Condensed Milk Vs Evaporated Milk: Knowing the Difference

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As a home baker, I always keep a can or two of evaporated milk and condensed milk in my pantry. If you’ve ever wanted to know the difference between the two and when you can substitute one for the other, you’ve come to the right place!

As a whole, the primary difference between condensed milk and evaporated milk is sugar. Condensed milk will have a considerable amount of sugar added to it, while evaporated milk does not have any added sugar. Condensed milk is much richer and somewhat thicker than evaporated milk.

Here I’ll explain the differences between the two, as well as a few other tips to remember when using them in your home recipes.

What Is The Difference Between Condensed Milk And Evaporated Milk?

Condensed MilkEvaporated Milk
Added sugarNo added sugars
Darker in colorLighter in color
Provides a dense creaminessAdds lighter texture to baked goods

Upon first glance, evaporated milk and condensed milk look quite similar. Just judging from the can you’d expect that they’d be interchangeable.

However, once you open them up and compare them side-by-side, you’ll notice right away that there are some very obvious differences.

First of all, evaporated milk will seem lighter in color. Evaporated milk is typically white, however, slightly darker than regular milk.

This is likely due to the fact that most of the water has been removed during processing.

Condensed milk is darker, often appearing more yellow or even slightly beige. While condensed milk has the same amount of water removed during processing, sugar is added in order to give it a sweet, creamy taste. This sugar will cause the milk to darken slightly, giving it that characteristic hue.

Condensed Milk Is Darker In Color
Condensed Milk Is Darker In Color!
Evaporated Milk Is Lighter In Color
Evaporated Milk Is Lighter In Color!

*By the way, the Double Boiler works great when you’re trying to melt something like chocolate while heating up other ingredients. I recently wrote an article that gives a breakdown of the 3 Best Double Boilers that people use in each stage of their baking journey.

After reviewing these double boilers, the Best Overall Double Boiler was the Stainless Series 2-Quart Covered Double Boiler which worked great for the dessert needs in my kitchen. You can check out this Double Boiler on Amazon!

You can place a can of condensed milk inside a double boiler to make it into caramel over time. Boiling a can of condensed milk caramelizes the sugar which turns it into caramel.

What Is Condensed Milk?

Generally speaking, condensed milk is a concentrated form of milk. With most varieties, about half of the milk’s original water content has been removed through the means of evaporation. It is used in order to add sweetness and creaminess to baking dishes, drinks, desserts, and beverages.

Condensed milk is milk that has had about forty to fifty percent of the water content removed during an evaporation process. During this process, sugar is also added, giving it a sweet, creamy mouthfeel.

Condensed milk is usually a yellow or slightly beige color due to the added sugar.

I love to use condensed milk as a sweetener for coffee and tea, as well as for baked goods like fudge and even ice cream.

Another great way to use condensed milk is to drizzle a bit on a bowl of fresh fruit like strawberries and bananas.

Although condensed milk typically has a long shelf life, it will still eventually go bad. If you open a can of condensed milk that’s been sitting in the pantry for a while and it’s very dark yellow or brownish in hue, you should just toss it in the trash and grab a different can!

*Side Note: You might also want to know How To Turn Condensed Milk Into Caramel. I recently wrote an article about A Complete How-to Guide to Turning Condescend Milk Into Caramel, which you can check out here!

What Is Evaporated Milk?

As a whole, evaporated milk is a form of concentrated milk that has had about half of its water content removed. It’s a great way to incorporate a creamy texture without the fat content. Evaporated milk has an unsweetened, nutty flavor and is used for baking, soups, and certain types of desserts.

Evaporated milk is basically concentrated milk in a can that’s had about half of its water content extracted from it during an evaporation process. Evaporated milk is usually used as a soup base, and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

Evaporated milk tastes nutty and contains no added sugar, therefore it lacks the sweetness that condensed milk is known for.

Evaporated milk is much lighter in color than condensed milk. Because sugar is not added during processing, it retains more of that milky white hue that milk is known for.

The consistency is very similar to that of condensed milk, however, you may notice that condensed milk is slightly creamer due to the added sugar.

Overall, evaporated milk is quite handy in the kitchen, as it can be used in many different recipes due to its lack of sugar. Sugar can usually be added to it in order to use in a dessert recipe.

It’s also great for adding a bit of nuttiness to soups and other dishes.

*By the way, I recently wrote an article about How To Microwave Condensed Milk To Make Caramel. This article tells you everything you need to know when making caramel out of condensed milk inside a microwave. You can check out this article here!

Can I Use Evaporated Milk Instead Of Condensed Milk?

In some cases, evaporated milk can be used instead of condensed milk, however, it will lack its characteristic sweetness. When making fudge, evaporated milk cannot be used in place of condensed milk without first making some minor adjustments. It lacks the sugar content and texture used for fudge.

