Can You Use Evaporated Milk In Coffee? (Try A Creamy Twist)

Evaporated milk in coffee might sound strange.

If you are not a cook, you might not even know what canned evaporated milk is.

After trying it myself, and doing some research to find exactly what it is in it, I think coffee with evaporated milk is worth a try. I have all the details here below!

You can use evaporated milk undiluted in freshly brewed coffee instead of milk, as a coffee creamer substitute, or in place of half-and-half or cream.

Because it imparts a slightly different flavor and has a cooling effect, it is not the thing if you want to appreciate the unique flavor of a specialty coffee or settle in with a hot cup of your favorite coffee.

However, here are three reasons why I think you should try evaporated milk coffee at least once:

  • 1
    It is potentially healthier than what you have been using in your morning coffee.
  • 2
    It breaks up the monotony of common coffee additives.
  • 3
    It has a much longer unrefrigerated shelf life than regular milk. (This could come in handy in some situations.)

1. Can You Use Evaporated Milk In Iced Coffee?

Yes - Iced coffee is a great way to take advantage of evaporated milk's concentrated nature to offset the melting of ice cubes.

2. Can You Use Evaporated Milk In Cold Brew Coffee?

Yes - There is no problem with using it in cold-brew coffee. It might not be worth it, though, since cold brew already has a special creaminess and sweetness.

3. Can You Use Evaporated Milk In Instant Coffee?

Yes - If you are camping (or otherwise lacking time, space, or energy), instant coffee and evaporated canned milk are easy, compact, and shelf-stable.

Pouring Evaporated Milk From Can Into Cup

Evaporated Milk Explained (Ingredients & Nutrition)

What’s In It?

First of all, it is just liquid milk, only, it is heated both for sterilization and such that over half of its constituent water evaporates.

This process leaves canned evaporated milk with half the volume, a tannish color, and a slightly sweeter or caramelized flavor.

To be more specific, Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk, for example, has ingredients: milk, dipotassium phosphate (preservative), carrageenan (texture), and vitamin D3 (fortification).

What Is The Purpose Of It?

Originally, evaporated milk's selling point was its long shelf life and portability. Initially, it was intended to be diluted with water to make something like regular milk.

PET is a popular brand, to the point that some people say “PET milk” to refer to evaporated milk, but Nestlé Carnation is competitive.

Carnation offers more evaporated milk options, including a Tetra Pak carton, an appealing modern contrast to the traditional can. Carnation also offers lactose-free and reduced-fat options, while PET offers a skim alternative.

The demand for shelf-stable milk has diminished with the prevalence of refrigerators, but evaporated milk, with its thicker consistency, still works better for some cooking applications.

It is prevalent in recipes for mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese, as well as creamy soups and sauces. It is a staple ingredient in fudge, pumpkin pie, and German chocolate cake frosting.

Is It Healthy?

Specifically, the nutrition label on Nestle Carnation indicates (per 2 Tbsp serving): 40 calories; 2g fat–no trans fat. It has relatively few carbohydrates/sugar–no added sugar–and a little protein.

The biggest health downside for most people is evaporated milk’s richness: Unless you use skim evaporated milk, it has over double the fat and calories, ounce for ounce, of whole milk.[1]

Are There Dairy-Free Alternatives?

Some people are allergic to milk components, and this is still in play for evaporated milk; it has the same constituents as fresh milk.

In some cases, non-dairy alternatives can work, but usually, they lack the richness of evaporated milk.[2]

Soy milk, for example, is a bit sweet and has a tan color, but it is lighter in texture (and usually fat) than evaporated milk.

Adding Evaporated Milk To Iced Coffee

What Coffee Drinks Taste Good With Evaporated Milk?

In Southeast Asian countries, (sweetened) condensed milk in coffee is prevalent, but you could use evaporated milk as a low-sugar variation.

Vietnamese coffee is exceptionally strong; the Vietnamese like to soften their bitter coffee drinks with condensed milk. Similarly, in Thailand, iced tea commonly has both evaporated and condensed milk.

Hong Kong goes further still with a special coffee, tea, and condensed milk combination that is quite popular.

However, Europe has espresso, which is also a strong coffee. So, accordingly, Spain has the café bombón (my favorite), equal parts espresso and condensed milk.

Aside from trying these, you could add flavored syrup, maple syrup, or your favorite sweetener to coffee with evaporated milk to get the exact flavor you want; the fact that it has no sweeteners frees you up.

On the web, people agree that–whether adding to a beverage or using in a recipe–evaporated or sweetened condensed milk offers a different taste.

I compare it to swapping peanut butter for almond butter on your PB&J. If you use a different nut butter, you could find you like a different accompaniment (e.g., you prefer honey with almond butter but still think grape jelly is best with peanut butter).

This gives more ways to make delicious coffee, but if you prefer black coffee or tea, all these options are probably not worth it. Evaporated milk will seem as distracting and unnecessarily caloric as regular milk.

