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Nov 21, 2007 04:15 PM

Is there a substitute for evaporated milk?

I'm making pumpkin pie. I just realized the recipe calls for 2 cans of evaporated milk. I only have one & I don't feel like going back to the supermarket. Is there any substitute for evaporated milk?

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  1. YOu can use sweetened condensed milk if you cut out the sugar in the rest of the recipe. I prefer no additional sugar, but some like to add a bit more. Can also use cream or half and half.

    1 Reply
    1. I've been going through all the pumpkin pie recipes I have, and many say to use cream OR evaporated milk.


      3 Replies
      1. re: violabratsche

        I thought my pumpkin pie recipe called for cream, it actually called for half & half. Now I have a ton of heavy cream.....

        1. re: MrsT

          Half and half is just a cream that was, in the past made with half heavy cream and half whole milk, combined. It's got about half the amount of butterfat as heavy, split it 50-50 with milk.


          1. re: MrsT

            Now you've got what you need for the whipped cream to put on top of the pie. Stick a mixing bowl and your beaters in the refrigerator until you're getting ready to whip it. Add about a tablespoon of sugar and a quarter teaspoon or so of vanilla when you're whipping.

        2. The posters above are correct: One can use either cream or evaporated milk. The reason for using EM at all is that in custards it tends not to break, and therefore the heat doesn't have to be so obsessively observed. With custards one puts them in a water bath, but not a pie.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Gualtier Malde

            What is the difference in taste? Can you tell the difference between EM and cream, especially when used in a custard when it is less likely masked compared to say, a pumpkin pie? I have a thing against evaporated milk but am not sure if it's rational.

            1. re: karykat

              Noticeable difference in taste since the fat content is far less with EM. But EM is a lifesaver and for me a regular staple. When the cream or half&half go sour, EM is an acceptable substitute in coffee, won't curdle in a cheese sauce, and makes richer mashed potatoes than does whole milk. Leftover EM freezes well. It does have a cooked taste that is unpleasant if you wanted to drink it straight, but that is not a factor when using it heated.

              1. re: greygarious

                Until a visitor watched me make mashed potatoes to find out my 'secret' I didn't realize not everyone else uses evaporated milk in mashed potatoes. It's about the only cooking tip I learned from my mother.

                My can of One Step Pumpkin has a great recipe for pumpkin pie and calls for either a can of EM or milk. I always use EM but guess it's not an absolute requirement. In fact, this year I was planning on using some whole milk that needs to be used up.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I'm thinking of making these chocolate things for gifts this year. I got the idea from another thread here on gifts. It uses chocolate and evaporated milk and other things. Poured into a pan then cut into squares. With a stick stuck in each square, these things can be stirred into hot milk to make cocoa.

                  And I'm trying to figure out if I will be able to taste the evaporated milk in these.

                  Here's the recipe:


                  1. re: karykat

                    It calls for sweetened condensed milk - subbing with evaporated milk willl not do at all. Thickness and sweetness are completely different. This does not sound like there would be a problem with a detectable "cooked milk" taste.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Good point. But isn't sweetened condensed milk just evaporated milk that has been sweetened?

                      1. re: karykat

                        No! Sweetened condensed milk is more concentrated and very thick, like pudding. Evaporated milk is the consistency of heavy cream.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          I did not know that. But could condensed just seem more thick because of all the sugar in it? I'm wondering if more moisture is really driven off in the process of making it. I read that sweetened condensed is 40 percent sugar. (Which seems astounding.)

                          (By the way, the small town my parents grew up in had a Carnation plant. And my grandfather worked in it when he first came to town. Those plants have an amazing history. From what I learned in my family history reading, they really spread from the west coast east as a way to preserve milk before there was refrigeration.)

                          1. re: karykat

                            The calorie count is very high, even for the nonfat SCM, so I would not be surprised.

                          2. re: greygarious

                            Comparing the nutritional labels on two cans (3g of fat /2Tbls, etc), it appears that sweetened condensed and evaporated have been concentrated to the same degree. I suspect sweetened condensed is sweetened before concentration, but someplace like the Wiki article may give more specifics.

                  2. re: karykat

                    Karykat, your 'thing' against EM might be because, as the milk is evaporated, it's exposed to high temps and it develops 'cooked milk' flavors that some people find unappealing. Technically, some caramel sauces involve browning milk proteins, but evaporated milk is a slightly different animal and not for everyone.

                    Cream, on the hand, is pasteurized, but not reduced.

                2. I used 1 can evap milk and the equivalent can again of eggnog. It worked perfectly!

                  1. Use cream -- you'll always know where the source of milk came from and have the option to choose organic. Canned evaporated milk can't give you that info or control.

                    If using cream, you can whip it up a bit to thicken, but really, the difference between cream and evaporated milk is the water and fat content. Cream will have more of both. Cut back on some of the other liquids in the recipe to make up for the water content in the cream.