Evaporated milk, also known as unsweetened condensed milk, is a form of concentrated milk.
It’s a canned milk product usually found in your supermarket’s baking aisle. Still, you may wonder what it is exactly and whether it’s healthy.
This article reviews evaporated milk’s nutrition, benefits, and drawbacks.
Evaporated milk is made by removing about 60% of the water from regular milk.
It’s then homogenized — a process that mixes milk’s fat uniformly into the milk, sterilized to avoid the growth of harmful microorganisms, and canned.
This creates a more concentrated version of milk that has a thicker and creamier consistency and slightly caramelized color and flavor.
Still, with over half of its water content removed, its nutrient composition remains intact, making it a nutrient-rich milk product.
What’s more, the concentration of milk allows for prolonged preservation, meaning that it increases its shelf life (1).
While evaporated and sweetened condensed milk are two types of condensed milk products, sweetened condensed milk is the sweeter one of the two, as it contains added sugar (
Evaporated milk is a type of condensed milk from which about 60% of the water has been removed, leaving a concentrated, nutrient-dense version of regular milk.
Internationally, evaporated milk’s nutritional composition is regulated by the Codex Alimentarius. Meanwhile, in the United States, it’s regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (3, 4).
According to the CFR, evaporated milk should contain — by weight — a minimum of 6.5% milkfat, 16.5% milk solids-not-fat (MSNF), and 23% total milk solids (4).
However, evaporated milk may be produced from whole, reduced fat, and fat-free milks.
Below is a comparison of 1 cup (240 mL) of these milk varieties and the same amount of whole fresh cow’s milk (
|Whole evaporated milk||338||25 grams||25 grams||17 grams||19 grams|
|Reduced fat evaporated milk||232||28 grams||28 grams||19 grams||5 grams|
|Fat-free evaporated Milk||197||28 grams||28 grams||19 grams||0.5 grams|
|Whole cow’s milk||149||12 grams||12 grams||8 grams||8 grams|
As you can see, all three types of evaporated milk have a higher nutrient concentration than fresh cow’s milk, and therefore, more calories.
Generally speaking, they have over twice as many grams of carbs, protein, and fat — except for the reduced fat and fat-free varieties — and higher mineral contents.
For instance, all three types of evaporated milk have over 50% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium, 15% of the DV for magnesium, and 18% of the DV for zinc, while fresh milk packs 21%, 6%, and 8%, respectively (
While calcium is needed for healthy bones, magnesium plays an important role in brain, heart, and muscle health, and zinc is necessary for proper digestion, growth, and immune function (
However, when it comes to comparing evaporated and sweetened condensed milk, you may find more significant differences.
For example, just once ounce (30 mL) of sweetened condensed milk packs 122 calories, 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, and 20 grams of sugar — almost as much as 1 cup (240 mL) of whole evaporated milk (
As concentrated milk products, whole, reduced fat, and fat-free varieties of evaporated milk have a higher nutrient content than fresh cow’s milk. Sweetened condensed milk has an even higher calorie concentration.
Drinking evaporated milk may be beneficial for those trying to gain weight or increase their mineral intake.
Being underweight is a risk factor for infection, dementia, and even death. However, if you’re trying to gain weight, you may want to do so healthily to avoid other health problems associated with poor eating habits (
Evaporated milk may help you gain weight healthily because of its high concentration of nutrients and lack of added sugar, which is associated with the development of heart disease and type 2 diabetes when consumed excessively (
Aside from drinking it, you can use evaporated milk in the preparation of various dishes, such as mashed potatoes, oatmeal, soups, and casseroles.
Additionally, evaporated milk is fortified with vitamin D — and sometimes with vitamin A — in many countries and naturally high in minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for bone health (4,
Evaporated milk packs high amounts of nutrients and no added sugar, which may help those trying to gain weight or who need higher mineral intakes.
Evaporated milk may be problematic for people with lactose intolerance or cow’s milk allergy (CMA), as it contains more lactose and milk proteins per volume, compared with regular milk.
Lactose is the main type of carb found in milk and dairy products (
People with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose, and thus may experience abdominal pain, bloating, or diarrhea when they consume it (
Some researchers suggest that people with lactose intolerance may tolerate up to 15 grams of lactose per day — roughly the amount provided by 1–2 cups (240–480 mL) of milk (
Still, evaporated milk may pack over twice the estimated amount of lactose than fresh milk, given its higher carb content.
As for CMA, it’s an immune-mediated reaction to the proteins in cow’s milk, meaning that your body’s defense system attacks milk proteins within minutes or up to 2 hours after drinking milk (
It’s one of the most common food allergies in kids, affecting up to 3% of children in developed countries, and its symptoms may range from mild to severe (
Because milk proteins remain intact when producing it and considering that it has more protein per cup (240 mL) than fresh milk, evaporated milk may not be suitable for people with CMA.
In both cases, avoiding milk products seems to be the primary and most effective treatment (
Evaporated milk contains both lactose and cow’s milk proteins in high amounts, making it an unsuitable choice for those with cow’s milk allergy or lactose intolerance.
Evaporated milk’s rich and creamy texture without any added sweetness makes it a versatile ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes.
It’s commonly used to prepare creams, soups, sauces, and dressings that call for extra thickness and a lower fat content.
Yet, it may also be used in baking and dessert making. In fact, some dessert recipes specifically call for evaporated milk, as is the case for tres leches, a popular Latin American cake.
Evaporated milk may also be added to coffee or tea, or used as a substitute for heavy cream or half-and-half.
You may even decide to drink it on its own, use it to prepare smoothies, or enjoy it with your favorite cereal, especially if you’re trying to gain weight.
However, keep in mind that its caramelized flavor tastes different than regular cow’s milk, which some people may find unpleasant.
Evaporated milk is a versatile ingredient that provides creaminess to both sweet and savory dishes.
Evaporated milk is made by removing over half of milk’s water content. It differs from sweetened condensed milk in that it doesn’t contain added sugar. In fact, it’s also known as unsweetened condensed milk.
Being a type of concentrated milk, evaporated milk has a higher nutrient concentration than fresh cow’s milk, which gives it its characteristic creamy texture. It also has a higher mineral content.
However, it also contains lactose and milk proteins, making it an unsuitable product for people with lactose intolerance or a cow’s milk allergy.
Evaporated milk may be used to prepare both sweet and savory dishes, mostly desserts or sauces that call for a thick consistency.
You may also use it as a substitute for heavy cream or half-and-half, or even drink it on its own. Still, note that its caramelized taste differs from that of fresh cow’s milk.