Evaporated Milk vs. Heavy Cream – Differences You Must Know

If you like baking and cooking, you have surely come across evaporated milk and heavy cream. Do you know what each of these ingredients is meant for? They are not supposed to be used the same.

Keep on reading to find out what is different between heavy cream vs evaporated milk. You will also learn how to use each food properly for next time!

What Is Evaporated Milk?

Also called unsweetened condensed milk, this is shelf-stable canned cow milk. The milk has about 60% of its water content removed. This type of milk does not contain any added sugar.

The sugar in sweetened condensed milk prevents bacterial overgrowth. Producing evaporated milk requires evaporating 60% of the water from milk, then undergoing homogenization, canning, and one final sterilization. Because of this process, evaporated milk can have a very long shelf-life, from months to years.

Evaporated milk became popular in the United States in the 1920-and 1930s because it became a cheap alternative to baby formula. However, soon health organizations suggested that evaporated milk did not contain enough nutrients for infants. Still, this type of milk continued to be useful in the recession times.

To make evaporated milk 60% of water is removed from homogenized milk. The remaining product is then chilled, stabilized, sterilized, and packaged. Sterilization occurs at 240–245 °F for 15 minutes in commercial products.

Although there is no added sugar, sterilization creates a Maillard reaction that gives this milk product a slightly caramelized flavor. The evaporated milk is also darker in color because of this process. The evaporation also condenses nutrients, so this milk is higher in calories as well.

To stabilize evaporated milk contains disodium phosphate and carrageenan. In some cases, vitamin D and vitamin C are also added. Usually, evaporated milk is in desserts, as a creamer for coffee and tea, and as an emulsifier.

Nutrition Facts

One cup of full fat evaporated milk (252 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 338 calories
  • 17.2 g protein
  • 19.1 g fat
  • 25.2 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 25.2 g sugar
  • 658 mg calcium
  • 0.479 mg iron
  • 60.5 mg magnesium
  • 512 mg phosphorus
  • 764 mg potassium
  • 267 mg sodium
  • 4.79 mg vitamin C
  • 20.2 µg folate
  • 164 µg vitamin A
  • 5.04 µg vitamin D
  • 73.1 mg cholesterol

Is Evaporated Milk Healthy?

Although it is also called unsweetened condensed milk because it contains no extra sugar, it is healthier than its sweetened version. You can always go with a bit of unsweetened condensed milk to give your coffee a bit of flavor. This is probably not the best choice when it comes to everyday meals.

In terms of nutrition content, some evaporated milk has to contain at least 6.5% of milk fat, which is not too high considering whole milk has more fat. However, be mindful that whole fat evaporated milk can have up to 19 grams of fat and 338 calories. Choosing a non-fat evaporated milk can be a better option, although it is still higher in calories than milk.

Because everything is condensed, this type of dairy product will help you meet your daily needs for certain minerals. On one hand, it has 50% of your daily needs for calcium, 15% of magnesium, and 18% of zinc. Regular milk contains 21% of calcium, 6% magnesium, and 8% of zinc.

Drinking or using evaporated milk can help keep your bones healthy through calcium and magnesium. Zinc plays a role in brain function, immunity, and digestion. When you consume this type of milk product, you will also receive protein.

While the general public should not drink this type of milk, there are some exceptions. Underweight children and adults could benefit from evaporated milk to obtain important nutrients. This is a good resource to gain weight healthily without added sugars.

Evaporated milk might also be fortified with vitamin D and A, which in some cases, individuals lack. Drinking this product can help keep your daily requirements of these two fat-soluble vitamins. Deficiencies for these vitamins are not always common but can happen in certain regions of the world.

Since it comes from milk, evaporated milk contains lactose. This product might not be for anyone with lactose intolerance or milk allergy. Since it is condensed, it also contains twice the carbohydrates of milk.

Using this type of milk is not something the average adult or child needs to consume daily. It can help certain individuals in need of more nutrients and weight gain, but it can be harmful in excess for others. Consuming evaporated milk should be limited to sporadic cooking needs.

What Is Heavy Cream?

The term heavy cream describes the milk product that contains the most fat. By law, heavy cream has to have at least 36% fat. It is often in cooking and baking and soups and sauces for texture. It is slightly sweet, although it does not contain any added sugar.

The milk is homogenized, which turns the fat into droplets that stay suspended on top of the milk and make it reach that fat content. The resulting fat is what makes the heavy cream. In some cases, the fat level is above 36% and can reach 40%.

Even though there is no addition of sugar, heavy cream has a sweet taste because milk naturally has sugar. This dairy product also contains very little protein per serving size. As opposed to milk and even evaporated milk, heavy cream is fattier.

Since it contains a ton of fat, heavy cream is not a good substitute for milk or half and half. You should reserve it for other cooking and baking purposes. Using heavy cream in excess can also damage the texture and consistency of your food.

