Baking Club

Why It’s Worth It to Make Your Own Condensed Milk

November 16, 2017

This month, our Baking Club members are working their way through Stella Parks’ BraveTart, and are making homemade versions of everything from classic store-bought treats to ingredients like sweetened condensed milk.

Recipes generally call for one-can's worth at a time, and those cans are easy enough to pick up and store for when the need arises, so why should you bother with making your own? Namely, better flavor and personal control. Stella Parks explains:

Making sweetened condensed milk at home means subjecting it to a far less heat-intensive process than commercially canned milk, which helps preserve a fresher dairy flavor. DIY also means you can infuse the milk with aromatics, and better control the sugar content, so the end result can be dramatically different from a canned equivalent (like using toasted sugar and chai spices, or a vanilla bean, etc).

Between the ability to tweak and control the flavor, and fact that Parks' homemade condensed milk recipe is a relatively quick one, it's definitely worth the effort. Members like Sandra Blau have been raving about the results:

Oh me, oh my, Stella Parks, this is insane—you are a genius. I tasted it when it was cool enough and I could eat/drink the whole jar! Saving it for Key Lime Pie, a favorite in our house. I didn't think it would actually, well, CONDENSE, but it sure did! Amazing, too, that I was able to use skim milk.

Whether or not you've joined the Baking Club yet, we don't want you missing out on boosting your baked goods with homemade sweetened condensed milk. Try making the DIY version pictured above or Stella Parks’ recipe from BraveTart and then put it to use in one (or more!) of these 17 recipes:

See what's ahead for the Baking Club this fall (and beyond) here, and get in on the action by joining us on Facebook.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • chloe
  • Pellibaby
  • AntoniaJames
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


chloe May 14, 2019
Hi LINDSAY, thanks for sharing this condensed milk reciepe. Though I never tried homemade condensed milk because of the fact that it contains added sugar I always used condensed milk substitue. I will surely try your reciepe next time. Thanks. Also you can findout condensed milk substitute here.
Pellibaby November 16, 2017
Can the DIY condensed milk be used in ANY recipe?
Lindsay-Jean H. November 20, 2017
I don't see why not!
AntoniaJames November 16, 2017
The same principles are at play in Stella Parks' extraordinary sweet potato pie - you actually cook down the milk to sweetly condense it at the same time (and in the same pan) that you cook the sweet potatoes. Try it! ;o)
Lindsay-Jean H. November 16, 2017
Yum, thanks for pointing that out AJ!
AntoniaJames November 16, 2017
LJ, I made the pie last year. It's sensational. This year, I'm making the filling a few days before and then baking it as a pudding on Thanksgiving Day (I want the wonderful smells in my house!), to be topped with caramelized pecans and maple yogurt from this Deborah Madison recipe: ;o)