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Can Sweetened Condensed Milk Go Bad?

Condensed milk started as a way for sailors to preserve the unstable dairy product for days at sea, but now finds itself as a staple ingredient in many delicious baking recipes.

While that fudge recipe may be out of this world, it does only use half a can of condensed milk. So, what do you do with the rest? Can condensed milk go bad?

Sweetened condensed milk in a measuring cup
Sweetened condensed milk in a measuring cup

How Long Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Last? Can It Go Bad?

Like all dairy products, condensed milk can go bad. Because of the sugar, the shelf life of sweetened condensed milk is longer than that of its unsweetened counterpart.

While still in the can, condensed milk has a shelf life of at least a year past the printed expiration date.

If you store unopened condensed milk properly and the can stays intact, it can keep quality for years, just like other canned goods. Even if yours is “expired,” it’s definitely worth checking its quality.

Once opened, the shelf life is quite short, but still longer than other dairy products like yogurt. Opened sweetened condensed milk lasts about two weeks in the refrigerator.

Pouring sweetened condensed milk
Pouring sweetened condensed milk

How to Tell If Sweetened Condensed Milk Has Gone Bad?

To tell if condensed milk has gone bad, the easiest way is to check for any visual changes. Condensed milk is typically a pale creamy color (see photos), but will darken and become more yellow over time.

The milk will also become quite thick. Condensed milk is typically thick, but can still be poured. If you can no longer pour it, it has likely spoiled and should not be consumed.

Smell is another indicator of spoilage. Condensed milk typically has a sweet, creamy smell. If the milk begins to smell sour or unpleasant, get rid of it.

Condensed milk in a pot
Condensed milk in a pot

Another sure sign is mold growth. This is likely to happen if the condensed milk is not properly stored after opening. As soon as there are any signs of mold, get rid of the product.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the can.

In most cases, it stays perfectly intact for years, but if you can see one of the following, discard it:

  • the can is bulging or swelling
  • it starts to rust
  • some large dents are present (especially ones that weren’t there before)
Dessert with chocolate and condensed milk
Dessert with chocolate and condensed milk, ready for eating

How to Store Sweetened Condensed Milk

Unopened condensed milk can be stored in your pantry, or in another cool, dry location. Like with all canned products, keeping the can out of heat, light and wet environments will ensure that the condensed milk lasts as long as possible.

Once you open the container, refrigeration is necessary. Be sure to transfer the condensed milk to an airtight container, as an open container is much more likely to grow mold.

If you don’t have an airtight container on hand, use plastic wrap or aluminum foil and a rubber band. The seal they make isn’t the best, but it’s much better than having none.

Cooking condensed milk and chocolate
Cooking condensed milk and chocolate

Because the shelf life of opened condensed milk is only three weeks in refrigeration, freezing is actually quite a good option. Condensed milk should be frozen in an airtight container, and will not actually freeze solid because of the sugar content.

You can thaw frozen condensed milk overnight in the refrigerator, and then use as directed. Alternatively, warming the condensed milk in a water bath will help to thaw it.

Condensed milk can be frozen for up to three months without any noticeable flavor or texture changes, so long as the container is tightly sealed. Whisk the milk if there is any separation, and note that thawed condensed milk should not be re-frozen.

Condensed milk and chocolate-combined
Condensed milk and chocolate-combined

FAQs about Sweetened Condensed Milk

What Color Is Sweetened Condensed Milk?

Condensed milk is pale creamy or light yellowish in color. Take a look at my photos above to see how it looks like.

Can You Use Expired Condensed Milk?

If the can is unopened, more often than not the condensed milk will be perfectly fine, despite being past its date.

Before using such milk, give both the can and its contents a good check using the guidelines I outlined earlier in the article.

Dessert with condensed milk and chocolate
Dessert with condensed milk and chocolate


  • Unopened condensed milk lasts quite some time past its date. All it needs is a cool and dry place.
  • Once opened, you should refrigerate it in a closed container. It should last up to two weeks.
  • If condensed milk turns sour, smells off, changes color, or grows mold, get rid of it. Same thing if the can is bulging, rusty, or has some large dents.