Evaporated Milk Versus Other Types Of Milk In Coffee

Evaporated Milk Vs Condensed Milk

Evaporated milk and unsweetened condensed milk are synonyms: Condensed milk goes through the same evaporation process but has a significant amount of sugar added.

Evaporated Milk Vs Half & Half

These coincidentally have similar fat and calorie contents and are good substitutes, but they are not the same thing. Half-and-half is equal parts cream and whole milk.

Evaporated Milk Vs Cream

Light cream is the next level up from half-and-half/evaporated milk in fat content; heavy cream is yet another step up.

Evaporated Milk Vs Low-Fat Milk

Skim, 1%, and 2% can all be used to make evaporated milk, but the resulting condensed/evaporated product will always be thicker and richer than its regular milk counterpart.

Evaporated Milk Vs Lactose-Free Milk

Some companies offer lactose-free evaporated/condensed milk. Normal evaporated milk contains lactose, so be aware if you have lactose intolerance. The taste will be similar even those the lactose has been removed.

Scooping Evaporated Milk

How To Add Evaporated Milk To Coffee (The Right Way)

Using evaporated milk in coffee is mostly no different from using other dairy products–you have to add it to taste to your own desired amount.

Note, however, that the recommended serving size is 2 tbsp (equivalent to 1 oz), which is probably on the upper end of what most people would add to a coffee beverage.

Even though it is a concentrated milk, there is no need to dilute it; you can use it as a coffee creamer substitute.

Especially if you choose a lower-fat option, watch out for curdling. Curdling is more likely if you mix a low-fat dairy with a hot acid.

It is unclear whether it is harder or easier to make evaporated milk curdle, but either way, watch out when adding it to hot coffee, especially acidic/bitter coffee. To be safe, try using higher-fat evaporated milk in cold coffee drinks.

Also, with some baking applications, you can get away with using old dairy products– it might even work better than fresh.

Pouring Bonny Evaporated Milk Into Coffee

I learned the hard way that you really cannot do this for coffee with evaporated milk. It will curdle and not taste right-- It is nasty! Obey the labeled expiration date and throw it out if it has been stored cold for more than a few days.

Be sure to shake stored evaporated milk–just as you would before opening the can–and realize you will need to do this as you are choosing what container to use for storage.

Coffee franchises occasionally use evaporated or condensed in specialty creamy lattes, so adding them to your arsenal is a way to develop your seasonal favorites:

Consider food-inspired coffee flavor profiles, such as fudge, German chocolate–or of course, pumpkin or sweet potato pie. Try appropriate accompanying ingredients, such as marshmallows, cocoa or chocolate, or spices, respectively.

Of course, you could use leftover evaporated milk to make these foods themselves. This makes evaporated milk an economical way to upgrade your daily coffee drink, satisfy your sweet tooth, and be a better cook.

Common Evaporated Milk In Coffee Questions

Is evaporated milk a good substitute for coffee creamer?

Yes, evaporated milk is almost always a healthier substitute. Regular coffee creamer might be lower in fat, but the sugar content is higher. Creamers are available to suit different dietary needs (sugar-free, plant-based, etc.), but all have artificial flavors and preservatives. Moreover, most coffee creamers contain vegetable oil in place of real milk, which makes them relatively lower in protein.[3]

Can you whip or froth evaporated milk?

You sort of can froth evaporated milk, but it is not the best. Across the web, people have tried to do this, only to get evaporated milk to a slightly lighter texture–but not whipped cream. Evaporated milk has a creamy texture, but you must add regular milk, or ideally cream, to get a good froth.

How do you store evaporated milk?

Always store evaporated milk in an air-tight container in the refrigerator–no more than a few (up to 5) days. Cartons (available from some brands) are more convenient in cases where you know you are going to have some left–plus, cartons keep for 10 days.

Does Starbucks have evaporated milk?

Starbucks does not explicitly offer evaporated or condensed milk since it is not a popular ingredient. However, they might be able to satisfy the request since they use it in some of their coffee recipes.[4]

Are evaporated and skim milk the same thing?

No, evaporated and skim milk are not inherently the same; evaporated milk can be made from skim milk, though. Skim milk just refers to the milk fat content being “skimmed” off the top.


So, using evaporated milk for coffee is not only possible but also a practical way for the coffee lover to make a wild, new creamy coffee drink.

Furthermore, evaporated milk is arguably much healthier than coffee creamer.

Previously, the lack of options and having to deal with a can were turn-offs to the modern user, but companies are offering more and more evaporated milk options so that everyone can enjoy the long shelf-life and unique qualities that evaporated milk offers.


Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis

Kayla Stavridis is the Head of Marketing here at Barista HQ. While keeping up-to-date on the latest trends in coffee, you can find her sipping a cold brew with just a touch of milk on the beach in the afternoon and a Corona with lime in the evening. She is passionate about keeping you informed about what’s new in coffee.

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