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Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
Have you ever noticed how expensive sweetened condensed milk is? Here, I'll show you how to make sweetened condensed milk at home. There's even a dairy-free option, and it's all so easy!

Have you ever noticed how expensive sweetened condensed milk is? Here, I’ll show you how to make homemade sweetened condensed milk. There’s even a dairy-free option, and it’s all so easy!

Sweetened condensed milk is the nectar of the gods. It’s something about that combination of milk and lightly caramelized sugar that just sends me.

One of two essential ingredients in my favorite no-churn homemade ice cream, it’s actually relatively expensive to buy ready-made. I usually find it in my local grocery store for at least $3.50 for 14 ounces. 😳

Lately, my kids have been asking me to make a homemade Starbucks-style Frappuccino drink. They spend their onw money on things like that, and it’s not cheap! One of the cheapest ways to make a cafĂ©-style drink like that at home is with my homemade sweetened condensed milk.

You can even make it with unrefined sugars, and even dairy free. Say what?!

Have you ever noticed how expensive sweetened condensed milk is? Here, I'll show you how to make sweetened condensed milk at home. There's even a dairy-free option, and it's all so easy!

We’re going to make it three ways: from fresh whole milk, from evaporated milk, and dairy-free from canned coconut milk. I used granulated sugar, but you can use unrefined sugars if that’s your preference (see the ingredient lists for suggestions).

Keep in mind that, if you use maple syrup, it will take longer to reduce as maple syrup has a very high liquid content. In the photo above, the variety in the foreground is made with evaporated milk (my favorite kind, as it’s by far the easiest).

Have you ever noticed how expensive sweetened condensed milk is? Here, I'll show you how to make sweetened condensed milk at home. There's even a dairy-free option, and it's all so easy!

All it takes is simmering a mixture of your chosen milk, sugar and a pinch of salt over medium heat until it thickens. To prevent anything from burning on the bottom of the pan, whisk occasionally.

It will go from thickened to burnt rather quickly, so keep an eye on things. The variation made with whole milk is the one I rarely make. It develops curds as you cook the milk and it thickens before it turns particularly amber in color.

The evaporated milk variety and the dairy free variety are my favorites. They’re the easiest in preparation, and even my favorite in taste, texture and usefulness.

Have you ever noticed how expensive sweetened condensed milk is? Here, I'll show you how to make sweetened condensed milk at home. There's even a dairy-free option, and it's all so easy!

For my dairy-free friends, today’s recipe is especially important. Lately, I have seen dairy free sweetend condensed milk for sale, but I’m afraid to even look at the price tag.

Keep in mind that the dairy-free variety never really turns any more amber in color. Even though the sugars begin to caramelize, the canned coconut milk is just.so.white. Use it to make my recipe for Really Nice Dairy Free Fudge.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk made with evaporated milk, whole milk or coconut milk. Make it at home and save!

Of course, you can also use regular whole milk, but as you heat the mixture it will develop curds that must be skimmed off, and it will take a significantly longer time to reduce and thicken. The end result is certainly worth it, though! Without it, how would we make homemade Gluten Free Red Cherry Licorice?

Links:
Lemon Cream Ice Pops using sweetened condensed milk
Vietnamese Iced Coffee Recipe using sweetened condensed milk

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 to 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

Whole Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 cups (24 fluid ounces) whole milk

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar (can be replaced with 1 1/4 cups (420 g) maple syrup, or 1 cup (336 g) honey)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Evaporated Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cans (24 fluid ounces) evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar (can be replaced with 2 cups (670 g) maple syrup, or 1 1/2 cups (505 g) honey)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 can (about 14 fluid ounces) canned (not low-fat) coconut milk

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar (can be replaced with 1 1/4 cups (420 g) maple syrup, or 1 cup (336 g) honey)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  • The three lists of ingredients (Whole-, Evaporated-, and Dairy-Free- Sweetened Condensed Milks) above are alternatives. Choose the ingredient list that best suits your needs, place all 3 of the ingredients in that list in a medium-size heavy bottom saucepan, and whisk to combine well. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat.

