Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe

Does your recipe call for sweetened condensed milk? Are you confused about what this ingredient, if it can be substituted and of course, what is the difference between sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk? We’ve got the answers! 

sweetened condensed milk in a glass jar


 

What is sweetened condensed milk?

So really… what is sweetened condensed milk?

It really isn’t that mysterious. It is sweetened cow’s milk that has been reduced (condensed) so that most of the water has been removed from the milk. Sugar is added which gives it the thick syrupy consistency. 

A spoon coated with sweetened condensed milk

Uses

It is a verstile ingredient and generally used for sweet treats, but some savory recipes and sauces. Many no churn (no ice cream maker) recipes use it as well as hack caramel sauce. It can also be basted onto cakes and pastries to keep them moist and simply drizzled on breads. 

Pour it into coffee, in fact most flavored coffee creamers are made with sweetened condensed milk.

sweetened condensed milk pouring into a cup of coffee

It can also make homemade candy, truffles and the most popular, fudge

hand holding a cocoa covered chocolate ball

I even use it in my volcano sauce for tuna

And, of course, for Dulce de Leche Sauce, sometimes called Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel Sauce. I use this to make my famous Dulce de Leche Bars. It’s also the key ingredient to make Snow Ice Cream– yep ice cream made from fresh snow!

A close up of brookie bars

Sweetened Condensed Milk Vs. Evaporated Milk

What is the Difference Between Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk?

Sugar. The big difference is sugar. Sweetened condensed milk has sugar while evaporated milk is basically the same thing, but without sugar, just milk with reduced water content. Sometimes you’ll see it labeled just condensed milk and this is even more confusing.

glass jar of homemade sweetened condensed milk

Sugar Substitutes

I have not personally tried using sugar substitutes, but from what I have heard, truvia and other sweeteners do work. So do honey, agave, molasses, brown sugar and maple syrup. Depending on which one you use, the flavor will change slightly. 

Here is a fabulous recipe for sugar free condensed milk to give a whirl!

Can I use a non-dairy milk? 

Again, I have no tried to use a milk substitute personally, but seen other post that they have successfully made sweetened condensed milk using nut milks and other non-dairy milks like almond milk and oat milk.

How Many Cups is in A Can of Evaporated Milk? 

Most cans are about 14 ounces, which is 1.75 cups. You’ll want to double this recipe to a total of 4 cups of milk to make about the same amount.

cans of sweetened condensed milk

What can I substitute for sweetened condensed milk? 

Many of the substitutes are quite complicated and you are better off just making your own. Word to the wise, allow it to cool before you try to add it to the desired recipe. 

The closest substitute would be heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of white sugar. 

How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk

This sweetened condensed milk recipe is quite easy. You only need regular milk, sugar and time. I prefer to use whole milk, but skim or 2% work as well. 

ingredients for sweetened condensed milk- sugar and milk
  1. Heat milk and sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan over low heat.
  2. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Increase heat to medium heat or a very low simmer with just tiny bubbles. When the bubbles start, do not stir otherwise the mixture will break.
  4. Continue on a low simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the milk has cooked to a creamy color, has reduced by half and thickened. It won’t be as thick as canned, the rest of the thickening happens when it cools. If there is any foam on the top, skim it off and discard- DO NOT STIR. ALso, do not stir any sugar crystals on the wide of the saucepan.
sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan cooking
This was when I was moving it to a bowl- I did NOT stir while cooking!
  1. At this point, you can whisk in a small amount of vanilla extract, or any other extract your recipe might benefit from or just keep it plain. It will have a delightful caramelized flavor all on its own.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat and transfer to a heat safe bowl or jar. Cool fully at room temperature.

Storage & Freezing

Storage – I’ve heard that you can store homemade sweetened condensed milk for up to 6 months in the fridge, but I like to use mine within 1 month. The shelf life when canned is much longer, but I am not a canning expert.

Freezing – You can freeze it for up to 3 months in an airtight container or plastic bag. After 3 months it starts to develop ice crystals. Allow to thaw at room temperature for a few hours before using. Do not microwave to defrost.

sweetened condensed milk for pinterest

Recipes the Use Sweetened Condensed Milk

close up of sweetened condensed milk for pinterest
A spoon coated with sweetened condensed milk

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

5 from 5 votes
Learn how to make sweetened condensed milk at home with just 2 ingredients! From there make dulce de leche, caramel sauce or even dulce bars!
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Cooling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 3 minutes
Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat milk and sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan over low heat.
  • Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Increase heat to medium or a very low simmer with just tiny bubbles. When the bubbles start, do not stir otherwise the mixture will break.
  • Continue on a low simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the milk has cooked to a creamy color, has reduced by half and thickened. It won’t be as thick as canned, the rest of the thickening happens when it cools. If there is any foam on the top, skim it off and discard- DO NOT STIR. ALso, do not stir any sugar crystals on the wide of the saucepan.
  • Remove saucepan from heat and transfer to a heat safe bowl or jar. Cool fully at room temperature.
  • Cover and refrigerate until cold. If kept covered, it will last for up to 1 month.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments and ratings.

Nutrition

Calories: 814 kcal, Carbohydrates: 157 g, Protein: 15 g, Fat: 16 g, Saturated Fat: 9 g, Cholesterol: 49 mg, Sodium: 211 mg, Potassium: 644 mg, Sugar: 158 g, Vitamin A: 791 IU, Calcium: 551 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 814
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sweetened condensed milk
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
sweetened condensed milk dripping off a wooden spoon
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I lived in Argentina,and you cant compare them,dulce de leche have a different flavor,specially when i boil the condensed can for some hours not less than 2 hours,i dont cover the the pot ,i even pour some more hot water ,turn the can and watch it,i let it cool down,when this happens to the fridge,till late in the night or next mourning. It will be more thicker and totally diferent.And the sell sell already in cans in the states,and love the one i bought with my grandma in Argentina made by Serenisima.

  2. 5 stars
    This is such a great recipe, I had no idea it was so easy to make at home! I love being able to make pantry staples and not have to keep cans on hand or make a store run.