Are you out of the milk you usually use in your favorite box of Hamburger Helper? So what do you do? Use something else! We tried 10 different options so that you’ll know the best milk substitute for Hamburger Helper.
Our favorite substitute is another dairy diluted with a bit of water: half-and-half, heavy cream, or evaporated milk. Beyond these, here are 7 more pantry and fridge options you may find useful in a ratio that works for you. Mix and match them to help you use what you have on hand.
Best Milk Substitutes For Hamburger Helper
Milk : Substitute
T = tablespoons
HH = Hamburger Helper
- Evaporated milk: Evaporated milk is a good substitute for milk in Hamburger Helper because it has a similar consistency and flavor. It is also high in fat, which will help to make the dish creamy and rich. To use evaporated milk as a substitute, simply use the same amount as the milk called for on the box PLUS 2 tablespoons of extra water.
- Note: Here’s our FAQ on storing your leftover can of evaporated milk + other tips.
- Half-and-half: Half-n-half is a combination of cream and milk, so it’s thicker than whole milk but not as thick and rich as heavy cream. It is very much like evaporated milk in density, so to use half N half as a substitute, simply use the same amount as the milk called for on the box PLUS 2 tablespoons of extra water.
- Heavy cream or table cream: Heavy cream is another good substitute for milk in Hamburger Helper. It is even richer than evaporated milk, so it will make the dish extra creamy and the resulting dish a bit thicker. To use heavy cream as a substitute, simply use cream in half the amount of the milk called for on the box PLUS 4 T of extra water.
- Cream cheese: Cream cheese is a good substitute for milk in Hamburger Helper if you are happy with an extra rich and creamy consistency. To use cream cheese as a substitute, add 2 T of cream cheese and 2 T of water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Don’t stir yet. Heat on medium power in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir gently. Heat again for 30 seconds, then stir gently until combined, smooth and creamy. Add to your Hamburger Helper halfway through the cooking time listed on the box.
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise works as a substitute for milk in Hamburger Helper, but it does have a lot of fat and salt. We recommend using mayo with another milk substitute for Hamburger Helper to reduce the additional salt and fat. To use mayonnaise as a substitute, simply use mayo in half the amount of the milk called for on the box and mix it with an equal amount of water. For best consistency, whisk the mayo and water gently in a bowl so it’s smooth and loose before adding to the HH so you don’t end up with clumps of mayo.
- Powdered milk: Not as popular a pantry staple as it once was, you may not have this on hand, but just in case, it’s a great long-lasting milk substitute in baking and cooking, especially a savory dish like Hamburger Helper. Per package directions, combine the milk powder with warm water and whisk together before adding to your HH. Don’t add just straight powder; you want to turn it into “milk” before using it here.
- Unflavored coffee creamer: This option will provide a creamy texture and a bit of flavor, but it would be a fairly pricey option since most creamer is meant to use in fairly small amounts at a time. The taste will be a bit like reconstituted milk powder, which is not great when tasted by itself, but should be fine in savory dishes like HH. Best used in a ½:1 ratio, so where it calls for a cup of milk, use half cup of plain coffee creamer and half cup of water.
The following milk substitutes in Hamburger Helper add a tangy element to the dish. We recommend combining them with other mild substitutes such as half-and-half, cream or evaporated milk that you may have on hand. If there’s nothing else, dilute with water, per instructions.
- Plain yogurt: Diluted plain yogurt works pretty well and makes a good milk substitute for Hamburger Helper. It will still add creaminess to the dish, but it will not be as heavy as evaporated milk or heavy cream. Substitute yogurt for 2% milk in a .50:1 ratio PLUS 4 T of water.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk is a good substitute for milk in Hamburger Helper as long as you are ok with the tangy flavor it provides. We think it’s best to combine it with another ingredient above. If that’s not possible, use half buttermilk and half water to make the milk substitute that’s called for on the package.
- Sour cream: Sour cream is a good substitute for milk in Hamburger Helper if you are looking for a tangy flavor and creamy texture. It’s especially good in the Stroganoff flavor. To use sour cream as a substitute, simply use half the amount of the milk called for in the recipe and mix it with an equal amount of water. Ratio: ½:1
Can you make Hamburger Helper without milk?
Yes, you can make Hamburger Helper without milk. Simply use one of the milk substitutes listed above.
Can you use water in Hamburger Helper instead of milk?
Yes, you can use water in Hamburger Helper instead of milk. However, the dish will not be as creamy or rich. Just increase the amount of water called for on the HH box, plus an additional tablespoon of butter or margarine to make up for the lost fat.
For example, if the box calls for one cup of water and one cup of milk, use one and a half cups (1.5 c) of water plus a tablespoon (1 T) of butter or margarine.
How to use milk substitutes in Hamburger Helper
To use a milk substitute for Hamburger Helper, simply follow the recipe as directed, but use most liquid milk substitutes in equal amounts to your usual milk, cup for cup. But keep in mind that since none of them are exactly the same, consider the density and viscosity of some of the milk substitutes: plain yogurt and sour cream are thick, so will need a little extra water, and cream cheese will need a lot more extra water.
The bottom line
Finding a milk substitute for Hamburger Helper may be easier than you think! From a can of evaporated milk to powdered milk, heavy cream, plain yogurt and even unflavored coffee creamer, we have a list here with ratios to help you find another ingredient that you may have on hand right now!
More About Hamburger Helper
- Evaporated milk - 1:1 ratio plus 2 T extra water
- Heavy cream - ½:1 ratio plus 2 T extra water
- Half-and-half - cup for cup plus 1 T extra water
- Sour cream - .½:1 ratio PLUS 4 T of extra water
- Buttermilk - blend of buttermilk, water, and another dairy substitute
- Plain yogurt - ½:1 ratio PLUS 4 T of extra water
- Mayonnaise - blend of mayo, water, and another dairy substitute
- Unflavored coffee creamer - ½:1 ratio
- Cream cheese - Melt with water in the microwave and stir until smooth. Add halfway through HH cooking.
- Powdered milk - Reconstitute per package directions and use cup for cup.
- Substitute milk for one of the above milk substitutes for Hamburger Helper according to the ratios and notes listed.
- Consider blending two or more milk substitutes together, especially mayo (because of the high fat and salt content) or buttermilk because it’s very tangy.