Whether you are in the midst of baking and find yourself missing a key ingredient or simply want better control over the ingredients in your food, learning how to make homemade condensed milk is a valuable skill. It's simple, flavorful, creamy and you choose the type of milk and sugar used.
Homemade sweetened condensed milk has all the velvety texture and luscious sweetness of that store-bought can, but with the added satisfaction of crafting it yourself with simple ingredients. Whether you are making fudge, baking a cake, preparing a batch of ice cream or sweetening your coffee, condensed milk is a pantry staple that's easy to make at home.
Although I love the convenience of the can, making your own sweetened condensed milk at home gives you the power to customize it according to your taste preferences and dietary needs. You can control the sugar content much easier. Choose whole milk for a classic flavor or use non-dairy milk for plant-based recipes. You can also customize the sweetener from traditional granulated sugar to honey, maple syrup, or even agave nectar, the choice is yours.
What is condensed milk?
Condensed milk, often referred to as sweetened condensed milk, is a thick, rich, and sweet dairy product made by removing most of the water content from regular fresh milk and sweetening it with sugar. The slow heating process results in a thick, syrupy liquid with a distinct sweet flavor and a creamy consistency. Condensed milk is a versatile ingredient that can be used to make a wide range of dishes, from fudges and candies to pies, puddings, and ice creams.
- Milk – Whole milk is used as the base for this homemade condensed milk recipe. It provides a creamy texture and richness. The fat content in whole milk contributes to the velvety mouthfeel of the final product. You can substitute heavy cream, light milk or non-dairy milk.
- Sugar –Granulated white sugar is the primary sweetening agent in this recipe. It adds sweetness and helps preserve the condensed milk. Substitute brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar or a sweetener such as Swerve or other sugar substitutes.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is added to enhance the richness and creaminess of the condensed milk. Use margarine or vegan butter for dairy-free options.
- Vanilla Bean Extract: Vanilla extract enhances the flavors of all the ingredients and adds depth.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Heat the milk and sugar into a medium saucepan.
- Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes stirring frequently. Reduce the mixture by half.
- Whisk in the vanilla and butter.
- Cool the mixture and use right away or refrigerate for later to use in your favorite recipes.
Hint: If the butter separates while cooling just stir it back together. Make sure to shake or stir your homemade version well before using.
How to Store Sweetened Condensed Milk
Once the condensed milk has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight container such as a mason jar or a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. I always keep some 16 ounce mason jars on hand for storing sweetened condensed milk.
Store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use bring refrigerated condensed milk to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before using. Frozen condensed milk should be thawed overnight in the fridge.
- Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan which helps distribute heat evenly and reduces the risk of the mixture sticking to the bottom and scorching.
- While heating the milk and sugar mixture, stir it frequently with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula.
- Use low to medium heat while cooking the mixture. Avoid high heat, as it can cause the mixture to boil over or scorch.
- Making sweetened condensed milk takes time. Allow the mixture to gradually reduce over low heat to the desired thickness. Rushing this process might result in uneven consistency or burnt flavors.
- Add the unsalted butter and vanilla extract after the mixture has thickened and been removed from heat and cooled for a few minutes
- The sweetened condensed milk is ready when it has thickened to a creamy consistency that coats the back of a spoon. It will further thicken as it cools.
- Allow the sweetened condensed milk to cool down to room temperature before transferring it to a storage container and refrigerating.
- Store the condensed milk in a clean, airtight container.
- Always store homemade sweetened condensed milk in the refrigerator.
Uses for Condensed Milk
Condensed milk is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Here are some popular and delicious ways to use this easy recipe:
- Fudges and Candies: Use condensed milk as a base for making fudges, caramels, and other sweet confections like White Chocolate Fudge or Double-Decker Fudge.
- Pies and Tarts: Create creamy fillings for pies, tarts, and pastries, adding richness and sweetness. Pumpkin Pie and Key Lime Pie are classic favorites.
- Cookies and Bars: Incorporate condensed milk into cookie and bar recipes for a soft and chewy texture.
- Cakes and Cupcakes: Use it as a moistening and sweetening agent in cake batters and frostings. It is an essential ingredient in this easy Tres Leches Cake recipe.
- Flan or Caramel Custard: Make a luscious caramel flan or custard using condensed milk as a key ingredient.
- Homemade Ice Cream: Whip up a batch of homemade Peaches N Cream ice cream using condensed milk as a base. It adds creaminess and sweetness to ice cream recipes.
- Parfaits and Trifles: Layer condensed milk with fresh fruit, cake, and other ingredients for impressive and delightful desserts.
- Dessert Sauces: Create velvety sauces to drizzle over cakes, ice cream, or fruit.
- Coffee and Tea: Add a spoonful of condensed milk to your coffee or tea for a rich and sweet twist.
- Hot Chocolate: Make indulgent hot chocolate by stirring condensed milk into warm milk or cocoa.
- Breakfast and Snacks:
- Smoothies: Blend condensed milk into fruit smoothies for added creaminess and sweetness.
- Cereal and Oatmeal: Drizzle condensed milk over cereal, oatmeal, or granola for a delicious breakfast treat.
- Dipping Sauce: Use condensed milk as a dipping sauce for pancakes, waffles, or French toast sticks.
- Cocktail Mixers: Create sweet cocktail mixers by mixing condensed milk with flavors like chocolate, coffee, or fruit puree.
- Sauces and Toppings:
- Fruit Dips: Whip up a creamy fruit dip by combining condensed milk with cream cheese and vanilla.
- Toppings: Use it as a topping for pancakes, waffles, or toast instead of traditional syrups.
- Milk Alternatives: If you have a lactose intolerance or prefer non-dairy options, use a dairy milk substitute or plant-based milk alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk to make your sweetened condensed milk.
- Sweetener Alternatives: Opt for natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup for a more wholesome option. Keep in mind that these sweeteners might alter the flavor and texture slightly. You can also use sugar-free or low-calorie sweeteners like stevia or erythritol if you're looking to minimize calorie content or reduce sugar intake.
- Add Flavor: Infuse the milk with flavors such as cocoa and other spices for a unique twist on sweetened condensed milk.
Yes, you can use low-fat or skim milk, but keep in mind that the resulting condensed milk might be slightly less creamy and rich compared to using whole milk. The fat content contributes to the creamy texture of condensed milk.
Absolutely! You can use non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk to make dairy-free condensed milk. Use vegan-friendly butter substitutes as well.
If your condensed milk is too thick, you can gently reheat it while stirring in a small amount of milk to achieve the desired consistency. If it's too thin, you can cook it for a bit longer to reduce it further.
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Homemade Condensed Milk
- 2 cups whole milk
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pour milk and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to medium heat.
- Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Turn heat on low and let the milk simmer for about 30 mins. It should reduce by half. Make sure to stir frequently. Once it has reduced by half, remove the heat.
- Add in vanilla and butter. Return to medium heat, whisking until it’s all combined. Pour into a container and let it come to room temperature, then move to the fridge or use it right away.
- If the butter separates while cooling just stir it back together. Make sure to shake or stir well before using.
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