You will likely see heavy cream used in dishes like quiche, creams, scalloped potatoes, creamy sauces, and mac and cheese. You might also see it in sweeter dishes, such as ganache, ice cream, frosting, and fudge. Using cream in these dishes adds sweetness, creaminess, and thickness.

In some cases, heavy cream will contain some sugar. Be careful with always looking at the nutrition label of the cream you are buying. However, heavy cream can be keto-friendly because it is lower in sugar and higher in fat.

Nutrition Facts

One cup of heavy cream (240 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 816 calories
  • 6.82 g protein
  • 86.6 g fat
  • 6.82 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 7.01g sugar
  • 158 mg calcium
  • 0.24 mg iron
  • 16.8 mg magnesium
  • 139 mg phosphorus
  • 228 mg potassium
  • 64.8 mg sodium
  • 1.44 mg vitamin C
  • 9.6 µg folate
  • 986 µg vitamin A
  • 3.84 µg vitamin D
  • 271 mg cholesterol

Is Heavy Cream Healthy?

Heavy cream is unavoidable when it comes to various recipes. You will encounter it in many creamy meals and desserts. Still, not everyone can or should have heavy cream.

Since it is a dairy product, heavy cream contains certain nutrients. Some of these include phosphorus, calcium, vitamin A, and protein. You can eat this food and obtain a good amount of daily nutrients.

Heavy cream is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins, as is the case with evaporated milk. In some cases, someone might lack vitamins E, D, K, and A. These vitamins play roles in immunity, bone strength, gut function, and eye health.

However, as mentioned earlier, heavy cream is mostly fat. Excess fat can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Using the product every once in a while is not a problem but can become one in the long term.

Individuals should limit their saturated fat intake to <10% daily. Taking that into account, you should limit your heavy cream intake, as it is saturated fat. Since the fat comes from an animal source, this product also contains some cholesterol.

As you can see above, heavy cream also gives you a lot of calories. One cup contains about 800 calories, which is significant. Consider this next time you are cooking and try to limit the amount of cream you use.

Finally, since heavy cream comes from dairy, it also contains lactose. It is not a product that lactose-intolerant individuals can have. Anyone with a milk allergy should also definitely avoid it.

What Are The Key Differences Between Evaporated Milk and Heavy Cream?

These two dairy products are not remotely similar in their nutrient content. Evaporated milk contains almost no water, and all the nutrients are very concentrated. Heavy cream is liquid and contains more fat than anything else.

Following the same line, although they come from milk, they do not give you the same calories. Full-fat evaporated milk has 338 calories per cup. Heavy cream contains 816 calories per cup.

The texture and consistency of these two foods are also different. Evaporated milk is an almost syrup-like liquid since it has almost no water. Heavy cream is viscous but still more liquid.

How you use these two foods is also not the same. You can use evaporated milk in drinks and desserts. You can use heavy cream in savory foods, like soup, sauces, quiche, casseroles, and desserts like ganache and fondant.

One important difference to keep in mind here is the fat content. Evaporated milk is about 1% fat per tablespoon. Heavy cream is much fattier and contains about 10% fat per tablespoon but has a total minimum of 36% fat per container.

Finally, the flavor for these two products is slightly different. Evaporated milk can be slightly caramel and sweet. Heavy cream is sweet but also much more savory.

Main DifferencesEvaporated Milk Heavy Cream 
Origin Switzerland United States 
Nutrient Profile Per Cup 25 grams carbs, 25 grams sugar, 17 grams protein, and 19 grams fat6.82 g carbs, 7.01g sugar, 6.82 g protein, and 86.6 g fat
Texture Syrup like and creamy Thick and creamy 
UseDrinks, sauces, and dessertsBaked dishes, soups, sauces, and desserts 
Cost$1.79 – 3.49 per 12 oz can$1.99 – 3.99 per pint 
Calories per cup    338 calories 816 calories 

Is Evaporated Milk or Heavy Cream?

Generally, evaporated milk will be a good option compared to heavy cream. In this case, this type of milk has less sugar, fat, and calories per portion size. Heavy cream is almost all saturated fat but also packs a lot of calories.

If you choose either one of these products, evaporated milk can work better in terms of nutrients. However, in certain cases, you will need a heavier and thicker product, which makes heavy cream the better option. Either way, limiting the amount you use of either food is best.

Choosing between evaporated milk and heavy cream will not always be an option, as these two are often not interchangeable. If you have the choice, you can use evaporated milk. Limiting how much you use either of these foods is best for your health.


Now you are aware of evaporated milk and heavy cream. You know exactly how to use these foods. Enjoy both of them in their recipes, but limit how much you consume.

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*image by wollertz/depositphotos

*image by NewAfrica/depositphotos

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