How to Make Pumpkin Pie Without Evaporated Milk

How to make a pumpkin pie without evaporated milk.

If you're like me, you've found yourself in the kitchen on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning at least once, with half the ingredients for pumpkin pie already in a mixing bowl, and realizing you have no evaporated milk in the cupboard.

Now what are you going to do? Most grocery stores are closed, although the trend these days is that some are open in the morning, but I think that's unfair to the employees. And who has time to go to the store last-minute and fight the crowd?

But every recipe we've ever read for pumpkin pie requires a can of evaporated milk.

Can we substitute something else?

There must be a way to make pumpkin pie without evaporated milk.

What is 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? (Just kidding.)

Actually, milk is 13% solids and 87% liquid. Interesting, isn't it? As it comes from the cow or goat, the solids in milk consist of approximately 3.7% fat and the rest is "solids-not-fat" according to the International Dairy Foods Association. Just a trivia tidbit for you.

Evaporated milk is cow's milk that's been heat-treated to remove about 60% of the water, which makes it more concentrated as well as shelf-stable.

After removing some of the water, some additional ingredients are added: dipotassium phosphate, carrageenan, and vitamins C and D3. 

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Substitutes for evaporated milk

So is it possible to substitute something else for that 12 ounce can of evaporated milk? Yes, it is.

There are many possible substitutions though, so you'll need to decide which one to use. I suppose the easiest way to decide is to take a look in your refrigerator and cupboards to see what you already have on hand, right?

Try one of these substitutes for a 12-ounce can (1½ cups) of evaporated milk:

  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 1½ cups of milk plus one beaten egg
  • 1½ cups of milk plus 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 cup of half-and-half
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup of cream plus 1/2 cup regular milk
  • 1½ cups of plain yogurt, Greek yogurt OR sour cream
  • 1½ cups coconut milk

I recommend using whole milk instead of 2% fat or less, because low-fat milk contains more water and is thinner than whole milk. 

Pumpkin pie
Photo by Mary Woollard, used with permission

What I used

Because I have fresh goat milk on hand, that's what I used. I use goat's milk and cow's milk interchangeably, so I would have used the same amount of cow's milk if that's what I had in my refrigerator.

And since I was making a pie with pumpkin puree I'd made from fresh pumpkin, and fresh pumpkin has more liquid than canned pumpkin puree, I reduced the amount of milk. I used one cup of goat milk instead of 12 ounces (1½ cups) of evaporated milk.

Our pies were super-creamy and rich. Delicious, the consistency was perfect, and our pumpkin pie set up just like it should. 

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

No more holiday mornings being frustrated by a simple can of evaporated milk (or the lack thereof). No worrying about whether or not the grocery store will be out of this necessary ingredient. You have been set FREE, my friend! 

If you're looking for a pie crust recipe that's easy to make, try this one! And here's my family's Thanksgiving recipe collection if you're looking for some inspiration.

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Can you make pumpkin pie without evaporated milk?

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Frank and Fern said...

Good information on substitutions, Kathi. Thank you.


Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

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

LL Farm said...

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

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

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. :-)

Jody said...

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

JES said...

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 :)

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

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!

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

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

Unknown said...

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

Erin Blegen said...

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 :)


Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

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

Amanda said...

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!

kpack said...

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