Evaporated Milk Vs. Condensed Milk: What's The Difference?

The wrong can could ruin a dish.

condensed milk and evaporated milk cans side by side

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Canned milk may seem like a relic of your grandmother’s kitchen . However, sweetened condensed and evaporated milks are shelf-stable staples that can help create a delicious weeknight dinner or dessert. While both types may look similar, they aren't the same. In this explainer, learn the differences, uses, flavors, and textures, and get some recipes for both types of milk.

a can of evaporated milk beside a bowl of milk with a spoon

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

What Is Evaporated Milk?

Concentrated and creamier than the original, evaporated milk is made by heating fresh milk until 60% of the water content is reduced. The product is then homogenized (making the milk creamy), canned, and sterilized.

Add water to reconstitute evaporated milk, and you can use it like regular dairy from the carton. Available in skim, low-fat, and whole, evaporated milk is an excellent substitute for milk or half-and-half in savory recipes. Use in sweet or savory recipes to add creamy flavor and additional richness. With a light beige color, like dairy milk, evaporated milk has a mildly sweet taste and a thin consistency.

a can of condensed milk beside a bowl with milk and a spoon

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

What Is Condensed Milk?

Condensed milk is evaporated whole milk with added sugar (7 ounces per can). The ingredient is also known as sweetened condensed milk for its syrupy and thick consistency and flavor.

This super sweet ingredient is ideal for creating many Southern favorites , including caramel-like fillings for Magic Cookie Bars , as a base for no-cook ice cream , or fudge. It adds a luscious texture without extra moisture.

Condensed milk is especially popular as an international ingredient, used in Asia to sweeten coffee and tea, and in Latin American favorites like dulce de leche and tres leches .

Can You Substitute Evaporated Milk for Condensed (and Vice Versa)?

It depends. Missing evaporated milk for some Queso-Filled Mini Peppers , and all you have is condensed? Then it’s a no. Sugary sweet condensed milk will ruin savory dishes, so try one of these substitutions if you’re whipping up a dish at the last minute (we recommend regular or powdered milk).

While evaporated milk lacks the syrupy sweetness of the condensed version, you can use it as a substitute in a pinch. Add 3/4 cup of white sugar to evaporated milk and bring the mixture to a simmer for 30 minutes.  While the final dish will lack some of the caramelized flavors of condensed milk, this can be a relatively easy fix.

How To Store Evaporated and Condensed Milk

Both evaporated and condensed milk are shelf-stable for more than a year, as long as the cans are unopened and stored in a cool, dark place. If the milk is yellow or dark brown, has a putrid smell, or has a curdled texture, the milk has soured and should not be used.

Opened milk should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and used within five days.

Recipes To Try

Check out our favorite recipes using condensed and evaporated milks:

  • Sweet Potato Pie : A Southern classic, this pie uses evaporated milk and condensed milk for a rich and creamy flavor.
  • Fudge Pie : Ultra-rich, semi-sweet chocolate and evaporated milk form a creamy and indulgent filling.
  • Watermelon Ice Cream : This four-ingredient ice cream is ultra-simple and no cook, perfect for hot summer months when you would rather spend time poolside.
  • Coconut Balls : This ooey-gooey no-bake treat gets its decadent texture from sweetened condensed milk and almond butter.
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