Who doesn’t enjoy a delicious treat topped with sweetened condensed milk? However, this sweet delight is full of fat and calories, so it can be hard to indulge at times. Other times, people follow a vegan diet or have lactose intolerance, which complicates things further.
What Is Sweetened Condensed Milk?
Before we start getting into options, let’s talk about what is sweetened condensed milk and why use it.
Sweetened condensed milk is simply milk that is evaporated to remove water. The result is a sticky, thick liquid that almost looks like a syrup. The sweetened part is the sugar that makes it more shelf-stable.
This delicious milk product adds creaminess and acts as a sweetener in many recipes, including ice cream, custard, caramel, and the famous Vietnamese iced coffee. Because this ingredient combines dairy and sugar, it is often used as a combo in baking and cooking.
As you may already know, though, it is high in calories and can add too much fat to your dishes. Finding a replacement is then a good idea as long as you know how and when to use them.
What Can I Replace Sweetened Condensed Milk With?
If you don’t want to add calories and extra sugar, or if you can’t find any, or maybe you want a dairy-free option, then the following sweetened condensed milk substitutes will work great.
Best For Baking, Ice Cream, Fudge, and Pumpkin Pie
#1. Heavy Cream + Sugar
Choosing heavy cream, which is already thick and sweet, and mixing it with sugar, creates a similar flavor and can be used as homemade sweetened condensed milk.
You can use cream in any baked good, but it is particularly good in ice cream, fudge, and pies. As for the sugar, we suggest you go with granulated sugar or caster because these melt easily.
You probably already have these two ingredients, but if you don’t, any grocery store will have them. To substitute one cup of sweetened condensed milk, use one cup of heavy cream with ¼ cup of sugar, but you can always add more as you cook.
See More: Best Heavy Cream Substitutes
#2. Whole Milk + Sugar
You can pretty much make your own sweetened condensed milk recipe by using whole milk and reducing it down to a thick consistency.
To do this, use two cups of whole milk and slowly simmer it down over low-medium heat. Once you have about one cup of reduced milk, add ⅔ cup of sugar, and mix well.
This homemade condensed milk is perfect for making ice cream, fudge, custard, pies, or frosting. You surely have milk at home, otherwise, buy it anywhere along with granulated sugar.
See More: Whole Milk Alternatives
#3. Powdered Milk
This milk product is simply dehydrated milk that lasts a long time and is usually lightly sweetened.
All you need to do is use one and ⅓ cup of dry powdered milk and mix it with about ⅓ cup of hot water. However, powdered milk has low-fat content, so you may want to add around two tablespoons of butter to the mixture.
Finding powdered milk is easy, as your local grocery store probably has it. You can use this mixture for every can of condensed milk when making custard, fudge, and pies. If needed, you can always add a few teaspoons of sugar.
Best For Cheesecake, Caramel, Cookies, Vietnamese Iced Coffee, and Key Lime Pie
#4. Cream of Coconut
This vegan option is a great addition when you are looking for a tasty sweetened condensed milk alternative.
Cream of coconut is often used in sweetening drinks, like smoothies, Pina Coladas, and Vietnamese iced coffee, but you can use it to make desserts, like cheesecake, banana bread, and key lime pie.
You can find the cream of coconut in any grocery store, but make sure you choose the right one and not coconut cream, as the latter is different.
To add cream of coconut in place of sweetened condensed milk, you can add the same amount as the recipe indicates. Keep in mind that this choice does add a bit of coconut flavor to your final product.
#5. Coconut Milk + Sugar
This is another non-dairy option that can mimic the flavor and consistency of sweetened condensed milk.
As you would do with regular milk, use two cups of coconut milk and reduce it to one cup by slowly simmering over low-medium heat. Once the concoction is ready, add ⅔ cup of sugar and mix well.
This choice works in baking all sorts of things, including cheesecake, cookies, key lime pie, and sweetening beverages, like Vietnamese iced coffee. You can find coconut milk in any grocery store, but make sure that you like the coconut flavor it gives your dish.
See More: Coconut Milk Replacements
#6. Almond Milk + Sugar
Almond milk is another great sweetened condensed milk replacement, as it adds thickness and sweetness, but is low in calories and fat. You do need to condense it down as you would other milk.
To do that, use two cups of almond milk and simmer it over low-medium heat until it is reduced to around one cup. Add ⅔ of the sugar of your choice, and mix thoroughly.
Because almond milk is now extremely popular, you can buy it at any grocery or convenience store. Use this choice for making vegan Vietnamese iced coffee, cookies, pie, caramel, and cheesecake.
See More: How Long Does Almond Milk Last?
Yes, you can use regular milk in place of condensed milk. For better results, use whole milk and reduce it down to a cup. If you want unsweetened condensed milk, that’s all you need, but for sweetened, mix it with ⅔ cup of sugar, preferably one that melts easily.
As you can see in this list, many vegan choices can work in place of sweetened condensed milk. Some good options are coconut milk, cream of coconut, almond milk, or cashew milk. These are all denser substitutes, but even oat or soy milk will work in a pinch.
When you use sweetened condensed milk in baking, you are adding tenderness, moisture, and flavor to the recipe. Since it is thick and sweet, it can not only replace liquid and sweetener but will also add to the final look of the dish. Sweetened condensed milk caramelizes as well, so it is popular in some desserts.
Using sweetened condensed milk can solve a lot of problems in recipes, as it is a dense, delicious liquid. Yet, it also adds calories and fat, and it isn’t safe for those with a dairy intolerance. If that’s the case, you’ll want to try any of these 6 options that work for various dishes.
*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos