If you like to make instant pudding for your family, you know that milk is a key ingredient. But what do you do if you’re out of milk or if someone in your family is allergic to it? In this blog post, I share the best milk substitutes that can be used in instant pudding, including how to use almond milk to make instant pudding.

Glass serving cup of vanilla instant pudding.

Instant pudding is one of the most versatile desserts you can have in your pantry.

Whether you are looking for a quick and easy snack or a show-stopping dessert, instant pudding has got you covered. But, it can be challenging if your family doesn’t consume dairy products or you’ve run out of dairy milk.

I’ll share five of the best milk substitutes you can use to make instant pudding, with one additional modification to create a similar consistency when using regular milk.

Milk and Instant Pudding

Instant pudding is traditionally made with milk that has been treated with an emulsifier, which helps to create a smooth and creamy texture. You’ll see that the directions on almost every carton of instant pudding instructs you to use regular dairy milk to make the pudding.

Milk is a key ingredient for transforming instant pudding mix into the finished product, providing both flavor and texture. When combined with the other ingredients in the mix, milk forms a smooth, creamy base that is perfect for holding flavors and toppings.

In addition, milk helps to thicken the pudding as it sets, resulting in a dish that is rich and satisfying.

Most boxes will also warn you against using non-fat milk or skim milk. Whole milk tends to produce the best results and is usually what is recommended on the package. The higher fat content gives the pudding a richer flavor and creamier texture, making it more enjoyable to eat.

But, if you can’t drink milk or you’ve run out of it, there are some substitutions you can use. I’ll show you how.

Instant Pudding Milk Substitutes Pros and Cons

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of using non-dairy milk alternatives instead of regular milk when making instant pudding.

Be sure to read further down this article to see the details of using each substitute.

SubstituteProsCons
Coconut MilkRich, creamy texture; enhances flavor with natural sweetness; nutrient-packed; casein-freeCan impart a coconut flavor that might not be desired in all puddings
Almond MilkLight, similar consistency to milk; low in calories and fat; relatively neutral flavorLess rich than dairy milk or coconut milk; might require additional thickening
Cashew MilkCreamy texture; versatile in flavor; high in healthy fats and vitaminsNot as widely available as other substitutes; may require homemade preparation
Soy MilkThicker consistency; mixes well; higher in protein; rich textureNatural sweetness may alter the expected flavor profile of pudding
Oat MilkGood for nut allergies; can be made unsweetened or homemadeMay require additional thickening; flavor and texture vary by brand

Best Milk Substitutes for Instant Pudding

Making instant pudding is a quick and easy way to enjoy a delicious dessert. However, many brands of instant pudding mix require the use of milk. For those who are lactose-intolerant or have other dietary restrictions, this can be a problem.

Fortunately, there are several options to use as a milk substitute in place of cow’s milk in instant pudding.

Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew and soy milk are all great choices if you are avoiding dairy products. Each one has a slightly different flavor that can add an extra layer of complexity to the pudding. In addition, these substitutes are usually lower in calories and fat than cow’s milk, making them a healthier option.

So next time you’re in the mood for instant pudding, don’t let dairy restrictions stop you from enjoying this delicious treat.

The only modification you’ll have to make is to heat up the pudding mixture and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch (see recipe at the end of this post).

1. Coconut Milk

Glass of coconut milk with pitcher and whole coconut.
Coconut milk.

Coconut milk is one of the best substitutes for regular milk in instant pudding. It is rich and creamy, providing the perfect texture for a smooth and creamy pudding. Try this dairy-free pumpkin pie pudding.

I recommend coconut milk since it is packed with nutrients and has a natural sweetness that enhances the flavor of the pudding. And, of course, coconut milk doesn’t have any casein proteins that many people are allergic to.

It’s also a non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk and many people love it as a coffee creamer! To save money, try making your own Vitamix Coconut Milk.

Coconut milk is also one of the best milk substitutes when making a latte.

To substitute one cup of milk in instant pudding, use one cup of full-fat canned coconut milk along with 2 tablespoons of a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry.

2. Almond Milk

Glass of almond milk with almonds on white table.
Almond milk.

Almond milk is another great option because it is light and has a similar consistency to milk. Plus, it is relatively low in calories and fat, making it a healthier choice than some other milk substitutes.

I love to make Vitamix Almond Milk. Try it in this unique and delicious Chocolate Pudding.

I recommend substituting unsweetened almond milk when you need a similar consistency to milk and a flavor that is relatively neutral. Contrary to what you might think, almond milk doesn’t actually have a nutty flavor and makes a great milk replacement.

