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Evaporated Milk - how do you use it?

I like to add a little in mashed potatoes & also use it to make cream gravy, or add some to macaroni salad, but other than that, I am stumped as how to use the remainder of the can. The small cans of EM (evaporated milk) are no longer available in my grocery store. By the way, I see some generic canned milk - have you used those before?

My intentions are good - the remainder goes in a lidded jar & I make a mental note to use it up during the week. Never happens. Just another waste I would like to avoid.

Does EM freeze well? Perhaps you all could help me use this stuff up so I am not having to throw a half can out. Thanks.

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  1. I generally use up leftover evaporated or condensed milk in my morning coffee. You can also thin out the evaproated milk with a litte water and use it just like regular milk--it's not bad chilled and poured over cereal.

    2 Replies
    1. re: iluvcookies

      oddly i like in coffee but hate the cooked taste when used on cereal.

      1. re: iluvcookies

        I always use it in my tea. in fact, I don't like to have tea anywhere that I can't have evaporated milk in it. I love that it's creamier than milk but not as rich as cream.

      2. I don't care for it in any non-cooked preparation with the exception being mashed potatoes, where I mix it in at the end. I guess the residual heat takes that edge off of it. I keep it on hand though and use it in anything calling for milk that will be cooked.

        I believe you can use it in any recipe calling for heavy cream, except for whipping, of course. The dish won't be as rich though.

        I've never tried freezing it. If no one answers to that, try freezing it and see how it works. If it doesn't do well, then that is no worse than letting it go bad. BTW, I find it has a long shelf life, a good couple of weeks after opening.

        1. Makes a decent base mac & cheese or Alfredo.

          23 Replies
          1. re: eclecticsynergy

            i use it sometimes when i make a baked mac... literally just stir it together with cheeses, salt, pepper, a dash of mustard powder and/or onion powder. sometimes an egg. toss with cooked pasta and bake. sprinkle with a little more cheese in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.

            1. re: Emme

              I make my baked mac&cheese by cooking some chopped onion and poblano pepper (that's optional) in some oil, then adding a 12 oz can of evaporated milk and cooking it down, stirring and scraping until it's about 9-10 oz, then adding three cups of shredded cheese. S&P too, of course, and maybe a bit of dry mustard. Take it off the heat and stir until it's all melted, then stir in 8 oz of macaroni, cooked and drained. Turn that out into a greased casserole dish, top with grated parm or pecorino, and bake until browned and bubbly. I've been using Trader Joe's High-Fiber Penne for this, and it's about as low-carb as the dish can get. Oh, and I also usually cut tops off three Roma tomatoes, get rid of the seeds and liquid, and chop them up into the dish while it's being stirred together.

              1. re: Will Owen

                That sounds really good. I always make a bechamel and love the taste but wish it was more saucey. I am wondering if the abscence of flour would keep the sauce thinner.

                ETA: I have been craving some good mac and cheese. Recently tried CI's stovetop method. It was horrid.

                1. re: MrsJonesey

                  I am back to eat my words. I have since made my usual baked mac and cheese as well as some penne to go with a Swiss steak type dish. I have been using Barilla Plus for a while now and really liked it. Now, it is not tasting good to me. It ruined my baked mac and cheese and I recognized the off flavor that was so prevalent in the stovetop version. Either BP's quality has gone downhill or my tastebuds changed.

                  1. re: MrsJonesey

                    Tastebuds do change over time. I've read somewhere that we are all born with the maximum amount of tastebuds we will ever have. They die or fall off as we age. That explains a lot....

                    1. re: thymetobake

                      Ahhh, one of the many joys of aging......

                2. re: Will Owen

                  I am looking for a holiday macaroni and cheese recipe and planned to do a baked style like my grandmother. She usually uses half and half but I was thinking of using evaporated instead. Does it have a strong effect on the final flavor?

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    I don't think so, but I have always used it in mac and cheese. You know to use equal amounts of water, right?

                    1. re: MrsJonesey

                      Nope, didn't know that thanks for the tip. Should the water and evaporated milk total to the original amount of milk in the recipe?

