Evaporated Milk: The Humble But Essential Baking Staple

As an Amazon Associate, Daisy Flour may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Evaporated milk begins life as fresh milk before it is heated to get rid of about 50% of its water content. It is creamy and rich milk great for making soups, ice cream, custard, and baked goods.

What is Evaporated Milk?

evaporated milk

Evaporated milk is fresh milk that is boiled to eliminate 60% of its water content through evaporation. Once the milk undergoes evaporation, it is then homogenized and then canned. A can of this milk then goes through a heat sterilization procedure which is part of the canning process.

Evaporated milk is available in three varieties depending on the amount of fat. You can get whole milk, skim milk, and low-fat milk. A benefit associated with this type of milk is its long shelf life. Canned milk, when properly sealed, will keep its flavor and remain stable for two years. If you open a can and it’s brown or dark yellow, you shouldn’t use it. If the milk also smells funny, avoid drinking or using it.

How is Evaporated Milk Made?

The process of making this milk is quite easy.

  1. First, the raw milk is transported to the milk plant from the dairy farm in refrigerated tank trucks. The milk will then get tested for sediment, bacteria, milk protein composition, milk fat, odor, and taste. Generally, the milk composition of fat and protein is measured by running extremely sensitive infrared lights through the milk.
  1. The milk is then piped through filters to be pasteurized and then heated using one of two ways. It could either be the UHT method or the HTST method. The Ultra High-Temperature method heats the milk to 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 seconds, while the High-temperature Short Time method heats the milk to 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds.
  1. Both methods help to increase the milk’s stability while decreasing the bacteria level and chances of coagulation during storage.
  1. The warm milk is then moved to the evaporator, where through the process of vacuum evaporation, the boiling point of the milk is brought down to 104 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Vacuum evaporation is when a liquid becomes exposed to a pressure lower than the current atmospheric pressure. This process causes the milk to become concentrated to 30 to 40% solids. You should also note that the milk has little cooked flavor at this point.
  1. The milk is then transported to the homogenization chamber by passing it through tiny holes under high pressure. This high pressure breaks the fat globules down into minute particles, improving the milk’s stability and color.
  1. Premeasured amounts of potassium phosphate, a stabilizing salt, are added to make the milk creamy and smooth. The stabilization salt causes the milk to have a pale tan.
  1. The milk is then passed through a series of ultraviolet lights to add Vitamin D.
  1. Once all that is done, the milk is then piped into pre-sterilized cans, then vacuum sealed.

What does evaporated milk smell like?

This milk has a faint sweet smell; however, it still smells like milk.

What does evaporated milk taste like?

It tastes like a creamier version of regular milk. With this milk, you get a larger concentration of milk.

Is it sweet?

While this milk has some naturally occurring sugars, it isn’t sweet. This doesn’t mean it is tasteless; it offers a creamier texture over regular milk.

What color is evaporated milk?

It has a pale tan hue. Compared to regular milk’s white color, this milk is browner.

Is it a liquid?

Yep, it is a liquid. It can be quite confusing since most of the water content is eliminated from the solution. However, there is still a significant amount of water in this milk, making it a liquid.

Can you drink evaporated milk?

Sure! This milk is a great source of necessary vitamins and nutrients. It is a liquid and isn’t too dissimilar to regular milk, making it a great option for your morning coffee or tea.

Who Invented Evaporated Milk?

John B. Meyenberg from Saint Louis, Missouri, first patented this product in 1884. During that time, refrigerators did not exist. Meyenberg’s process was to remove about 55 to 60% of milk’s water content. The rest was then homogenized, sterilized, and canned. The result was evaporated milk, which took less space than fresh milk. This new product could stay in cans for over a year.

During that time, most people opened the can and poured the milk into a large container, adding water to the milk to reconstitute it. Today, however, most people add evaporated milk to their desserts.

How to Make It at Home

Making a DIY version is simple. The first step is to heat regular milk till about 60% of its water content is lost. The remaining milk is then homogenized and pasteurized.

What to Make with Evaporated Milk

There are many food items that benefit from this versatile product. A few of the popular ones are:

Mashed potatoes

You can make your mashed potatoes creamier by adding the milk to the mix.

Coffee creamer

As highlighted earlier in the article, it makes a great coffee creamer.

Pumpkin pie

Most recipes for pumpkin pie call for evaporated milk. In fact, it is such a crucial ingredient when making pumpkin pie that it is difficult to find a recipe that doesn’t include this ingredient.

Tres leches

Tres Leches is Spanish for three milks. The three kinds of milk used to make this wonderful delight are condensed milk, heavy cream, and, the star of our show, evaporated milk.

Nutrition Facts

A one-ounce serving contains:

  • Protein content: 1.93 grams
  • Carbs: 2.85 grams, mostly from sugar
  • Sugar content: 2.85 grams
  • Fat content: 2.14 grams of total fat
  • Calories: 38 calories

Is evaporated milk bad for you?

It might be bad for people with a cow’s milk allergy or who are lactose intolerant. Evaporated milk contains more milk proteins and lactose per volume when compared to regular milk. Lactose is the main carbohydrate found in dairy and milk products.

Generally, if you are allergic to regular milk, this milk will be bad for you. The only difference between evaporated and regular milk is the water content. Evaporated milk has had half of its water content removed before homogenization and sterilization.

Is it fat-free?

This milk, just like regular milk, is available in three variants:

  • Whole milk
  • Low-fat milk
  • Skim milk

This variety means you can indeed get a fat-free version.

Is evaporated milk gluten-free?

Yes, it is gluten-free due to the way it is created.

Is evaporated milk dairy?

Yes. It is made from milk which is a dairy product.

Does it have lactose?

