We reveal all the ways evaporated milk and condensed milk differ, as well as delicious recipes you can make with each one.

By Kelly Vaughan
December 03, 2018

It's a question you may have debated if you bake often: What's the difference between evaporated milk vs. condensed milk? You may even have both sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in your pantry, without knowing exactly how they are different, as well as all the things you can do with two different versions of canned milk. Regardless of your milk mastery, we’re here to clear up all of your simmering questions. 

Evaporated Milk vs Condensed Milk

Evaporated milk is an unsweetened milk that has been preserved in cans. It was invented when refrigerators were a luxury and families had to find a way to preserve the calcium-loaded beverage for their children. To make evaporated milk, fresh milk is slowly simmered over low heat until approximately 60% of the (naturally occurring) water is removed. Evaporated milk becomes a creamier, thicker milk once the water has, well, evaporated. It is then homogenized, sterilized, and packaged for commercial sale.  

The unsweetened nature of evaporated milk makes it versatile for both savory dishes like Decadent Mac and Cheese or sweeter recipes like our Sweet Potato Pie

Sweetened condensed milk starts with the same process as evaporated milk— regular milk is boiled down to about half the amount to create a decadent, creamy product. However, a generous amount of sugar is added to the evaporated milk to sweeten it, which turns it into condensed milk.

Condensed milk is most commonly used in some of our favorite desserts like turtle bars, mocha latte fudge, and easy key lime pie. It's also the ooey-gooey drizzle on seven-layer magic bars, and the single ingredient used to make Dulce de Leche, which is simply caramelized condensed milk. Condensed milk is so beloved by bakers that dairy-free alternatives, like condensed coconut milk, now exist too.

While we don’t recommend substituting one for the other, you can DIY condensed milk when you’re in a pinch. Simply heat together 1½ cups of sugar and one can of evaporated milk until the sugar has fully dissolved.

Both evaporated milk and condensed milk typically have a shelf life of at least one year. After opening cans of evaporated and condensed milk, keep them refrigerated and use within five days. One dish that requires both evaporated milk and condensed milk? Our “Impossible Cake” aka chocoflan or a classic Tres Leches cake.