Condensed Milk: Boring Name, Awesome Product

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By looking at its label, you can tell that condensed milk is a no-frills pantry stable. Most of its packaging is understated; however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great product. It is the perfect combination of sweet and creamy.

Condensed milk is an important ingredient in traditional baked goods. Its sweetness helps add toast caramelized notes and a chewy texture to old and new recipes. It can also be great for upgrading your morning coffee.

If you are reading this, you are undoubtedly interested in what this milk is and what it can do. Continue reading to find out all there is to this sweet type of milk.

What is Condensed Milk?

Condensed milk is a type of milk that has been boiled to remove much of its water content.

How is condensed milk made?

This milk, also called sweetened condensed milk, is made by gently heating whole milk until around 60% of its water content is evaporated. Sugar is then added using a ratio of about 45% to the milk. This extra sugar creates a sweet, sticky, and thick mixture that anyone can use in all sorts of recipes such as desserts, baked goods, drinks, marinades, and candies.

Some of the milk’s natural sugars caramelize during evaporation, adding a new flavor note to the milk. The heating process also pasteurizes the milk, and when coupled with the inclusion of sugar, you get a shelf-stable milk product. Sugar helps stop the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning and spoilage.

This milk is used in baking to make baked goods such as blondies, brownies, pies, and cakes. You can also use it to make puddings, fudge, frostings, toppings, and candies.

What does condensed milk smell like?

It offers a creamy sweet smell that is a mix between caramel and candy.

What does condensed milk taste like?

Due to the high sugar content, the taste is quite sweet. It also has a faint milk undertone.

What color is it?

Condensed milk has a golden brown or caramel hue due to the way it is made.

Is Condensed Milk a Liquid?

Yep, it is indeed a liquid. It simply has a thicker, syrupy texture compared to whole milk.

Do You Add Water to Condensed Milk?

This milk is made by removing most of the water content, so potentially, you could add water if your recipe calls for it. You should note that adding water will not dilute its sweetness.

Can You Drink Condensed Milk?

This milk is high in calories and is not suitable for lactose intolerant individuals. Neither is it suitable for those allergic to the proteins in cow’s milk. It has a sweet flavor that some might not like, and it isn’t the best substitute for regular milk. So, in all, while you could drink this milk straight, it is best when added to something else, like coffee or our favorite choice: desserts.

Who Invented Condensed Milk?

Gail Borden invented condensed milk back in 1856. He was a former editor and surveyor who also thought of himself as an inventor. Apart from creating the familiar sweetened milk, he also invented the prairie schooner and the lazy Susan. Clever guy!

He decided to try his hands at dairy preservation due to him witnessing numerous children die from contaminated fresh milk while on a boat trip. At that time, refrigeration was uncommon, causing milk to spoil quite quickly.

In fact, spoiled milk was a common source of food poisoning and many other illnesses among toddlers and infants that relied on milk for nourishment. Inspired by the Shakers’ use of a vacuum evaporator to preserve fruits all year, Borden wanted to make shelf-stable milk. Thank you, Gail!

How to Make Homemade Condensed Milk

The DIY version is quite easy. Simply follow the steps below:

  1. First, get a heavy saucepan and fill it with milk
  2. Bring the milk to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer
  3. While simmering, continue for almost an hour, occasionally stirring
  4. Stir the sugar in, and let the milk continue simmering for about 15 minutes
  5. Once the 15 minutes have elapsed, strain the milk and then refrigerate
  6. With refrigeration, your milk can last up to a week

What to Make with Condensed Milk


Making caramel with condensed milk is quite easy. You simply need to cook the milk until it results in a delicious caramel sauce. You can pour your milk into a casserole dish or pie pan. You then cover it with foil, placing it in a larger pan filled with water. The next step is to place the entire pan into the oven to bake.

Dulce le Leche

Making dulce le leche is a snap using this sweet product. Follow the steps below:

  1. Place your can of milk on its side into the slow cooker. You can place it in with the label.
  2. Cover the can with hot water till the water is 2 inches above the can.
  3. Turn the slow cooker on low for about 8 hours.
  4. You can choose to add 2 more hours to the cooking time to get a really golden brown color on your caramel.
  5. Remove your can from the slow cooker using tongs. You mustn’t try to open the can while it is hot. Doing so could cause its contents to burst, and hot caramel will cause burns.
  6. Place your can in cold water to cool before you open it. It can be cool to touch in about 15 minutes.
  7. Open your can to use. If you are not using the caramel at the time, transfer it into an airtight container.

Coffee creamer

Traditional condensed milk can be used as a coffee creamer as it adds a sweeter caramelized note to your morning coffee.

pancakes made with condensed milk

Luxury Pancakes

You can add condensed milk to your pancake batter instead of regular milk. This adds a different flavor to the batter and makes for a super delicious breakfast treat.

Condensed Milk Nutrition Facts

This milk has high sugar content. Nevertheless, it is made from milk which contains some fat, protein, and a range of minerals and vitamins. It is extremely energy-dense, with just 1 ounce providing the following:

  • 2.2 grams of protein
  • 15.2 grams of carbs
  • 2.4 grams of saturated fat
  • 50 calories

Other nutrition facts

  • 8% of the daily value of calcium
  • 10% of the daily value of phosphorus
  • Choline: 4% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B12: 4% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin (B2): 7% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 7% of the RDI

Sugar content

This sweet milk contains naturally occurring sugars from the milk base and added sugar during processing. There are 15 grams of sugar in each ounce. In all, condensed milk has a whopping 5 times more sugar than evaporated milk.

Is condensed milk bad for you?

