Sweetened condensed milk is a product where there usually aren’t too many choices between different brands in the grocery store. You might find yourself grabbing whatever brand is on the shelf when you need some, but there are differences between brands and Cook’s Country Magazine decided to give them a taste test in their Dec/Jan 2013 issue. They tasted four different brands, looking to see which had the best taste on its own and which held up best in recipes, particularly a flan recipe that they were featuring in that same issue.
The winner was Borden Eagle Brand, one of the most widely available brands of sweetened condensed milk. Tasters found that this milk wasn’t too exciting on its own, but it worked great in recipes and gave a consistently smooth, velvety finish to flan. Nestle Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk also received a “Recommended” designation, thanks to the buttery caramel notes that the sweetened condensed milk had straight out of the can. Both of these brands only contain sugar and milk in their ingredient lists.
Two brands received “Recommended with Reservations” marks, the Parrot Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk and Meadow Gold Sweetened Condensed Milk (I will note here that I have never seen either of these brands in stores near me, though I have seen quite a few “organic” sweetened condensed milks that were not rated here). Parrot Brand was deemed to be “greasy” by taste testers and contained soybean oil in addition to milk. Meadow Gold is another sugar and milk product, but was runnier than the other milks and resulted in a looser set when used in flan, so it might not be idea for baking.