Have you ever been in the midst of a recipe that calls for condensed milk but ultimately came to realize that you don't have any lying around the kitchen? Or maybe you're in search of a dairy-free and lactose-free alternative?
Good news! Whatever the case, here are 13 of the best condensed milk substitutes that you can use, both homemade and store-bought. Not to mention, these alternatives are just as sweet and thick as the original and will make your cakes, puddings, baking, and dessert unforgettable.
Best Homemade Condensed Milk Techniques
If you're like me—a true DIY devotee—you may want to know how to make your own condensed milk. Well, there are a few ways to do just that, including dairy-free!
1. Old-School Traditional
Although the process is somewhat lengthy, this recipe makes a perfectly creamy and rich sweetened condensed milk that you have full reign over. If you're looking to put in some elbow grease and end up with some of the yummiest condensed milk, then let's jump right in.
This recipe should leave you with about two to three cups of heaven, and you'll only need three central ingredients: milk, sugar, and butter. If you're looking to make a low-sugar or sugar-free version, simply reduce the amount or omit the sugar in this recipe.
Here Is What You Need:
- Milk: You'll likely want to use whole milk that is at least 3 percent fat. This will ensure that the liquid evaporates at a nice speed.
- Sugar: White sugar is the most common as most people already have it in their homes. However, you can use brown sugar, honey, maple or agave syrup, or any sugar-free alternatives you may opt for instead.
- Butter: My favorite part. You can use any butter so long as it's unsalted, but in many opinions, white unsalted is the best option as it keeps the color of your condensed milk similar to its influencer.
The Blend (How To Make It):
- Place 4 cups (1 liter or 35 ounces) of milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat and let it come to almost boil, but not quite.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer and let it continue to boil—frequently stirring until it has reduced to about half its original amount.
- After it's reduced, add 1½ cups (300 g) of sugar and stir in. Let this continue to boil on a low simmer and keep stirring frequently.
- The milk will continue to reduce as the water evaporates; typically, it is enough to let it reduce to 1/3 of its original volume. However, the thicker you want your condensed milk to be, the more you'll want to let it reduce.
- Once it has reduced to your desired consistency, add 6 tbsp (90 g) of butter and 2 tbsp of vanilla extract. Mix well.
- Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes, then pour into a glass container and let it cool completely before placing it in the fridge.
If you could resist not eating it straight away, then this homemade condensed milk will last for two weeks in the refrigerator.
You can find the full recipe here.
2. Super Quick No-Bake Condensed Milk
For those of you looking to make condensed milk fast, this recipe will give you precisely what you need in around five minutes. It is a perfect sweet treat or great to use in any recipe, or you can even add it to your coffee.
It is very similar to the traditional method above and works just as well, only whips up much faster. It also uses the same simple ingredients plus our new friend: milk powder.
Check out the short video below where I will demonstrate how easy it to make this condensed milk.
- Milk Powder: You will want to ensure that this is NOT skim-milk powder as it will not thicken up like you might be hoping. (Use this Whole Milk Powder for the best results).
- Sugar: White sugar is the most common as most people already have it in their homes. However, any sugar or sugar-alternatives will do. Keep in mind that different sugars cause slightly different flavoring, color, and texture.
- Butter: You can use any butter, but in my opinion, unsalted butter is the best option.
- Hot water (boiled).
- Vanilla extract (optional).
To Get Cooking, Follow These Instructions:
- Add 1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) of sugar into a food processor or a blender.
- Add 4 tablespoons (55 g) of butter (or margarine, if must).
- Pour in 1/3 cup (2.7 oz or 78 ml) of boiling hot water.
- Blend all the ingredients for a few minutes.
- Now add 1 cup (5 tablespoons) of milk powder of your choice.
- Add a dash of vanilla extract.
- Blend again for a few minutes till all the ingredients are fully blended without any lumps, and the mixture has a nice and creamy thickness. If the mixture is too runny and not creamy enough, add a bit more milk powder. If it is too thick, then add a bit of hot water and blend again.
- Pour into a glass container and let it cool (it will thicken more as it cools).
- Store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Best Dairy-Free Condensed Milk Alternatives (Easy To Make)
Dairy-free sweetened condensed milk is another option that you can quite easily make right at home. As many people opt for dairy-free alternatives, this is a must-have.
There are several different recipes for dairy-free alternatives—each doing its job just as well as the last—so I'll give you some of the most popular options.
If you're looking for a sugar-free alternative, just omit the sugar in any of the following recipes to create lactose-free evaporated milk that can also be used in place of condensed milk.
3. Instant Dairy-Free Alternative To Sweetened Condensed Milk
This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, plant-based, and vegan. Generally, anyone—even those with food allergies—can enjoy this wonderful recipe!
- Take 1 cup and 2 tbsp of dairy-free rice milk powder (or any of these 9 lactose-free powdered-milk substitutes) and ¾ cup of sugar (you can also use any alternative sugar) and place them in a blender.
- Mix them up until they've formed a powder, then add ½ cup of hot water, 2 tbsp of oil (any kind will do), and a pinch of salt.
- Blend for two minutes or until thick and creamy. It is a great vegan alternative for any recipe.
4. How To Make Your Own Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
- Simmer one 14 oz (34 ml) canned coconut cream (not low-fat) over low heat for about 30-45 minutes.
- Once it has been reduced to about half, add 1 cup of sugar (can also be replaced with 1 cup of honey or 1¼ cup of maple syrup) and whisk until it is completely dissolved.
- Add in a pinch of natural kosher salt, (optional).
