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DIY Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk

Did you know that you can make your own sweetened condensed milk?

It's true. Provided you have milk, butter, sugar, and a little time, you can make sweetened condensed milk at home. It will not only give you a super sense of accomplishment and a serious something to brag about to your friends, but it also tastes amazing. That means that this homemade sweetened condensed milk will make all manner of recipes sing, from flan to Vietnamese coffee to magic cookie bars. Or, just use it as a particularly decadent dessert topping. Go ahead, you deserve it.

Sweetened Condensed and Evaporated Milk

Homemade sweetened condensed milk also means you have control over your ingredients. Not to show off, BUT, I made mine with home-ground confectioners' sugar, homemade butter, and a great local dairy brand. Trust me, it made a difference. We couldn't stop eating this stuff. 

Yes, the recipe requires quite a bit of time. But it's relatively passive time--you can keep the burner on low, and be working on something else nearby. As long as you can check and stir occasionally, you're good to go. It's a great project for while you're playing Scrabble (you can check the milk when it's not your turn!) or while reading a book on a rainy day.

Sweetened condensed milk

How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk 

  • 2 cups milk (whole will yield the richest and best flavor, in my opinion)
  • 2/3 cup homemade confectioners' sugar (the store bought kind may have cornstarch, which might not incorporate properly) or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Step 1: Place the sugar and milk in a heavy bottomed, medium sized saucepan. Whisk to combine. Apply medium heat, and stir frequently until the sugar has completely combined and the mixture comes to a low boil.

Step 2: Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting on your stovetop. Add the butter; it should melt fairly rapidly.

Step 3: Now comes the waiting game. Let the mixture hover over this very low heat until it has reduced to a sweetened condensed milk type of syrupy thickness. Check it out every 10 minutes or so to monitor things. Listen--this can take up to 4 hours. 

Sweetened condensed milk

You may find that the amount of the finished liquid is comparable to that in a can of sweetened condensed milk, but be sure to weigh it before using in a recipe--a can holds 14 ounces. Homemade sweetened condensed milk 

Either way, you've got yourself an impressive finished product on your hands. You made sweetened condensed milk! You officially win. 

Sweetened condensed milk

What's your favorite recipe with sweetened condensed milk?

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Reader Comments (14)

Could this be done in an oven, perhaps in a water bath? Or slow cooker?
February 25 | Unregistered CommenterOwlchick
When I was very small if I found out there was a can of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry, I would wait until everyone was asleep, sneak out of my room and then eat it in the kitchen pantry. Even to this day I can't be trusted, I only buy it if I'll be using it for a recipe that day. Dangerously, wonderful stuff!
Have you ever tried this using Splenda or Stevia? (to make it diabetic friendly?)
May 29 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly
Hi Beverly: have not tried it but I see no reason why it wouldn't work, unless those sweeteners couldn't hold up to extended heat. I would tend to think they'd be just fine though.
May 29 | Registered CommenterCakespy
I have switched many of these type recipes over to AGAVE as a replacement for sugars. I am sugar intolerant. You may have to simmer it a bit more beings AGAVE is a liquid. it works well with all my caning as a replacement for sugar.
June 14 | Unregistered CommenterWild Bill
How do you store your homemade sweetened condensed milk? What kind of storage time is there on this?
August 21 | Unregistered CommenterKathleen Nichols
@Kathleen Nichols: I think you could store it for up to a week in the fridge - that is how long mine was around before I used it all and it was fine. I wouldn't feel comfortable telling you longer, although because of the sugar I would think it would keep longer than regular milk.
August 21 | Registered CommenterCakespy
Try the condensed milk on top of half a grapefruit. You will not believe the flavor. It is eaten like that in Jamaica.
September 28 | Unregistered Commenterveronica w
@Veronica: that sounds AMAZINNNNNGGG!! Question: do you caramelize it or just pour it on top?
September 28 | Registered CommenterCakespy
I have become quite the DIYer, and love finding things like to this "try" instead of "buy"; the time and energy put into making things myself gives me a sense of accomplishment, and I love creating from scratch - food tastes so much better homemade! I steer clear, as much as possible, from anything pre-packaged, canned, etc. in favor of cooking from scratch, and knowing exactly what it is I am putting into the meals I create for my husband and growing children.

I followed the recipe to a "T", even made my own confectioners' sugar (which I LOVE - thank you!) and started making this around 9am today, knowing it would take quite a bit of time. Little did I know it would take 6 hours and only equate to (exactly) 8 ounces. While this would be worth-while to do if it would keep longer and larger batches could be made, I do not foresee doing this again. Good to know, though!
September 30 | Unregistered CommenterA.B.
AB: Thanks for the feedback!! I can definitely see that it's not an everyday thing - I'll be honest, I still primarily buy. But I do think that even if we decide that it is better to buy something like this, knowing how it can be made can really give us a deeper appreciation. Making the confectioners' sugar is cool, too, isn't it? :-)
October 1 | Registered CommenterCakespy
Thanks for this post. I have a pan full of milk reducing down right now. The milk was going to go to waste so it's good to give it a new lease of life. I recommend making a Scottish confectionary called 'tablet' with condensed milk, butter and sugar. It is possibly the sweetest thing known to man. Similar to fudge but grittier and more crumbly. It takes time and patience to do it and everyone knows someone who makes really good tablet. You can buy it in shops here but often the factory made stuff has vegetable fat or skimmed milk to cut costs - never tastes any good! If you like I can provide a recipe.
October 5 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Fraser
Duncan: Thanks for letting me know! Tablet sounds like basically the best way ever invented to ruin your teeth. I must make it straightaway!! I'd love a recipe and to give it a try!
October 5 | Registered CommenterCakespy
Have you tried using nondairy milk like coconut or almond milk? I am lactose intolerant and have a friend who is allergic to dairy so I'm on the hunt for dairy free alternatives!
December 22 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

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