Hong Kong French toast, rice pudding, dulce de leche, Vietnamese coffee – these are some of the most exciting foods known to humankind, or the food-obsessed like me at least. And they’re all possible thanks to one glorious ingredient: condensed milk. So what’s a conscious gastronome to do? If you’re plant-based, fret not, there are all kinds of vegan sweetened condensed milk products for you and we’ve rounded them up.
Condensed milk is an absolute gift. Sweet, smooth, thick and delightful, it can be used in endless dishes and cooking applications. It can also turn into the caramelised milk product that is dulce de leche (which is, in my opinion, even superior).
Condensed milk is, in fact, so popular that one research firm predicts the sector will reach a $15.2B valuation by 2031. As the demand for plant-based alternatives to dairy products grows, a host of brands are offering vegan condensed milk products to satisfy these consumers’ cravings.
While this list does feature a few coconut-based condensed milks, it’s broader than that. See for yourself:
Nature’s Charm Sweetened Condensed Coconut & Oat Milks
Thai vegan brand Nature’s Charm claims to be the world’s first producer of sweetened condensed coconut milk, which it launched in 2014. It comprises coconut cream and water (which make up 59% of the product), cane sugar, guar gum and salt, and is fortified with calcium carbonate.
But Nature’s Charm doesn’t stop there – it has a host of other coconut-based dairy products. There’s a sugar-free vegan condensed milk, which swaps out the sugar for erythritol, ups the coconut milk content to 77%, and adds in virgin coconut oil and a stabiliser. In addition, the brand makes evaporated coconut milk, with 98.5% coconut cream and water, plus coconut sugar, guar gum and sea salt.
And last year, Nature’s Charm added to its plant-based condensed milk portfolio with two oat milk products. The condensed oat milk contains 20% oat milk, cane sugar, virgin coconut oil, guar gum, sea salt and calcium carbonate, while the evaporated oat milk swaps out the cane sugar for a lower amount of coconut sugar.
This range makes for a perfect alternative to the classic condensed coconut milk for people who don’t like the taste of coconut or are trying to avoid its flavour seeping into the specific dish they’re making.
Biona Organic Sweetened Condensed Milk
Like many others, Biona takes the dairy-free classic coconut milk and turns it into a condensed milk alternative. A British brand renowned for its fully organic product portfolio, Biona’s vegan condensed milk uses certified organic ingredients.
The product is made of just two ingredients: coconut milk and cane sugar, in a 75/25 ratio. Biona says the milk works wonderfully in all baking applications – but beware if you’re not a coconut fan, as that is the overlying flavour here.
Consumer reviews have found the milk very strong in its coconut flavour and much sweeter than the traditional version, with temperatures playing a role in the consistency of the product.
Carnation Vegan Condensed Milk
A brand that’s almost synonymous with condensed milk, Carnation is a subsidiary of the world’s biggest condensed milk producer, Nestlé. Carnation has been selling its evaporated and condensed milk products since 1899, but in 2020, it finally hopped onto the plant-based bandwagon.
The vegan condensed milk is made from a base of oat and hydrolysed rice flour, and not much else. Surprisingly for a mass-produced plant-based food product, Nestlé’s dairy-free Carnation contains just five ingredients. Apart from the two flours, it has sugar, water and sunflower oil.
The product has been certified by The Vegan Society, and can be used as a like-for-like substitute for sweetened condensed milk applications. Carnation says it tastes sweet and fudgy without being overpowering, but consumer reviews have called the vegan alternative overly sweet and nothing like conventional condensed milk.
Let’s Do Organic Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
California’s Edward & Sons Trading Co. is the parent company of Let’s Do Organic, a vegetarian and gluten-free food company that has been making baking and dessert products since 1998.
Let’s Do Organic does a sweetened condensed coconut milk too, which is as clean-label as Biona’s. The two-ingredient list comprises organic coconut milk and organic cane sugar (and the former is just made from coconuts and water).
And by the way, the company makes vegan ice-cream cones too. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Jus’ Amazin Dairy-Free Dessert Mate
Indian brand Jus’ Amazin was launched in 2019 by a former DuPont director, and claims to make what is the world’s first condensed almond milk.
Named Dairy-Free Dessert Mate (possibly a riff on Indian dairy giant Amul’s Mithai Mate), this plant-based condensed milk is made from just two ingredients: 80% almonds and 20% organic jaggery. Jus’ Amazin claims the product has 22g of protein per 100g and contains essential macro- and micro-nutrients.
The brand markets the product as a suitable alternative to condensed milk in Indian desserts like kulfi, kheer and phirni, alongside Western sweet treats like fudges, brownies and cakes.
Mementa Organic Coconut Condensed Milk
If you’re bored of plain old condensed coconut milk, Mementa has you covered. The Florida-based organic vegan food brand has an entire range of condensed coconut milk, so you can choose the flavour that suits your recipe best.
The four flavours are plain, vanilla, coffee and strawberry. And yes, the ingredient list is very minimal here- the plain condensed milk contains only coconut milk, coconut sugar, water and guar gum (all organic), while the three other products each contain just one extra ingredient labelled as ‘organic vanilla/coffee/strawberry flavour’.
Mementa promises a smooth and thick consistency of its plant-based condensed milk, and labels it as a “decadent” flavour with just “a hint of coconut”. But consumer reviews have found the product to have a much thinner consistency with lower sweetness than expected, with the clean-label aspect resulting in a separation of the coconut milk’s contents (it needs to be shaken well before opening, or stirred after).
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