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How to make lactose free condensed milk

How to make lactose free condensed milk

Condensed milk has been a bit of a thorn in my side since getting into FODMAP. Given that, as the name suggests, it is condensed dairy, it tends to be very high FODMAP. While I personally seem to have grown out of my lactose intolerance, the sheer amount of lactose in condensed milk still gives me issues. So, today we’re here making lactose free condensed milk.

An aerial view of a gluten free Hedehog slice that has been sliced into. It sits on a white marble table and the slices reveal the biscuit filled slice underneath

What do I need lactose free condensed milk for?

Condensed milk is used in lots of dessert recipes, like Hedgehog slices, no churn ice creams and some puddings and tarts. It can be used in blondies, caramel slices and tres leches cake, among other things.

Regular condensed milk contains a lot of lactose, which makes it unsuitable for people with lactose intolerances and those following a low FODMAP diet. This recipe gives people with lactose intolerance more options when making these sorts of desserts.

Lactose free milk isn’t available where I live – can I make my own?

Yes, you can easily make your own lactose free milk. In fact, it’s generally cheaper and more delicious than the variety at the shops. You can find my recipe for lactose free milk here.

A moody aerial shot of slices of gluten free Hedgehog slice on a dark steel plate against a dark backdrop

Can I make a vegan condensed milk?

Yes, you can! I have written a vegan condensed milk recipe, which you can find here. These days, there are a number of vegan condensed milks commercially available in Australia. It is still very handy to be able to make your own, though. Particularly if you are in a rush to make a gluten free vegan Hedgehog slice.

Can I use brown sugar to make condensed milk?

I initially intended to use brown sugar for this recipe – I love the caramel flavour it brings to baked goods.

That said, I had very mixed results from testing this condensed milk with brown sugar. Given brown sugar contains more liquid and is subject to more changes in liquid volume than caster sugar, it is really difficult to predict results. Don’t quote me on the science, but trust me on the unpredictable results. And trust me again when I say that there is nothing more heartbreaking than ruining an entire litre of milk that you’ve spent an hour cooking.

An aerial image of a lactose free cheesecake on a gluten + grain free base with lactose free salted caramel atop a white marble table. The caramel top of the cheesecake is finished with sea salt flakes.

Can I use a sugar alternative?

I haven’t tried this. There are some recipes that use monkfruit or allulose, but I have not experimented with either so I can’t say for sure.

Tips and tricks for your lactose free condensed milk

Condensed milk is truly a game of patience. Before writing my cookbook, I was trawling the internet to find out if it could even be done. I came across an article which was very helpful (video included) but had comment after comment regarding failed condensed milk.

The trick, I have discovered, is low and slow. That’s literally the only trick. If an article says you should have condensed milk in an hour, take it with a grain of salt. You are much better off using the smallest burner on a low-medium heat, and letting it do it’s thing. If you panic and turn the heat up, chances are you’ll end up a grainy pot of condensed milk.  Not the end of the world, but not ideal.

I like to make my lactose free condensed milk when I’m pottering around at home. I place it in a large saucepan (although I have also had success doing it in my skillet) and I always put it on the smallest burner at a low setting. Every time I think of it (increasing in regularity with time) I stir the condensed milk as I walk past. No stress, no fuss!

Visual cues

The milk will go through stages. First, it might do nothing. Then, it might turn a little grey in colour. Next, it will gradually start browning, and it might look ‘fluffy’ or start to boil. It should only ever be JUST bubbling. Faint, occasional bubbles at best, Once it can coat the back of a spoon, you are done, my friend. Don’t delay in taking it off the heat if you’re worried – you can cook it a little more later, but you can’t un-cook it, ya feel. I was trying to think of a good consistency to compare it to – regular condensed milk. Compare it to regular condensed milk.

How can I tell when my condensed milk is ready?

As I mentioned before, the condensed milk is done when it can comfortably coat the back of the spoon. I’m unsure whether this is something to with homemade condensed milk or the lack of lactose, but my condensed milk is considerably more golden in colour than the supermarket variety. It is basically the appearance of a runny caramel. Don’t stress if yours is lighter, but probably stress a little if yours is darker. Aka, burnt.

A side on macro image of banana and salted caramel macarons on a lined baking sheet atop a white marble table.

