Ask Peggy

Are there guidelines for substituting soy milk for dairy milk?

Dear Peggy: My husband and I are mildly lactose intolerant, so we've begun drinking soy milk. Are there any guidelines for substituting soy milk for dairy milk in recipes? Are there any types of recipes where soy milk just won't work? —C.V., Annapolis, Maryland

Soy milk has come a long way in the last few years. Not only have products improved, but there are now even more brands and flavors to choose from, so it's a great time to begin drinking it.

In terms of substitution, soy milk can be used cup for cup in the same ratio as dairy milk. And, it can be used in baking and cooking just like dairy milk. While the flavor will not be exactly the same, it will be close, and you should have a similar final product in terms of texture and consistency.

Recipes that feature milk as the main ingredient—such as pudding, cream soups and cream pies—will have the most noticeable difference in flavor, and the texture may not be exactly the same. In those cases, it's best to start at a 1:1 substitution for dairy milk and tweak the recipe as needed. You may need more thickener, such as cornstarch or flour, in such recipes.

If you are looking for some tasty lactose-free recipes, keep an eye out for Taste of Home Healthy Cooking June/July 2008. Our Custom Fit feature is going to focus on lactose-free recipes.