To substitute one cup of milk in instant pudding, use one cup of unsweetened almond milk. Your pudding won’t be quite as rich as if using coconut milk or regular dairy milk, but it will still be delicious.

To ensure that the pudding sets properly, you’ll also need to whisk in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch to the pudding mixture while it is cooking. See full recipe below.

3. Cashew Milk

Glass of cashew milk with cashews on white table.
Cashew milk.

If you’re looking for another substitute that is dairy-free, cashew milk is a great option. Its creamy texture makes it the perfect base for instant pudding mix, and it’s also high in healthy fats and vitamins.

For a chocolate pudding, try mixing cashew milk with cocoa powder. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also add a handful of your favorite nuts or berries when serving. For a vanilla pudding, simply add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the cashew milk. If you want to up the ante, you can also add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.

I recommend cashew milk for its versatility and delicious flavor. Try making your own homemade cashew milk, it’s really easy!

To substitute one cup of milk in instant pudding, use one cup of unsweetened cashew milk. To ensure that the pudding sets properly, you’ll also need to whisk in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch to the pudding mixture (see recipe below).

4. Soy Milk

Soy milk is another great option that is inexpensive and easy to find at the grocery store. It has a bit thicker consistency than dairy milk and will mix well with the pudding powder.

Soy milk is also higher in protein than other types of plant milks, so it will help give the pudding a thick, creamy texture.

I recommend soy milk as it has a naturally sweet flavor, so it will enhance the flavors of the jell-o pudding. It’s also a great vegan milk option that has a rich texture.

To substitute one cup of milk in instant pudding, use one cup of unsweetened soy milk. To ensure that the pudding sets properly, you’ll also need to whisk in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch to the pudding mixture and cook (see recipe below).

5. Oat Milk

You could also use plain oat milk if you have nut allergies and don’t want to use coconut milk or almond milk.

I recommend using an unsweetened version and following the recipe below for using almond milk. You can also use homemade oat milk which is one of my favorite ways to make instant pudding.

FAQs

Can I use rice milk as a substitute in instant pudding?

Yes, but rice milk tends to have a very thin and watery texture. I would recommend using one of the other substitutes listed above.

Can I use heavy cream when making instant pudding?

It is not recommended to use heavy cream as it will lead to a much thicker texture and the pudding may even be too rich.

Can I use powdered milk when making instant pudding?

Yes, but you will need to reconstitute the powdered milk from its powder form before adding it to the pudding mix.

I hope you make this recipe! If you do, please leave a comment and a starred review below.

And, consider following me on social media so we can stay connected. I’m on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube!

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Glass serving cups of instant pudding.

Instant Pudding Using Almond Milk

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When making instant pudding, traditional recipes call for cow’s milk, but there are several milk substitutes that work well for those who prefer dairy-free or plant-based options. Here’s a recipe for using almond milk to make instant pudding.

  • Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (for a creamier texture, choose an almond milk labeled as “barista” or “creamy”)
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • 1 package of instant pudding mix (approximately 3.4 ounces, any flavor)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of the almond milk until smooth. This mixture is known as a slurry and will help thicken the pudding without creating lumps.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining almond milk and the instant pudding mix. Stir these together before heating.
  3. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the saucepan with the almond milk and pudding mix. Ensure it’s well integrated to prevent any lumps.
  4. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly as it heats. This is crucial to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to ensure even heating.
  5. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a slight simmer. You don’t need a full boil, just enough heat to activate the cornstarch. Once the mixture begins to thicken, remove it from the heat. This should take a few minutes.
  6. Pour the thickened pudding into a serving bowl or individual serving dishes. To prevent a skin from forming on the top, you can place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.
  7. Refrigerate the pudding until it’s completely cooled and set. This will typically take about 2 hours, but for a firmer set, chilling it overnight is recommended. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. You can follow the recipe above using other milk substitutes including coconut milk, cashew milk, soy milk, or your favorite non-dairy beverage.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 127
  • Sugar: 23 g
  • Sodium: 449.7 mg
  • Fat: 1.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Trans Fat:
  • Carbohydrates: 27.3 g
  • Fiber: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 0.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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Conclusions

The best dairy-free substitutes for milk in instant pudding are coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, or oat milk. Each of these options has a different flavor that can add an extra layer of complexity to the pudding. So next time you’re in the mood for instant pudding, don’t let dairy restrictions stop you from enjoying this delicious treat.

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About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with nearly 10 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.