Need a dairy free alternative to regular sweetened condensed milk? This easy and quick vegan recipe only requires 2 ingredients. It can be made using any plant based milk; almond, soy, coconut – whatever you have on hand!
- Why Make Your Own Sweetened Condensed Milk?
- Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Key Ingredients
- How to make Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Which milk works best?
- Expert Tips for the Perfect Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Storage Instructions
- Recipes that use sweetened condensed milk
- Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk (2 ingredients)
Why Make Your Own Sweetened Condensed Milk?
There are so many classic treats that require sweetened condensed milk and there really is no other substitute ingredient! I’m personally lucky to live in Australia where you can buy coconut condensed milk at the supermarket, however in many parts of the world there aren’t such convenient options available, or they might be very expensive. Plus, sometimes you might not want to use coconut based sweetened condensed milk, as it does impart a pretty strong coconut flavour. It’s handy to be able to make your own quickly and easily with your milk of choice. I’ve tried this out with oat, soy and almond milk successfully but in theory it should work with other types of plant-based milk too. I think rice milk would also be very nice and mildly flavoured if you’re looking for an allergen free option.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Versatile – you can use any plant based milk you like
- Affordable – you only need two basic ingredients
- Quick & easy – one pot and ready in 30 minutes
- Lots of ways to use it – coffee, bars and slices, fudge, icing, sundae toppings – so many possibilities as a sweet treat
A detailed recipe with specific quantities is listed at the bottom of this post, but here is an overview of the ingredients you’ll need:
- Plant-based milk (e.g., soy, oat, almond)
It really is that simple! Some recipes online call for thickeners like cornstarch, but by simply simmering the mixture for longer and allowing it to thicken naturally, we can use just sugar and milk.
How to make Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk
There’s a detailed recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here is a high level step-by-step overview with images. Making sweetened condensed milk is so simple:
- Combine sugar and milk in a large saucepan
2. Whisk and bring to the boil
3. Simmer until reduced by half. That’s it!
Hint: whisk occasionally to prevent burning, and keep a close eye on your condensed milk. After boiling, simmer gently for 25-30 minutes until the volume is reduced by roughly half. It will look more caramelised, but still thin enough to pour. Don’t wait until it is noticeably thick, as this is too late and it will firm up so much it becomes toffee.
Which milk works best?
That depends on your personal requirements and preference when it comes flavour and consistency. I have tried this successfully with four different types of milk (pictured in image below):
- Canned coconu milk
- Oat milk
- Almond milk
My preference is soy, as it is typically creamy and thicker than nut milks, and it is more neutral in taste than coconut. Oat and nut milks will generally have a thinner consistency and will have a more yellow/less creamy appearance. Canned coconut milk will have the creamiest and thickest consistency, but it does have a distinctive flavour. I would not recommend using coconut milk from a carton though as it is too watery.
As a guide, I would say try the milk that you like best for regular consumption and see how it turns out. You might like it on the first go, or you may need to experiment with another milk that you wouldn’t normally use for everyday consumption. The good thing is that this recipe doesn’t take much effort, and is inexpensive, so why not try a few variations until you find your perfect option 🙂
Expert Tips for the Perfect Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Use a Large Saucepan: When combining the milk and sugar, it’s crucial to use a large saucepan. As the mixture heats up, it tends to froth and expand significantly, increasing the risk of overflow. A larger saucepan prevents any messy accidents.
- Don’t overdo it: Be careful not to overcook, and determine when to turn off the heat based on volume of liquid. We are aiming for the volume to reduce by 50%. It should still look runny when you turn off the heat and will thicken as it cools. If you continue to reduce the milk waiting for the consistency to thicken, you’ll find that by the time it cools it will be like a chewy toffee or thick caramel sauce.
- Use a skewer to measure the volume: Now, you can determine the volume visually, but to make it easy dip a skewer into the saucepan at the start. Mark the height of the liquid on the skewer. Dip this back into the saucepan while you’re reducing the volume to check if it’s done.
- Storage and Temperature Considerations: After preparing your vegan sweetened condensed milk, store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator. When refrigerated, the condensed milk will become extra firm. If you plan to use it in baked goods, remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours. This will make it easier to mix into your recipes.
No, sweetened condensed milk and eggs have different properties in baking. Although sweetened condensed milk *can* help bind things together (as it is very sticky) it is not a like-for-like replacement for eggs. The major differences are that sweetened condensed milk is very sugary and does not contribute to leavening. A flax egg would be a better vegan substitute for an egg than sweetened condensed milk.
Sweetened condensed milk is a versatile ingredient or topping. I love to add it to coffee, tea or drizzle it over waffles, pancakes or heat it up as a sundae sauce for icecream. Some popular recipes include fudge, dulce de leche, tres leches cake, key lime pie, rum balls, lemon slice and coconut macaroons.
Store your sweetened condensed in a clean, airtight glass jar in the fridge. The high sugar content acts as a natural preservative, so it should keep for 7-10 days, possibly more. Note that the milk will firm up significantly in the fridge, so you may need to let it sit at room temperature to soften before mixing it into baking recipes.
Recipes that use sweetened condensed milk
Here are some recipes I’ve found online (not all are my own) that look delicious and would be a great way to use your homemade sweetened condensed milk 🙂
I hope you love this easy pantry staple recipe. It’s especially handy if you have allergies or intolerances to coconut or soy, as it’s fully customisable by using your milk of preference. Let me know how you go in the comments section below, I’d love to hear what milks you use and what you use sweet treats you then use it for!
Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk (2 ingredients)
- 3 cups plant based milk e.g. soy, oat, almond
- 1 cup sugar
- Whisk together milk and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. It's important to use a large saucepan as the milk will froth up A LOT and can easily overflow.
- Continue to whisk and bring to a low simmer.
- Continue to simmer, whisking gently every so often so it doesn't burn, for about 25-30 minutes or until milk has reduced by half and the colour has caramelised slightly. The consistency should be thicker and sticky, but still pourable.
- Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.