Yes. Again, because this type of milk is made from milk, which contains lactose.

How much sugar is in evaporated milk?

There are three types of evaporated milk: whole milk, skim, and low fat. The calculations below are for 1 ounce servings:

  • Whole: 25 grams of sugar
  • Low fat: 28 grams of sugar
  • Skim: 28 grams of sugar


When searching for a substitute, you can use half and half. You can use ¼ of whipping cream or heavy cream and ¾ of milk to make half and half. The great thing about half and half is that you can use it with any evaporated milk recipe.

For vegans, the best substitute is coconut milk. While it is possible to use other kinds of milk, they lack the fat content that coconut milk naturally has.

Can you use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream?

It is possible to substitute heavy cream. When you switch one out for the other, you should always use an equal amount.

Can you substitute evaporated milk for half and half?

You can also use half and half as a substitute. You just need a 1:1 ratio when you switch dairy products.

Can you substitute evaporated milk for milk?

Since it is made from milk, you should have no problem substituting one for another. When you do, you should remember that regular milk has more water content than evaporated, so you will need to alter your recipe.

Can you substitute evaporated milk for condensed milk?

No, you cannot substitute evaporated for condensed milk. Condensed milk has a higher sugar content than evaporated, meaning that your recipes will be unbalanced. Additionally, condensed milk has a creamier texture than evaporated.

How to Store Evaporated Milk

How to Store Evaporated Milk

Properly storing food can be quite challenging. This challenge is particularly evident when storing leftover evaporated milk after opening a can. Generally, you can store it in the freezer, fridge, or freeze-dried for later use.

Unopened cans can last for about a year, while open cans last five days in the refrigerator. If you enjoy cooking or baking with this milk, you should know that it is best stored in your pantry.

You can get this milk in different packaging formats. Depending on how manufacturers package the milk, unopened cartons or cans can last for at least a year. The shelf life only changes once the package is open.

How to store opened can

The most effective way to store the milk once you open it is to pour it into an airtight container. When doing this, you should remove as much air as possible from the container before immediately putting it in the fridge.

Usually, when you are creating something spectacular, the last thing you think about is what to do with the leftovers. Nevertheless, taking the time to properly store your milk is important, especially if you plan to use it later.

Experts recommend storing this milk in an airtight container and placing it in the fridge immediately after opening the can. Immediacy is crucial. Leaving this milk on the counter for a few hours before storing it is not recommended.

The moment you open the can of milk and portion what you need for your recipe, you should transfer the rest to a glass or plastic airtight container. After this, you should place it in your fridge.

If you don’t plan on using the rest of the milk for a while, you might want to consider freezing it. (more on that later)

How long does it last?

Evaporated milk can be kept in a fridge for about five days once you open the can. You can also freeze it for up to six months. Alternatively, you can freeze-dry it for a maximum of 25 years. You should not leave any open cans at room temperature as this could cause the milk to go bad. As a safety precaution, you should throw out any can that has been out on the counter for more than two hours to prevent consuming contaminated food.

Does evaporated milk have to be refrigerated?

If you are baking and have leftover milk, you can store it in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. When you store it in the fridge, you should remove it from its original container, putting it in an airtight plastic or glass container. Doing this can protect your milk from infusing flavors from the fridge.

Can you freeze evaporated milk?

You can freeze this type of milk in an airtight container. However, be extra careful to ensure the milk doesn’t separate when it thaws. To do this, pour your leftover milk in a freezer-appropriate and airtight container. Then seal it with cling film to ensure moisture doesn’t enter or get out from the container.

If you don’t freeze your milk properly, you could have a container full of separate liquids and solids. Following the process highlighted above can help prevent this from happening.

For the most part, you can safely freeze your milk for about 3 to 6 months, so long as it is in an airtight container.

What to do with leftover evaporated milk

There are so many things you can do with leftover milk. You can:

  • Put in an airtight container and then into the fridge for 3 to 5 days till you use it again
  • Pour it into an airtight container and then put it into the freezer, where it can last for 3 to 6 months before you use it again.


How much does a can of evaporated milk cost?

A can can cost anything from $0.94 to $3.00. The price you pay depends on the type of milk you get (whole, skim, or low fat); you could pay more. Skim evaporated tends to cost slightly more than whole evaporated.

Consider that the price you pay for a can can vary depending on where you live. Some states have higher milk prices, which transfers down to the price of evaporated milk.

How much does a can of evaporated milk weigh?

While each brand may have slightly different measurements, the standard can of evaporated milk weighs 12 ounces.

Where is evaporated milk in the grocery store?

You can find it in the baking aisle in most grocery stores, usually near condensed milk and powdered milk products or on the shelves next to sugar, depending on the grocery store. Nevertheless, always read the product label to ensure that you are getting the right type milk to avoid an unwelcome surprise at home when you’re ready to bake or cook.

Can a baby drink evaporated milk?

No, a baby cannot drink evaporated milk. While evaporated milk is fine and healthy for a child older than one year, you should never use it to replace a child’s recommended daily amount of whole milk. Furthermore, a baby’s digestive system is not sufficiently developed to digest this type of milk. Consuming it could result in digestive issues.

Can a toddler drink evaporated milk?

Yes, a toddler can drink evaporated milk; however, it should not become their main source of milk. This milk doesn’t have the same quantity of fats, minerals, and vitamins that whole milk has.

Can kittens drink evaporated milk?

Newborn kittens should not be fed evaporated milk as it can endanger their lives. A kitten’s digestive system is not developed enough to handle the high concentration of fats, sugars, and other nutrients. Furthermore, you should not give adult cats evaporated milk to drink. While they are older and their digestive systems are more developed, they are still unable to digest this type of milk efficiently.