                        1. re: MrsJonesey

                          Perfect, thanks I think it'll be nice to try it, hopefully it'll work out for our Thanksgiving macaroni and cheese. So just to confirm, if the recipe calls for 2 pints of half and half I'd just need equivalent 1 pint volume of evaporated milk?

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            Yes, to sub for 2 pints half and half, use 1 pint evaporated milk and 1 pint water.

                            1. re: MrsJonesey

                              1 part em to 1 part water is equal to milk.

                              1. re: divadmas

                                For some reason I thought evaporated milk was used in recipes like mac and cheese for its thickness, doesn't adding water sort of eliminate that effect?

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  makes sense to me. you can even get low fat or fat free em, i just got some but haven't used yet. sub for cream, nice and thick.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Thickness, no. I have trouble keeping my mac and cheese saucy enough to suit me, so no, it doesn't thin it out. If you mean richness, as with heavy cream, hmm, I suppose if you wanted your mac and cheese that rich, you could use it undiluted. I will be interested to see what others say about this.

                                    1. re: MrsJonesey

                                      I guess my question would be then why not just use regular milk. I'm just clueless about evaporated so learning :) Is it just more convenient?

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        Speaking for myself, yes, it is all about convenience. We drink skim milk, but I rarely use it in cooking. I keep cans of evaporated milk on hand. Don't have to worry about it going bad until it's opened and even then, it keeps upwards of a month.

                                        Also, I could be entirely wrong about this, but it seems like once upon a time it was more economical, ounce per ounce, than fresh milk. It certainly isn't now.

                                        1. re: MrsJonesey

                                          I see, makes sense especially for this house as well. I have never actually had a glass of milk so I can't remember the last time I had any in the house.

                                      2. re: MrsJonesey

                                        Well now I figured out why I'm confused, I idiotically asked the wrong question. Our family macaroni and cheese recipe uses half and half and I was wondering if evaporated would be a 1:1 substitute for that as in 1 pint half and half to equal volume evaporated without added water? Sleep deprivation nabs me again.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          Okay, I wasn't sure so I looked for the answer. According to this, yes sub 1:1 undiluted evaported milk for half and half. http://www.foodsubs.com/Dairyoth.html

                                          Scroll down to the info on half and half.

                                          1. re: MrsJonesey

                                            Yea, I Googled it this morning and that's how I realized my posting error. Thanks for the link.

                            2. re: fldhkybnva

                              No! If you want the maximum creaminess in the cheese sauce, use the evaporated milk straight. The only times I've had a cheese sauce break are when I've been a little short on EM and added a bit of water. Even then, I came nowhere near a 1:1 dilution.

                  2. If you are just looking to use up a small amount or a partial can, it's quite tasty in coffee in place of milk or half and half.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: janniecooks

                      I was in panic mode this morning when I realized I will not have any cream for my coffee in the morning. Well, guess what? I will try some EM, just trying to get over using that instead of my delicious cream.

                      1. re: cstout

                        I don't use it regularly, but got in the habit of keeping a few small cans in the pantry for those emergencies! I first had EM in coffee in Mexico, where nearly every place we had coffee served evaporated milk as the "crema". Oh, and be sure to use it straight, don't dilute it.

                    2. I sub it for cream in sauces and soups. Its not quite as rich but still delicious and saves me a few calories.

                      1. My grandmother used to buy cans of EM but I don't remember why...she had a milk cow. Geez, everyone back in those days always had cans of it. Seems like there was a lot of dessert dishes & ice cream made with it.

                        Thanks to you all, I feel confident that the other half of EM won't go to waste in the future.

                        1. Yes, you can freeze it. Evaporated milk diluted 1:1 with water = regular milk (cooked). It will never taste right as a sub for milk from the carton or jug, but it works the same in cooking and baking.

                          Use EM in sauces for mac&cheese and potatoes au gratin. It keeps the cheese from breaking and being grainy. (So does adding processed cheese food like Velveeta to your real cheeses).

                          I don't drink milk so unless I want cereal, I don't buy it. I always have a few cans of EM on hand. Also, it's pretty economical. It's 99cents a can here. When you consider the dilution factor, it's cheaper than milk by the quart, and weighs less to carry home.