This is probably one of the most common questions I’ve come across over the years. Evaporated milk and condensed milk are so similar in appearance and texture that they must always be interchangeable, right?

Actually, this is not always the case, and I’ve found that it really does depend on the individual recipe.

For example, fudge gets its characteristic sweetness and texture from using condensed milk. It’s the added sugar that really amps up the flavor and gives it that creamy, decadent mouth feel that we all know and love!

However, if you were to use evaporated milk when making fudge, you’ll notice that it has a similar texture, yet lacks the sweetness.

Evaporated Milk Needs Added Sugars
Evaporated Milk Needs Added Sugars!

If you need to make a batch of fudge and all you have on hand is a can of evaporated milk, you’ll need to make a few adjustments before adding it to your recipe.

First, empty the can of evaporated milk into a deep saucepan and add about a cup and a half of sugar. This will give your evaporated milk the sweet flavor that it lacks.

Next, turn your stovetop on medium heat, stirring slowly until it starts to simmer. Heating your mixture will allow the sugar to dissolve and mix into the evaporated milk.

Allow it to simmer for about ten minutes or until it starts to thicken, then remove from the heat and allow it to cool down.

Once you’ve let your mixture cool, it should look and taste very similar to sweetened condensed milk.

Then, follow your recipe as usual. This trick will help you in a pinch if you find yourself without a can of condensed milk when making fudge or any other dessert dish that calls for it!

*Side Note: I recently wrote an article about How to Boil A Can of Condensed Milk The Right Way. This article gives you a step-by-step outline for boiling a can correctly. You can check out this article here!

Can I Use Condensed Milk Instead Of Evaporated Milk?

Depending on the recipe, condensed milk can sometimes be used in place of evaporated milk. Condensed milk is much sweeter than evaporated milk though, and this must be taken into consideration depending on the recipe. It’s a better substitute when working with desserts but not savory dishes.

Condensed milk is much sweeter than evaporated milk. While you can add sugar to evaporated milk and turn it into a condensed milk substitute, you can’t really remove the sugar from condensed milk to make it suitable for savory dishes.

So, if you’re looking to create a savory soup but you don’t have evaporated milk on hand, condensed milk isn’t a great substitute, as it will give the soup a sweet flavor that may not mesh well with the other flavors.

I’ve found that if I need a can of evaporated milk for a recipe, half-and-half can make a wonderful substitute, as it is also quite creamy and thick and usually contains little to no added sugar.

*By the way, I recently wrote an in-depth article about How To Safely Boil a Can of Condensed Milk. This article talks about what you’ll need to do to make sure that the can of condensed milk doesn’t explode when boiling it. You can check out this article here!

How Do I Convert Evaporated Milk To Condensed Milk?

As a general rule, evaporated milk can be converted to condensed milk by adding one and a half cups of sugar to a twelve-ounce can of evaporated milk. Gently bring the combination to a boil in a saucepan to thicken the mixture. This will add the needed sweetness associated with condensed milk.

Converting evaporated milk to condensed milk is easy!

Add Sugar To Evaporated Milk
Boil To Melt The Sugar Into The Evaporated Milk!

To do this, I prefer using a thermometer. I recently came across a Candy Thermometer with a Hanging Hook that works perfectly for this! I use this thermometer for pretty much anything I make in the kitchen that requires knowing the temperature. You can check out this thermometer on Amazon!

Condensed milk is basically evaporated milk with added sugar. Simply pour your can of evaporated milk into a saucepan. Make sure your pan is deep enough to not bubble over during the simmering process!

If you are using one twelve-ounce can of evaporated milk, add one and a half cups of sugar and allow your mixture to come to a boil.

Let it simmer for ten minutes as you stir it. Then, take it off the burner and allow it to cool. You can then use this mixture in place of condensed milk in your recipe!

Which Is Healthier Condensed Milk Or Evaporated Milk?

As a whole, it is based on sugar content which means evaporated milk is healthier than condensed milk. Condensed milk contains 140 calories per two tablespoons, while evaporated milk contains forty calories per two tablespoons. The lack of added sugars in evaporated milk is what makes it healthier.

When looking at nutritional value, evaporated milk is actually healthier than condensed milk. While condensed milk is delicious, the amount of sugar on it is much higher.

Evaporated milk contains calcium and protein, which are great for bone density and growth.

Evaporated milk also contains vitamins A and D, which both help the body absorb calcium. While condensed milk also contains a good amount of nutrients, it’s much higher in calories.

Condensed milk and evaporated milk are both very important to have on hand while baking, but it’s important to know the difference between the two.

By knowing how and when to use them you’ll become more efficient in the kitchen, which will enable you to create more delicious treats to share with your friends and family!

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My name is Fainna! I've been baking desserts ever since I was 10 years old with my grandma passing her baking wisdom down to me with every passing day. I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful here at my little Baking Nook!

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