Can you substitute soy milk for milk?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you substitute soy milk for milk?”, and what makes soy milk the best non-dairy substitute in baking?

Can you substitute soy milk for milk?

Yes, you can substitute soy milk for milk. Soy milk is made using soybeans or soy protein isolate. Thickeners and vegetable oils are added for an improved flavor and consistency.

Soy milk has a creamy texture and a mild flavor. Soy milk is best substituted for milk in savory dishes, to make your coffee creamy and on top of cereal. 

A single cup (240 ml) of unsweetened soy milk contains 80–90 calories, 4–4.5 grams of fat, 7–9 grams of protein, and 4 grams of carbohydrates. As compared to dairy milk, soy milk provides the same amount of protein with fewer calories from fat.

Soy milk is facing controversies due to the presence of isoflavones in soy. The isoflavones can interfere with the functioning of hormones, especially estrogen. Moreover, soy milk is not for you if you are following a FODMAP-restricted diet. 

Why do you want a substitute?

Milk allergy: According to statistics, 2–3% of kids under the age of three are allergic to cow’s milk. About 80% of these kids overcome this allergy by the time they are 16 years old. Common symptoms of milk allergy in kids include rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe anaphylaxis.

Lactose tolerance: 75% of the world’s population has lactose intolerance. Such individuals are unable to digest the milk sugar(lactose) due to the lack of lactase enzyme.

Dietary restrictions: People avoid milk or milk-based products for health and ethical reasons. 

Potential health risks: Some people avoid milk because they claim that the milk is impure and contaminated with antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones that deteriorate your health over time.

The best non-dairy milk for baking: Soy milk

Out of all the plant-based milk, soy milk is the richest in protein, thus,  making it a perfect choice for baking cakes and bread that rely on the gluten-strength food structure.

Due to the high protein content, the soy milk baked products appear a nice brown that is ideal if you do not intend to decorate your baked product with frosting. 

The mild flavor of soy milk will not overpower the flavor of your bread, muffins, cakes, and other baked goods. For an improved flavor, you can add vanilla essence or extract to your soy milk.

Runner up: Almond milk

Almond milk can be substituted for 2% or whole milk in a 1:1 ratio. Since almond milk has a higher water content than dairy milk, the baked products made using almond milk rise and set rather quickly due to the fast evaporation of water.

Unlike regular milk, natural almond milk does not contain any sugars. When baking with almond milk, opt for the one that claims “Low sugar” or “lightly sweetened”, so that it functions just like dairy milk.

The browning in your sugar cookies and quick bread occurs due to the Maillard reaction. Due to the low protein content of the almond milk, the Maillard reaction does not occur in full swing due to which you will end up with pale-looking sugar cookies and quick bread. To compensate, you can glaze your cookies and bread.

What about oat milk?

Oat milk works fine in baking as long as you go for the full-fat oat milk variety so that the batter does not run out too runny. You can replace dairy milk with oat milk in a 1:1 ratio. Sometimes, oat milk undergoes phase separation or becomes slimy or gummy during baking, especially when making bread.

The benefit of using oat milk is that it has a lower carbon footprint than almond milk. This means that it does not impact the environment as much as almond milk.

Can you use rice milk for baking?

Boiled rice is mixed with water, sweetener, and some stabilizers and emulsifiers to obtain rice milk. Since the rice absorbs a lot of water during boiling, the water content of the rice milk is significantly high. 

The mildly sweet flavor of rice milk works best in drinks. But the overly thin consistency of the rice milk makes it undesirable for baking. 

If you are determined to bake with rice milk, fix the consistency by thickening the rice milk with cornstarch, xanthan gum, or even very fine rice flour.

Start by adding only a teaspoon of thickening agent per cup of rice milk

Then mix and check if the desired consistency is achieved. If not, add more thickening agent until it has become ideally thick.

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you substitute soy milk for milk?”, and what makes soy milk the best non-dairy substitute in baking?

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-milk-substitutes#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3
https://www.allrecipes.com/article/non-dairy-milks-for-baking/

Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.