Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

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If any of you are living with food allergies, intolerances or celiac disease, you understand how difficult it can be to give up particular foods. Sometimes when you find the culprit of your body’s ills you feel a sense of relief to empty your cupboards of the disagreeable food item.  Other times you may have a hard time letting go, feeling a bit like a child who has to give up a beloved security blanket.

Giving up gluten was initially a challenge for me, but I also felt a sense of elation that I never had to feel “that way” again.  Good riddance to the constant nausea, stomach pain, headaches, body aches, and exhaustion.  My brain made the connection fairly quickly and I have never felt inclined to cheat or wanted to “sneak” a bit of wheat or gluten.  My mind gets that wheat=sick as a dog and that’s a good thing.

My relationship with dairy is a bit more complicated.  From a fairly early age I had a love affair with dairy that no one was going to get in the way of.  I was happiest when I was eating grilled cheese sandwiches, pounding tall glasses of milk, and eating string cheese like a champ.  I didn’t realize that waking up nauseous, snoring like a frat boy, a chronic sore throat, and being riddled with canker sores was related.  Even when I would make a fleeting connection between how I felt and what I had been eating, I brushed it off and reached for a milkshake.  Denial is a powerful thing.

At this point of the story you may want to know how I finally made the connection?  Well apparently I’m a slow learner because it took my diagnosis of celiac disease and giving up gluten for me to finally realize that dairy was not my BFF.  Clearing the decks of one offending food substance helped me catch the next culprit.  I felt betrayed, I mourned, and I tried to hang on dearly to dairy products but it was futile.  I tried goat cheese, sheep’s milk, and double-doses of lactaid to no avail.  There was no way around it, my dream of one day owning a jersey cow and churning ice cream from her rich milk was over.  Five years in to my gluten-free life and I’m okay (almost) with the fact that dairy and I play for opposite teams.

My long lost love just motivates me to create recipes for delicious substitutes….things that make this dairy-free life seem a little less deprived.  This recipe for dairy-free sweetened condensed milk definitely delivers and it’s easy to make. Use it 1:1 in recipes that call for traditional condensed milk and I’m certain your guests won’t know the difference.

Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar or sweetener to your taste. The recipe works best with anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup of your sweetener of choice.

Ingredients

  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, honey or light agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional but adds good flavor)

Instructions

  • Place the coconut milk, sweetener of choice, and brown sugar (if using) into a saucepan and whisk gently over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. This will help the solid bits of coconut milk melt and incorporate with the sugar.
  • When the mixture is just beginning to bubble around the edges, reduce the heat to the lowest flame/setting.
  • Set a timer for one hour (you may need to go a bit longer depending on your stove) and simmer uncovered, whisking every 5-10 minutes to release steam and aid in evaporation.
  • The mixture will reduce by about half and should be quite thick. You will also notice that it is a darker color. Remove from heat, stir thoroughly and pour into a glass jar or container. Cool in the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Use as needed in recipes or to stir into coffee or tea.
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49 thoughts on “Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

  1. I had the same process with gluten and then later finding I had a dairy problem and still want dairy, but not gluten!

  2. Denial really is a very powerful thing, thanks for sharing so much about your story!! This looks luscious and fantastic, like I could it it atop almost anything!

  3. Omg!! I’m so happy I found your blog!!! I am new to gf , dairy free, egg free, yeast free and oat free!! I am also a baker so finding this lifted my spirits! Thank you!

  4. You are AMAZING! I have been baking for over 30 years but just a few years with GF. It takes a while to get used to and to find the little ins and outs of it as well and the tips and hints that make such a difference. I was working so much until recently that I didn’t have time to spend on my computer reading the blogs to find so many of the wonderful ideas as well as the tips and short cuts. I can’t remember everything that I want to…I am going to have to get myself a notebook or I will absolutely lose my mind (or what is left of it) … to keep track of everything that I want to remember.
    You have a wonderful place to share and find ideas. I will be back and often. Thanks you so very much.

    • Hi, Thanks for stopping by. I have never had this around longer than 7 days in the refrigerator but it seemed perfectly fine….nice and thick still too. It could last longer, but I just haven’t tried yet. Hope this helps!

  5. Any idea if this would work with say hemp milk as a base? My daughter has 23 food allergies plus celiac (dairy, corn, soy, almond, and coconut among them), so I am always looking for and adapting recipes. I am so excited to have found your blog!!!!

  6. Thank You! my daughter has a friend at college that is gluten/dairy/soy free. knowing I am a good baker (although no experience in baking for people with allergies) she has requested that I include treats for him in her care packages. this will help greatly with a few recipes I’ve been looking at. :-)

  7. I doubled the recipe, used agave, and it took more than four hours and still didn’t get down to half its original volume. But, it’s got the consistency and taste. It also came out quite dark, but I’m using it in a pumpkin pie, so it should be okay anyway.

  8. While a great idea, my daughter is allergic to coconut…. As well as eggs, peanuts, gluten, corn, etc., etc…. Any thoughts on using something other than coconut???

    • Hi there, Thanks for the comment. I’ve heard of people subbing rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk in, but I imagine the final product would be much thinner, and would have a different flavor depending on which milk sub you use. . It would also increase the time it takes to reduce the mixture on the stove top. Ultimately it would require you to experiment a bit as I haven’t tried it, but it may be worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous! Happy baking, Terris

  9. Sounds awesome. I am an allergy mom of 10 1/2 years and I love coming up with recipes to convert for my son. But the recipes have to be worthy of feeding others too (I don’t believe in making two meals for each mealtime, everyone gets the same, or it’s not worth anyone eating!!!). You have added a new tool to my arsenal. My last discovery was making whipped cream out of the cream on coconut milk. Having grown up in the south these two ingredients are necessities, that I have had to live without for the last ten years.. My son is anaphylactic to milk, eggs, and all nuts. We just recently discovered he could have coconut. Cookin’ On….

