Healthy Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

healthy sweetened condensed milk recipeThere is absolutely nothing healthy or beneficial about sweetened condensed milk even if made from organic or grassfed milk.

Strike #1 is the lengthy heating time required to reduce the milk down to a condensed state which thoroughly denatures the fragile milk proteins. Denatured milk proteins do not digest well even for those with a healthy gut as the enzymes produced by the body to perform the task no longer fit together properly with the damaged and altered milk protein molecules.

Any undigested food molecules are prime goodies for any pathogens hanging around in your gut which are more than happy to take over control from your friendly and beneficial bacteria friends if given the chance.

Strike #2 is the large amount of refined white sugar that is typically used to sweeten the final product.

Even if you make the considerable effort to make your own sweetened condensed milk at home with unrefined sweeteners, the very serious digestive problem with the denatured milk proteins still exists. I find that eating anything made with sweetened condensed milk is asking for a stuffed up nose as this overly processed food is so incredibly mucous forming.

Strike #3.  You’re outta here!

No wonder Dr. Weston A. Price derided sweetened condensed milk as one of three primary “displacing foods of modern commerce” in his seminal work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Have we really struck out with sweetened condensed milk for good?  It is so delicious, so decadent. There simply has to be a way to make this stuff healthy!

Hmmmm.  How about this for an idea?

Whole coconut milk serves as a wonderful substitute for milk in many recipes, does it not?

Why not make a healthy sweetened condensed milk recipe with coconut milk instead?

Coconut milk has very little protein (less than a single gram in a can of whole coconut milk) so the denaturing problem is no longer an issue like it is with dairy milk. In addition, making a healthy sweetened condensed milk with coconut milk affords you the freedom to choose a whole, unrefined sweetener instead of white sugar and the natural sweetness of coconut milk permits less sweetener to be used!

So bring on those recipes using sweetened condensed milk!  You will love the taste of this sweetened condensed milk recipe and how you don’t feel tired and congested after eating it!

One word of advice:  It is my experience that substituting sweetened condensed coconut milk for dairy sweetened condensed milk at a 1:1 ratio does not appreciably change the flavor of the recipe but it will probably extend the baking time a bit. For example, most key lime pie recipes say to bake at 350F for only 15 minutes if using canned sweetened condensed milk. But, if you use sweetened condensed coconut milk, I’ve found that 30 minutes at 350F is required for the pie to fully bake.  So be flexible with your baking time when using sweetened condensed coconut milk and adjust as needed.

I’ve included a brief 15 second video below of the sweetened condensed milk recipe being made. It gets mixed with some egg yolks as I make Key Lime Pie so you can see the color and consistency of the end result.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

Makes about 2 cups


4 cups whole coconut milk  (sources) or make your own (click here for video)

2/3 cup sucanat or coconut sugar (sources)


Bring whole coconut milk to a boil in a medium sized pan. When the coconut milk starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk in your sweetener, mixing thoroughly.

Continue to simmer for about 2 hours until the liquid is reduced by at least half or as much as two-thirds.  You can be doing other things around the house and check and stir occasionally as it is reducing down.

This sweetened condensed milk recipe is dark and thickened once you reduce it down.  Have a taste .. you will be amazed!

Allow to cool and use this sweetened condensed milk recipe in any of your favorite desserts.  Refrigerate the unused portion. It will keep for several days.

This healthy sweetened condensed milk freezes nicely so you can make ahead for holidays and special occasions to have on hand as needed.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


More Information

Organic Milk: Health Food Trojan Horse


Comments (53)

  1. Would I be able to use this in a no bake recipe like cheesecake please? Do you think it would turn the cheesecake brown?

  2. I was looking for an alternative to condensed milk yesterday and today found this via your newsletter! 😉

    FYI – the coconut milk linked to in the article (via ‘sources’) contains maltodextrin (from corn). Since it’s not labelled organic, would we assume it’s non-organic and possibly GMO? For those avoiding dairy, it also has ‘a trace of casein’ in it.

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist November 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      It’s nonGMO … I’ve talked to the owner of Wilderness Family Naturals about it. There is also an organic version (which I didn’t know about at the time of this posting) if you want that one instead.

  3. Pingback: A Rich and Creamy Coconut Dulce De Leche Recipe

  4. Hi Sarah,
    I have stopped using coconut oil due to my adult acne flare ups. Is there any evidence/research etc. that coconut milk is okay?
    Thanks for all you do!

    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist October 6, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Hi Robyn, the amount of coconut oil in coconut milk is obviously much lower than what would be in the straight oil. I don’t know if it would be enough to aggravate your condition or not. Worth a try perhaps?

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  6. Christine Emerson via Facebook December 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    I’m grateful for this. I’ve been passing up recipes that call for the canned stuff, not thinking that there may be a way to make it myself. Duh!

