So I love cooked sweetened condensed milk (caramel, dulce de leche, all that). It's really simple to make - just cook the stuff for a while - and it tastes awesome. That said, I could really stand it being a little less sweet (not a carb thing, just a taste thing). So I was wondering - can I use evaporated milk to make something similar? And if not, is there a way to make cooked condensed milk with a bit less sugar?

  • Very related (Cajita is dulce de leche made with goat's milk), so the answer is yes, it can be done: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/46129/… The amount of sugar you add is up to you, it will take some experimentation to find the amount that is perfect for you. Too little, and you may see not enough caramelization.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 22:49

3 Answers 3


Milk contains lactose naturally, so there will always be a minimum amount of sugar that any condensed milk will contain.

Having said the above, the recipe for making lowest-possible-sugar condensed milk, is evaporated milk (which still contains all of the lactose), so that's still sweet as well, but not overpoweringly so like condensed milk.

If evaporated milk is not sweet enough to your taste, keep adding vanilla sugar to it while heating gently and tasting frequently till it reaches the exact taste you want!

Actually, condensed milk and evaporated milk are synonyms semantically. What you're really talking about is "condensed sweetened milk" ;-)

  • In the US, sweetened is implied if you use the word "condensed". So condensed milk is always "sweetened condensed milk" here.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 22:54
  • 1
    @Jolenealaska: as Misha didn't specify a country in its profile, I prefer to give a global answer and don't assume he/she/it's from the US. ;-) Condensed milk is thick and syrupy and evaporated milk is thick like light cream anywhere you go! >:)
    – Fabby
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 12:43
  • 1
    I made no such assumptions (as a matter of fact I've seen that English is not Fabby's first language), but I wanted to point out that for some, "condensed" does necessarily mean sweetened.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 18:43

Condensed milk can have up to 40% more sugar in it than regular evaporated milk. I just made this recipe--an hour ago--using condensed milk (it was all I had). Then I cut out one cup of white sugar. It looks fine now that I'm done, but it took a long time to cook and the flavor is a little bland. I think it needed more sugar in it to properly carmelize. While the condensed milk was sweetened with some kind of sugar, it wasn't the right kind. I need to learn a lot more about the science and chemistry of sugar.


I prefer caramel made with evaporated milk as opposed to condensed:

1 stick butter

1 cup sugar (use less sugar if you don't want it as sweet)

1 can evaporated milk

pinch salt

Put this on a shortbread base and top with chocolate chips for the best millionaires shortbread squares.

Just don't ever boil a can of condensed milk as the BPA lining of the can will leach into the caramel.

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