Sweetened condensed milk is a staple of so many traditional baking recipes. This can be a bit of a problem if you’re following a vegan or plant-based lifestyle.
But before you throw out your grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe, know that there is hope.
While commercial vegan condensed milk alternatives are hard to find, it’s easy enough to make a vegan substitute for sweetened condensed milk right at home.
We tested a number of recommended substitutes and found three that worked amazingly well in a wide variety of recipes. We even created our own unique recipe that we think is worth a try, as well.
Is Condensed Milk Vegan?
No, condensed milk is not vegan. Condensed milk is made by taking whole milk and exposing it to heat in order to remove 60% of the water. Sugar is then added to the thickened product to make sweetened condensed milk.
So aside from the sugar, this product comes entirely from cows. Luckily, for those of us following a vegan diet, there are some easy-to-make vegan alternatives to this classic baking ingredient.
The Best Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitutions
Whether you are in a hurry or short on ingredients, these sweetened condensed milk vegan alternatives are here to save the day.
1. Full Fat Coconut Milk
The best substitute for sweetened condensed milk is full fat coconut milk with a sweetener. With only two ingredients, it’s one of the simplest recipes we tried and makes a very convincing condensed milk alternative. This recipe has a bit of a coconutty flavor, but this is not overly noticeable when used in most baked good recipes.
When used in more straightforward applications, such as for frostings or as a coffee additive, the taste is much more apparent, but not at all off-putting.
For this recipe, all you’ll need is:
- 1 can of full-fat coconut milk
- ⅓ c maple syrup, sugar, or coconut sugar
How to make full-fat coconut milk vegan sweetened condensed milk:
- Add the coconut milk and maple syrup (or sugar) to a small pot.
2. Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes. The liquid should reduce by about half and turn from white to beige-ish (it will be darker if you use coconut sugar or maple syrup).
It’s important to whisk the liquid frequently, about every five minutes. This will prevent the mixture from bubbling over.
3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Once set, this sweetened condensed milk will keep in the fridge for about 10 days.
This recipe yields about ¾ cup of product. View the printable recipe card for this version below.
2. Soy Milk Powder
This version of vegan sweetened condensed milk requires a few more ingredients but takes a fraction of the time to prepare.
It also has more of a traditional condensed milk taste to it. But it does require soy milk powder, which can be a bit tough to find and is not suitable for those with soy allergies. (If this is the case, you can replace the soy powder with rice milk powder and get similar results.)
For this recipe you’ll need:
- 1 ¼ c soy milk powder
- ¾ c white sugar
- ½ c hot water
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- ¼ tsp salt
How to make soy milk powder vegan sweetened condensed milk:
- In a blender, mix the soy powder and sugar.
- In a bowl, mix the hot water, coconut oil, and salt.
- Add the liquid mix into the blender.
- Blend for about 1 minute until well combined.
- Pour into a container immediately and allow to cool.
Once cooled, this mixture will thicken to the perfect consistency to use in any recipe you would use dairy-based sweetened condensed milk.
This recipe yields about 1 ½ cups.
3. Nut Milk and Cashews
If you are looking for a healthier take on sweetened condensed milk, you’ll love this vegan alternative. Not only is it made using better-for-you ingredients, but it utilizes natural sweeteners rather than processed sugar.
The taste of this recipe is similar to the real thing but with earthier undertones. But if you are used to naturally sweetened baked goods, you probably won’t even notice.
For those with coconut allergies, this recipe is perfect. It does not utilize coconut milk or oil.
For this recipe you’ll need:
- 1 cup cashews
- About ½ cup almond or other nut milk
- ½ c maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅛ c sea salt
How to make nut milk and cashew vegan sweetened condensed milk:
- Add all ingredients to a blender. (NOTE: If not using a high-speed blender, then you should soak the cashews overnight first.)
- Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a pot and simmer over medium-low for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Adjust the thickness by adding more milk or syrup as needed.
- Allow to cool.
This recipe makes about 1 ½ cups. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for months.
Condensed Milk vs Evaporated Milk
If you do a lot of baking, you’ve probably noticed that some recipes call for sweetened condensed milk while others call for evaporated milk. It’s important to note that these are similar but entirely different ingredients.
Both are created by exposing whole milk to heat to reduce it to a thick liquid. This is technically evaporated milk. Once sugar is added to the mixture, it becomes sweetened condensed milk.
If your recipe calls for the latter, the options above and below are perfect for creating a vegan substitute. But if the recipe calls for the former, you’ll want to reference our article on vegan substitutes for evaporated milk.
Vegan Condensed Milk Substitute
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk about 13.5 ounces
- ⅓ cup maple syrup or granulated sugar
- To a small pot, add the coconut milk and maple syrup or sugar.
- Bring to boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes, whisking every five minutes. The liquid will reduce by about half and develop a beige color.
- Remove from the heat and let cool. Store leftover condensed milk in an air-tight jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
About the Author
Sara Seitz is a freelance writer living with type 1 diabetes. Her search for better health and better control of her blood sugars led her to a plant-based diet. When she isn’t experimenting with new vegan recipes, she’s helping spread the word about how plant-based is better for people and the planet. More articles by Sara.