Is condensed milk the same as sweetened condensed milk?

I have a fudge recipe that calls for condensed milk and I can not find strictly condensed milk, only sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk.

  • 1
    Just as an addition, it is interesting to see how depending on the countries, this would be impossible. Countries with less use of sugar and more regulation on it have different names. Here in Spain, we only have "condensed milk" which everyone knows is VERY sweet, but you won't be able to find a name with "sweetened" even though they are the same!
    – M.K
    Dec 2, 2020 at 16:04

7 Answers 7


Just to add to Marti's answer: If the recipe was written in the US within the past 30-40 (maybe more) years, "condensed" almost certainly means sweetened condensed. Sweetened is just assumed if the milk is described as "condensed". At least in the US, unsweetened condensed milk is never called "condensed", it is called "evaporated".

To boost my confidence in this answer before I posted it, I searched Amazon for "Condensed Milk". In 22 pages of results, I was not able to find a SINGLE product described as "condensed milk" that was unsweetened. I did however find several that used "condensed milk" without the word sweetened in the name of the product page, but without fail, these ALL turned out to be sweetened.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

If the recipe is old or if its origins are outside of the US, I can't be absolutely positive what the author intended, but I have never seen "unsweetened condensed milk".


In my experience, "condensed" milk refers to the sweetened product, and "evaporated" milk refers to the unsweetened product. People will often say "sweetened condensed" for clarity, but this is not strictly necessary: if your recipe calls for condensed milk, use the syrupy stuff.

However, if this is an older recipe, all bets are off: older casual usage had "condensed" for both meanings. (Hence using the "sweetened condensed" phrasing, even though it's a bit of a tautology.)

  • Thanks Marti ... I made white maraschino fudge for the first time and it was the only fudge batch of 8 this season that did not turn out, thought maybe there was just condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk as to why it never hardened....well NOW I will blame it on the cherries (not drained enough) will try again but will drain cherries for a couple weeks first LOL Thanks again for your help!
    – Jennie B
    Jan 1, 2014 at 11:18

Technically no, it is not the same thing. Sweetened condensed milk has a very high sugar content, something like 40%, while just condensed milk has no sugar at all.

But this still doesn't tell us what the recipe author meant. The availability of different types of condensed and evaporated milks seem to differ a lot in different parts of the world. This being a fudge recipe, I can imagine that it is an American one, because fudge is not as common in other places. If unsweetened condensed milk is unusual in the States, I can also imagine that the recipe author was not aware of the difference and just shortened it to "condensed milk" without knowing that it has a difference in meaning.

Your best strategy is finding a different recipe, which uses a different dairy product. Not only will be there no doubt what the author meant, it will also be much easier for you to make it as it is, instead of having to mess around with substitutes. Candy recipes are generally sensitive when it comes to small differences in ingredients.

If you hang to your recipe very much, you can try looking online for non-sweetened condensed milk, it is possible that you will find products your brick and mortar stores don't carry.

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    Both products are common here; the unsweetened variety is actually somewhat harder to find sometimes, outside the holidays, but not that hard.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Dec 30, 2013 at 13:25
  • So what's the difference between unsweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk?
    – Marti
    Mar 19, 2014 at 23:07
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    If the recipe originates in the US (like you suggest, that's quite likely if the recipe is for fudge) and was written within the last 30-40 years, "condensed milk" almost certainly refers to "sweetened condensed milk". I wasn't able to find even a single example to the contrary in 22 pages of Amazon listings. I did find many examples of products listed only as "condensed milk" which are in fact sweetened.
    – Jolenealaska
    Aug 8, 2014 at 9:39

I've found when I run across the phrase "condensed milk" vs. the more specific "sweetened condensed milk," the recipe has its origins in the UK, such as in this recipe: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Banoffee-Pie-Classic. First, look for clues in the recipe: it's not likely 1/2 cup of brown sugar would create a sufficiently sweet toffee layer, although I'm sure that could be argued by people with a less sweet tooth than mine. Next, look up similar recipes. I looked up other banoffee pie recipes and each US based site referenced sweetened condensed milk. Finally, this UK site for the Carnation brand product seems to verify it is indeed what we (in the US) call sweetened condensed milk. Check this out: http://www.carnation.co.uk/recipes/8/Classic-Banoffee-Pie.

Hope that helps.


As a recipe developer / chef... 'Sweetened Condensed Milk' and 'Condensed Milk' are exactly the same product - just labeled differently by different manufacturers for different markets. Condensed milk is ALWAYS sweetened.

Here's the lowdown:

Evaporated Milk, is just that. Milk that has been evaporated with 60% of the water removed. This product has NO sugar added.

'Sweetened Condensed Milk' and 'Condensed Milk' take this evaporation process a step further and add up to 40% sugar by volume.

So to sum up:

  • 'Sweetened Condensed Milk' and 'Condensed Milk' are exactly the same product.

  • 'Sweetened Condensed Milk' and 'Condensed Milk' are both up to 40% sugar by volume.

  • Evaporated milk contains no added sugar.

Really hard to believe that the other answers here are so wrong...

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    ... if you are in the US, and even then only in most, but not all cases. As some the other answers and comments discussed in detail. We are looking forward to more contributions and appreciate your expertise (always good to have another pro on board), but please refrain from generally bashing other contributions. If the comunity agrees, you'll be upvoted, others downvoted. More on this in our help center, especially here. You might want to consider an edit of the last line...
    – Stephie
    Apr 3, 2016 at 18:49

From https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/condensed-milk:

John B. Meyenberg … achieved the first successful manufacture of unsweetened condensed milk. The name of this product was changed to evaporated milk for a clearer distinction from sweetened condensed milk, a situation that prevails today.

I have historical family recipes from my GGGM using the term Condensed milk with no sweeteners added.


No, the two products are different. As the names imply:

  • Condensed milk is strictly reduced milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk is reduced milk with considerable sugar added

See Can evaporated milk be converted to sweetened condensed? You can easily modify the condensed milk with additional sugar.

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    -1 (sorry) In all my years (many) of cooking, I have never seen an unsweetened milk product labeled as "condensed milk". Unsweetened condensed milk is called "evaporated milk", at least in the US. Referring to sweetened condensed milk just as "condensed" is not unusual. "Sweetened" is assumed.
    – Jolenealaska
    Aug 6, 2014 at 10:54

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