Small Batch

How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk at Home

By • May 6, 2014 • 28 Comments

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Stephanie Le from I Am a Food Blog introduces us to the perfect addition to toast and coffee -- and it only calls for two ingredients. 

I have fond childhood memories of sitting at our round kitchen table, my feet swinging and my body positively dancing with the joy of eating fluffy, thick white bread toasted to a golden brown and drizzled with thick, sweetened condensed milk. It wasn't something my mom let my brother and me eat for breakfast, but sometimes we'd have it on a random afternoon as a treat. We never knew when it'd be a toast date, but our afternoons were a lot sweeter with a cup of milk and milky toast. 

More: Toast with condensed milk may be an afternoon treat, but tahini toast is perfect for breakfast.

It's quite easy to hop out to the store and buy a can of sweetened condensed milk, but I prefer to make my own. It takes a couple of (mostly hands-off) hours, after which you have a jar of simple, creamy sweetness. 

You can use this sweetened condensed milk in almost anything. It might seem like condensed milk is used almost exclusively in baking, but my favorite uses are fairly simple. I especially like stirring a bit into my coffee in the morning for a quick and easy take on Vietnamese cafe sua da. (Instead of adding two things -- sugar and milk -- to my coffee, I only need to add one! Anything that makes my mornings a little smoother is a bonus.) And of course, condensed milk is excellent on a thick, fluffy slice of buttered golden toast.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Makes just under 1 cup

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, if desired

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together the milk and sugar. Take note of where the milk reaches on the side of the pan. 

Heat up the milk and sugar mixture over medium heat until it’s just steaming, then lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. 

When the mixture has reduced by about half, stir in the vanilla extract. Let it cool completely. 

As it cools, the milk with thicken. Pour the condensed milk into a clean, dry airtight container (I like to use a glass jar) and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

This homemade version won't be nearly as thick as canned sweetened condensed milk, but it does have the same sweet, milky flavor. The vanilla is optional: it adds an extra hint of creaminess, but isn't absolutely necessary.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

Photos by Stephanie Le

Jump to Comments (28)

Tags: how-to & DIY, small batch, sweetened condensed milk, condensed milk, milk, dessert, baking, toast, condiments, sweets, snacks, treats

Comments (28)

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Stringio

22 days ago Shuber Wah

Thanks. Gonna try this. Store bought has WAY too much sugar. Toxic levels of sugar. Ruins everything.

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30 days ago Jen Philpot

Would it be possible to make this in a crock pot in a water bath?

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about 1 month ago alia

could this be done with nut milks for those with dairy allergy? any comment please

Biopic

29 days ago stephanie le

I haven't made it with a nut milk, but I do know someone who successfully has. You can check it out here: http://www.thepancakeprincess...

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about 1 month ago Lina Calin

Many no churn homemade ice cream recipes call for sweetened condensed milk. Could this be used in the same way, to make homemade, no ice-cream maker ice cream? Would it likely need more sugar/thickening?

Biopic

about 1 month ago stephanie le

You would need quite a bit more sugar - I toned the sugar down for this recipe, as a result, it's not as thick as commercial sweetened condensed milk.

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4 months ago Bunny

Thanks Stephanie. It does - I guess I'll have to stick with the canned stuff for pies. But I'll try yours as a topping for toast.

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4 months ago Bunny

Stephanie, you said the home made version doesn't get as thick as the canned, which is what I use to make key lime pie. Have you ever tried using the home made version as the base for anything like that? Also, do you think it would get thicker if you cooked it longer? Or would it just become dulce de leche?

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

I haven't used it in recipes - I have the feeling it wouldn't have the body that you're looking for. Also, I toned down the sweetness a bit, so it wouldn't have the same sugar content either. If you keep cooking it down, it will thicken up, but it depends on how low your heat can go - too high and it may turn into dulce de leche if you don't keep an eye on it. Hope that helps!

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4 months ago Andrea Morandin

It's much easier to mix 1 cup of powdered milk,3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4cup of water in the food processor,and it becomes as thick as the bought one

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4 months ago Can't live without

I can vouch for the addition of cardamom. I made Tres Leches cake today, and although I used store bought condensed milk, I added crushed cardamom seeds to it. It was simply amazing and made so much difference!!

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4 months ago Sofia

Keep cooking and cooking and cooking and you've got dulce de leche. Delicious on toast, less so in coffee.

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4 months ago Shikha Kaiwar

Amazing idea - can't wait to try this at home. I love condensed milk on toast and even plain haha. I'm that weirdo who will use a can of milk for a recipe and then take a spoon and scoop the rest out and eat it as is!

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4 months ago cynthia | two red bowls

AMAZING. Yayayay love this, Steph -- can't wait to try this at home sometime.

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4 months ago Erika Council | Southern Soufflé

Love Love this! Go Stephanie!

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4 months ago retrochaya

this is great! i've been looking for a recipe for this for ages. thank you!

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

Thanks so much!

Stringio

4 months ago Mihee Kim

What kind of pot are you using in these photographs? Does it have a special name?

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

It's a milk pan, but any pot will do!

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4 months ago Lindsey S. Love | Dolly and Oatmeal

totally LOVE these photos too! beautiful, beautiful!

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

Thanks Lindsey! :D

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4 months ago Rebecca Fleischman

I'd love to try this with full-fat coconut milk, too . . . and maybe trying a few cardamom pods along with the vanilla

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

Ooh, the cardamom would take it over the top!!

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4 months ago Lisa

Interesting. I will give this s try also.

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4 months ago molly yeh

i love these photos!!!! yay, stephanie!!!

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

Aww, thanks Molly!

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4 months ago ArtoriusRex

Could it not be further reduced to attain the thickness of the commercial product we're used to?

Biopic

4 months ago stephanie le

You could definitely reduce it to the thickness you prefer, I was just a little impatient and wanted to taste it.