Making Pumpkin Pie Without Evaporated Milk

How to make a pumpkin pie without evaporated milk.

Evaporated milk is something that has always mystified me. Milk is liquid, and yet this is evaporated milk. Wouldn't that make it a solid? Or invisible? Ok, all joking aside, evaporated milk is heat-treated to remove some of the water, making it more concentrated as well as shelf-stable.

The ingredients in evaporated milk are milk, dipotassium phosphate, carrageenan, and vitamin D3. I know that carrageenan is a thickener, but I've never even heard of dipotassium phosphate. But evaporated milk is a kitchen staple so I've always had a couple of cans in my cupboard. Well, almost always.

A few years ago I was going to make pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin, but didn't have a can of evaporated milk. I used fresh goat milk instead, reducing the amount a bit since fresh pumpkin has more liquid than canned pumpkin. It worked fine.

Photo by Mary Woollard, used with permission
This year, on the day before Thanksgiving when I pulled out all the ingredients to make my pies, I realized I was out of evaporated milk again. I thought I had a can in the cupboard but I couldn't find it. I did a quick Google search on how to replace the evaporated milk in pumpkin pies:

This blogger at Mama's Weeds used 3/4 cup heavy cream instead of the can of evaporated milk. She added an extra egg to help the pie set up.

Someone at My Recipes suggested using regular milk plus 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch to firm up the pie.

The Healthy Home Economist uses coconut milk instead of evaporated milk.

GourmetSleuth says that for 1 cup of evaporated milk, you can substitute 1 cup half-and-half, 1 cup heavy cream OR 1 cup whole milk.

The Anytime Gourmet suggested using 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream, or a combination of 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk as a substitute for a 20-ounce can of evaporated milk.

I had half-and-half on hand, so I used 1 cup of the half-and-half and 1/2 cup of whole milk. I could have used half-and-half for the entire amount, but I wanted to save the other cup in the carton for broccoli and cheddar soup later in the week.

Our pies were super-creamy and rich. Delicious! We'll be eating rich, creamy pumpkin pies from now on and I won't have to remember to buy evaporated milk.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Good information on substitutions, Kathi. Thank you.


  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:51 AM

    Thank you, Fern. I'm glad you stopped by.

  3. Great information! My evaporated milk was expired for my Thanksgiving pumpkin I made something else ;-)

  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead4:33 PM

    Evaporated milk really doesn't have a very long shelf life, less than one year from what I read on the Carnation website. I'm too far from town to make a trip for just one item too. I like knowing what I can substitute for things. :-)

  5. Thanks! I love to know how to substitute things. It's much better than making a trip into town.

  6. Thanks for these tips. I also would rather use the fresh, real ingredients! I have made mine with cream before and it was tasty.

    I will be pinning this to my Homemaking Tips board.

    Thank you for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays :)

  7. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:17 AM

    I agree, Jody. Going to town takes over an hour for me - the drive there, fighting my way through the big box store, and driving home. I won't do that for just one item - although when my son first got his license he was very willing to do it for me!

  8. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:18 AM

    Jes, I'm the same way, I prefer to use "real" ingredients as fresh as possible. Thank you so much for the pin.

  9. I have never made a pumpkin pie but have been wanting to give it a go, thanks for the ideas, I prefer to use real ingredients too. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  10. This is great to know- I always have fresh cream on hand, and I will use it to replace evaporated milk in the future :)

    I've always used sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk in my pumpkin pies- after trying it once, I never went back. Delicious!

    Thanks so much for sharing :)


  11. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead1:29 PM

    I bet that sweetened condensed milk made it taste yummy, Erin.

  12. Very good to know! That's not a normal pantry staple for me, so I love knowing I can switch it up! Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop!

  13. I found evaporated coconut milk at the grocery store. Does anyone have experience with it?


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