
What Is Almond Milk?
Sure, almond milk is just a substitute for traditional cow’s milk. It’s vegan, lactose-free, plant-based, and cruelty-free. But do you know how it’s made?
Almond milk is made by soaking almonds in water overnight. Then the almonds are blended with more water, some salt, and any other flavoring or sweetener.
Flavored extracts and different sweeteners are used to give almond milk a different taste. The most common flavor to add to almond milk is vanilla but any type of extract can be added.
It’s easy to make almond milk yourself if you have all of the necessary equipment. All you would need is a blender and a nut milk strainer. Of course, store-bought almond milk works just as well in any recipe.
Before you buy almond milk, make sure that you match the type of almond milk to what the recipe might call for. Think about if you need sweetened or unsweetened almond milk.
If you are substituting for regular cow’s milk, sweetened almond milk will match the original flavor better.
How to Substitute Almond Milk in a Recipe
Usually, you can just substitute almond milk into a baking recipe that uses real cow’s milk and it will still bake just fine. Sometimes you will have to make some adjustments in the recipe if you add almond milk.
If you make the recipe and it doesn’t go well, it means that next time you try to make that same recipe, you will have to alter the amount of almond milk that you add.
If a recipe calls for something to be done with the milk other than just simple addition, such as heating the milk or thickening the milk, you might need to make sure you pay attention to how almond milk would react differently than cow’s milk would.
How to Match Almond Milk to Cow’s Milk
While almond milk can be a great substitute for regular cow’s milk, it’s important to know the differences between them and the limits of using almond milk as a substitute in a recipe.
Almond milk can replicate 2% milk, which is usually what is used in recipes. Almond milk is very watery so if the recipe calls for whole milk, heavy cream, or buttermilk, you will need to do more things to it to make sure that the result of the recipe is unchanged.
Regular milk also has naturally occurring sugars that sweeten it slightly. Almond milk doesn’t have any sugar on its own. To better replicate real cow’s milk in a recipe, you should either add a sweetener to almond milk or purchase already-sweetened almond milk at the store.
If you can’t buy sweetened almond milk or add sweetener to your unsweetened almond milk, you could try adding more sweetener to the recipe. If the recipe calls for sugar, try adding a small amount of extra sugar to it. This will work to account for the small amount of sugar that almond milk lacks.
If you are using a recipe that calls for almond milk instead of regular milk, you won’t need to make any alterations as the recipe has already accounted for the differences between the milks.
Just make sure that you know whether or not the recipe is asking for unsweetened almond milk or sweetened almond milk, and use the correct version.
Color of Finished Baked Goods
Also, make sure that you know anything you are baking might not be as dark when it is finished baking. If you are using almond milk in a recipe that calls for regular cow’s milk, watch what you are baking when it is in the oven.
Since the final product will probably not be as dark as you might be used to or the product that you see on the recipe, you might be more likely to overbake it.
This would mean that your baked good is too dry but still edible. Or, you could accidentally burn it and have to start all over again.
To make sure that this doesn’t happen, double-check your timers when you are baking. Follow the instructions on the recipe. When enough time has passed, check the bake time by inserting a toothpick into the center of the baked good in the oven.
If the toothpick comes out clean or with a few small bits on it, it’s probably done cooking and you should take it out of the oven to cool. If the toothpick doesn’t come out clean, you need to leave it in the oven for longer.
Make sure to set another timer, and check regularly with a toothpick to make sure it doesn’t overbake.
Can You Boil Almond Milk?
Some baking recipes call for more complicated steps. Sometimes milk needs to be boiled or heated up prior to being added to other ingredients. If you are using almond milk as a substitute in this recipe, you will need to be able to heat up the almond milk too.
Since almond milk is made with different ingredients than cow’s milk, you might be wondering if you can heat it up in the same way. Almond milk burns easily, so you have to be careful when you are heating it on a stovetop. It’s best to use a double boiler.
If you don’t have a double boiler, you can recreate it with two pans. Add some water to the bottom pot and bring it to a boil. Then add a second pot (or a metal bowl) on top and pour the almond milk into it. Then, you can heat the almond milk slowly.
If you don’t heat almond milk slowly, it could burn. When almond milk is too hot, it changes taste and can become bitter.
If your almond milk burns or becomes bitter, it will change the taste of what you are baking and you will have to reheat different almond milk instead.
It’s also good to use a microwave to heat almond milk. Using a microwave might be easier than using a double boiler and makes it less likely that the almond milk will burn or change taste and become bitter.
To be sure that you don’t make any mistakes when heating almond milk, make sure that you don’t actually boil it. Rather, stop heating it when it’s hot but not yet boiling.
How to Thicken Almond Milk
Almond milk is naturally thinner than cow’s milk. Some recipes call for thickening milk. You might also find that a recipe isn’t working with almond milk because it needs thicker milk.
There is an easy way to make almond milk thicker. You could simply add some flour to the milk.
Ingredients That Almond Milk Doesn’t Go with
There are some ingredients that might be used in baking or cooking that you should not mix with almond milk. For example, it’s not a good idea to mix almond milk with acidic foods and ingredients, as it could curdle the milk.
Almond milk doesn’t curdle as cow’s milk does. Instead, it will separate the almond in the almond milk out into chunks. This can look very unappetizing and might have an effect on the texture of what you are baking.
Adding acidic ingredients can change the texture of almond milk in different ways that might be useful if you need to use a different type of milk for your recipe, like buttermilk.
How to Substitute Almond Milk for Buttermilk
To replicate buttermilk with almond milk, you will also need to use almond milk and lemon juice. Use about one tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of almond milk.
Let this mixture sit, and it should thicken in about ten minutes. Once you notice that it is thick enough, you can add it to the recipe.
This can be altered depending on how much buttermilk the recipe calls for. Just make sure that you convert the ingredients so they are in the same amount as what is called for.
For example, if you need two cups of buttermilk, add two cups of almond milk to two tablespoons of lemon juice. If you need a half cup of buttermilk, add a half cup of buttermilk to a half tablespoon of lemon juice.
You can alter this recipe for any amount of buttermilk that you need to bake with.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.