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Condensed Milk Substitute (Top 7 Options To Try)

In this article, we will explore a variety of delectable condensed milk substitutes that will satisfy your cravings and ensure the success of your culinary endeavors.

In baking and dessert making, condensed milk is a popular ingredient. It adds sweetness, creaminess, and depth of flavor. However, not everyone might have this ingredient in stock. Also, some people may choose to avoid it due to dietary restrictions.

Macro shot of spoon filled with condensed milk.

What Is Condensed Milk?

Condensed milk is a sweetened, thick, and creamy dairy product.

It has a caramelized, slightly nutty flavor and rich texture.

You’ll find this ingredient in pies, cakes, and candy recipes. It is also popular in beverages, including Vietnamese coffee, Thai tea, and Mexican Horchata.

Note that condensed milk is high in calories and sugar because of its sweet taste.

How its made

The process of making this food item involves slowly simmering regular milk first and doing so until much of the water evaporates.

The resulting mixture then becomes thick and concentrated.

People then add sugar to the mix, giving it a sweet taste and making it even thicker.

History and origin

As with any other invention, the necessity to make shelf-table milk led to the creation of condensed milk.

Shortly after its discovery, condensed milk’s long shelf life made it a popular ingredient in many recipes. So, it quickly became a staple in many households worldwide.

In fact, this dairy product also played a vital role in providing nutrition to people in need during World War II. It was part of the rations provided to soldiers and refugees as a food source.

Why You Might Need A Substitute

1. Lactose Intolerance

This ingredient is a dairy product. That said, people allergic to dairy or sensitive to lactose may not have it.

2. Dietary Restrictions

People who are watching their sugar levels should avoid condensed milk. After all, it is very sweet. This dairy product is also high in calories, so people following a keto diet will find it unsuitable. Lastly, condensed milk uses cow’s milk, making it a no-no for vegans and vegetarians.

3. Unavailability

Sometimes, your local grocery store might not have condensed milk in stock.

Top Substitutes For Sweetened Condensed Milk

There is no need to worry if you are in any of the above situations. Check your pantry for any of these alternatives below, and carry on.

1. Evaporated Milk

People make this type of dairy by simmering whole milk to remove most of its water content. However, unlike condensed milk, evaporated milk is usually unsweetened and thin.

You can fix it to bring it closer to condensed milk’s consistency and taste. To do so, cook an equal amount of evaporated milk and granulated sugar in a pot.

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until you dissolve all the sugar. The result? Homemade condensed milk!

The best thing about this sweetened condensed milk substitute? You control how much sugar it will contain. You can even skip the sugar altogether. If you skip it, expect your mixture to be thinner.


A 1:1 substitution ratio is best when replacing condensed milk with this mixture.

2. Almond Milk

Try almond milk as a dairy-free, low-calorie substitute for condensed milk. People make almond milk by blending soaked almonds with water and straining it.

Almond milk is thinner, so you must simmer it until you reach the desired consistency.

This dairy-free condensed milk substitute is less rich in taste; expect a flavor shift in your recipes.

It’s important to note that almond is also a common allergen, similar to milk. Before using this, ensure that none of the people you intend to feed has allergies to almonds.

If you’re making your own almond milk, adding pitted dates or maple syrup to the mix is also an option to make it sweeter.


Use 2 cups of almond milk, and simmer until you reduce it to just a cup. Add sugar and simmer more until sugar dissolves completely. You can then use this mixture in a 1:1 ratio to replace condensed milk.

3. Heavy Cream

Another great substitute for sweetened condensed milk is heavy cream. After all, you can use this handy baking ingredient to make homemade condensed milk.

To do so, heat 1 part of heavy cream and ¼ parts of granulated sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves.

Allow your mixture to cool before using it in dishes, especially if you bake with it. Use a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream and sugar when substituting condensed milk.

If you are watching your sugar levels, you can opt not to sweeten the mixture. Just do not skip thickening it for a better consistency match.


One important consideration is that this swap has more fat content than sweetened condensed milk. Adding sugar to make heavy cream raises its calorie content even further.

4. Coconut Condensed Milk

Coconut condensed milk is a dairy-free alternative made from coconut milk and sugar. It has a thick and sweet consistency similar to regular condensed milk, but it will impart a subtle coconut flavor to your dishes.

This substitute can work well in desserts, such as coconut-flavored cakes, puddings, or candies, where the coconut flavor complements the other ingredients.

However, it may not be suitable for recipes where a strong coconut taste is undesirable, such as certain types of fudge or caramel-based desserts.

If you’re using coconut condensed milk in a recipe that relies on the thickening properties of regular condensed milk, you may need to adjust the recipe or use additional thickeners to achieve the desired consistency.


This sub is a direct substitute for sweetened condensed milk. You should use a 1:1 ratio when using to replace regular condensed milk.

5. Coconut Milk

Among the best sweetened condensed milk substitutes is canned coconut milk. This non-dairy alternative comes from coconut meat, making it suitable for vegans.

On top of that, coconut milk is also a nutritious option. It contains vitamins C and E, both potent antioxidants.

Coconut milk shares the same thick and creamy texture. Using it will not affect the texture of your dishes and baked goods.

Still, you should remember that coconut milk will have an extra nutty flavor. This additional taste might only meld well in some recipes that call for condensed milk.

