Does Evaporated Milk Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

You’re cleaning up your pantry, and you just found 3 cans of evaporated milk. You hardly remember the last time you used evaporated milk or even bought some. And all three cans are past the date on the label. Does evaporated milk go bad?

Since this variety of milk often comes canned, you might think that it probably should last past the best-by date. And that’s correct, an unopened can of evaporated milk can last a long time.

This article is all about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of evaporated milk.

After the main portion, I included a lengthy FAQ section. It’s for those of you who are first-time buyers or want to know more about the differences between evaporated milk and condensed milk.

Let’s get right into it.

Evaporated milk in hand
Evaporated milk in hand

How to Store Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk usually comes in tin cans that are shelf-stable so you can store unopened evaporated milk at room temperature. Once you open the can, refrigerate the leftovers.

The tin protects the milk from light, so you just need to make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much.

The pantry is where most people store unopened cans of evaporated milk, but a cupboard in the kitchen works too. You can also keep unopened canned evaporated milk in the fridge, but it doesn’t benefit much from it.

Container of evaporated milk and caron in the background
Container of evaporated milk and caron in the background

Not sure how to use leftover evaporated milk? Use it as a coffee creamer, make fudge, or add an equal amount of water to make regular milk.

When it comes to opened evaporated milk, make sure it is sealed and in the fridge.

Since tin cans are pretty much impossible to seal tightly on their own, it’s best to transfer the product to a plastic airtight container.

Of course, you can go with a makeshift seal using plastic or aluminum wrap and a rubber band, but a resealable container is both more convenient and provides a better seal.

Here’s a video with a few ideas when it comes to storing the leftovers:

Can You Freeze Evaporated Milk?

Producers, like Carnation, don’t recommend freezing evaporated milk.

Freezing causes separation after thawing, and the quality of the product isn’t as good as it was before freezing. However, frozen and thawed evaporated milk usually works okay for cooking and baking purposes.

Sure, you can help the evaporated milk’s texture a bit by stirring, whipping, or blending it after thawing, but it doesn’t reconstitute it entirely.

If you have some leftover evaporated milk that would go to waste, try freezing it and see how it works in your next baked or cooked recipe. Chances are you will be pretty satisfied with the results.

Of course, the outcome won’t be as good as with freshly opened evaporated milk, but it should be okay nonetheless.


No ideas on how to use up your leftover evaporated milk? Dilute it 1:1 with water to make regular milk, as I discuss in my piece on evaporated milk vs. table milk.

Pouring evaporated milk
Pouring evaporated milk

How To Freeze Evaporated Milk

When it comes to the method of freezing evaporated milk, using an ice cube tray is worth trying.

The same method works really well for similar liquids like coconut or almond milk. It allows you to easily thaw as much evaporated milk as needed, and the setup and process of freezing are quite convenient too.


Freezing unopened cans of evaporated milk doesn’t really make sense, as it can compromise the integrity of the seal. Plus, an unopened can lasts quite a long time. It’s usually much better to simply keep it in the pantry until you need it.

Want to learn more? Here’s our article titled “Can you freeze evaporated milk?“.

Leftover evaporated milk ready for storage
Leftover evaporated milk, ready for storage

How Long Does Evaporated Milk Last

Unopened evaporated milk lasts for a couple of months after the date on the label. Once you open it up, it keeps for only 3 to 5 few days.

Some producers, like PET Milk recommend using their product within 2 to 3 days, while others, like Carnation, say it’s good for up to 5 days.

The date on the label is usually a best-by (or best if used by) date, and it’s by no means an expiration date. It only informs you how long, at the very least, the evaporated milk should retain its freshness. And since this product is canned, it usually keeps way past that date.

Generally speaking, you should either use all of it or freeze the leftovers within 5 days.


If you often need only a small amount of evaporated milk, you can make it from powdered milk. That might be a great option for you because powdered milk keeps for years.

Evaporated milk (unopened)Best by + 3 – 6 months 
Evaporated milk (opened) 3 -5 days
Please note that the periods above are approximate.
Carton of evaporated milk
A carton of evaporated milk

How to Tell If Evaporated Milk has Gone Bad?

Spoiled evaporated milk shows the usual signs: changed color, lumps, funny or sour smell, or off taste. Generally, if anything about the liquid seems to be off, discard it.

Same thing if you stored evaporated milk leftovers for more than a week. Yes, even if the dairy product appears to be perfectly fine. The first signs of going bad are difficult to spot, so it’s better to be safe and get rid of the product.

When it comes to color change, remember that evaporated milk is white. If yours is yellow, it’s most likely sweetened condensed milk. These two are similar, but definitely not the same.

Here’s a graphic that shows the difference in color and texture between the two:

Evaporated vs condensed milk: visual differences
Evaporated vs condensed milk: visual differences

And here’s how pouring those two looks like:

Another thing that you should know is that film (or “milk skin”) forming on top of evaporated milk is not a sign of spoilage. The film most often forms after opening the can and storing the leftovers in a container that’s not airtight.

Milk film is a natural consequence of fat separation, and all you need to fix this is to heat the milk up a bit and stir or mix it together.


If your evaporated has gone bad, sometimes you can substitute it with heavy cream diluted with milk. The taste and texture will be slightly different, but the mixture should work in a pinch. Check out my article on heavy cream vs. evaporated milk for details.

Evaporated milk in a container
Evaporated milk in a container

FAQs about Evaporated Milk

This section contains answers to the most popular general questions related to evaporated milk.

Besides things like how it looks and how it’s different from sweetened condensed milk, I also added short answers to questions about the shelf life and storage that I covered more deeply earlier.

What does evaporated milk look like? What color is it?

Evaporated milk is creamy white, perhaps a bit darker than regular milk. The taste and texture are what sets it apart. Evaporated milk is creamier than regular milk and has a richer and a bit sweeter taste.
Check out my photos of evaporated milk inside the article to see exactly how it looks like.

Is evaporated milk supposed to be yellow?

No. Regular evaporated milk is white because it’s basically milk after removing about 60% of its water.
If what you have is yellow, it’s most likely sweetened condensed milk, which consists of evaporated milk and a bunch of added sugar.
Check out my graphic on the differences between the two that’s earlier in the article.

Is evaporated milk supposed to be chunky or lumpy?

No. If your evaporated milk has any lumps in it, it’s spoiled and you should get rid of it.

How long does evaporated milk last after opening?

Evaporated milk lasts only 3 to 5 days in the fridge after opening. If you need more time than that, you can freeze evaporated milk, but it comes at a cost of texture change.

How long does unopened evaporated milk last past the expiration date?

Unopened evaporated milk should keep for at least 3 months past the date on the label. Chances are it’ll stay safe for much longer, like half a year or even more.
It’s impossible to give an exact period, so it’s best to open the can and check the quality and safety of what’s inside.

How to store evaporated milk after opening?

You should store evaporated milk leftovers in the fridge and tightly sealed. If your container isn’t resealable (it most likely isn’t), pour the milk into an airtight container.

Evaporated Milk Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary

Thanks for reading this guide to evaporated milk. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Does evaporated milk go bad? Yes, evaporated milk definitely goes bad. As long as the can or carton is unopened, it keeps for months past the printed date, and chances of it spoiling are slim. But once you open it up, all you get is a couple of days of refrigeration before it starts to turn sour and degrade in terms of quality.
  • How long does evaporated milk last? Canned evaporated milk lasts months past the “best-by” date as long as it stays unopened. After opening, it keeps for about 3 to 5 days if you keep it sealed tight and refrigerated. If you need more time, you can freeze it, but that comes at a cost of a slight texture change.

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