DIY Evaporated Milk: You'll Never Go Back to Cans

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You may never have thought of making your own evaporated milk, but once you do it, you'll realize it's totally the way to go for this humble, yet important, ingredient.

Evaporated milk packed in cans may have a tinny aftertaste, which can give your baked goods a metallic edge. Homemade evaporated milk, on the other hand, is mellow, sweet and slightly caramel-like. You'll want to use it in all your recipes, or even (go for it) your morning coffee.

This DIY takes almost zero effort: Hang out in your kitchen with a book, stirring the milk now and then while it slowly steams on the stove. In about an hour you'll have evaporated milk that blows away the store-bought kind.

But First, What Exactly Is It?

Evaporated milk is milk that has about 60 percent of its water removed. Sometimes called unsweetened condensed milk, it's similar to to the sweetened condensed milk you see in stores, but is nowhere near as thick or sweet. While sweetened condensed milk has added sugar, evaporated milk gets its light sweetness just from the natural sugars in milk.

How To Make Evaporated Milk at Home

Yield: Makes 12 ounces of evaporated milk (the equivalent of one can)

What You Need 

  • 30 ounces milk 
  • Medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan
  • Rubber spatula
  • Whisk
  • Heatproof liquid measuring cup 

1. Pour the milk into the saucepan.

2. Set the milk over medium heat and, whisking  frequently, bring to a simmer.

3. Once the milk reaches a simmer (don't let it boil over or you'll have a big mess!), reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring frequently, let the mixture simmer for 25 minutes.

I like to use a combination of a whisk and a rubber spatula for stirring the milk. Scraping the bottom of the pan every now and again with the spatula can discourage milk from hardening there, while whisking helps prevent a "skin" from forming on top. 

4. After the first 25 minutes of simmering, start monitoring the liquid's volume. You want to keep reducing the milk until you've got around 12 ounces, which can take anywhere from 20 to 40 more minutes, depending on your heat.

5. Strain the milk into a heatproof container to remove any solid bits that have formed at the bottom of the pan. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and store in the refrigerator. (Unlike canned evaporated milk, the homemade kind is not shelf-stable.) Use until the expiration date listed on the milk carton.

Substituting Different Kinds of Milk

This recipe is for whole milk. While you can substitute 1 or 2 percent milk, we recommend avoiding skim. (We haven't tried using nut milks or rice milk, but that might be a fun experiment!)

Tinkering with Yield

This recipe makes 12 ounces of evaporated milk, but you can adjust it to produce more or less. Basically, you want to reduce the liquid by 60 percent of whatever your starting amount is. So to end up with 8 ounces of evaporated milk, say, you'd want to begin with 20 ounces (about 2.5 cups).

Adding Flavors

Slowly simmering milk with vanilla or almond extract can create a whole new world of flavor. Try it, DIY-er!

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DIY Evaporated Milk: You'll Never Go Back to Cans