Also, while this vegan alternative has a naturally sweet taste, it isn’t quite as sweet as condensed milk. For some people, this can be an advantage, especially if they find condensed milk too sweet.

If you want a closer sweetness match, you can mix in some sugar and bring the coconut milk to a boil. Simmer the mixture until you get a thick consistency.


Use full-fat coconut milk instead of a regular one for the best results. Some commercial coconut milk comes with water and other additives. They will be thinner than what you’d need to replace condensed milk. Use the same amount of thickened coconut milk to replace an equal amount of condensed milk.

6. Coconut Cream

Another excellent swap for condensed milk is coconut cream. To make it, you take coconut milk, refrigerate it and collect the thick cream that collects at the top.

This cream is richer than coconut milk and is also naturally sweet. Still, it is not as sweet as regular condensed milk. You might want to use sugar to get closer to condensed milk’s sweetness.

However, if you’re looking to reduce your sugar intake, you can use this swap as it is. It already has a creamy and thick texture, so no additional cooking is necessary.

This natural ingredient is dairy-free and vegan. It makes a great option for people with dietary restrictions.


If you’re okay with adding sugar, use ¼ cup of sugar for each cup of coconut cream. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, and allow it to cool. Use an equal amount of sweetened coconut cream.

7. Cream Of Coconut

Yet another one of the best substitutes for sweetened condensed milk is cream of coconut.

It is already sweet and thick, so you do not need any additional preps to use it. You only need to consider that this will add a tropical, nutty flavor to your dish or drink.

That said, it might only work for some recipes. Nevertheless, it is a great vegan and dairy-free condensed milk alternative.


Use an equal amount of cream of coconut to replace the same amount of condensed milk in your dishes.

Sliced bread topped with condensed milk.

How To Choose The Best Substitute

When choosing a sweetened condensed milk substitute, you should consider some factors. Doing so ensures that the final recipe has the ideal taste and texture.

Here are some of the factors to keep in mind:


Compare the consistency of your substitute to sweetened condensed milk. Choose heavy cream or thickened almond milk for the best consistency match.


Condensed milk is very sweet. If you want to replicate it in a recipe, do not skip adding sugar to swaps like evaporated milk and heavy cream. Better yet, use a naturally sweet ingredient like coconut milk.


It would help if you also considered the flavor of your chosen substitute. For instance, coconut-based alternatives might change the overall taste of your dish. Some people would like that, but some might not.

Dietary Restrictions

Most importantly, it would be best to be mindful of dietary needs. For vegans, substitutes that have milk are a no-no. Consider using a plant-based ingredient in that case. Also, people watching their sugar intake will find swaps with added sugar unsuitable.

Close up image of the jar with cooked condensed milk.
How Much Milk Equals Condensed Milk?

After the simmering process, one cup of whole milk will only yield half a cup of condensed milk. If you’re making your own sweetened condensed milk from scratch, ensure you have enough milk.

How Do You Make Condensed Milk?

To make DIY sweetened condensed milk, you need whole milk and sugar. Simmer the milk until most of the water evaporates, then add the sugar. Simmer again until the sugar dissolves. As a result, you’ll have nice, homemade, sweetened condensed milk.

Who Invented Condensed Milk?

Nicolas Appert, a French confectioner, was the first to make this dairy product. Another person who gets the credit for the invention of condensed milk is Gail Borden, Jr. He invented a process to manufacture condensed milk industrially.


Condensed milk adds a sweet and creamy flavor to many desserts and beverages. However, there are several reasons why you might need to substitute it. Fortunately, there are several alternatives you can use.

Evaporated milk, almond milk, heavy cream, and coconut cream are among your top options. Note that you may need to adjust your condensed milk substitute. There are some swaps that you need to thicken and some that you need to sweeten for a better swapping experience.

Macro shot of spoon filled with condensed milk.

Homemade Condensed Milk Substitute

Natalia-Flavorful Home
Making a condensed milk substitute at home is quite simple and requires just a few ingredients. Here's a basic recipe for a homemade condensed milk substitute.
5 from 1 vote
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American


  • 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy, depending on your preference)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar start with adding 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and adjust based on desired sweetness)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (or dairy-free butter substitute)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


  • In a saucepan, combine the milk and granulated sugar. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, add the butter to the saucepan and continue stirring until it melts and incorporates into the mixture.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking or burning. The mixture will gradually thicken and reduce in volume.
  • After simmering for the desired time or until the mixture reaches a thick consistency similar to condensed milk, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  • Let the condensed milk cool completely before transferring it to a container or jar for storage.


Use the homemade condensed milk substitute in your favorite recipes just like you would use traditional condensed milk.
The homemade condensed milk substitute may not have the exact same taste and texture as commercially produced condensed milk. However, it provides a suitable alternative in recipes that call for condensed milk and can be used as a replacement in most cases.
Remember, the homemade substitute may not have the same shelf life as store-bought condensed milk, so it’s best to use it within a few days or store it in the refrigerator.


Calories: 825kcalCarbohydrates: 151gProtein: 1gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 330mgPotassium: 16mgFiber: 1gSugar: 150gVitamin A: 700IUCalcium: 309mgIron: 0.1mg
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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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