Did you know Borden’s Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk has been around since 1856? Yes, it took over 150 years to create the perfect vegan copycat, but here it is. This dairy-free sweetened condensed milk is perfectly thick, rich, and sweet, just like the classic. It begs to be used in dairy-free magic bars, Thai iced tea, two-ingredient fudge, macaroons, lemon cream pie (with coconut whip!), and many other delicious desserts.
This is the Best Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk. Here’s Why
I have made many versions of dairy-free sweetened condensed milk over the years. In fact, I have three favorite recipes for it (including this one) in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. But this has become my go-to recipe for all of the following reasons.
- It’s Just Like Eagle Brand! I actually had a dairy consumer taste test this recipe side by side with Borden’s classic, as I made tweaks. He said this final version was spot on. Since I use lite coconut milk (less coconut meat), a complementary milk beverage, and a touch of vanilla, the flavor isn’t overtly coconut, like other recipes can be.
- It’s Lower Sugar! Despite being just as sweet, this vegan sweetened condensed milk recipe has less than half the sugar of traditional sweetened condensed milk. Two tablespoons of most brands contains 22 grams of sugar, but this recipe has less than 10 grams.
- It’s Low Fat (as it should be)! Sweetened condensed milk isn’t very high in fat. It contains 3 grams per 2 tablespoons. Many vegan recipes and brands use 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk, which works (I do this myself sometimes!), but makes it much higher in fat, and richer than needed for most recipes. This recipe contains about 3 grams of fat per serving, just like Eagle brand.
- It’s Cheap! This recipe costs about $2 to make, and you get the equivalent of a FULL 14-ounce can. Store-bought brands of dairy-free sweetened condensed milk cost $3.50 to $5 and contain just 7 to 11 ounces. Many online recipes require two full cans of full-fat coconut milk to make a full can equivalent, which makes it the same cost as store-bought versions.
- It’s Creamy! When you cook down lite coconut milk with sugar, it can become opaque. I cook down most of the liquid, then whisk in milk beverage at the end, which gives it a perfectly creamy finish. But make sure you use a good quality lite coconut milk. I have tried some lesser quality brands, like 365, which did not produce a thick condensed milk. If concerned about quality, use a can of regular, full-fat coconut milk instead. Just one can only adds a little fat per serving.
Lite Coconut Milk Note
I used Thai Kitchen and Native Forest lite canned coconut milk in testing. But I’m excited about the Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk Cartons I just spotted. I haven’t tested with this one yet, but it has just two ingredients (coconut milk and water), and is resealable. I think it should work well, and it looks like a great option if you want to avoid all additives. In a pinch, you can dilute a full-fat canned coconut milk with one part water, one part coconut milk to make a slightly rich lite coconut milk alternative.
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, optionally nut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 (14-ounce) can lite canned coconut milk (like Thai Kitchen or Native Forest)
- ½ cup cane sugar (see Sweetener Note below)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Generous pinch salt
- ½ cup unsweetened plain dairy-free milk beverage (preferably one that is quite rich)
- Pour the coconut milk into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until the mixture reduces to ¾ cup. It It will be very thick and a bit “gloppy.”
- Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and salt. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- Vigorously whisk in the milk beverage until very smooth. Let cool.
- Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 1 week. It will thicken a bit as it chills.
Richer Version: If you want a richer version that's sets up firmer when chilled, you can substitute full-fat canned coconut milk for the lite coconut milk. That will add about 2 to 2.5 grams of fat and around 20 calories per 2 tablespoon serving.
An you turn this condensed milk into dulce de Leche like dairy condensed milk?
I haven’t tried it, but have read that it works. I would use the full fat coconut milk if testing that.
So I messed up, my mom was trying to make it and I forgot to send her the instructions she added it all in at once. Will that still work? Or do I need to tell her to start over?
Technically, it works, but it won’t look as creamy, and you will get a reduced quantity. It’s an easy fix though. I would just add more milk beverage at the end again, as needed, to get the full quantity.
I’m looking for a recipe without coconut milk because I can’t eat it either. Probably hurts me more than dairy.
Do you think it would be possible to make it work homemade cashew milk?
Hi Michaelle, this is the recipe I recommend most if you need to skip coconut -> https://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/instant-dairy-free-sweetened-condensed-milk
This recipe is about the same ratio as the one above, but using another milk alternative of choice -> https://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/milk-subs/sweetened-condensed-milk-i
That said, it may be more syrup-like than thick, depending on the milk beverage you use. Many brands don’t have many “solids” to keep the milk thick and structured. But it usually works in a pinch! I’m hoping to have time to test more brands and other options in the near future.
Just wondering if you are vegan or lactose intolerant? For me it’s the intolerance to dairy and I have found some magnificent ways around it, if this is your issue.
I love Alisa Fleming’s recipes and a lot of them work for me too. Good luck with your endeavors.
This was wonderful! I had to cook it more like 40 minutes, and then I added a little cornstarch/water mix to thicken it a bit. I was afraid it would add a strong coconut flavor to the cookies I was making (it smelled stronger), but it didn’t. I’m delighted! Thank you so much.
That’s great! Glad it worked so well for you Renae!
Since this is dairy free, is it safe to assume it’s freezer safe? I’d hate to do the work to create this, then ruin it by freezing. Of course, being dairy free, I might use it more often!
Thank you in advance for your response.
I haven’t tried freezing it, since I typically use all of it up in a recipe! It will keep for at least a few days in the refrigerator, and might freeze okay.
How long/how many days would this last in the fridge? Looking forward to making this in the upcoming days!
When testing, it has kept for a week for me without a problem, but they say sweetened condensed milk lasts 4 to 6 days in the refrigerator. So I would say at least 4 days.
I’ve tried several recipes for df condensed milk and this is definitely the best one! Works great in recipes.
Hi Alisa I love your recipe I’m a vegan and love sweets but I’m also allergic to coconuts so can I use soy milk please say yes thanks. I’ll be waiting for your reply bye have a nice day.
It won’t work as well with soymilk, but you can use this recipe instead -> https://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/instant-dairy-free-sweetened-condensed-milk
I just made this and the flavor is great! Although it doesn’t have the light yellow color like your picture, is there a reason for that? Mine is just white.
Mine is just off-white. It looks a little yellower from the color saturation of the photo. It gets a little off-white from the cooking process and the vanilla. Glad you enjoyed it!
Would whole cream (which I can process, for some reason) for the somewhat thick unsweetened non milk beverage work? It’s condensed milk I can’t process. Thanks.
I believe that would work.
By ‘unsweetened plain dairy-free milk beverage’ do you mean a generic non dairy alternative to milk, like, soy milk or oat milk?
Preferably one that is quite rich, like coconut milk beverage, soy milk beverage, or another higher fat or creamier milk beverage. Many oat milks are quite watery. If you opt to use oat milk, I would use full-fat coconut milk for the canned version.
I can’t wait to try this recipe. I wonder, can you freeze this? If so, for how long before the quality changes?
I haven’t tried freezing this recipe. In theory, I think it would work, but I can’t verify with experience.