Evaporated milk: Why you should be cooking with this forgotten pantry ingredient

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If you’re not familiar with evaporated milk, it’s tinned milk that has been heated to remove 60% of the water content. Leaving you with a creamier and slightly sweeter taste than fresh milk. You might be familiar with the name "Ideal milk" often used in recipes and identified as evaporated milk in South Africa. However, this is the name of the brand not the product itself.

My first introduction to evaporated milk was a simple yet satisfying dessert that my grandmother would prepare, whenever my grandfather was craving something sweet to indulge in after dinner, (which was often).

She would serve us tinned peaches or guavas with evaporated milk poured over them and it would feed a family of 6 people for dessert. Today that would cost just under R60! Since then, most recent recipes, sweet and savoury don’t seem to include this magic ingredient that can be used as a milk and cream substitute of any kind.

Uses for evaporated milk:

1. Chill in the fridge to use as a whipping cream substitute as the milk will double in size and become thicker in consistency.

2. Replace with normal milk for a creamy and sweeter result in your coffee, tea and hot chocolate. 

3. Use to thicken sauces or custards – sweet and savoury alike.

Never used evaporated milk before? Why not try our 6 delicious dessert recipes to get you started!

Milk-soaked chocolate sheet cake

milk-soak chocolate sheet cake


No-churn condensed milk custard and koeksister ice cream

Lemon fridge tart

Lemon fridge tart

Granadilla fridge tart

Milk tart shooters

milk tart shooters


Amarula and orange malva pudding filled eggs