Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

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Looking for a sweetened condensed milk substitute? You've come to the right place.

There’s just something about sweetened condensed milk that can instantly make any dessert recipe sing. You know that- you know how it can transform the taste, flavor, and texture of whatever it is that you’re making. 

But what happens if you don’t have it at hand? Or what if you’re looking for an alternative? Well, there are quite a few substitutes and replacements for you to pick from when you look for a sweetened condensed milk substitute. Scroll down and keep reading to discover more about them. 

Whether you're making pumpkin pie or some other yummy recipe that calls for sweetened milk instead of regular milk, you're in luck because we're here to give you options to use if you don't have that essential ingredient on hand.

Sweetened condensed milk is a common ingredient in many sweet dessert recipes like pies and fudge.

What is Sweetened Condensed Milk?

Sweetened condensed milk is actually a pretty simple concoction- it is cow’s milk that is reduced down to such an extent, that almost all of the water that it contains is evaporated, and you’re left with a slightly caramelly, thick, and creamy mixture.

Sugar is also added into the mix to give the mixture some sweetness that it is so famous for. It has a very thick consistency, and store-bought sweetened condensed milk has a long shelf life, so you can stock up on it when you find a real deal at the store.

This process is usually done on medium to low heat, and the resulting mixture is generally high in fat and calorie content. 

How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk

Let’s get real- even though there are some pretty good sweetened condensed milk substitutes out there, sometimes, there’s no match for the real thing, especially if there’s a specific recipe that revolves around it. And if you don’t have a can in your pantry and don’t fancy a trip to the supermarket, you can actually scratch-make it yourself. 

There are two simple ways to make sweetened condensed milk from scratch, right in your kitchen. Depending on what you prefer, you can go ahead with either of these methods. 

As long as you have the key ingredient, you will be ready to go. It's the only thing you simply must-have. And, to store your homemade recipe, don't forget an airtight container.

Stovetop Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

You’ll need just two simple ingredients to make the sweetened condensed milk on the stovetop- 3 cups whole fresh milk and a cup of sugar. All you need to do is combine them both in a saucepan and let it cook over medium heat until it comes up to a boil.

Then, turn down the heat to medium-low heat or a bit lower and allow it to simmer for up to 45 minutes or more until the mixture thickens and reduces. It makes a thick liquid that is so delicious! And that’s it- just remember to allow this to cool down completely before you use it!

 If you’re allergic to dairy products, want to avoid cow's milk, or are just following the vegan lifestyle, you could swap whole milk for full-fat coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or any other plant-based milk of your choice.

To make your sweetened condensed milk substitute healthier, you could use cane sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar instead of your regular processed sugar. Maple syrup can be an excellent natural sweetener to consider using since it lends the condensed milk a delicious, maple undertone. And of course, you could always choose stevia

Microwave Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

Milk, sugar, and microwave- these are the three essential ingredients you need to make sweetened condensed milk (and its substitutes) yourself. Just use a microwave-safe container to combine milk and sugar together, and microwave it on high, stirring at every 1-2 minute interval. Keep doing this until the milk thickens, making sure the milk doesn’t boil over. 

Get it out, allow it to cool down, and then refrigerate it. This will help it thicken further, and there, you are ready with your batch of homemade condensed milk. 

Regardless of which method you’re opting for, you can also put in an extra few minutes of effort, and add some butter and vanilla extract into the mix (particularly if you are using cow milk and white sugar). Doing this will enhance the flavor of the mixture, and give it that rich, buttery taste that you’d find in most store-bought condensed milk cans. 

And if you’re looking for a quick substitute with no cooking or heating required, a simple mixture of heavy cream and white sugar can do the trick pretty well. 

Enjoy the good times and final product of your baked goods with this homemade version that is a good recipe and a quicker homemade sweetened condensed milk recipe. Skip the trip to the local grocery store.

Other Substitutes for Sweetened Condensed Milk

While you might come across a number of different sweetened condensed milk substitutes, here’s a quick list of some of the best ones. 

Canned Coconut Cream- Often Labeled Cream of Coconut

Canned coconut cream, which is also often known as cream of coconut, is one of the easiest vegan sweetened condensed milk substitutes you could find.

While you might come across actual recipes that need you to reduce any plant-based milk and go through a process to make the reduction, this one is by far, the simplest, no-fuss choice. 