                          1. I used to use skim evaporated milk in preference to the regular, which I think has a cooked fat flavor that I don't like. I used it in my coffee for years.

                            You can make a creamy salad dressing using evaporated milk. I've used it in a quiche and in pumpkin pie. I think I've even made chowder with it.

                            1. Last night I made a coconut tapioca pudding with half a can. I'll use the other half can for a custard pie.

                              1. Cooks Illustrated has a great recipe for stove-top Mac & Cheese which calls for EM. I usually keep some on hand just for that purpose.

                                1. Yes to most of the responses. I use it every day for my coffee--picked that habit up in Mexico where it's the common creamer.

                                  Mac and cheese, alfredos and a decent stand-in for cream in many dishes. Not perfect sub, but it works if you're just adding a little to finish a sauce.

                                  1. If you're interested in something sweet, I made Martha Stewart's recipe for Penuche Fudge at Christmas and people flipped for it. It'll be my go-to sweet this year.


                                    1. Check out this mousse pie -


                                      Thanks so much for the ideas posted here. Your recipes are great too.

                                      Now instead of wondering what to do with a leftover can, I am thinking I need to stock up on this stuff!!!!

                                      Greygarious has enlightened us about freezing it so this is beginning to sound like we all need to rethink our recipes & start using EM instead.

                                      Well, from the looks of your posts, I guess it's just me who needs to do the rethinking. Sorry.

                                      1. A vegetable cream soup using EM and some chicken broth are usually good. I make one with brussel sprouts!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                          I have never liked the flavor of evaporated milk. My mom had been a Depression Era kid from a large family and I think they probably had more canned milk than fresh. She tried to continue that when we were young but no one could stand the sticky overcooked flavor.

                                          However much as I may dislike it, it's THE dairy ingredient in one creamy chowder that's a family favorite. If it's something my family LOVES, how can I tamper with the recipe? But, other than that, I think I'd pass on working with it when fresh dairy is available.

                                          1. re: rainey

                                            EM does give a nice creamy texture to recipes, it is lower in fat than cream. I responded as such since CS is looking for a way to use up her leftover milk. I do agree ingredients in the purest form are always the best but many old favorite recipes come from that can of EM.

                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                              I guess it's a matter of the right application for the right product. ; >

                                        2. Here is a favorite chicken and rice recipe I have made several times that uses a full can of evaporated milk.


                                          1. When I was a teenager we used to brown up a bag of chopped potatoes. Once they were soft, we would pour a can of evap milk over it and then shredded longhorn cheese, put the lid on and let it melt -- kind of amateur au gratin potatoes. That would be dinner if mom and dad were out for the evening.

                                            1. I use it for easy stovetop mac and cheese (alton brown) and for this delicous shortcut butter chicken: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-ind... cut the butter to 1/4 cup and use a can of evaporated milk to replace the cream. Try it with a full can the first time and then adjust for single servings to use up your unfinished can of EM with some tomato sauce/passata and veggies or protein.

                                              1. Many Pumpkin pie recipes have it in it . When i was "buyer" for our office coffee club, we used it for coffee as we had no refrigerator and would leave a can out all day . However , all the cans would disappear right around Thanksgiving , and we figured out people were using them for Pumpkin Pie ! Very odd to steal from co workers for such a cheap item, but it happened at least 3 years in a row!!

                                                I remember fondly as a young child having coffee with evaporated milk with my dad before he left for work each morning as special just us time before my Mom and sister woke up ..

                                                1. My grandma was a big fan of the stuff. She always used it cut with water in place of milk. I think it was due to the era and location that she grew up. She was born in 1903.

                                                  As a child she would often feed me peaches or strawberries in "cream". The cream was evap milk and sugar. I loved it back then. Haven't tried it in many decades.

                                                  1. I make rice pudding and bread pudding with it.And sometimes, I'll dump a tablespoonful or two into my scrambled eggs if I don't have regular cream or sour cream handy.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                      I ran out of milk the other day never thought to open a can of evaporated milk.

                                                      1. re: Ruthie789

                                                        My main use for evaporated milk is to keep it handy in the cupboard for times there is no milk in the house (esp. at my parents' house -- I'm only there on the weekends, and they are often out when I show up).

