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How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk at Home

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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

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

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Comments (36)


6 months ago amylou61

I'd like to know if this can be made with honey or maple syrup in place of the sugar?


6 months ago stephanie le

I haven't tried with honey or maple, so I can't really give you a definitive answer but I'm thinking that the color and texture would be quite different. Let me know if you give it a try!


6 months ago Heidi Vaught

My mom makes a yellow cake, puts lots of holes in it, then pours condensed milk and cream of coconut on it, and of course whipped cream on top just for fun. I have modernized her recipe so that I make the cake, whipped cream, and with this recipe the condensed milk from scratch. Any ideas on how to make coconut cream from scratch??? If I could make this entire recipe without the use of weird synthetic ingredients I could eat a lot more of this cake with a lot less guilt :)


6 months ago Andrea Morandin

Here,south of the border,we do the condensed milk out of :
1 cup of powdered milk
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
Warm the water,add the sugar and mix until it dissolves and mix in the powdered milk. It gets the same thickness as the bought one,not at the beginning,but as it sits


7 months ago paujos

I want to know what brand name the pan is. I love it!


7 months ago cpc

I used nonfat milk and the flavour is fantastic! I can't believe I ever bought that gloppy stuff in a can. This tastes much better.


11 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

One of the best uses ever for sweetened condensed milk is in Bircher muesli, in its original form -- a larger fruit to oats ratio, and no yogurt or other milk. The sweetened condensed milk works so well with the mild bite of a slightly tart autumn apple and the generous amount of lemon juice in this version, which hews closely to the original: ;o)


12 months ago alireza

Thanks alot, in my country folks aint use such things, i was wonder if i can find something in web.


about 1 year ago Shuber Wah

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


about 1 year ago Jen Philpot

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


about 1 year ago alia

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


about 1 year 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...


about 1 year 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?


about 1 year 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.


over 1 year 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.


over 1 year 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?


over 1 year 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!


over 1 year 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


over 1 year 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!!


over 1 year ago Sofia

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


over 1 year 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!


over 1 year ago cynthia | two red bowls

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


over 1 year ago Erika Council | Southern Soufflé

Love Love this! Go Stephanie!


over 1 year ago retrochaya

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


over 1 year ago stephanie le

Thanks so much!