  • Whole Sweetened Condensed Milk. Only the whole milk variety will begin to develop curds that accumulate on the top of the liquid. Skim those off and discard them. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about 5/8 (more than half, less than three-quarters) and has begun to thicken (about 1 hour). Place a sieve over the top of a heat-safe container, and pour the sweetened condensed milk through the sieve to remove any dark, caramelized bits. Allow to cool completely before covering tightly and storing in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 4 weeks.

  • Evaporated Sweetened Condensed Milk. This variety is significantly easier to work with, as it will not develop curds and will thicken much more quickly. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about 1/2 and has begun to thicken (about 30 minutes). Place a sieve over the top of a heat-safe container, and pour the sweetened condensed milk through the sieve to remove any dark, caramelized bits. Allow to cool completely before covering tightly and storing in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 4 weeks.

  • Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk. This variety is perhaps the easiest to work with, as it will not develop curds and thickens very quickly. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced by about 1/2 and has begun to thicken (about 12 minutes). Transfer to a heat-safe container until cooled completely. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 4 weeks.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2014. Recipe unchanged, method tweaked slightly, video and most photos new.

Love,
Nicole

If you liked this recipe, you'll love my new book!

Gluten-Free on a Shoestring [Second Edition]:

125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap

Amazon.com Barnes & Noble IndieBound.com

Comments are closed.

  • Jody
    April 4, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    Can I use this sweetened condensed milk in recipes that call for evaporated milk?

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 4, 2017 at 2:47 PM

      Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are totally different things, Jody. Evaporated milk is just concentrated milk, with some of the water removed. Sweetened condensed milk is what this recipe is about. They are not interchangeable at all.

  • Billie
    April 2, 2017 at 6:09 PM

    Once you have the sweetened condensed milk how do you make the frappe?

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 3, 2017 at 8:19 AM

      I make mine with 1 shot of espresso, 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons vanilla pudding mix (I use my own homemade kind—just use the search function on the blog), and 2 cups ice. Blend!

  • Julia Reed
    March 28, 2017 at 4:21 PM

    I jsut made the coconut milk one – it was quick, easy and not nearly as sweet as I thought it would end up being. Now to wait for it to C O O L so I can whip up some ice cream for desert! This is going to be a regular in our home. Thanks Nicole for creating and sharing !!;-)

  • Julia Reed
    March 28, 2017 at 1:21 PM

    YAY Nicole! Thanks a million for these recipes. I am going to try using aquafava for egg sub in the cone recipe. But for the ice cream recipe – I am curious – the recipe for the coconut milk condensed milk calls for one 14 oz can of coconut milk which is then reduced by half. That would leave around 7 oz of condensed milk. But then, the recipe for the ice cream calls for 14 oz condensed milk. Maybe I missed something, but should we either double the condensed milk ingredients to get to a total of 14, or half the ice cream ingredients and make half as much ice cream (LOL – I am laughing because the second option is not very realistic in my family!!;-)
    Thanks again –

  • Lisa
    March 27, 2017 at 3:10 PM

    THANK YOU for the non dairy directions as I am allergic to dairy and this can be my go-to for recipes.

  • Susan
    March 27, 2017 at 1:34 PM

    Thanks for this! We have a local tea shop that sells a chai spice mixture by the ounce, which you then mix with sweetened condensed milk to make “chai goop.” Chai Goop sits in the fridge until you’re ready to stir a big spoonful into a cup of tea — voilĂĄ — Chai! Excited to try this.

  • Panj Tai
    October 11, 2014 at 6:21 AM

    Very pleased to get this week’s email – I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I’m going to make the whole milk one, as I get my milk raw from a local dairy farm. I will use white sugar first, but later I will try honey, as we produce our own.
    You know one of the best things about these condensed milk recipes is that they are not made by Nestle. In New Zealand that is the only company to produce sweetened condensed milk – and I have not bought Nestle products since the early 1970s. In those days it was because they were promoting infant milk formula in African countries, and their morals have not improved – today they take water from third world countries, to sell in bottles in the West. This makes life even more difficult for women in eg Pakistan who must walk greater distances to fetch water as village wells run dry.
    You’re my hero now – thank you so much!
    Janet in New Zealand

  • Amy Degler
    October 9, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Just made my first non dairy version of this, and wow! I used local honey instead of refined sugar. It took me a little longer to get the reduction, but the taste is fantastic. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!