                                                    2. Evaporated milk is a standard ingredient in pumpkin pie, as made in the middle of the last century. I still make it that way, from a recipe in an Old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.

                                                      As I mentioned in a previous post I prefer the skimmed version, because it eliminates that cooked fat taste which I don't care for.

                                                        1. re: becks1

                                                          make sure to shake can before opening as it can separate.

                                                        2. I grew up drinking EM as hot chocolate. My Mom always called it "oakie" hot chocolate. It's basically a can of EM, a can of water (or less if you want it richer tasting) and then sugar, cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, and vanilla. I normally use the hot cocoa recipe on the Hershey box.

                                                          I only use EM for that. :)

                                                          1. I've used condensed milk occasionally in desserts and to make Vietnamese iced coffee.

                                                            Evaporated milk though I have little use for around the kitchen. I used to make nacho cheese sauce with it (http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...) but have not needed it ever since I discovered sodium citrate.

                                                            1. Evaporated milk is used heavily in commercial cooking and one of its properties is that it's more resistant to "breaking" or curdling in sauces than fresh milk or cream.

                                                              I long ago got into the habit of keeping it on hand for cooking (from rural relatives, who had limited access to fresh milk). An opened can keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days (I cover the top with plastic film secured by a rubber band).

                                                              Almost never dilute it. Straight from the can it is a good, lighter substitute for light cream or (US-only term) "half and half." In B├ęchamel sauces, cheese sauces, pancake batters, general cooking. Just use it straight in recipes calling for either milk or any kind of light cream.

                                                              Once or twice, I diluted some with (very cold) water to use on breakfast cereal and it was surprisingly close to fresh milk. Closer, anyway, than any other shelf-stable substitute I've tried, such as full-fat powdered milks.

                                                              Cheese sauces for pastas don't really need any thickening agent. Melt a little butter, add and heat EM, then add whatever cheese(s) you want, cook very gently to dissolve, and toss cooked pasta in the result. Italians call these pasta dishes "alla panna," which Americans a few decades back started confusing with all' Alfredo. Alfredo de Lellio's actual dish was fettucine "al burro," made with cheese and a special rich butter -- no cream, no "sauce" - which is how it appeared in standard US cookbooks for most of the 20th century.

                                                              1. I have to ask. How do you use evaporated milk in mac salad? A creamy dressing as you would with buttermilk?

                                                                1. My mom uses it quite liberally - she uses it to mix her tanddoori chicken spices in and marinates the chicken in it - the chicken ends up wonderfully tender.

                                                                  Also, she uses it in a thai crab curry dish - I don't know the exact recipe, but from what I recall, saute some curry powder and tom yum paste together, add crab (or shrimp) and cook till nearly done, toss in a small handful of celary leaves and some small dice tomatoes. Add the evaporated milk and cook just long enough to heat it through (don't want to overcook the seafood) and serve with rice. The evaporated milk + curry powder+ tom yum paste make for an amazing curry to eat with the rice.

                                                                  I may have to try making this sometime - it's one of my favorite dishes she makes and I've never even tried to make it. All I use evaporated milk for is in my iced coffee.

                                                                  1. I make the best mac and cheese ever and I always used evaporated milk. I mixed it with 2 eggs and sit it aside. While my macaroni is boiling, in a large bowl, I cut up one block of sharp cheddar cheese, then add in a bag of mild shredded cheese, then place one full stick of butter in with the cheeses (cut into squares). Once the macaroni is aldente, I drain them and pour them into the bowl with the cheese and butter. I stir all contents until the butter and cheese are melted, add, salt and pepper, then transfer contents into baking dish. After leveling contents into baking dish, i pour the egg and evaporated milk in. The mixture should cover the macaroni. Then I cut up another block of sharp cheddar or use another bag of shredded cheddar to place on top of the macaroni. Sprinkle with a little more black pepper then place in the oven on 350┬░ for 45mins or til liquid evaporates and cheese on top is browned.

                                                                    1. I've been reading these posts and smiling. My dad used to sing this regarding evap. milk. "Carnation milk the best in the land. Here I sit with a can in my hand. No teats to pull, no hay to pitch. Just poke a hole in the sonofabitch." ;-)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: eboeke

                                                                        Heh, heh....sounds like something my dear 'ol dad would come up with. Old codgers & WWII vets had their own way of expressing things.

