How to use up the rest of a can of sweetened condensed milk

Other than spooning it straight from the can, of course

By Briana Riddock

Published December 18, 2020 10:00AM (EST)

Bowl with pouring condensed milk (Getty Images/Julia Sudnitskaya)
Bowl with pouring condensed milk (Getty Images/Julia Sudnitskaya)

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My mornings these days start off with a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a scoop of thick sweetened condensed milk. I skip the cream and sugar all together, since sweetened condensed milk — milk that's been concentrated and heavily sweetened; its viscosity is like molasses or honey and it moves just as slowly — gives creaminess and sweetness in one product.

My mother always had a can in the pantry at any given time. It was a staple in our home. We baked with it, sweetened Jamaican cornmeal porridge with it, and my mother used it in her tea. Once I've opened a can, I store the remaining milk (poured out of the can) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. (And if you want to make it yourself, Stephanie Le has a simple recipe for making a batch of sweetened condensed milk of your own.)

But what to do with an open can of it besides stir it into coffee? Here are a few practical uses for a leftover sweetened condensed milk:

  • Sweeten tea and coffee by scooping a dollop of sweetened condensed milk into your mug. Try it chilled in iced coffee or tea, too.
  • Drizzle over fresh fruit. It brightens up the tangy and sour flavor of grapefruit really well.
  • Substitute half of the milk needed in baking cornbread with condensed milk for an added subtle sweetness.
  • Anthony Myint's French Toast Crunch uses condensed milk to create a sweet chamomile custard for dunking the French toast into before baking it.
  • Sweetened condensed milk is one of the three milks in a tres leches cake, and this Coconut Tres Leches uses a full can of it.
  • Make ice cream! Like this No-Cook Blackberry-Lemon Ice CreamNigella Lawson's One-Step, No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream is also a great recipe for a simple ice cream sweetened by condensed milk—as is Thai Ice Tea Ice Cream. Or drizzle it over a granita (like this one).
  • Spread a thick coat of condensed milk butter on a slice of toast or make Darjeeling Tea Pain Perdu.
  • The filling of Bill Smith's Atlantic Beach Pie is simply a can of condensed milk with beaten together with a few egg yolks and lemon juice (and then baked together on a crust of saltine crackers).

Additional suggestions from the Food52 editors:

  • Make dulce de leche! David Lebovitz's genius recipe is as simple as 1) pouring sweetened condensed milk into a pie plate with a bit of salt, 2) setting the plate in a water bath, 3) covering with foil and baking until caramelized.
  • If you have Café Du Monde with chicory (or any dark roast coffee, really) and some sweetened condensed milk, you're just a few steps away from Vietnamese iced coffee. The super-strong, sweet, and slightly nutty (if you've got the chicory additon!) drink is a killer way to beat any sleepiness.
  • A batch of Thai iced tea, the creamy drink of black tea seasoned with star anise, crushed tamarind, and cardamom, mixed with whole and sweetened condensed milk poured over ice is all I want on a hot afternoon.
  • Add a hefty splash of sweetened condensed milk to your favorite fruit smoothie, like this berry-banana-oat number. It will no longer be vegan, but it will be an ice cream-less fruity milkshake.
  • This dreamy Pakistani Firni, also known as ground rice pudding, made with cardamom, saffron, and rose water, gets its sweetness from sweetened condensed milk.
  • Super-simple, sweet-tart key lime pie wouldn't be the same without sweetened condensed milk.
  • It doesn't need to be Passover to make a batch of pillow-centered, craggy-edged macaroons, which call for ¾ cup of sweetened condensed milk. I like to dunk them in dark chocolate and finish with flaky salt.
  • Cocktail writer Erik Lombardo has a tip for eggnog fans: the Puerto Rican version known as Coquito, which is made with sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk.

Briana Riddock

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