What Is Evaporated Milk?

A Guide to Buying, Using, and Storing Evaporated Milk

Evaporated Milk


Contrary to the name, evaporated milk is a canned liquid and not a powder. The milk product is extremely shelf-stable and, in many cases, can be used in place of regular milk or cream. Some recipes specifically call for evaporated milk.

Fast Facts

  • Evaporated milk is a slightly darker color than fresh milk.
  • Shelf life: 15 months
  • It's used around the world and popular in coffee beverages.

What Is Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk is a milk product, usually sold in cans, that is made by removing about 60 percent of the water from ordinary milk. Evaporated milk can be made from whole milk or skim milk. In either case, the milk is homogenized and then the water is removed with gentle heat. The product is sealed in cans which are then heated to kill any bacteria in the milk.

Powdered Milk vs. Evaporated Milk

Powdered milk (also known as dry milk) is a powder. It's a dairy product that has had the liquid removed. Evaporated milk is canned cow's milk and a liquid. It is sometimes called unsweetened condensed milk. Evaporated milk is not the same thing as condensed milk. Condensed milk is also reduced by 60 percent, but it is heavily sweetened, making it thick and syrupy. It is typically used in baking and desserts as well as Thai and Vietnamese coffee and tea. The two canned milks cannot be used interchangeably, so make sure you carefully read the label when purchasing.

Evaporated Milk Uses

Evaporated milk can be used in its true form directly from the can or it can be diluted to resemble fresh milk. Because it has such a long shelf life, it's a good option in places where fresh milk is scarce, refrigeration isn't available, or as a back-up when you simply can't make it out to the store to buy milk.

How to Cook With Evaporated Milk

Undiluted evaporated milk is frequently used in coffee and tea in a variety of countries. It adds more creaminess than fresh milk with less fat than cream. It is also called for in some dessert recipes and can frequently be used in place of half-and-half. Diluted evaporated milk can be used just like milk for cooking, baking, and even pouring over cereal or into drinks.

What Does It Taste Like?

Evaporated milk tastes like milk but with a thicker, less watery consistency. The process of heating the evaporated milk in the cans imparts a slightly sweet flavor to the milk and it's just a bit darker in color than ordinary milk. It has a similar viscosity to half-and-half.

Evaporated Milk Substitute

An easy swap for evaporated milk is fresh milk and half-and-half. To replace 1 cup of evaporated milk, use 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup of half-and-half. Another option is to make your own evaporated milk. Heat 2 1/4 cups of regular milk and gently boil it down until it reduces to 1 cup.

Evaporated Milk Recipes

Evaporated milk can be used much like half-and-half, adding creaminess to coffee, pies, cakes, gravies, soups, and dressings. It's often called for in classic pumpkin pie and fudge recipes.

Where to Buy Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk can be found at major supermarkets in the baking aisle. You'll find it near the sweetened condensed milk and powdered milk. Read the label carefully to make sure you're buying evaporated milk.


Canned evaporated milk can be stored for at least a year, although you should always check the use-by date printed on the can. Don't use any cans that are rusted, dented, or bulging. Once you open the can, pour out any leftover evaporated milk into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Use within five days.