Sweet condensed milk adds a layer of gooey sweet goodness to desserts and a variety of baked dishes. You can also use it to add some cream to your soda, iced tea, or coffee, or make it an ice-cream topping! Sweet condensed milk is necessary for a lot of things and can improve almost everything.
But if you’re ever running low or looking for non-dairy alternatives, here are a few everyday kitchen ingredients you could substitute for sweet condensed milk.
What Is Sweetened Condensed Milk?
A lot of people tend to confuse condensed milk with sweetened condensed milk because the terms are used interchangeably. But if you’re ever at the grocery store looking for sweetened condensed milk, make sure the package actually says “sweetened,” otherwise it’s just condensed milk.
Condensed milk is cow’s milk that is dehydrated to remove all the water from it. The result is a thick creamy paste that’s generally sweetened to be used as a dessert ingredient. Because of its unique texture and the balance it provides desserts, finding a good substitute for sweet condensed milk can be tricky.
However, sweet condensed milk is high in calories and fat so it’s often seen as an unhealthy option. Plus, some people tend to find the sweetness excessive or off-putting so it’s useful to know how to substitute for it if you’re a dessert hobbyist who bakes regularly.
Home DIY Condensed Milk
Making condensed milk at home is easy. The only ingredient you will need is milk, preferably whole milk as that will be quicker. Here are the steps:
#1. Add about 1 liter of milk to a large saucepan, and add sugar if you’re making sweet condensed milk. Set it to simmer on low heat.
#2. Keep stirring to allow the steam to break free from underneath the thick surface.
#3. Stop once the milk either reaches a silky, pasty consistency or reduces to 1/3rd of its original volume. This can take over an hour.
#4. Allow the condensed milk to cool for a while, then pour it into a jar, and store it in the refrigerator. It should last you about a week but if you store it in the freezer, it will last much longer.
For a more instant recipe, you could also add milk powder to cold milk until it reaches a similar viscosity as condensed milk. Because there’s no heating required, you can use it immediately.
5 Substitutes For Sweetened Condensed Milk
Here are the alternatives to store-bought sweetened condensed milk. Some of them are recipes for making similar dairy products at home.
1. Use Canned Cream of Coconut Instead
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Cream of coconut can often be found on the same aisle as coconut milk and is an effortless substitute for sweet condensed milk. It adds a tropical hint to the flavor of the recipes it’s used in.
Cream of coconut is made in the same way using coconut milk as condensed milk is made using regular milk. And canned coconut cream has a similar consistency to condensed milk so it can be substituted in equal parts.
The flavor might change a little but you’ll still get the same creamy richness from the cream of coconut. If you follow a vegan diet, this is the best substitute you use.
2. Microwave Sweetened Condensed Milk
This is basically a quick DIY version of condensed milk for when you’re ever in a bind and looking for a quick solution. It will not yield precisely the same flavor or texture as canned condensed milk so can only be used as a substitute in certain recipes.
#1. Whisk ½ a cup of whole milk with 1/3rd cup of sugar in a microwave-safe bowl.
#2. Heat the mixture in your microwave for 1-2 minutes at a time, until bubbles start to form.
#3. Check the consistency at each microwave interval, and once you hit a similar consistency to the canned version, you’re good to go.
#4. Let it cool outside for a while so all the steam is let out, and then put it in the refrigerator.
3. Evaporated Milk
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Evaporated milk is a shelf-stable canned milk product you can find at your local supermarket. It’s also referred to as dehydrated milk because about 60% of the milk’s water content is removed. If you don’t want to purchase the supermarket variety, you can also make it yourself at home by simply boiling milk until it loses over half its weight.
Evaporated milk and condensed milk are pretty much the same, except condensed milk is generally sweetened and flavored to give it a more caramelized taste. But because they have the same consistency and taste almost the same, evaporated milk makes for a perfect substitute for sweetened condensed milk.
4. Stovetop Sweetened Condensed Milk
Stovetop sweetened condensed milk is basically the DIY condensed milk recipe from earlier. Heat milk for a few hours on the stovetop until it reduces to half its weight and keep stirring. Let it sit for a while then store it in the fridge. It’s easy.
5. Coconut Milk Powder
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Vegans need quick solutions in the kitchen too, and coconut powder is just the thing for it. Once you have coconut powder, there are two ways of going about this.
You can either keep adding a little bit of water at a time to coconut milk powder and keep stirring until the mixture reaches the same viscosity as condensed milk. Alternatively, you could add coconut milk powder to coconut milk to make it thicker. And again, keep adding and stirring until you get the consistency right.
3 Recipes Where You Can Substitute Condensed Milk With Other Alternatives
Here are a few recipes where some of the substitutes mentioned above might just work well enough to give you satisfactory results.
1. Irish Cream Drink
- 3.5 cups softened vanilla ice cream
- ¾ cup vodka
- ½ cup eggnog
- ⅓ cup sweet condensed milk or any of the alternatives
- 1 tsp coffee granules
- 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Grated Chocolate
#1. In a large container, mix all of the ingredients well using a blender or whisk.
#2. Store in the refrigerator to let it chill.
#3. Serve with ice and/or a grated chocolate topping.
2. Peanut Butter Chocolate Poke Cake
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- Instant chocolate cake mix
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup creamy peanut butter
- 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk or any of the substitutes.
- 1 cup sugar
#1. Preheat the oven to the temperature setting provided in the instructions on the packet of the cake mix.
#2. Prepare the cake mix as per the instructions and add the vanilla extract and salt into the batter.
#3. Bake the cake and let it cool for a while.
#4. Blend the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk, or your substitute.
#5. Use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes in the cake and pour your peanut butter and milk mixture into each of the holes up to the brim. Refrigerate the cake.
#6. You can use the leftover peanut butter and milk mixture to create an additional layer over the cake.
Just a note: If you’re using a DIY condensed milk substitute, make sure it’s of the same consistency as condensed milk otherwise the cake will be too runny.
3. Homemade Chocolate Cookies
- ¾ cup softened butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk or substitute
- ½ tsp light corn syrup
- 1 tsp water
- Chocolate chips
#1. Mix the flour, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Remember to cover the bowl.
#2. Now it’s time to make the filling for the cookies. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and stir until smooth. You can set aside some to use as glazing.
#3. Add condensed milk or an effective substitute, pecans, vanilla, and salt to the chocolate, then cover the glazing and store it in the refrigerator for half an hour.
#4. Take the dough mixture out and divide it into two equal portions. Place a piece of foil to cover your baking tray and place one portion of the dough on it. Next, add the filling as a layer over it. Add the remaining dough, and with the help of foil, flatten it onto the filling. What you’ll get is a sandwich-type biscuit that you can cut into smaller pieces.
#5. Bake at 660 ℉ for about 15-20 minutes or until the biscuit turns golden brown.
#6. Wait for it to cool down and then use a knife to carefully cut it into as many pieces as you want. The cookie’s texture should be soft and chewy so it’ll be easy to cut.
#7. You can create a glaze using warm melted chocolate, corn syrup, and a little bit of water and spread it over the cookies.
A Few Parting Words
Sweet condensed milk is a delicious, silky substance with a unique flavor that’s hard to replicate with non-dairy ingredients. There’s only a handful of things you can effectively substitute for sweet condensed milk, and most of them are still dairy.
You need to check how integral the authentic sweet condensed milk is to your recipe before substituting it with anything else.