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Choosing Between Condensed Milk and Heavy Cream

One of the biggest debates in the culinary world: condensed milk vs. heavy cream. Well, not really. But it might as well be. There are those who drink their tea with condensed milk and those that use heavy cream. 

These two gooey, sweet concoctions are both thick and creamy and make perfect additions to your recipes. But, what’s the difference between condensed milk vs. heavy cream? We’ll touch on each product and tell you when to use condensed milk and when to use heavy cream.

What is Condensed Milk?

Condensed Milk and Heavy Cream

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), condensed milk is created by heating regular fresh milk until about 60% of its water content evaporates. It’s then mixed with sugar and stored in cans. The resulting product is thick, sweetened, and shelf-stable — meaning it can be stored at room temperature without spoiling quickly.

How do you use condensed milk?

One of the most well-known uses for condensed milk is in desserts like ice cream and fudge. But some people enjoy adding it to their morning cup of coffee or tea because it’s so sweet and creamy. Condensed milk also provides an easy way to make homemade caramel sauce with almost no effort required.

What is Heavy Cream?

Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, contains at least 36 percent butterfat. It has a consistency similar to sour cream but with higher fat content and lower protein content.

Heavy cream can be whipped into fluffy peaks but will eventually collapse and weep liquid if overbeaten.

When to Use Heavy Cream?

Use heavy cream when you want a velvety consistency and flavor in your dishes. It can be whipped into peaks for use as a dessert topping. Use it in full-fat versions of recipes where it will be fully incorporated into the dish as an ingredient, like soups or sauces.

Heavy cream should not be used for cooking at high temperatures since it can curdle easily and does not have the same nutritional value as dairy milk.

What’s the Difference Between Condensed Milk vs. Heavy Cream?

Condensed milk and heavy cream are two very different ingredients that can be used for similar purposes, such as combining them with coffee to make a creamy beverage. However, some major differences between the two ingredients should be considered when choosing which one would be best for your recipe.

Whether you’re making brownies, ice cream, or hot chocolate, here’s what you need to know about condensed milk vs. heavy cream.

Condensed Milk:

  • Sweeter than heavy cream
  • Slightly darker in color than heavy cream
  • Thicker than heavy cream
  • It can be used as a substitute for heavy cream (with some modifications)

Heavy Cream

  • Not as sweet as condensed milk
  • Lighter in color than condensed milk
  • Thinner than condensed milk
  • Higher in fat and calories than condensed milk

Condensed milk vs. Heavy cream: Are they interchangeable? 

It is made from whole milk and sugar, while heavy cream is made from just the milk’s fat.

Condensed milk and heavy cream are dairy products with distinct purposes in cooking. Sweetened condensed milk is used in desserts like pumpkin pie and sweetbreads. On the other hand, heavy cream is used in buttercream frostings or homemade ice cream.

They can’t be used interchangeably. Heavy cream is too thick to use in place of condensed milk, while condensed milk is too sweet to use in place of heavy cream.

Sweetened condensed milk is a type of condensed milk made by removing water from pasteurized milk and adding sugar. It’s used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer in many desserts and drinks.

Heavy cream (heavy whipping cream) is usually 30-40 percent fat. It has a thick consistency, making it perfect for adding volume to whipped creams, custards, and ice creams.

Converting between condensed milk and heavy cream depends on their fat content and whether you’re using a liquid or solid measurement. The conversion is easier if you use a recipe that lists both ingredients and quantities in the same format, like ounces instead of cups.

What kind of milk do you use for condensed milk? 

Sweetened Condensed Milk is made from whole milk and sugar and nothing else. The milk is heated until half the water has evaporated, then sugar is added. It’s that simple!

How do you make sweetened condensed milk out of evaporated milk? 

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together evaporated milk and sugar until well combined and dissolved sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer the mixture for 25 minutes, frequently whisking so that it does not burn on the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using in recipes

Whether to Use Condensed Milk or Heavy Cream

If you’re trying to decide whether to use condensed milk or heavy cream, the answer is easy. It’s all about taste and consistency. The main thing to keep in mind is that condensed milk has sugar and fat, whereas heavy cream does not.

Condensed milk has a thicker consistency than heavy cream, and it retains that consistency even after you’ve whipped it. So if you’re making something like a dessert, you can use condensed milk instead of heavy cream to ensure your dessert doesn’t turn out too watery or runny. And its thick quality makes it an ideal substitute for other types of dairy products, like whole fat yogurt or sour cream.

Which one will make your recipes taste the best?

Condensed Milk and Heavy Cream

It depends on what you’re trying to do! Condensed milk is probably a better choice if you want to add a rich sweetness and extra fat (yum) to your recipe. You can mix it in as-is or whip it up for a fluffier result. Condensed milk is perfect for making flavored whipped toppings for cakes or pies—try adding vanilla extract or orange zest for extra flavor!

Heavy cream has a high-fat content, making it perfect for adding creaminess and thickness to soups, sauces, and mashed potatoes. The high-fat content of this ingredient also makes it easier to whip into soft peaks.

But what if you want both the thickening power of heavy cream’s and the sweetness of condensed milk? You can combine these two ingredients in many recipes! For example, when making chowder or macaroni and cheese, add some heavy cream and condensed milk to thicken up the sauce without adding too much sweetness.

In summation: If you want something sweet like frosting or hot cocoa that’s super thick, use condensed milk. If you want something rich with a milder sweetness, like soup or mashed potatoes, go for heavy cream.


Can I substitute condensed milk with regular milk?

Technically, yes, but we would caution against it. Condensed milk is basically milk cooked down and has sugar added to it. It will have a very different flavor from regular milk, and it will also be much thicker than regular milk. You can not make condensed milk by cooking regular milk; the proteins in the milk will denature long before the liquid evaporates enough to equal the concentration of condensed milk.

What are some alternatives to Condensed milk?

Heavy cream, evaporated milk, powdered sugar, or sweetened whipped cream.

What can I substitute for heavy cream in a recipe? 

Combining milk and butter is an easy, foolproof way to substitute for heavy cream that’ll work for most recipes.

Is condensed milk the same as evaporated milk? 

No, condensed milk has added sugar. Evaporated milk is just cow’s milk with water removed.