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.
- 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.