More lactose free dairy recipes

An aerial view of a gluten free Hedehog slice that has been sliced into. It sits on a white marble table and the slices reveal the biscuit filled slice underneath

Lactose free condensed milk

A quick and easy way to make condensed milk with lactose free milk. Makes approximately 1 3/4 cups of condensed milk.
4.50 from 14
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes


  • 1 litre (1000ml) full cream lactose free milk
  • 1 2/3 cup (380g) caster or white sugar


  • Combine the lactose free milk and sugar in a medium, heavy bottom saucepan. Place it over a low heat. I’d recommend using the smallest burner you have – I have found that is the easiest way to ensure you don’t end up with burnt or curdled condensed milk. 
  • Cook over this low heat, stirring intermittently, for at least an hour. During this time, it will gradually turn a blue grey colour, before eventually turning a golden brown, as per the photo. 
  • If at any time the milk is burning to the bottom of the pan, or the mixture is bubbling wildly, lower the heat. Slow and steady!
  • The condensed milk is ready when it can lightly coat the back of a spoon, and is still thin but more viscous than at the beginning. It will thicken considerably once cooled. 
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge, and use for anything from no churn ice cream to caramel slices to Vietnamese iced coffees.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. 5 stars
    I’ve just purchased lactose free condensed milk in Lanzarote. it’s made by Nutricia and lablled “sin lactosa”

  2. Hi there! Is there a particular brand that makes full cream lactose free milk? I’ve never heard of it before. Could I use whole milk that is non-dairy?

    1. Hi Anthony. I’m not sure where you live but here in Australia there are lots of brands that do full cream lactose free milk – Liddells, Pauls Zymil etc. You could try with a plant based milk but I’d recommend googling a vegan recipe because the quantities are probably quite different

      1. 5 stars
        … plus Aldi has its own brand of full-cream [regular] lactose-free milk plus Woolworths does too.

        You can buy Coconut Sweetened Condensed Milk too … IF you want to pay $5 for a regular sized can ? … I think it is the Pandaroo brand? It is usually in the Asian foods isle [seems silly to put it there]. I made luscious caramels from it recently.

    1. To be honest I have absolutely zero experience with slow cookers (never used one) so I can’t really say I’m sorry. If you try it let me know how it goes!

  3. Hi Georgia! I’ll make this tomorrow morning as part of a lactose free ice cream I’m doing for my daughter. I just wanted to say thank you, it’s been a real journey buying and making foods to accomodate my daughters lactose intolerance so I love seeing people like you out here spreading awesome recipes! Thanks!

    1. Hi Rick, I’m really glad to hear that you are finding the recipes useful! I hope your daughter enjoys the ice cream too, nothing beats homemade ice cream 🙂

    2. I am Italian and being lactose intolerant is very difficult when eating out and making recipes.

  4. Hi, looking to try this out but needing a much smaller quantity for my recipe (obviously I can just half quantities etc) but have you tried storing the condensed milk after it’s been made? Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura, it keeps really well in an airtight container in the fridge for a decent amount of time. I’d say a couple of weeks would be a conservative suggestion. I haven’t tried it, but some regular condensed milk recipes suggest you can also freeze it for a few months with no issue 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    JTLYK that Nestle makes a lactose free sweetened condensed milk, though it’s difficult to buy because it sells out in a flash at the grocery markets. It’s also irregularly sold on amazon, for 5-6X more than at the grocery market. Guess what? It’s color is considerably darker than Nestle’s regular sweetened condensed milk. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I will try making it with a non-sugar sweetener, since sugar seems to aggravate my autoimmune disease.

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Georgia thanks for sharing first try and BINGO! finally I can make Ice cream with this homemade version. Do you think I can add Vanilla essence


  7. Thanks so much for this recipe!

    What percentage of fat is considered to be full cream milk? I’d say full cream would be whipping cream (35%) here (Canada) but I wouldn’t call that milk (which is usually max 3%) though so it might just be a different way of referring to it.

    1. Hi Tracy! I’m wondering if maybe you call it whole milk in Canada? In Australia, full fat milk has to be 3.2% fat or more, so it’s nowhere near the same fat % as cream.

      It’s still milk, just not the low fat version. Hopefully that helps!

      1. Georgia! That absolutely does help. In my neck of the woods in Canada we call tha homogenized milk!

        Thank you! I was wondering if you’d reply since this recipe seems to have been posted years ago.

        Wow. Thanks! Can’t wait. I’m going to try to use it to make a requested Cherry-o-cheese pie that I need lactose free cream cheese for too (I eat that all the time).

        Have a great week!

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