Evaporated milk is a product used in many sweets, from fudge to cakes. It is a versatile product that thickens sweets while adding a hint of sweetness.
However, leftover evaporated milk is the bane of many a baker. Once they pour out the required amount for a recipe, bakers often don’t know what to do with the leftover dregs.
Evaporated milk often comes in cans, so it is difficult to store properly once it’s been opened. Keeping all these factors in mind, it is tempting to just pour away the leftovers rather than deal with the headache of using it.
However, there is no need to waste food. Leftover evaporated milk has many uses, and even a few drops can transform your meal.
How Long Can You Keep Evaporated Milk?
Once you open the can, you don’t have to force yourself to use evaporated milk immediately. You have a few days before it goes bad.
Usually, evaporated milk can last three to four days once it’s been opened. Unopened, it can last up to a year.
Storing your evaporated milk properly will make it last longer. Instead of keeping it in the can, transfer it to an airtight container before putting it into the fridge.
You can also store it in the freezer for longer. Fill part of an ice cube tray with evaporated milk for a fix any time that you need to.
If you don’t have a specific recipe in mind that you would like to use evaporated milk for, then you can substitute it for other dairy products in your regular recipes.
Evaporated milk can replace regular milk in most recipes. The only difference is that the texture will be creamier because evaporated milk has 60% less water content than regular milk.
You can also replace cream in sweet and savory recipes with evaporated milk. Many people prefer to substitute it for cream because it is relatively healthier and has a lower fat content.
Evaporated milk can also work in place of sweetened condensed milk if you do not have the other kind. Just be mindful that it is far less sweet.
While evaporated milk is mostly used in sweet recipes, that does not mean it doesn’t have a place in savory food as well. You can use it to make creamy sauces for dinner, dressings for a light lunch salad, and more.
Breading: If you only have a little evaporated milk left, you can use it when you’re breading meat or fish. Just mix a little milk with egg for a smoother, richer coating, and then dip it into the breadcrumbs like you usually do.
Mac and Cheese: Evaporated milk is the perfect secret ingredient for foolproof mac and cheese. Instead of spending precious time making a roux, create a quick mixture of evaporated milk and cornstarch for a gorgeous, thick cheese sauce.
Mashed Potatoes: If you don’t have regular milk on hand, or you want to use up the last of your evaporated milk, you can use evaporated milk while mashing potatoes.
Pasta Sauce: Evaporated milk can replace cream in thick pasta sauces such as alfredo or carbonara. Just add it at the end like you normally would add cream for a full-bodied sauce that has lower fat content than usual.
Salad Dressing: Believe it or not, evaporated milk can also work well in creamier salad dressings. Mix it with your favorite seasonings and some vinegar, or follow a recipe such as this one.
Sauces: Evaporated milk isn’t just useful for pasta sauce. It can replace cream or milk in sauces served with meat or fish main dishes. Use it to make a bechamel sauce, which you can then use in pasta, moussaka, and all kinds of other dishes.
Soup: Many soups, such as cream of mushroom soup, call for a splash of cream to finish the soup and thicken the mixture. You can easily replace cream with evaporated milk for very similar results. Use evaporated milk in homemade soups, or even canned soups to liven up the flavor.
Even if you do not have a full can of evaporated milk, you can still use leftovers to make delicious sweet treats. Find recipes that call for only a little evaporated milk, replace sweetened condensed milk or other dairy products, or try one of these suggestions.
Drinks: Evaporated milk adds a hint of creamy richness to coffee, tea, and even hot chocolate. Just add a splash instead of your normal creamer and enjoy.
Ice Cream: You can mix evaporated milk with regular milk or use it on its own to make ice cream. The texture of ice cream made with evaporated milk tends to be denser, almost like fudge, and it is less prone to forming ice crystals.
Oatmeal: A splash of evaporated milk in oatmeal will make your breakfast even creamier than using regular milk.
Pie: While most pie fillings call for the whole can of evaporated milk, some only need a splash to thicken the ingredients. Try mixing your leftover evaporated milk with another dairy product to get the texture that you need.
Scones: You can use evaporated milk to make scones, such as the ones in this recipe. Either use it as is or add some water to thin it out to the consistency of regular milk.
Smoothies: Get a quick start to your day by pouring some evaporated milk into your smoothie, mixed with any fruit or flavoring that you want.
Whipped Cream: If you need whipped cream but don’t have any heavy cream at home, evaporated milk will do. However, it does not beat as easily as heavy cream and does not hold its shape for as long, so keep that in mind.
What If I Have Coconut Flavored Evaporated Milk?
Flavored evaporated milk is just as versatile as the plain version. If you have coconut flavored evaporated milk, you can use it in place of coconut milk or cream in sweet or savory dishes.
Coconut flavored evaporated milk can thicken curries or sauces without adding the heaviness of full coconut milk. You can also mix it with peanut butter, sweet chili sauce, and soy sauce to make a version of satay sauce for chicken skewers.
Reconstituting Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is just regular milk with some of the water content taken out. You can turn evaporated milk back into milk by adding some liquid.
In fact, evaporated milk was originally supposed to be milk that people would add water to once they had the time and space to do so. People just discovered that it worked perfectly well in recipes in its evaporated format.
You probably should not drink reconstituted evaporated milk because it will not taste as good as regular milk. However, you can use it as an ingredient in recipes where regular evaporated milk would thicken food too much.
How to Tell If Evaporated Milk Has Gone Bad
Before using your leftover (or even unopened) evaporated milk, you should ensure that the milk has not gone bad. Although evaporated milk can be stored for much longer than most dairy products, it can still spoil.
Even before using an unopened can of evaporated milk, check to be sure that it is not past the expiration date. If the can is damaged in any way or the lid is bulging, then the milk might be spoiled, and you should not use it.
If you are thinking of using leftover evaporated milk that’s been sitting in the fridge, check its smell and taste first. If it has lumps, a sour odor, or tastes strange, then you should avoid using it.
If your leftovers have been sitting in your fridge for longer than a week, then you should not use them under any circumstances. All dairy spoils quite easily and you should not risk your health.
What to Do with Leftover Evaporated Milk
Even if you have only a splash of evaporated milk left in your can, don’t throw it away since there are many recipes where you can use it. You can substitute evaporated milk for other dairy products in recipes, such as regular milk or cream, or find recipes that only use a little evaporated milk.
You can use evaporated milk to make savory main dishes, sides, and appetizers. It’s a useful thickener for sauces, soups, and dressings. It can even help form the base of bechamel sauce.
Even a little bit of evaporated milk can liven up your sweets. Substitute it for regular milk in pie fillings, scone recipes, and more. Or, add a splash of it into your morning drinks, smoothies, and oatmeal.
Just make sure that you store your evaporated milk correctly—in an airtight, refrigerated container, for no longer than a week. Before using it, check to make sure that it is not spoiled because spoiled evaporated milk, like any dairy, could cause serious health consequences.
If you like to avoid wasting food whenever possible, don’t fret—there are plenty of uses for your leftover evaporated milk.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.