                                                                        I can still see the cast iron skillet bubbling with bacon grease & flour & hearing the pop of a can of Pet milk. Pretty soon there was enough gravy to feed even the cats & dogs. Not a pretty sight once it cooled off & globbed up, but mighty tasty in the mean time.

                                                                        Oh yes, some even got tossed out to the chickens - take a spoon of it & target an innocent chicken. Plop - right on the back. Everything ate gravy back in those days.

                                                                      2. Over the years I've only come to enjoy regular milk (actually skim milk plus or farmland whole milk but w/e) when eating cereal; which i rarely eat lol, but I'm definitely and avid fan of warm (or cold) frothy dairy beverages and for that I use evaporated milk! Chocolate milk? 3/4 evaporated milk, 1/4 water. Coffee? Evaporated milk. Milk shakes, tea, lattes-- any beverage that calls for milk you bet your sweet butt i'm using a nice 'ol can of evaporated milk.

                                                                        I also use evaporated milk for cooking and baking because I love the richness and flavour and its a lot cheaper and readily available compared to half and half or heavy cream. I don't remember the last time I used regular milk, cream or any other dairy product during my cooking endeavors but my family and friends are always raving about my dishes so!! Perhaps it's one of those lil tricks like adding milk to your eggs lol (which i don't use evaporated milk for cuz that'd prolly taste a bit odd ahaha [unless you're making quiche or s/t])

                                                                        As far as storing goes, I run through evaporated milk like water usually but I do have these nifty glass milk bottles for the times when i fear that I might be turning into a tall can of evaporated milk from too much consumption. Not to mention it's kinda cool pouring/storing/having milk in glass bottles haha.

                                                                        Fair warning though, idk how it is for other people but when I made the (seemingly unconscious) transition from regular milk to evaporated milk in my beverages, I experienced lots of bubbly tummies, gas and other kinda eye brow raising/slightly uncomfortable 'side affects' so the transition for you or anyone else really, should be gradual !!!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: butternut634

                                                                          Where did you find the glass bottles to store milk in?

                                                                        2. Whether you want to reduce fat or add extra fat to a recipe, this chart shows where evaporated milk falls in the dairy foods fat content category:

                                                                          Total Fat, in Grams Per Cup, for Dairy Products

                                                                          Example: Out of a 240 gram cup of undiluted evaporated milk, 19.05 of those grams come from fat.

                                                                          184.12g - Butter, (stick type)
                                                                          88.06g - Heavy Cream (Whipping Cream before whipping)
                                                                          72g - Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese
                                                                          49g - Whipped Butter
                                                                          48.21g - Sour Cream
                                                                          46.34g - Light Cream
                                                                          31.93g - Ricotta Cheese (Whole Milk)
                                                                          27.84g - Half & Half Cream
                                                                          26.62g - Sweetened Condensed Milk
                                                                          22g - Traditional Plain Greek Yogurt
                                                                          19.05g - Evaporated Milk, undiluted
                                                                          19g - Regular Eggnog
                                                                          14.26g - Ice Cream
                                                                          7.93g - Whole Milk
                                                                          5g - 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
                                                                          4.9g - Buttermilk (2% - Reduced Fat, Cultured)
                                                                          4.81g - 2% Milk
                                                                          3.8g - Plain Yogurt
                                                                          2.37g - 1% Milk
                                                                          2.16g - Buttermilk (1% - Lowfat, Cultured)
                                                                          1.4g - Dry Buttermilk (Reconstituted)
                                                                          0.44g - Nonfat Milk
                                                                          0.44g - Nonfat Plain Yogurt

                                                                            1. I use it to dip chicken in before coating in some type of crumbs (usually a mix of Corn Flake and parm cheese) and then baking. Also really good in mac & cheese.

                                                                              1. Oh, I forgot tres leches cake: evaporated milk is one of them.

                                                                                1. Because of the high fat content (undiluted) it makes really good gravy when substituted for whole milk. 19 grams of fat per cup vs 8 grams for whole milk.