  7. I found a quick and easy recipe online awhile back and changed it to make it healthy. If one doesn’t have the time for all the cooking, they might like to try this as the ingredients are just whipped in a blender and it is done. I use it all the time to make my home made “Nutella”.
    So here is the recipe that I worked out from the one I found:
    1 cup dried coconut milk powder
    2/3 cups coconut palm sugar
    1/3 cup boiling water
    3 Tbl. melted butter
    Put all in a blender and whip till smooth.
    Hope you all enjoy. :-)

    • I forgot to mention that this also works using that trick for canned sweetened condensed milk to make a caramel sauce. I just put this in a pint mason jar. Put a canning lid on it and simmered it covered in a water bath for 3-4 hours.(keep lid on pan and do check that the water stays over the jar) The result was a great caramel sauce for topping ice cream etc. Also, as it cools, it seals so it can be kept for awhile if you make more than one batch. :-)

  8. hi sarah,
    i’m interested in where the source material comes from (re ayurveda) in using honey as a sweetener/honey as toxic when heated. not because i’m questioning you, but i’m curious to read about it. it can be so confusing as to what is and is not okay to use in this stuff. and i’m big into food as medicine so i don’t want to be missing something. i’ve noticed that honey is a constant used as an alternative to white sugar in many paleo, grain-free, etcetc recipes.
    let me know!
    ariyele ressler

  9. This would be great except people in my family are deathly allergic to coconut. Is there any other healthy alternative or do I have to stick to the canned stuff?

  10. Sarah,
    Would you be willing to share your key lime pie recipe? I LOVE key lime pie and the only other traditionally healthy recipe I’ve seen contains sour cream and other interesting ingredients I did not expect…

  11. Interesting post as usual. This is off topic but I need a recipe for baking a 20 lb fresh ham,(store brand, not pastured pork), and a recipe for making my own cranberry sauce without the pits or seeds and using coconut sugar or the sucanat you mentioned.
    I also want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  12. Adine Marston Marc via Facebook December 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks for the tip! I cannot eat dairy and my favorite key lime pie recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk…

  13. Does this end up tasting like coconut? My family does not like the flavor of coconut at all, so I’d be hesitant to invest the money and time to make this and have them not like it.

  14. Christie Sales Gmach via Facebook December 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I saw that junk in the store and thought about picking it up and immediately put it back down. I knew even though it said “organic” it still can’t be good for you.

  15. Ann Dickinson Degenhard via Facebook December 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    When I was a baby I grew too chubby on formula, so my pediatrician told my parents to feed me fat free condensed milk. This article explains a lot of the health problems I had as a baby and toddler. (I’m allergic to dairy, even raw, grassfed, jersey cow dairy, so I imagine that doesn’t help either).

  16. This looks great! Would rapadura work? I’m excited to try this but I just bought rapadura (over sucanat) because I read in Nourishing Traditions that sucanat “should be avoided.” I’m still very new in the Real Food movement and would love anyone’s thoughts on this.

  17. Pingback: Video: Sweetened Condensed Milk That is Actually Healthy | CookingPlanet

  18. The reason that Weston Price did not like sweetened condensed milk was because it contains few vitamins and a lot of calories. He showed in ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ how one would have to eat thousands of calories worth of certain foods (jam on white bread and maple syrup on pancakes were the specific examples he used) to get the same amount of phosphorus that could be found in a small amount of lentils. I do not believe he knew about proteins becoming denatured with heat, although he does mention the denaturing of food in general. He literally means that a high calorie food with minimal vitamins, like your key lime pie would displace another more nutritious food in the diet, like cheese and caviar for dessert. This is not a criticism btw. Just a clarification. I do like the idea though and thank you for the recipe. There are times when Mums have to compromise so their children can ‘fit in’ at school. Unfortunately in Australia baked slices with condensed milk are very popular fare for children. I may make this condensed milk one day as a better alternative to the tinned stuff and I will think of you. An interesting side note- a person I know that has travelled extensively in Saudi Arabia tells me that the traditional people in the desert boil/heat camel’s milk and condense it. The milk is apparently very sweet already and this makes it sweeter. I am not sure how far this practice dates but the foods of traditional societies fascinate me. Maybe camels milk has different properties or maybe this is a new practice for them introduced in the last 50 years or so? Maybe it is traditional but not healthful? I am guessing not all traditional societies had good health.

  19. Would the creamy part of canned coconut milk work as well as a condensed milk substitute if you added a healthy sweetener, rather than boiling down the whole contents of the can?

        • The practical reason why I don’t prefer to cook with honey is because good quality raw honey is very expensive and there are other whole sweeteners that do the job great that are more cost effective.

          The second reason is not proven by science (at least not yet to my knowledge) but it is a warning from the Ayurvedic tradition from India. Ayurveda teaches that heating honey makes it toxic. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to agree with that 100%, but if a traditional society warned against cooking with honey, that is pretty good reason to not do it. If you are going to use it once in awhile, no worries. I don’t think that would be a problem but if you can avoid it, probably best to do so.

          • That is absurd. The Middle East used to cook almost exclusively with honey or dates. Look at any of their pastries. I understand that this also used to be the primary sweetener in Europe. I understand that cooked honey has way less benefits than raw, but it makes no sense to consider it toxic.

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