These are the best sweetened condensed milk substitutes out there.
So, if you’re out of the sugary good stuff and need a Thai iced tea ASAP, I’ve got a swap for you!
I love sweetened condensed milk. It’s fantastic for so many things. But, we’ll get into that a bit later.
It is made by cooking down milk and adding sugar. The water in the milk evaporates, and that leaves you with a syrupy, sweet, and milky liquid.
But what do you use when it’s gone? Or if you’re dairy-free?
Well, that’s where these amazing substitutes come in!
What Is Sweetened Condensed Milk Used For?
Fudge, dulce de leche, Russian buttercream, cakes, pudding… sweetened condensed milk is a baker’s best friend.
And while it is commonly used in baking, it is incredibly versatile:
- Sweetened condensed milk is a key component in Brazilian limeade and Thai milk tea.
- It’s also a fantastic option for homemade hot chocolate or as a coffee creamer.
I even know one hardcore human who drinks it straight up! But I don’t recommend that.
Condensed milk was created by a French confectioner to preserve milk. But it tasted kinda horrible, so they added sugar.
And thus, sweetened condensed milk was born.
And it worked out! You’ll find it in shelf-stable cans all over the world!
Best Substitute For Sweetened Condensed Milk
As always, the best substitute depends on what you’re making.
And how the sweetened condensed milk is used in the recipe.
For example, if you’re adding it to cold brew coffee, you don’t want to use granulated sugar instead. You’ll feel those granules in every sip!
Don’t worry, I’ll explain more for each individual substitute below.
1. Evaporated Milk + Sugar
Other than the texture, the main difference between evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk is sugar.
Both are heated until at least 60 percent of their water content has evaporated.
But sweetened condensed milk is significantly thicker because of the added sugar.
Where evaporated milk is more like heavy cream in texture, condensed milk is thick and sticky.
So, to use evaporated milk as a substitute, you’ll need to add sugar and cook it a little.
After that, evaporated milk will work best in drinks, cakes, puddings, and other baked things.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of evaporated milk + 1 cup of granulated sugar.
Note: Combine the evaporated milk and sugar and heat on low-medium until the sugar dissolves and the milk has thickened.
2. Coconut Cream + Sugar
Coconut cream is like heavy cream, but it’s made from coconut. Obviously.
It is a mixture of 4 parts coconut meat and 1 part coconut water. So it’s very thick, rich, and full of good-for-you fats.
And it’s actually thicker than heavy cream, making it an ideal sweetened condensed milk alternative.
You’ll need to add some sugar, as coconut cream is unsweetened. And keep in mind the flavor is, well, coconutty.
But it’ll work really well in drinks, cakes, and more.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of coconut cream + 1/4 cup of sugar.
3. Heavy Cream + Sugar
Like evaporated milk, this mixture works for most of your sweetened condensed milk needs.
As mentioned, heavy cream has a very similar texture to evaporated milk. So, you need to cook it with sugar in the same way.
Add the cream and milk to a pot, then stir and heat slowly until it’s thick.
This might take 30 minutes, and you’ll need to stir it often. Then, strain it and use it as a condensed milk substitute.
Just keep in mind that cream is fattier than condensed milk. So you’ll taste the richness in larger amounts.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of heavy cream + 1/4 cup of sugar.
4. DIY Coconut Condensed Milk
Just like coconut cream, coconut milk is made with coconut meat and coconut water.
But coconut milk contains much less coconut meat. In fact, it’s mostly coconut water, with a little bit of meat for more substance.
This makes coconut milk a lower-fat option. And it’s a good choice as a vegan substitute for sweetened condensed milk.
Like the combos above, this option requires a bit of work:
- Start with a can of coconut milk (not the stuff in the cartons), then add some sugar.
- Cook the mixture on the stove over medium heat for about 30 minutes until it’s thick.
- Once thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool.
Now you have coconut-flavored, vegan, sweetened condensed milk. You can use this in place of the regular stuff in every recipe.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of canned coconut milk + 1/4 cup of sugar.
5. Powdered Milk + Sugar
Like sweetened condensed milk, powdered milk is shelf-stable. So, it’s wonderful stuff to keep in your pantry to use in a pinch.
Of course, to use powdered milk as a substitute for sweetened condensed milk, you need to rehydrate it.
Mix the powdered milk with hot water and whisk well to prevent lumps.
I would only use this option in baked goods since it doesn’t have a great taste. Though you can add more flavor with butter and sugar if you like.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of powdered milk + 1 cup of water + 2 teaspoons of sugar.
6. Almond Milk + Sugar
This is another great dairy-free alternative! Especially if you don’t want your recipes to taste like coconut.
Simmer 2 cups of almond milk over low heat until it has reduced by half. Then add 2/3 cup of sugar while the milk is warm and stir to dissolve.
You should have about 1 cup of liquid left.
Let it cool, then use it as a replacement for sweetened condensed milk in all recipes.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with 2 cups of almond milk + 2/3 cups of sugar.
7. Cream of Coconut
Not to be confused with coconut cream, cream of coconut is a drink mix.
It’s a thick, sweet, and syrupy mixture, which obviously makes it a great substitute!
Texturally, this is the most like sweetened condensed milk. And it’s super delicious.
The only thing is that it is crazy coconutty!
In fact, it’s way more coconut-flavored than coconut milk or coconut cream. So, anything you make with this stuff is going to have a coconut flavor.
But I like it as a swap because you don’t have to add anything. Just swap it out equally, and you’re good to go.
How to Substitute: Swap 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup of cream of coconut.
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