Sweetened condensed milk is made by removing most of the water from cow’s milk.

This process leaves behind a dense liquid, which is then sweetened and canned.

Though it’s a milk product, sweetened condensed milk looks and tastes different than regular milk. It’s sweeter, darker in color and has a thicker, creamier texture.

Sweetened condensed milk also has a long shelf life, making it a popular ingredient in dishes around the world.

This article reviews the nutritional value of sweetened condensed milk, its benefits, disadvantages and various uses.

Evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk are both made by removing just over half of the water from cow’s milk (1).

For this reason, these terms are often used interchangeably — but they vary slightly.

The main difference is that sweetened condensed milk contains added sugar as a preservative to help prolong its shelf life (1, 2).

On the other hand, evaporated milk is pasteurized (heated at high temperatures) to prolong shelf life. As no ingredients are added to it, you can replace the water that was removed and produce a liquid that nutritionally resembles cow’s milk.

Sweetened condensed milk is much sweeter than cow’s milk, even if you replace the lost water.


Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are both made by removing just over half the water from cow’s milk. However, sweetened condensed milk contains added sugars, while evaporated milk does not.

Both evaporated and sweetened condensed milk contain some naturally occurring sugars of the milk from which they’re made.

However, sweetened condensed milk provides much more sugar than evaporated milk, as some is added during processing.

For example, a single ounce (30 ml) of sweetened condensed milk has just over 15 grams of sugar, while the same amount of nonfat evaporated milk contains just over 3 grams (3, 4).


Sweetened condensed milk has roughly five times the amount sugar of evaporated milk, as sugar is added during processing as a preservative.

Sweetened condensed milk is high in sugar. Still, as it’s made from cow’s milk, it also contains some protein and fat, as well as a range of vitamins and minerals.

It’s extremely energy-dense — just 2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 30 ml) of sweetened condensed milk provide (3):

  • Calories: 90
  • Carbs: 15.2 grams
  • Fat: 2.4 grams
  • Protein: 2.2 grams
  • Calcium: 8% of Daily Value (DV)
  • Phosphorus: 10% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Selenium: 7% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin (B2): 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B12: 4% of the RDI
  • Choline: 4% of the RDI

A high proportion of sweetened condensed milk is sugar. Still, it also offers some protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.

Though some people may avoid sweetened condensed milk due to the high number of calories it provides, it does have some advantages.

Long Shelf Life

The added sugar in sweetened condensed milk means that it lasts a lot longer than regular milk.

It can be stored in cans for very long periods without refrigeration — often up to a year.

However, once opened, it must be kept in the fridge, and its shelf life is dramatically reduced to around two weeks. Always check the instructions on your can to maximize freshness.

Provides Extra Calories and Protein

Its high calorie content makes sweetened condensed milk an excellent ingredient for people who are trying to gain weight.

In fact, fortifying your morning oatmeal with just 2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 30 ml) of sweetened condensed milk adds an extra 90 calories and 2 grams of protein to your meal (3).

Using sweetened condensed milk to boost calorie content may be more beneficial than using sugar alone since the product also provides extra protein, fat and some bone-healthy minerals like calcium and phosphorus.


You can store sweetened condensed milk for a long time without refrigeration. Its high nutrient content also makes it a great ingredient for fortifying foods and making them more calorie-dense, for those who need it.

Though there are some benefits to using sweetened condensed milk, it may also come with some downsides.

High in Calories

The high number of calories in a small volume of sweetened condensed milk can be either positive or negative, depending on your needs.

For people trying to gain weight, it can be an excellent tool, but for those trying to lose weight, it may provide additional and unnecessary calories.

Unsuitable for People With Milk or Lactose Intolerance

Sweetened condensed milk is made from cow’s milk and thus contains both milk proteins and lactose.

If you have a milk protein allergy or are lactose intolerant, then this product is unsuitable for you.

Some people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of lactose spread throughout the day (5).

If this is the case for you, note that sweetened condensed milk contains more lactose in a smaller volume.

Unusual Taste

While some people may enjoy the sweet, unique flavor of sweetened condensed milk, others may find it unpalatable.

It’s typically too sweet to replace regular milk. Therefore, it can’t always be used as a substitute in recipes — especially in savory dishes.


Sweetened condensed milk is high in calories and unsuitable for people with cow’s milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance. Its sweet flavor may be off-putting for some and doesn’t typically serve as a good substitute for regular milk in recipes.

Sweetened condensed milk is used all over the world in a variety of different foods and drinks, including baked goods, sweet-savory casseroles and even coffee.

Its thick and creamy texture and sweet taste make it an excellent ingredient in desserts.

For example, in Brazil, it’s used to make traditional truffles, known as brigadeiro. In the US and UK, it’s a vital ingredient in key lime pie and often used in fudge.

All over Southeast Asia, sweetened condensed milk is added to coffee — both hot and cold — to add flavor.

You can make ice cream, cakes or even add it to certain sweet-savory stews and soups to make them more creamy.

Just remember that it may be too sweet to work well in most savory dishes.


Sweetened condensed milk is a versatile, calorie-dense milk product that can be used to make or flavor a wide variety of dishes, including desserts, casseroles and even coffee.

Sweetened condensed milk is made by removing most of the water from cow’s milk.

It’s sweeter and higher in calories than evaporated milk, as sugar is added as a preservative.

It can add flavor to desserts, coffee and certain stews but is unsuitable for people with milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance.

If you’re a fan of its unique taste, enjoy sweetened condensed milk while bearing its calorie and sugar content in mind.