  • Potona
    October 9, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    I wonder if you can use almond butter instead?

    • Potona
      October 9, 2014 at 9:34 AM

      On the chocolate shortbread that is… Sorry

  • Dianna Moore
    October 4, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    Would 2% milk work or is it too thin ?

  • Stephanie
    October 4, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Could you use almond milk instead of coconut milk? I hate the taste of coconut.

    • October 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      No, Stephanie, you really can’t. Almond milk is just too thin. You really need canned full fat coconut milk.

    • Edith D. Thurman
      March 27, 2017 at 12:26 PM

      I’ve used almond milk before for a chocolate ice cream base. It depends on what you use it for. All you do is reduce it by half, and add sweetener. I was a sugar alcohol, because sugar is do bad for you. I also put cocoa powder, cocoa butter, vanilla in it fir the ice cream base. Now if you actually need it to get thick with just the almond milk and sugar it most likely won’t work, but for an ice cream base it works.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 27, 2017 at 2:20 PM

      Edith, I’m glad you found something that works for you, but for others’ benefit, I do not recommend that at all. Almond milk, or any other milk with a high water content like that, will either take forever to cook down, or just will end up introducing a ton of water into your ice cream. Water freezes solid, which causes ice cream to be icy.

  • Amber
    October 4, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    could you use agave nectar or stevia?

    • October 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      I’m sure you could use agave, Amber, but I don’t see how Stevia would work at all. Sorry!

  • carol
    October 4, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Would you be able to use splenda instead of sugar?

    • October 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM

      I can’t see how that would work, carol, but feel free to experiment!

    • carol
      October 4, 2014 at 10:08 PM

      Oh ok thanks, im a diabetic and was just wondering

  • Peggy
    October 3, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    I was just wondering if there was a recipe for Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk and then I opened my email first thing this morning and there was an email from you with a link to your blog for not one but three versions! Looking forward to making the non-dairy version to use when baking for my dairy-free friends!

  • Susan
    October 3, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    This is so awesome! Not to have rely on store bought, thank you

  • Lauren
    October 3, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    Like Mare, I’m really enjoying your new series as well! I grew up predominately making heavy, traditional American meals with very few side dishes–the way my dad preferred. Now that I’m married to a guy who loves veggies, fish, spices and sauces, I’m loving getting to explore these areas where I feel woefully inadequate. I’m not sure if you have any offshoot ideas from those topics that would fit with your current series, but they’re the areas where it seems like recipe writers don’t want to (or feel it’s unnecessary) to give many details, so I’m learning by a LOT of trial and error. Thank you for giving plenty of photos and instructions when you present us with a recipe!!!

    • October 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      That’s an interesting perspective, Lauren. In the past, I have tended to bury recipes for these sort of basics in other recipes, as I assumed they weren’t worthy of their own post. If you have any requests for more in this series, I’m all ears! :)

  • Mare Masterson
    October 3, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Nicole I really love this new DIY Friday segment; and, I am thrilled at what you have chosen to present to us so far for these DIY blog posts! I feel like a kid waiting to open my present on Christmas right before I come here on Fridays!

    • October 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      Aw, Mare, you’re the best!

  • Lucy
    October 3, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    This is great Nicole!
    Ever since we watched “Seeds of Death” I have been scrambling looking at non-GMO companies and organic milk etc.
    We are doing a whole pantry makeover. I started with cereals and then flours, I only started yesterday and I’m sure I opened a huge can of worms.
    Going non-GMO is a huge task and knowing I can make DIY condensed milk and others with wholesome ingredients will give my family options I didn’t have before.
    Thank you so very much Nicole.

    • October 4, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      I’ve never heard of Seeds of Death, Lucy, but I can imagine the information in it if you started such a dramatic pantry project as a result!

    • Lucy
      October 4, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Nicole, if Canadians and Americans only knew the whole story behind GMO’s and how it affects everyone. I’m sure most people would choose non-GMO, if you haven’t watched it, I recommend it.
      As well as “GMO OMG”
      I think youtube has them both.

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