You’ll find it available in most supermarkets and food specialty stores, and it is pretty reasonably priced too. 

Another plus is the fact that you can use it as a substitute for sweetened condensed milk in a one-to-one ratio. The only possible downside to using this is that it will lend your culinary creation a coconut flavor, which might not be something you’d want for certain recipes. 

In general, however, it can be an excellent vegan substitute when you’re making cakes, cookies, or pies, and can lend a nice tropical flavor too. Just remember that cream of coconut is not the same as coconut cream- it can be easy to get confused between the two, but they are actually two entirely different things. 

Coconut Milk

Surprised to find this one on the list? Don’t be. Full-fat coconut milk, when mixed with a sweetener like sugar, maple syrup, or coconut sugar and then reduced until it is creamy and slightly thick, can be used as an alternative to commercially available sweetened condensed milk. 

When you’re doing this, remember to keep stirring the mixture every 5 minutes to keep it from sticking to the bottom or bubbling over. This sweetened condensed milk can then be refrigerated for up to 10 days. 

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is actually the best, closest substitute for sweetened condensed milk. It is actually just condensed milk, but the unsweetened version. Naturally, it meets the texture and flavor of sweetened condensed milk most closely and is the closest, easiest substitute you can find. 

Plus, you don’t need to get down and dirty with the measurements with this substitute- just stick to the amount of sweetened condensed milk the recipe calls for, and use evaporated milk instead, and it should work just as well.

Of course, if the recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk, you will need to add some additional sugar to compensate for the lack of sugar in the evaporated milk. 

Apart from these, you can also use almond milk, reduce it to half of its original quantity, sweeten it with sugar, and then use it as a substitute. While this reduction will not give you the sweet, caramel flavor your regular sweetened condensed milk will have, it can act as a decent substitute.

If you don’t have almond milk or are looking for another choice, you could also try replicating the process with cashew milk, oat milk, or soy milk. 

Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

Making homemade condensed milk is actually pretty easy and straightforward. You can make it from scratch using any of the two methods outlined above, or opt for one of the sweetened condensed milk substitutes listed. 

You might also find other recipe variations that require the use of more than two ingredients, and if you don’t mind putting in just a little bit of extra effort, you could definitely go that way. Remember that if you’re planning to use condensed milk for your baked goods, it is best to stick to the real thing.

This is because while other substitutes might be able to replicate the sweetness and the moisture, they won’t have the same rich, caramelly flavor that the good old condensed milk has. 

What To Do With Leftover Sweetened Condensed Milk

Do you have large amounts of leftover sweetened condensed milk from the batch that you made? Or maybe from the tin you just opened up.

You can actually put it to some good use, without having to work on an entire recipe around it. Here are a few good ideas to get started on. 

  • Top your dry or stale brownies with a generous drizzle of condensed milk and microwave for a few seconds before you dig in. It lends a nice bit of creaminess and softens up the brownie wonderfully. 
  • Top your scoop of basic vanilla ice cream with some condensed milk for some extra flavor. Or better yet- add it to your homemade ice cream to lend it that delicious, rich taste. 
  • Add some of it to your iced tea or coffee to give it a creamy taste. 
  • Drizzle some of the condensed milk over a bowl of fresh fruit to transform it into a fancy-looking dessert. 
  • Add a splash of the condensed milk to your homemade milkshake or smoothie or even into your breakfast bowl. 
  • Spread some of it over your morning toast. 
  • Mix it with some melted chocolate and roughly broken-up biscuits or cookies, pour the mixture into a baking tray, and allow it to set before cutting into squares- it can be a wonderful sweet treat to whip up and enjoy as a dessert. 
  • You could also look up an easy fudge recipe and utilize your leftover condensed milk. 
  • Make up a key lime pie recipe.


  • Jessica McCoy

    Jessica McCoy is a seasoned food blogger with 14+ years of experience in the industry. As a self-taught home cook, she enjoys creating and finetuning easy recipes that are fool proof and simple for anyone to make. Her expertise is in all things kitchen: cooking tips, air fryer recipes, Instant Pot and other pressure cooking recipes, and slow cooker recipes. Jessica was the previous owner of AllSheCooks, where she focused on easy every day recipes including budget friendly dinner recipes and desserts.

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