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Is evaporated milk the same as carnation milk?

Evaporated milk and carnation milk are two types of shelf-stable canned milk products. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between the two.

What is evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk is a type of concentrated milk product. It’s made by removing about 60% of the water content from regular pasteurized milk through a vacuum evaporation process. This concentrates the nutrients and makes the milk shelf-stable so it can be stored unrefrigerated until opened.

Once opened, evaporated milk needs to be refrigerated and used within 4-5 days. It has a creamy, slightly caramelized flavor due to the heating process used to evaporate the water. Evaporated milk contains about 6.5% milk fat and 7.5% milk solids.

What is carnation milk?

Carnation milk is a branded canned milk product made by Nestlé. The original Carnation evaporated milk was introduced in 1899 and helped establish shelf-stable canned milk products in the US market.

Today, Carnation offers several different types of canned milks:

  • Carnation Evaporated Milk – This is evaporated milk similar to other brands of evaporated milk. It contains added vitamin D and has a caramelized flavor due to evaporation.
  • Carnation Fat Free Evaporated Milk – Evaporated skim milk with no fat content.
  • Carnation Lowfat 2% Evaporated Milk – Evaporated milk with 2% milk fat.
  • Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk – Made by adding sugar to evaporated milk until a syrupy consistency is reached.
  • Carnation Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk – Dehydrated powdered milk that can be reconstituted with water.

Differences between evaporated milk and Carnation evaporated milk

While Carnation is a well-known brand of evaporated milk, there are some differences between Carnation brand and generic store brand evaporated milks:

  • Carnation milk contains added vitamin D, while most store brands do not.
  • Carnation uses a proprietary method to evaporate their milk that they claim results in a creamier, richer flavor.
  • Carnation evaporated milk is usually slightly higher in fat around 7.5% vs. 6.5% for generic brands.
  • Some people claim the heating process used by Carnation results in a more caramelized, sweeter flavor.
  • Carnation evaporated milk tends to be more expensive than generic evaporated milks.
  • Aside from slight differences in flavor and fat content, Carnation evaporated milk can generally be used interchangeably in recipes calling for evaporated milk.

Similarities between evaporated milk and Carnation evaporated milk

While there are some slight differences between name brands like Carnation and generic evaporated milk, they share the following attributes:

  • Both are made by removing about 60% of the water from regular milk through evaporation.
  • They have a shelf life of 6-12 months unopened.
  • Once opened, both need to be refrigerated and used within 4-5 days.
  • Both contain about double the nutrients of fresh milk since water has been removed.
  • They have a creamy texture and caramelized flavor.
  • Can be used interchangeably in recipes in most cases.

Key differences between evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk

While Carnation makes both evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, these two products have some important differences:

Evaporated Milk Sweetened Condensed Milk
Contains no added sugar Contains added sugar (about 40-45% sugar)
Caramelized, creamy flavor Very sweet flavor
Slightly thicker than regular milk Thick, syrupy texture
No substitutes needed in recipes Cannot substitute for evaporated milk in recipes

As this table shows, while both products start with milk concentration through evaporation, sweetened condensed milk has a very different nutrition profile and texture due to the added sugar. The two products cannot be substituted for each other.

Common uses for evaporated milk

Because of its thick, creamy texture and slight caramelized flavor, evaporated milk can be used in a variety of recipes, including:

  • Cream soups, chowders, and stews
  • Casseroles and macaroni and cheese
  • Custards, puddings, and ice cream
  • Coffee drinks and smoothies
  • Whipped topping
  • Cream sauces
  • Mashed potatoes

Evaporated milk is shelf-stable, so it’s also handy for camping trips, emergency kits, and use when fresh milk is not available. Due to its concentrated protein and nutrients, evaporated milk is not an exact 1:1 substitute for fresh milk.

Substitute ratios

When substituting evaporated milk for fresh milk, use the following ratios:

  • 1 cup fresh milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh milk = 2/3 cup evaporated milk

Commonly asked questions

Is evaporated milk the same as condensed milk?

No, evaporated milk and condensed milk are different products:

  • Evaporated milk: Milk with about 60% of water removed. No added sugar.
  • Condensed milk: Evaporated milk with added sugar, giving a thick, syrupy texture.

Can you make whipped cream with evaporated milk?

Yes, evaporated milk can be used to make whipped cream. For best results, chill the bowl and beaters well before whipping. Add a teaspoon of sugar per 1/2 cup evaporated milk to help stabilize the whipped cream.

Is evaporated milk already sweetened?

No, evaporated milk does not contain added sugars – it’s concentrated milk without added sweeteners. Sweetened condensed milk is the sweetened version used in desserts.

Does evaporated milk curdle in coffee?

Evaporated milk is less likely to curdle in hot coffee than regular milk since it’s been heat treated. Make sure coffee is not scalding hot before adding evaporated milk.

Can babies drink evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk is not recommended as a drink for babies under age 1. Babies under 1 year should drink breastmilk or infant formula. Evaporated milk may be used in recipes for babies over 1 year old.


In summary, evaporated milk is milk that has had about 60% of its water content removed through evaporation. This makes it shelf-stable. Carnation is a popular brand of evaporated milk that adds vitamin D and uses a proprietary evaporation process. While there are small differences between brands, both generic and name brand evaporated milk can generally be used interchangeably in recipes calling for evaporated milk. Compared to sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk contains no added sugar and has a different texture and flavor profile. It can be used as a substitute for regular milk in certain recipes by diluting it or adjusting ratios.