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7 Best Substitutes For Sweetened Condensed Milk 

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Sweetened condensed milk is one of the go-to sweeteners for home cooks for cooking or baking. But occasionally, you may need to use a Substitute For Sweetened Condensed Milk as it may be too sweet for your liking, or if you have guests who are lactose intolerant. 

Sweetened Condensed Milk in a glass jar, waffles and wooden spoon on the side.

Fortunately, there are lots of substitutes for this sweetener, and they are very easy to find. Scroll along and see for yourself which alternative ingredient is best for your recipe.

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What Is Sweetened Condensed Milk?

Sweetened condensed milk is a very sweet and dense dairy product commonly used in baking. It’s prepared by simmering cow’s milk to reduce its water content, making it thick and creamier. 

Sugar is added to sweeten and help preserve the mixture, which then becomes the popular sweetened condensed milk used for cooking.

This tasty ingredient was invented in 1853 by Gail Borden Jr. with the idea of prolonging milk’s shelf life. Nowadays, most people have dropped the “sweetened” part and plainly call it condensed milk.

Reasons To Use A Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute 

Leche frita with condensed milk on a serving plate topped with cherries.

Reduce Sugar Intake

Sweetened condensed milk contains lots of sugar to lengthen the milk’s shelf life and add sweetness. So, individuals with blood sugar level concerns will want a substitute that accommodates their dietary needs better. 

In these instances, it’s best to use alternatives with less sugar content, such as evaporated milk or coconut milk. Using healthier substitutions ensures you and your guests can still enjoy eating your fave sweets with guilt-free deliciousness. 

Dietary Restrictions

Many people have lactose intolerance, making them unable to consume dairy products, such as condensed milk.

Fortunately, though, just because a recipe calls for condensed milk doesn’t mean lactose-intolerant people can’t enjoy it! There are readily-available dairy-free substitutes for condensed milk, including coconut milk and my classic favorite, almond milk. 

Add Variety To Your Dishes 

People who frequently cook and bake may find that always using sweetened condensed milk introduces very few variations to the flavors of their recipes. If you relate, you will benefit from experimenting with condensed milk substitutes. 

These ingredients let you play around with different textures, sweetness levels, and creaminess when cooking, which might be the key to upgrading your recipe!

Best Substitutes For Sweetened Condensed Milk

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

You can make Sweetened Condensed Milk at home to substitute the store-bought version in a pinch. Doing so gives you the freedom to adjust the sweetness and consistency of the condensed milk, allowing you to have more control over the final outcome of your recipes. 

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk in a brown bowl and jar with spoon in it.

To make your own condensed milk, simply mix regular milk and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat. When the mixture boils, simmer for 30 minutes or an hour until you reach your desired consistency.  

Powdered Milk

Also called dried milk, powdered milk offers creaminess, color, and flavor that are all similar to sweetened condensed milk. This ingredient is made by evaporating the liquid from the milk until it transforms into a powder substance, so you can also benefit from its long shelf-life. 

A bowl of powdered milk on a wooden table.

Despite the likeness, though, you will notice critical differences between powdered milk and condensed milk. Powdered milk has significantly less sugar, and when mixed with water, its consistency is closer to whole milk than viscous sweetened condensed milk.

Hence, powdered milk may not be best for recipes where you’re aiming for a particular consistency that you can easily achieve using condensed milk. 

Heavy Cream And Sugar

Heavy cream, better known by many as whipping cream, is another dairy product suitable as an alternative to condensed milk. 

Thanks to its high-fat content, this ingredient can bring a rich and creamy texture to any dish. Just make sure to combine heavy cream with enough sugar so you can also mimic the sweet and rich flavor of sweetened condensed milk. 

A bowl of heavy cream with whisker.

You can use heavy cream and sugar for recipes such as custards and puddings where thickness is not a highlight. Heads up, though, that heavy cream has a higher fat content than sweetened condensed milk, so it may not be the best option for those who are trying to reduce their fat intake. 

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is another excellent substitute if you want to give your recipe a tropical vibe. This ingredient’s sweetness, compared to condensed milk, is more subtle, making it perfect for savory saucy dishes such as stews and curries.

Coconut milk in a glass jar with coconuts on the side.

Keep in mind, however, that the unique coconut flavor of this ingredient may be too noticeable. Hence, you may want to find another substitute if your recipe won’t benefit from the added coconut flavor, especially if you are making baked goods.

Almond Milk

Almond milk is one of the most famous alternatives if you prefer a vegan option with a more nutty flavor. Its aroma and light consistency work best when you use it for recipes like smoothies and pancakes.

Almond milk in a bottle with almonds on the side.

Remember, though, that almond milk won’t be fit for recipes that call for the thick texture that sweetened condensed milk brings, as it has a notably thinner, milk-like consistency.

Whole Milk And Sugar

The classic pantry staple, whole milk, can also work as an alternative to sweetened condensed milk. Add some sugar to sweeten it, and it’ll offer the same creamy, rich mouthfeel of sweetened condensed milk. 

Whole milk and sugar on a wooden table.

This substitute is versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll have to decide how much sugar and milk to make the best mix for your dish.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk, or unsweetened condensed milk, is a suitable alternative to condensed milk. People like this alternative for its muted sweetness and subtle flavor, as it serves as an excellent substitute for creamy soups and sauces. 

Evaporated milk in a can on burlap.

You may find the sweetness of evaporated milk too neutral for your liking, though, so be prepared to use sweeteners.

Recipe Ideas Using A Substitute For Sweetened Condensed Milk 

Although you can use the above substitutes in any dish imaginable, some recipes just stand out exceptionally well with sweetened condensed milk alternatives. 

Copycat Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream

If you love Starbucks’ vanilla sweet cream, consider making it at home using a condensed milk alternative. You can substitute the condensed milk in this recipe using almond milk and sugar to bring forth a nutty flavor to your morning coffee. 

The consistency of your sweet cream will be thinner, but it’ll still create a satisfying sweet addition to your favorite coffee-based drinks. 

Vegan Hot Chocolate

Want some chocolatey goodness but doing a vegan diet?

Just bring out your saucepan and drop some condensed milk vegan alternative, dark chocolate, and cocoa powder, and add sugar to taste if needed. Stir, and you’ll have a warm chocolate drink ready to enjoy in just minutes. 

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Peanut butter ice cream in a bowl with spoonful of ice cream on the side.

Although peanut butter ice cream is popularly made using condensed milk, you can also substitute it with other ingredients to better adjust the sweetness level or nutritional content of your dessert. The best workaround is increasing the heavy cream and incorporating sugar until you reach the desired sweetness level. 

Tips For Successfully Using A Substitute In Recipes

Recipe Testing

When using substitutes for the first time, consider making a small batch of the recipe first to ensure that it’s compatible with the dish’s flavor profile. This way, you won’t waste a large amount of ingredients if the substitute doesn’t work well. 

Adjust Sweetness

Most of the alternatives above, such as evaporated and powdered milk, do not carry sweetness as intense as sweetened condensed milk. So, be prepared to adjust the sweetness of your recipe by incorporating small amounts of sugar until you reach your desired sweetness.

Sweetness And Creaminess Combined

Now, there’s no need to panic if you run out of sweetened condensed milk. These reliable ingredients are sure to help you out with their milky goodness.

Glasses of coffee, whole milk, and coffee beans.

Whether you’re baking cookies, cooking sauce for a dish, or just want to sweeten your morning coffee, these alternatives will surely come in handy. Feel free to come back to this list whenever you need an excellent sweetened condensed milk alternative.

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