Learn how to make your own evaporated milk with just one ingredient and a few easy steps. This recipe is easy to make using any kind of traditional milk or vegan alternatives and comes together in about 30 minutes. It's a useful ingredient to use as a thickener and sweetener in baked goods, savory dishes and more!
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Evaporated milk is a staple ingredient in cultures across the globe and in many of my favorite Puerto Rican recipes.
Whether it's used as a creamy rich substitute for milk, like we do in this traditional flan recipe, or as a shelf stable milk alternative when canned properly, it's a delicious ingredient that has a lot to offer.
What is evaporated milk made of?
To make your own you will need just 1 simple ingredient:
- whole milk (or your favorite plant based milk)
See recipe card for quantities.
Evaporated milk vs sweetened condensed milk
Evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk are commonly mistaken for each other, and it's no surprise as the two have much in common.
Both are forms of concentrated milk (often canned to be shelf stable) used as thickeners in many recipes both sweet and savory. And although they share similarities, they aren't the same and will not yield the same results in recipes.
Sweetened condensed milk has added ingredients like sugar and heavy cream, whereas evaporated milk is usually made of only milk.
How to make it
Reduce milk. Add the whole milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer before reducing to low. From there you can simmer for about 30 minutes.
Tip: Make sure to mix the milk occasionally to prevent burning and/or clumping with any solids.
You will know the milk is done when it has reduced by about half. It should feel thicker if you mix it with a spoon and the color should have a a rich beige shade to it.
Straining the evaporated milk will remove any of the milk solids that form while reducing.
Because this recipe is so simple in ingredients and steps, the most important rule to remember is how much milk you will need to start with, versus how much evaporated milk will be yielded.
The ratio goes as follows: you will need to start with twice the amount of milk to make the appropriate amount of evaporated milk.
In other words:
- if you need 1 cup of evaporated milk, start with 2 cups of milk
- if you need 2 cups of evaporated milk, start with 4 cups of milk
- if you need 3 cups of evaporated milk, start with 6 cups of milk, and so on
Alternative Milks (Vegan Options)
While traditional evaporated milk recipes use whole milk, there are a few alternatives I have experimented that reduce well.
Here are some ideas
- Oat milk - while you can actually find evaporated oat milk at the store, it's an easy and neutral plant based alternative that can be made with the same ratio and instructions
- Coconut milk - you can also use coconut milk to create an easy plant based evaporated milk (also available at many grocery stores). If you aren't into the flavor of coconut, try using any of your favorite plant based milks.
- Reduced fat - if you don't have any whole milk on hand or prefer 2%, feel free to use that instead. The consistency won't be as thick or sweet, but it will still work.
Where to Use Evaporated Milk
This reduced milk is an amazing substitute for traditional milk that can be used in a variety of ways.
To make this recipe you will need a good quality saucepan to reduce the milk and a mesh strainer to remove any solids from the milk before storing and using.
Unlike canned evaporated milk, this homemade version must be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It will only keep for up to 5 days, so make sure to use soon after making it.
This recipe doesn't stand up well to freezing.