I’ve been making vegan sweetened condensed milk for years to use in dessert bars, fudge, and the like. It simply never occurred to me until now to share my recipe with you. There are several other non-dairy condensed milk recipes online, but all of them seem to use coconut milk or coconut butter. Come on, vegans! We don’t have to put coconut in everything. With a little care, you can sweeten and condense homemade nut milk to get a thick, slightly caramelized mixture that’s perfect wherever regular sweetened condensed milk would be.
Pictured in these photographs is vegan sweetened condensed milk made with a batch of my homemade toasted macadamia nut milk. I am a macadamia nut fiend and I love the buttery flavor they give to this recipe. I think they’re really the best option if you’re able to find some at a reasonable price. Otherwise, this also works beautifully with almonds or cashews. Or, sigh, the dreaded coconut milk. I have not tried this out with soy milk, oat milk, or rice milk. I think soy milk would likely thicken nicely but might taste a little strongly of soy. I would worry about oat milk and rice milk thickening properly, but definitely tell me if you give it a try. No matter what, for the best results, start with a non-dairy milk that has minimal thickeners or stabilizers added. This is why I recommend homemade nut milk and include the steps to make it in the recipe instructions.
As you can see, I was playing around with some strawberries while taking these photos. Obviously I had to make a huge sacrifice and eat them afterward; and I honestly think strawberries + sweetened condensed macadamia nut milk might be a perfect dessert in itself. SUCH a good combo.
I didn’t stop with just the strawberries, though 🙂 I have a dessert recipe I’ll be sharing very soon that makes beautiful use of this vegan sweetened condensed milk. Until then, may I suggest making a batch just to keep in the fridge and put on absolutely everything?
Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 cup roasted macadamia nuts (or use raw or roasted cashews or almonds)
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup cane sugar (or coconut sugar)
- (optional) 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Nut milk bag or cheesecloth
Add the macadamia nuts and water to a blender. (My usual food processor cannot accommodate this amount of liquid, so I have to use a blender for this - if you have a high end food processor you may be able to use it). Blend the mixture as smooth as you can get it.
Prepare either a nut milk bag (or 4 layers of cheesecloth) positioned over a bowl or small pitcher. Carefully pour the mixture from the blender into the nut milk bag (or layered cheesecloth). Gather the edges together and then squeeze as much liquid out of the bag as you possibly can. Put some muscle into it! *Pulp can be saved and stirred into oatmeal, quick breads, energy bars, etc.*
Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of the milk into a saucepan (preferably one with a thick bottom); reserve the pulp and excess milk for another use. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and stir in the sugar. Continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Reduce the heat to low, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally (and taking care to scrape around the bottom of the pan when you do), until the mixture is reduced by half; about 60 minutes. (See the notes for more detailed information about this step). Stir in the vanilla, if using.
The sweetened condensed milk will thicken further as it cools. Let it come to room temperature, then store it in the fridge for up to a week or so.
ALMONDS: Note that if you choose to use almonds, for best results you should remove the almond skins first.
PRE-MADE DAIRY-FREE MILK: You can use pre-made milk and start at step 3. Please note that your sweetened condensed non-dairy milk may not work out or taste nice if you the milk you use has thickeners, stabilizers, added flavoring, etc. You can also use canned coconut milk. It won't need to cook for as long because it's a little thicker already.
LOWER OR LESS REFINED SUGAR: You can use coconut sugar in a 1:1 substitution. The condensed milk will have a much darker color and be a little less sweet. You can also use regular sugar but reduce the amount to 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup.
COOK TIME: This takes about 1 hour to cook; I stir it every 5 to 10 minutes. You can cook it in less time at a slightly higher heat if you are able to stay nearby and stir it more frequently. You can also keep the heat very low and stir infrequently, but it may take even longer than an hour to reduce. If this is your first time making vegan sweetened condensed milk then I recommend checking it frequently regardless.
COLOR: This vegan sweetened condensed milk ends up with a light caramel color. But if you desire a more pure white color, then: (1) use a clear vanilla extract or omit the vanilla extract completely, (2) use refined white sugar (may not be suitable for ethical vegans), and (3) cook it at very low heat to prevent the sugar from caramelizing.
NUTRITION: Nutrition facts are calculated using coconut sugar and macadamia nuts.