Can You Substitute Milk for Water in Baking?

Can you use water instead of milk in baking?

Can you substitute water for milk in recipes?

I don’t drink milk, so I never keep any in the house. I do, however, bake quite regularly and many recipes call for milk. My friend, who is also a baker, often substitutes milk for water in recipes and swears she doesn’t notice a difference. I myself have used milk substitutions rather liberally, ranging from soy milk to buttermilk to yogurt to plain old water. But the question is, can and should you do it? I turned to the internet to find out.

There is a lot of debate online about whether you can substitute milk for water in baking. One camp swears you can do it and it makes no difference. Another camp is adamant that it shouldn’t be done, as milk adds a lot of flavour and stability to baking, which you don’t get with water. One participant in an online forum debate on this topic describes quite a few functions milk serves in baking, from dissolving the sugar to improving the consistency to extending the shelf life:

Online forum response to whether you can substitute milk for water in baking, describing the functions milk serves in a recipe

This is actually supported by a article, describing similar benefits. Unlike the die-hard “no milk substitutions” bakers out there, however, they do provide an alternative. You can substitute milk with water in baking provided that you add a little bit of butter to the mix to add in some of those milk solids. The ratio is 1.5 tsp of butter for every cup of water.

And there’s your answer. You can substitute milk for water in recipes but add some butter while you’re at it.


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2 Comments on "Can You Substitute Milk for Water in Baking?"

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I used this substitution for a cake and it turned out great, by the way! I used 1 cup of water in place of milk and 1.5 tbsp extra butter when creaming butter and sugar together. Super moist, fluffy cake. My only regret is not using lemon juice in place of some of the water, to impart more flavor!