Lately I've noticed a lot of sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk being used in recipes I've been searching for. It wasn't until last summer that I even heard of condensed milk, which was used as a topping for açaí bowls at a restaurant I ate at. Since then, I've been hearing about it more and more. I even spotted a can of condensed milk in my mom's pantry. I then heard about evaporated milk, which confused things.

Are they the same thing? What's with these weird forms of milk? And why are they used in so many recipes? If you find yourself confused like I was, read on to learn about sweetened condensed milk vs evaporated milk.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk is a type of concentrated milk. To make sweetened condensed milk (or simply, condensed milk) most of its water content is removed (about 60%). Sugar is added and then the milk is canned. The milk has about 40-45% sugar. The process creates a very thick and sweet, caramel-colored product.

When you think about the name, the process makes sense. Condensed milk is mainly used in baked goods and desserts, since it's so sweet. It can also be stored for a while without spoiling. 

This article gives some great ways to use condensed milk. You can also easily turn it into Dulce De Leche.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk actually came first. It is also a form of concentrated milk, and it is also canned, but has a darker color. Evaporated milk is heated and, like sweetened condensed milk, about 60% of the water is removed.

So how is it different? In evaporated milk there's no sugar added. It has a heavier taste, similar to sweetened condensed milk, and is used in baked goods because of its texture, but not to add sweetness. Evaporated milk can also come as skim, low-fat, or whole-fat. It can be stored for a few months, which is yet another similarity to condensed milk. 

Evaporated milk actually came about in the 1920s.  During Prohibition, a brewery switched from selling beer to canning evaporated milk. This was also quite convenient because refrigeration was not as common as it is today. 

This article shows some ways to use evaporated milk.

Evaporated milk has a unique history, and the rise of sweetened condensed milk came after. While both forms of milk are concentrated, they are quite different due to the sugar added in condensed milk, and should not be used interchangeably.

So the next time someone asks about sweetened condensed milk vs evaporated milk, you'll know what to tell them.