Pumpkin Pie: Condensed Milk or Evaporated Milk?

For Thanksgiving, I visited a friend, and we were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at another friend’s family’s house. Alas, the friend I was crashing with didn’t know how to cook, so I offered to make quick pumpkin pie from canned pumpkin. All he needed to do was get the supplies before I traveled there!

Basically, all I asked for was:

– Condensed milk

– Canned pumpkin

– Eggs

– Pie crust within aluminum tin

– Pumpkin Pie spice (I brought this with me since it was quicker than having him find cinnamon, nutmeg, etc)

My plan was two make 2 pies with condensed milk. Alas, my friend mistakenly bought 1 can of condensed milk and 1 can of evaporated milk. In addition, the only pie crust he could find was the type you have to roll out (Ahhh! I always rip them!). So… we had to go buy aluminum containers for the pie anyway.

If I thought that was the only hitch, I was wrong. My friend’s oven temperature is completely wrong. It’s definitely much hotter than what the dial temperature is set to. Maybe it’s time to bring a portable oven thermometer? Any suggestions?

The first pie I made (using the condensed milk) was burnt so quickly. Pumpkin is like a custard, so you REALLY don’t want it to burn! It looks ugly and the taste gets slightly charred. Alas, pie#1 = fail and burnt.

With pie #2, I tested waters with the evaporated milk and lowered the oven temperature and left the pie in for less time. The difference from the condensed milk version is that you can adjust the amount of sugar you add to the pie. I only added probably 2/3 cup even though the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can said 3/4.  For condensed milk, the sugar is already inside, so if you added any, you would get a pie too sweet for eating.

So..given pie#1 fail, my friend and I ended up bringing pie#2 and a makeshift cheese/ham platter. Of course we forgot to buy the crackers. Oops!

But you know… I think I still liked the burnt condensed milk pie better. The condensed milk pie is sweeter. The evaporated milk one has a different taste, and I find it tangier with a weird aftertaste sometimes. What do you think?!

Here’s my evaporated milk pie. I didn’t take a picture of the burnt condensed milk one because… it doesn’t look great with the burns (even though I still liked the taste).

Pumpkin Pie with Evaporated Milk

Pumpkin Pie with Evaporated Milk

The fork mark in the middle is to check if the pie was done… I would have used a knife, but I couldn’t find one at the moment. I could use whipped cream to cover it, but I didn’t have any on hand either…with whipped cream, I’m sure shenanigans would have happened ..and it would have landed on the pie. And I still think it’s better to get the premade pie crusts that are already fitted to an aluminum pan. My unrolling of the pie crust onto the tin resulted in slight tears and uneven crust borders…as you can see in the picture.


And FYI, this is difference between evaporated and condensed milk according to a quick Google search that landed me on this page.

Evaporated milk

-“fresh, homogenized milk from which 60 percent of the water has been removed”

– it’s thicker than fresh milk

-“slightly caramelized, ‘canned’ flavor that is not appreciated by all who taste it.”

Sweetened condensed milk

-“mixture of whole milk and sugar, 40 to 45 percent is sugar”

– The resulting condensed mixture is extremely sticky and sweet after the mixture is heated to 60% evaporation.


5 thoughts on “Pumpkin Pie: Condensed Milk or Evaporated Milk?

  1. So, Improv Artz. For the past few years, all of our recipes have incorporated soy milk, almond milk or coconut milk. They have been serious show-stoppers! We are foodies and can attest that these ingredients actually enhance the flavor and texture. 🙂 I am glad that we are pumpkin pie buddies, now. Take good care! Best wishes, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward

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