  10. I am making this for the fourth time right now! I have used it for your magic cookie bars, which are wonderful! I also use it to make a non-dairy chai tea at home, mixing in cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper, and keeping the spiced milk in the refrigerator. I make a cup of hot black tea and stir in one or two tablespoons of the chai-sweetened milk. It’s my alternative to coffee. Thanks for the recipe!

    • That’s a good question! I have never frozen it, but I imagine you could. I know that freezing traditional (dairy) sweetened condensed milk will cause thinning upon defrosting as the freezing process breaks down it’s structure. Since there is no milk protein in this version it may work, but I can’t promise! Let me know if you give it a try. :)

  11. Your dream of a Jersey cow may not have to be over, depending on your problem. My son has an issue with dairy but was able to eat and drink the RAW form of milk from my friends’ Jersey cow. Just a thought! Thanks for the recipe though, my friend lives too far away to get milk when we want it. :)

  12. I just made this and it’s unread out great! Just added 1/3 cup sugar and 1tbsp brown sugar but will reduce to 1/4 next time as was a little too sweet. I also used coconut cream and it worked well! Now to bake my fave Xmas treats that I can actually enjoy!

  13. This recipe looks pretty good. My daughter is severely allergic to dairy but at 8 years old is beginning to feel really restricted in her sweets. I’ve just starting looking at a replacement for sweetened condensed milk to make some truffles and slices. Just wanted to know the size of the can of coconut milk. We have many different sizes in Australia. Thanks!

  14. Hi, I was so excited to make this as dairy is a no no for us and I had all the ingredients already ; )!
    It turned out perfectly using two cans full fat coconut milk and one cup coconut sugar, simmered about 3 1/2 hours on the stove, cooled and added spices for a chai concentrate or spread ; ) Yummy! But, soon as I added it into my tea, it sort of curdled in my cup and then separates : ((( very unappetizing! Has anyone else noticed this? Did I over reduce it? If it’s it is that, Can I make another batch, less time simmering maybe and add it to the first batch?
    Help!

    • Hi Frances, Yes, it sounds like you over reduced yours. I really do stick to the hour of reducing (maybe a touch longer if I had a larger quantity like you were working with). It will thicken when it chills. Of course, all stoves vary, so some people may need to reduce their mixture on medium low, but on my stove I need to use the lowest setting. Thanks for your comment, Terris

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  16. I’m on the 2-hour simmering mark and it’s reducing, but not thickening up at all. It smells delicious and it’s darker in color. I used the full-fat coconut canned milk, too! Hmmm… Well even if it doesn’t get thick, I’m still gonna make vegan Vietnamese iced coffee!! :)

    • Hi there Kelly, I have never simmered mine for more than an hour, but I’m thinking that the low setting on different stoves may vary widely. I’m also thinking that I may need to change the wording in the recipe. After simmering the mixture is reduced and a bit thicker, but it really thickens when it cools in the fridge. I think that you will be quite surprised how thick and rich it gets after you chill it for a couple of hours in a jar. Thanks for the comment though. I’m sure there are others out there who have had a similar experience!
      Best, Terris

  17. I just started my switch to a GF, DF life thanks to food sensitivities and this recipe is exactly what I needed to realize I don’t have to give up what I love! Thanks!

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  19. Thank you! I have a severe corm allergy. Lactose free milk isn’t a wise alternative due to corn starch in the carton lining. But there are desserts I can make IF I have a substitute for sweetened condensed milk. Your recipe sounds delicious and more healthy, in general. You are my hero!

  20. thank you, thank you, thank you, just made this wonderful concoction and I am screaming with delight!!!!!
    I did make a few changes, I used low fat coconut milk because it was all I had, I zapped it in microwave for 8 minutes stirring every couple for minute, then simmered on stove, I thought that may speed up process. i also used coconut sugar and a tablespoon of brown sugar. did I say thank you!!!!

    • You are VERY welcome Mary! Thank you for the comment and I love all of the changes you made. Who knows, maybe they will come in handy for someone else. :) I have a batch simmering right now because my children are begging for my “magic bars.” Best, Terris

  21. Hi, I tried this with a standard 400ml can of coconut milk that we get here in Aus and raw sugar and brown sugar. It worked perfectly. I have never had a more delighted child than when I presented her with a Hedgehog slice that looked EXACTLY like her sister made the week before. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Tania, Your comment made my day! That’s what this is all about and why I keep going back in the kitchen to try and translate recipes into allergy-friendly versions. I also wanted to let you know that I have family from New Zealand, otherwise I wouldn’t have known what on earth a slice of Hedgehog was! :) So glad it was a success for your daughter. Best, Terris

    • Hi Catherine, It would help if you let me know what brand of coconut milk, and what sweetener you chose to use. I also think that stove tops can vary and perhaps you may need to simmer at just a bit higher heat. The mixture gets thick because as you simmer, water is lost, leaving the sugars and fat (and less water content) behind. Upon cooling it will thicken further. Also, just to double-check, did you leave it uncovered as it was simmering?

  22. Hello, I need this sub for condensed milk so thank you but I had a thought. If I used coconut coffee creamer which is thicker to begin with would that work? Maybe would not have to cook so long?? Thanks again, Donna

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