How long does opened evaporated milk last?

Evaporated milk is an essential ingredient that can enhance the taste and texture of several dishes. It is a shelf-stable dairy product that has about 60% of the water removed to make it last longer. But once you open a can of evaporated milk, you might wonder how long it lasts before it goes bad. In this article, we’ll explore the answer to the question, “How long does opened evaporated milk last?”

What is evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk is a type of concentrated milk that has had 60% of its water removed through a heating and evaporation process. This process gives the milk a thicker and creamier consistency and increases its shelf life. It is commonly used in many recipes, including desserts, sauces, and soups, as a substitute for fresh milk, cream, or half-and-half. Evaporated milk has a rich and slightly caramelized flavor, making it an excellent addition to your favorite recipes.

How is evaporated milk made?

To make evaporated milk, milk is heated in a large, shallow pan until about 60% of its water content evaporates, leaving behind a concentrated, caramel-colored liquid. The milk is then homogenized, meaning the fat molecules are broken down and distributed evenly throughout the liquid. Because of this, evaporated milk has a consistent texture and rich, slightly sweet taste that’s perfect for cooking and baking. Some brands further sterilize the milk to extend its shelf life.

Does evaporated milk go bad?

Evaporated milk, like all dairy products, can go bad if not stored or used correctly. The good news is that evaporated milk is a shelf-stable product, meaning it can last for months or even years if left unopened on the shelf. Once opened, however, its shelf life decreases dramatically. Because evaporated milk is thicker and more concentrated than regular milk, it has a lower water content, which reduces the risk of bacterial growth. But once exposed to air, those bacteria can quickly multiply and cause spoilage.

How long does opened evaporated milk last?

Once opened, evaporated milk generally lasts for 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator. This time frame may vary depending on several factors, including the temperature of your refrigerator and the type of container you stored the milk in. To extend the shelf life of your open can of evaporated milk, consider transferring it to an airtight container and storing it on the shelf of the refrigerator, away from any light or heat sources. Be sure to label the container with the date you opened it, so you know when to toss it out.

How to tell if evaporated milk has gone bad

If you’re not sure whether your open can of evaporated milk has gone bad, there are a few signs to watch out for. The first is a change in color. Fresh evaporated milk should have a creamy, caramel color, but if it turns yellow or brown, that’s a sign of spoilage. Another indication is a foul or sour smell. If your evaporated milk smells off, it’s best to toss it out. Finally, if you see any mold or curdling in your evaporated milk, do not consume it.

How to store evaporated milk

To extend the shelf life of unopened evaporated milk, store it in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet, away from any sources of heat or light. Once opened, transfer any leftover milk to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze evaporated milk?

Yes, you can freeze evaporated milk. Freezing evaporated milk can extend its shelf life significantly. The lower temperature inhibits bacterial growth, so the milk stays fresh for longer. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and give it a good shake before opening.

How to use evaporated milk

Evaporated milk can enhance the flavor and texture of many dishes, both sweet and savory. Here are some ideas for using evaporated milk in your cooking and baking:

  • Use it as a substitute for cream in soups or sauces.
  • Add it to your coffee instead of regular creamer for a creamier taste.
  • Incorporate it into your mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese for extra creaminess.
  • Use it in place of regular milk in your pancake or waffle batter.
  • Make a rich and creamy hot cocoa by simmering evaporated milk with cocoa powder and sugar.


Evaporated milk is a versatile ingredient that can enhance the taste and texture of your favorite dishes. To ensure the freshness of your evaporated milk, be sure to store it correctly and watch for any signs of spoilage. If in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and throw it out. So go ahead and explore the delicious possibilities of this fantastic dairy product.

Common questions and answers

  • Q: Can I drink evaporated milk directly from the can?
  • A: While it’s safe to drink evaporated milk directly from the can, it’s not recommended. Evaporated milk has a thicker and creamier texture that may not be pleasant to drink alone. It is best used as an ingredient in your favorite dishes.
  • Q: Can I use evaporated milk if it’s past its expiration date?
  • A: No, it’s not recommended to use evaporated milk past its expiration date. The product may have spoiled and may cause foodborne illness if consumed.
  • Q: Do I need to refrigerate evaporated milk before opening?
  • A: No, you do not need to refrigerate evaporated milk before opening. The product is shelf-stable and can sit on the pantry shelf for several months or even years. Once opened, however, you should transfer any leftover milk to the fridge.
  • Q: Can I use evaporated milk as a substitute for condensed milk?
  • A: No, evaporated milk and condensed milk are not interchangeable. Condensed milk is sweetened and has a syrupy consistency, while evaporated milk is unsweetened and has a creamier texture.


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