What can I substitute for non-fat dry milk?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for non-fat dry milk?” with an in-depth analysis of the non-fat milk along with its uses, and will also discuss all the possible substitutes of non-fat dry milk.

What can I substitute for non-fat dry milk?

We can have several substitutes for non-fat dry milk such as regular milk, liquid non-dairy alternatives, coconut milk powder, soy milk powder, rice powder, and cashew powder.

These substitutes become necessary when we are unable to find the original product, so substitutes do the work in place of that.

Historically, non-fat dry milk (NFDM) has been the U.S.’s major dairy export in 2000, 17% of U.S. non-fat dry milk, 35% of dry whey, 47% of lactose, and 11% of whey protein concentrate production were exported (1).

Substitutes for non-fat dry milk

Some of the possible substitutes of non-fat dry milk are as follows:

Regular milk

Regular liquid milk is one of the easiest substitutes for non-fat milk powder. Dry milk has all those ingredients by which the liquid milk is also enriched, only the major difference is that dry milk is an evaporated form of regular dry milk. Whole Milk Powder is produced by removing water from pasteurized and homogenized whole milk (1).

Regular milk is beneficial to health due to its nutrients and taste, these qualities are almost similar in both types of milk either in powdered form or in liquid.

If we make a comparison between whole milk and whole fat milk powder:

Nutrients in one cup (240 mL) of whole milk are as stated below, according to the USDA:

  • Total calories: 149
  • Fats: 8 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Calcium: 20 per cent of the daily value (DV)
  • Protein: 8 grams

Nutrients in 32 grams (one-quarter cup) of whole fat milk powder will be (2). The nutrients and the caloric value of 32 g of whole fat dry milk is equal to one cup of whole fresh milk, thus this amount of dry milk is necessary to reconstitute one cup of fluid milk.

  • Total Calories: 149
  • Fat: 8 grams
  • Proteins: 8 grams
  • Calcium: 22 percent of the daily value
  • Carbs: 12 grams

Liquid milk also adds water to the recipes, liquid milk could not be used in all the recipes because it can make the recipes wet or soggy that will destroy the recipe’s nature. This is only good in some of the recipes such as in baking products or making soups.

Milk’s different types such as whole fat milk, reduced fat, nonfat milk can be used as a substitute for milk powder. The recipes will be more creamy and richer if the milk contains more fat. The nature of recipes depends upon the fat content of milk. Besides the fat content, the amount of protein and lactose also vary among dried and fluid milk products. For example, whole milk powder contains substantially less lactose than nonfat dry milk, although they both have the same relative solids content (1).

In some of the recipes, buttermilk in powder form is required where buttermilk in dried form is more suitable due to the content of acid which is present in buttermilk powder that alternates to some extent the flavour, texture, and taste of the recipe.

Buttermilk powder can be used to enhance the functional, nutritional, and organoleptic properties of bread; the supplementation of buttermilk powder enhances the dough properties, such as  resistance to extension and maximum resistance and dough stability. Additionally, it also improves the protein and mineral contents (2).

Liquid non-dairy alternatives

Liquid non-dairy alternatives could be used in place of nonfat dry milk such as soy milk, oat milk, or almond milk.

Liquid non-dairy alternatives are only perfect in those recipes where regular milk is being replaced with this substitute because liquid non-dairy alternatives are mostly available in powder form. We use this powdered form of milk with water to make a good alternative to the original product in the recipe.

In substituting, we can use the same content as 1 cup which is 240 ml of milk in place of 32 grams or one-quarter cup of dry milk powder, and these both will be replaced by 240 ml or 1 cup of liquid in any of the recipes.

Plant-based milk alternatives are fluids derived from maceration of plant material soaked in water and comminution to a size range of 5-20 μm through homogenisation such that mammalian milk is simulated in appearance and consistency. Soy milk and almond milk are rich creamy milky white liquid which display similarities to cow milk in appearance and consistency (3).

These almonds, soy are plant-based milk which also consists of different nutrients in different content, their flavours also vary. Substituting the original product with these alternatives changes the taste, nutritional content, and texture to some extent.

Coconut milk powder

Coconut milk is extracted from grated coconut meat of mature coconuts of usually 12–14 months. It is milky white in color, oil in water emulsion. Coconut milk is essentially free from fiber, contains protein (3.3 g/100 g) and total fat (26.7 g/100 g). Freshly extracted coconut milk contains small amounts of the water-soluble B vitamins and ascorbic acid, major carbohydrate present is primarily sucrose and some starch ().4

Coconut milk powder is also considered one of the good substitutes for nonfat milk powder. Coconut milk is synthesized by spray-drying cream or coconut milk. Spray drying is a process where liquid is atomised to form small droplets and then fed into a hot medium. The numerous small droplets have a large surface area that allows the fast removal of moisture (5).

Coconut milk powder is enriched with a high content of fat which is a perfect replacement for whole milk powder in cooking and baking. Coconut milk powder is mostly suggested in some of the recipes such as sauces, curries, and soups.

Due to the high content of fat, if we use it in baking products then baking products result in heavier nutrient-containing goods.

Coconut milk is vegan, lactose, and dairy-free. So, it can be easily digested in those people who have lactose indigestion problems.

Because coconut milk is a high-fat emulsion, additives are required to minimize the oxidation of fat and to allow the powder to flow freely when spray drying the coconut milk. Additives, such as maltodextrin (a polysaccharide derived from starch), are required to achieve a stable emulsion which leads to production of a stable powder (5).

It is also claimed that some of the food industries which prepare coconut milk powder also add sodium caseinate, which is a protein extracted from milk. Sodium caseinate acts as emulsifier to stabilize the powdered coconut milk.

Soy milk powder

Soy milk powder is also one of the good substitutes for nonfat dry milk powder. 

Soymilk powder is the product obtained by removal of water from liquid soymilk, or by the blending of edible quality soy protein and soybean oil powders. Soymilk powder shall contain not less than 38.0 % soy protein, not less than 13.0 % soy fat and not less than 90 % total solids. Spray-drying is the most widely used commercial method for drying milks because the very short time of heat contact and the high rate of evaporation give a high-quality product with relatively low cost (6).

Soy milk powder has more resemblance in taste, nutrients, and flavour with the regular milk powder as compared to all other non-dairy substitutes for nonfat milk powder.

Other FAQs about Milk that you may be interested in.

Can you substitute regular milk for almond milk?

Can you give milk to dogs?

Can vegetarians drink milk?


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for non-fat dry milk?” with an in-depth analysis of the non-fat milk along with its uses, and will also discuss all the possible substitutes of non-fat dry milk.


  1. Gould, Brian W., and Hector J. Villarreal. A descriptive analysis of recent trends in the international market for dry milk products. No. 1797-2016-142041. 2002.
  2. KUMAR, RAVINDER et al. Natural and cultured buttermilk. Fermented milk and dairy products, 2015, 203-225.
  3. Kundu, Preeti, JyotiKA DhANKhAr, and AShA ShArMA. Development of non dairy milk alternative using soymilk and almond milk. Curr Res Nutr Food Sci J, 2018, 6, 203-210.
  4. Divya, P. M., et al. A concise review on oil extraction methods, nutritional and therapeutic role of coconut products. J Food Sci Technol, 2022, 1-12.
  5. Abdullah, Zalizawati, et al. The effect of drying temperature and sodium caseinate concentration on the functional and physical properties of spray-dried coconut milk. J Food Sci Technol, 2021, 58, 3174-3182.
  6. Giri, S. K., and S. Mangaraj. Processing influences on composition and quality attributes of soymilk and its powder. Food Eng Rev, 2012, 4, 149-164.