While some people tend to avoid it due to its high number of calories, there are some benefits. Its high-calorie content makes it a great ingredient for those trying to gain weight. Adding a bit to your oatmeal can add 2 grams of protein and 90 calories to your meal. In addition, due to the extra fat, phosphorus, calcium, and protein this milk, it can be a way to get more necessary minerals.

That being said, there are some drawbacks. For one, you get a high number of calories within a small volume of milk. This can be bad, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

This milk is also unsuitable for individuals with lactose or milk intolerance. This is because it is made from cow’s milk, which means it contains lactose and milk proteins. If you are lactose intolerant, it is best to avoid this milk. Some lactose-intolerant people can handle lactose when spread out through the day. If that is your case, you should note that this milk has more lactose in a small volume.

Some people enjoy the sweet flavor of this milk; however, others do not. Due to the increased sugar content, it is too sweet to be used instead of regular milk. This makes it a terrible substitute in most recipes.

Is it fat-free?

Typically, condensed milk is not fat-free; however, you can purchase a reduced-fat version, just check the label. As you might expect, the taste might differ slightly from the full fat version.

Is condensed milk gluten-free?

This milk does contain some gluten; however, there are specialty brands that have a reduced gluten content.

Does it have lactose?

Condensed milk is derived from cow’s milk and as such contains lactose and milk proteins, making it unsuitable for those that are lactose intolerant.

How much sugar is in condensed milk?

This milk is made as a shelf-stable product, which means it is concentrated. About 60% of its water content is removed before sugar is added as a preservative before canning. This means that this milk has about 40 to 55% sugar content. The range is important as various brands have different recipes.

Can you get sugar-free condensed milk?

Nope, sorry. There is no such thing. When you take sugar out of the equation, what you have is basically evaporated milk.

What is a Substitute for Condensed Milk?

There are various substitutes you can use:

Evaporated milk

Evaporated milk is created just the same way as condensed is made. Most of its water content is removed; however, no extra sugar is added to evaporated milk. Most milk brands tend to add stabilizers and artificial additives. Evaporated milk isn’t as thick as condensed and is unlikely to provide the same texture.

Coconut milk

Condensed coconut milk has the same consistency as condensed milk, making it perhaps the best alternative for lactose intolerant. You should note that condensed coconut milk has about the same amount of sugar in it as condensed milk does.

Fresh milk

The most direct substitute is fresh milk. However, due to the concentration of the condensed product, you will need to add more fresh milk to your recipe or coffee.

Nondairy alternatives

There are various non-dairy alternatives to those who need it, such as oat milk, almond milk, and soy milk. Most people state that oat milk is the best substitute for your coffee or any hot beverages, as it has a faint taste.

Can I substitute condensed milk for heavy whipped cream?

whipped cream

Depending on the recipe, it is possible to substitute this milk for heavy whipped cream. When making the swap, ensure you use a 1:1 ratio. Furthermore, since the milk has a higher sugar content, you need to account for this in your recipe.

How to Store Condensed Milk

Condensed milk comes in a sealed can; however, you need to find a way to properly store it when you open it. You should store it in a dark, cool place. Your storage place should be away from any heat source.

When storing these cans for a long time, you should turn them upside down every couple of weeks. This is because the milk solids begin to settle to the bottom after a while. Furthermore, while you can keep the product for a long time, you still need to use it within 6 months.

How to store opened can

If you open a can of milk for your coffee, you are unlikely to finish that can in one sitting. When you open your can, you punch holes on opposite sides to let air in. Doing this allows air in for glug-free pouring. If there are any leftovers, you can cover the can with plastic wrap and secure it with elastic bands.

Alternatively, you can pour the leftover milk into an airtight container and refrigerate it. When you leave cans open, they get exposed to air, causing the milk to pick up flavors from the fridge.

How long does condensed milk last?

Condensed milk does have an expiry date, even though it was created to have a stable shelf life. Pay attention to the can when you purchase your milk. You should refrigerate it soon after opening it. Thanks to its high sugar content, sweetened condensed milk can last long; however, you should aim to use it up at most a week after opening.

Does condensed milk have to be refrigerated?

Yes, it should be refrigerated once it has been opened. It can last for about 5 to 7 days in the fridge. After that point, it will begin to go bad, even if its look doesn’t change.

Can you freeze condensed milk?

Typically, most people store small amounts of condensed milk at one time; however, you can freeze as much of this milk as you want. The most important aspect is selecting the right container to put your milk in.

As a rule of thumb, you want your container to hold as much of the milk as possible, have some way to get rid of the air inside, and also be airtight. Keeping air out is the key to preventing the milk from evaporating.

When you freeze your milk, you should never do it in its original container. This is because cans are not suitable for freezing, and they are unlikely to protect it in the freezer. You should always pour your milk into another container, preferably one made of plastic.


How much does a can of condensed milk cost?

Depending on where you live and the brand, a 14 ounce can can cost from $1.34 to $3.84.

How much does a can of condensed milk weigh?

A can typically weighs in at 14 ounces

Is it safe to boil a can of condensed milk?

condensed milk in cans

You can safely boil a can of this sweet milk. However, you should be extremely careful when you handle it. For example, you should only open a boiled can after thoroughly cooling it down. Opening a hot can of milk can cause its contents to shoot out, causing burns.

Is Lechera condensed milk?

Nestle’s Lechera is indeed condensed milk.

Is condensed milk kosher for Passover?

This milk can be kosher only if it is derived from a kosher species and the materials used to make the milk are kosher approved. The materials should also not be used to make other non-kosher products.

Where is condensed milk in the store?

You can find it on the baking aisle in most stores.

Can pregnant women drink condensed milk?

This milk is safe for pregnant women to drink so long as the milk is derived from pasteurized milk. One reason is that condensed milk has all the nutrients and vitamins gotten from regular milk.