- Remove from heat and carefully pour it into a glass container.
- Let the mixture cool completely before using it in recipes or placing it in the fridge. Use within 2-3 weeks.
5. Vegan Condensed Milk (Made With Plant-Based Milk)
We love a good alternative to cow's milk. This recipe calls for any milk-substitute (almond, soy, oat, rice, coconut, etc.) and leaves you with delicious condensed milk that is completely dairy-free.
- Place 2½ cups of your chosen plant milk into a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Gently simmer the liquid, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup and then add 2/3 cup of sugar; add up to 3/4 a cup of sugar depending on desired sweetness.
6. Easy Paleo Condensed Milk With Dates And Coconut
- Toss 4 Medjool dates (make sure they're pitted) into a food processor until they become small chunks.
- Add the date chunks into a saucepan over medium-low heat and add a 14-oz (400 ml) can of light coconut milk.
- Gently boil, stirring frequently, then lower the heat. Simmer until it is about 1/3 reduced, then remove from heat.
- Strain the liquid to remove any leftover date chunks and pour into a glass container.
- Allow it to cool completely (it will thicken as it cools), and store in the fridge for up to one week.
Check out the full recipe here.
Store-Bought Alternatives To Condensed Milk (And How To Use Them)
If you have time and willingness, your best option is to make your own sweetened condensed "milk" using any of the instructions above. However, if you can't be bothered to make your own, there are certain dairy and plant-based products you can buy that would make a good substitute for regular condensed milk.
7. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is one of the closest alternatives to sweetened condensed milk as it is made through the same process and only lacks the sugar. If you have a can of evaporated milk and are looking to use that in place of regular condensed milk, it's quite a simple process.
You can opt for a less sweet version of the recipe at hand by using evaporated milk on its own, or you can simply add sugar.
For the best conversion, substitute one 14-oz can of condensed milk with a mixture of one 12-oz can of evaporated milk and 1½ cups of sugar. Heat the evaporated milk over medium heat and add the sugar. Stir until combined. Viola! A beautiful alternative to standard condensed milk, and just as thick, creamy, and heavenly.
8. Evaporated Coconut Milk
For a dairy-free and similar alternative to condensed milk, try using evaporated coconut milk instead of traditional evaporated milk. Evaporated coconut milk is made the same way, so all that is needed is sugar.
Follow the instructions above—replacing the evaporated milk with evaporated coconut milk—and the result will be a great store-bought and dairy-free substitute for condensed milk!
9. Creamed Coconut
Not to be confused with canned coconut cream (which is also great) or coconut milk. Creamed coconut is a thick, smooth liquid made from fresh coconuts, and it is a lovely alternative to sweetened condensed milk. It is rich, super sweet, and will even add a bit of tropical flavor to your recipes.
For a simple yet yummy substitute, try using a 1:1 ratio of cream of coconut instead of condensed milk.
10. Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
For a store-bought dairy- and soy-free alternative to condensed milk, simply replace one 14-oz (400 ml) can of sweetened condensed milk with one 12-oz (340 ml) can of sweetened condensed coconut milk.
Although this might add a hint of coconut flavor to the dish, the results are very similar, and you can usually get away with a bit of coconut in many dessert recipes. Besides, if it's a dairy-free alternative, I'd say it's worth it.
Few More Clever Substitutes You Can Use
While all of these recipes are excellent replacements, sometimes, it may be a bit simpler to merely replace condensed milk in a recipe with other mixtures that will do the same thing.
If you're in a hurry, you don't have anything close enough to condensed milk, or you don't want to run to the store, here are a few recipes that can work just as well:
11. Egg & Flour Condensed 'Milk' Recipe (Rather Interesting!)
It's possible to replace an egg with sweetened condensed milk in a recipe, so shouldn't it be possible to reverse that action? Well, good news! It is. Another lovely way to substitute condensed milk in a dessert recipe is by using eggs. And a few other basic ingredients.
1 Cup of brown sugar
1 Tsp of vanilla
2 Tbsp of flour
½ Of baking powder
¼ Tsp of salt
Mix all of the ingredients and use in place of one 14-oz (400 ml) can of condensed milk. Many claim this recipe may even make desserts taste better than any other option above. I'll let you be the judge.
Find the full recipe here.
12. Heavy Cream
Heavy cream is something that many of us usually have lying around the house, and in a time of need, you can use it for a condensed milk substitute!
The cream has a similar consistency to evaporated milk and likely lacks an equal amount of sweetness. As I mentioned before, evaporated milk is the closest alternatives to sweetened condensed milk as it is made through the same method.
When it comes to cream, it's easy to either add sugar or decide on a less sweet version of the recipe at hand, not unlike evaporated milk.
Substitute one 14-oz can of condensed milk with a mixture of 1¾ cups of heavy cream and 1½ cups of sugar. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously until combined. While this might not be an ideal replacement option and probably less healthy, it is certainly a viable option.
If you've ever had buttermilk in desserts, then you know how tasty it is. It isn't a tried-and-true recipe but could make for a decent option when it comes to replacing condensed milk in a recipe.
Similar to cream, buttermilk is not sweet but has a similar consistency to evaporated milk. If buttermilk is all you have, you can heat 1¾ cups over medium heat and add 1¼ cups of sugar, stirring until dissolved. Use this in place of one 14-oz can of condensed milk.
While it's used for various recipes across the board, regular condensed milk may not always be the best option or even a possible one at the moment. Whether you're in a jam or searching for fellow ingredients, try one of these ten substitutes and create a plethora of desserts that are as tasty as ever.