Due to its high sugar content, sweetened condensed milk has been demonized as an unhealthy ingredient. However, did you know that it’s a great source of amino acids along with significant levels of vitamins and minerals? (*)
- What is Sweetened Condensed Milk?
- The Best Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitutes
- Other Vegan Substitutes for Sweetened Condensed Milk
Not only that, it’s one of the most versatile ingredients that can be used on a wide range of recipes, including desserts, beverages, and even savory dishes!
That’s why sweetened condensed milk is a must-have for your kitchen pantry.
But what if you want to lose weight and want a healthy alternative? Or if you’re vegan? Or you just don’t have a can of it at home?
Well, you can replace it with a few alternatives that you can make right at home.
Continue reading to discover what they are!
What is Sweetened Condensed Milk?
To better understand this type of milk, let’s look at the two terms from its name—condensed and sweetened.
This type of milk is condensed by eliminating its water content using medium-low heat, resulting in a thick and sticky syrup-like consistency.
After the milk has been boiled, concentrated, and pasteurized, it’s sweetened with the use of sugar. Since sugar prevents bacterial growth, this step can extend the milk’s shelf life so it can sit in your pantry for years.
The resulting product is milk that can add a sweet and milky flavor and creamy texture to a dish.
With that said, you can use sweetened condensed milk in dishes and drinks where you usually add either cream or sugar.
Some of the best examples are toasts, fruits, ice creams, curries, and many more.
Is it vegan?
Unfortunately, sweetened condensed milk is not vegan because it’s made using whole milk collected from cows.
Good news: We’ll be sharing a few vegan sweetened condensed milk substitutes below!
The Best Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitutes
There are many reasons why you might be looking for an alternative to sweetened condensed milk —you want a dairy-free alternative or a low-calorie option.
Regardless of what your reason is, one fact remains: you can make homemade condensed milk using the following ingredients:
1. Whole Milk
The most popular substitute for sweetened condensed milk would be whole milk because it’s widely available.
You can make condensed milk from this by cooking it with a sticky and thick consistency.
To make this, pour two cups of whole milk into a saucepan and cook over low, medium heat until you reduce it to around a cup. After that, add 2/3 cup of granulated sugar and mix well.
- When to use: It’s best used for making frosting, custard, pies, fudge, and ice cream.
2. Fresh Milk
You can make sweetened condensed milk if you have fresh milk at home.
Same with the whole milk, you can reduce two cups of fresh milk into a cup by cooking for around 30 to 40 minutes. Then, add sugar and continue stirring until it fully dissolves.
- When to use: You can also use it on ice creams, custards, and frosting.
3. Powdered Milk
You probably have this at home, too, especially if you have kids who like drinking milk. Powdered milk is just dehydrated whole milk (so it’s not a recommended alternative for vegans) that is lightly sweetened.
To prepare this, mix 1/3 cup of powdered milk with 1/3 cup of hot water, then cook it the same way you cooked whole milk. Just reduce the amount of sugar you’ll add since it’s already slightly sweet.
- Pro Tip: Compared to other milk types, this one has lower fat content, so you should add about two tablespoons of butter to make it creamier.
- When to use: This would work best on key lime pie, Vietnamese coffee, cheesecakes, and caramel cookies.
4. Skim Milk
Skim milk is your best bet for those looking for a low-calorie substitute for sweetened condensed milk.
Just follow the instructions indicated for fresh or whole milk. But instead of adding sugar, you can go for no-calorie sweeteners like aspartame, stevia, or erythritol.
- Pro Tip: Add a teaspoon of gelatin to improve the mixture’s consistency.
- When to use: Use it in making low-calorie desserts.
5. Evaporated Milk
Follow a cup for cup substitute when using evaporated milk as an alternative.
- Pro Tip: Add sugar to make up for its lack of sweetness. Start from a small amount, then add to taste.
- When to use: Evaporated milk is unsweetened condensed milk, so you can use it in just about any recipe that calls for evaporated milk.
6. Heavy Cream
Same with evaporated milk, heavy cream already has a syrup-like consistency, making it one of the best sweetened condensed milk replacement.
To achieve the right amount of sweetness, you can add ¼ cup of sugar, honey, or maple syrup to it as you cook.
- Pro Tip: Go for granulated sugar as it melts fast.
- When to use: It’s an excellent option for making pies, fudges, and ice cream.
7. Cream of Coconut
There are two things we like about using the cream of coconut to replace sweetened condensed milk:
- It’s dairy-free,
- And doesn’t require cooking.
Since it already has a rich and thick consistency, there’s no need for you to cook it down.
However, please remember that this has an intense coconut flavor, so it may not be a suitable alternative for all dishes that call for sweetened condensed milk.
Cream of coconut is not the same as coconut cream as the former uses coconut water and already contains a sweetener.
- Replace sweetened condensed milk with cream of coconut using a 1:1 ratio.
- When to use: This is often used in sweetening drinks like Piña colada Vietnamese coffees.
8. Coconut Milk
If you can’t find the cream of coconut, coconut milk is another dairy-free option that you can try. However, this alternative would involve cooking.
You can make this by simmering a mixture of coconut milk (preferably full-fat) and ¼ cup of sugar for about 30 minutes while stirring continuously.
- When to use: Heads up, coconut milk will also give off a tropical flavor, so you can use it the same way you would use cream of coconut.
Other Vegan Substitutes for Sweetened Condensed Milk
9. Soy Milk Powder
Bonus points: it’s vegan-friendly, dairy-free, and resembles the traditional condensed milk flavor the best.
Bad news: it requires many ingredients, including the hard-to-find soy milk powder, and is unsuitable for people with soy allergies.
To prepare this, mix soy powder and sugar in one bowl and coconut oil, hot water, and salt in the other. Place both mixes in the blender and blend for about a minute and let it cool down.
- When to use: This is suitable for all dishes that need condensed milk.
10. Nut Milks (Vegan Alternative)
For a healthier take on sweetened condensed milk, try using nut milk suitable for vegans, people on a diet, and people with coconut and soy allergies.
There are plenty of kinds of nut milk to choose from, but the readily available one would be almond milk. Fortunately, this is also the best nut milk for the job as it’s both thick and sweet—just like condensed milk.
For this, you would also need cashews or cashew milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Blend all the ingredients, place in a pot, and simmer for 5 minutes with constant stirring.
- When to use: This is best used for making pie, cheesecake, and caramel.
Let’s Milk It!
There are a lot of issues you may encounter with sweetened condensed milk.
First, it contains too much sugar, so sweetened condensed milk may not be the best option for people wanting to lose weight. Also, it’s not vegan-friendly.
But let’s face it: sweetened condensed milk makes a lot of desserts and drinks a lot better!
Lucky for you, there are many substitutions that you can use to address all of these issues. We hope you found the right one on our list!