When a recipe calls for milk, does using skim or low-fat milk over whole milk matter?

Even though the difference between whole and skim milk is about 2 percent fat, will it affect the result?

Is this more important in baked goods (like muffins and cakes) or in cooking?

  • Is the purpose of the substitution for convenience or health? If only convenience, you could replace the fat content with similar amount of oil or butter.
    – Ocaasi
    Aug 19, 2010 at 6:58

3 Answers 3


There is less of a difference than you might think. Heck, with the addition of a little calcium chloride (to help bind the milk particles), you can even make cheese with skim milk. I flipped through Harold McGee's section on low-fat milk, and he doesn't give any warnings about using it in cooking.

Of course, keep in mind that your result won't have quite the same texture. I doubt you'll notice unless the milk is the primary ingredient in the sauce (and there's no other thickening agent) or primary liquid in the dough. If I was forced to come up with a way to adjust to using low-fat, I'd probably add a little more milk if I was going for flavor, or a little less if I was going for texture.

  • Changing the quantity of milk would change the quantity of liquid, and thus almost invariably have an adverse effect on baking. As Ocaasi says above, it'd be smarter to adjust the amount of fat, and butter would be a better addition than oil. Losing the fat would make a difference in final texture and taste, especially in baking, especially if milk was a significant ingredient by volume. I'd be more enclined to substitute half-and-half, personally.
    – user57361
    Nov 1, 2018 at 23:17

Yes there will be a slight difference in texture but ultimately it is a acceptable substitution. Just make sure to look at the recipe. It depends on how much fat and moisture that milk is contributing to the overall batter or dough. If is is a high percentage of either content then it may make the final product less moist, less rich, and have a dryer texture.


I don't think there is too much of a difference, i believe there is just a slight difference in texture but unless catering for people with certain dietary or recipes with a certain requirements i prefer to use whole milk. I always feel whole milk gives a better taste.

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