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Nov 1, 2011 01:27 AM

Milk Substitutes for Thanksgiving Cooking

I just found out that I am probably going to be making most of Thanksgiving dinner this year. I am happy to do so . . . but . . . sister-in-law is not a big fan of milk. I don't have any objection to using soy or rice milk in place of dairy milk for be things that use a bechamel sauce for the casserole dishes, apparently butter is ok (yeah, i know . . . but I'm not going to make an issue of it at Thanksgiving.) What about for the pumpkin pie? Do they make evaporated/condensed soy milk or do I just use regular soy? Mashed potatoes, use soy or just go for chicken or vegetable broth?

Truth be told I'm just as happy to have a reason to experiment, I was allergic to all types of mammal milk when I was an infant and was raised on soy milk back in the dark ages. Even now I break out if I consume too much dairy, although I'm not lactose intolerant. I'd just as soon save the 'milk points' for butter, ice cream, and whipped cream.

Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. I avoid dairy too, so I have an annual Pumpkin Pie Freak-Out, searching out recipes, comparing and contrasting, and generally driving myself crazy. Last year I used coconut milk in a pie (the thick kind, NOT light) and it was fine. This year I made a pumpkin pie with real pumpkins and put in a cup of regular old soy milk and it came out great. I don't know if it would have been any different if I'd used canned pumpkin, but I'm going to try that next. It seems to me that soy milk is thick enough that it should be fine. You can also get soy whipped cream for your SIL (and you, if you want to give it a try) and let the others have dairy--just remember to take it out of the fridge at least 10 minutes early or it won't work.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sciencediet

      So what is the purpose of milk in pumpkin pie? What would be different if I used an equivalent amount of water? I doubt if the white opaqueness of milk matters, nor its sweetness. The fat? Don't the egg yolks provide that? Milk protein?

      1. re: paulj

        Pumpkin pie is a custard, so I think the milk is mostly there to thin the pumpkin. Of course, evaporated milk is going to add a creaminess that water won't. It's like you can make flan with eggs and milk or chawan mushi with eggs and stock, the chawan mushi is going to set up a little differently.

        I'd try orange juice, or a combo of OJ and some nice booze, maybe add an extra egg yolk and/or melted butter for richness.

        1. re: babette feasts

          That reminds me that one of my Japanese cookbooks has Kabocha squash cake. It is mostly squash puree, with some flour (2T), cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. It is rolled up in a cloth and steamed. I haven't tried it, but it could be an interesting alternative to a pumpkin pie.

    2. Periodically, my daughter turns into your SIL--one day it's dairy, next wheat, then meat, etc. A long list of potential bombshells in cooking for the crowd.

      I usually make sweet potato pie rather than pumpkin, as sweet potatoes are denser and less custardy, but either way, canned coconut milk works great. You might want to add some toasted or sweetened coconut to the crust when you mix it or some atop the pie, for decoration and to show any coconut non-lovers (like my husband) that it's there and not a mistake.

      1. Boil the potatoes (for mashing) IN chicken stock (or broth) instead of just water. Much flavor gets infused. The butter will enhance all the flavors.

        1. There is a non-dairy mashed potato thread over on home cooking with some good suggestions. Are you pretty attached to the traditional menu? If not it might be easier to make things that are non-dairy to begin with, like apple or pecan pie instead of pumpkin, and instead of dairy based casseroles, find another vegetable prep.

          4 Replies
          1. re: babette feasts

            pumpkin pie is fine with unsweetened soy milk.
            and lots of people eat butter but not milk, btw.

            1. re: babette feasts

              thanks for the ref. to the potato thread. The same person who objects to milk is very attached to pumpkin pie . . . ah, the holidays, conundrums abound. I'm the only one who eats pecan pie, but there will be apple pie (what would I eat for Friday breakfast if there is no leftover apple pie?)

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                There are now non-gag-inducing substitutes for milk, cream and even whipping cream. Mimiccreme is almond and cashew based and as it's name implies is creamier in texture and body than soy/almond milks so it's a natural for cream sauces and full-bodied preparations. They also have a version that will whip:


              2. re: babette feasts

                A really good margarine, like Earth Balance, or olive oil, go a long way in mashed potatoes. Because observant Jews don't mix meat and dairy in the same meal, the Kosher board has A LOT of threads on dairy subsitutes...

              3. things i use...
                Earth Balance -- no issues instead of butter (i know you said you didn't care)
                Unsweetened Unflavored Almond Milk - i use this like it's going out of style

                in my pumpkin pie, i use a bit of cream cheese and sour cream, and use Tofutti brand for this. almond milk would be fine, as would Mimicreme.

                in mashed potatoes, i often use a little dairy-free cream cheese as well.