Learn how to make condensed milk with this simple 2-ingredient recipe. Use any natural sweetener such as honey, coconut sugar, or granulated sugar and learn what the secret ingredient that makes it so rich and creamy! This sweetened condensed milk recipe unveils the key to velvety sweetness with wholesome ingredients that you'll feel good about!
Sweetened condensed milk is a combination of milk, sugar, and sometimes an added fat. It's a pantry staple that is often an essential ingredient in other sweet treats. But beyond its role as a convenient ingredient, there's a delightful transformation that happens when you add a little bit of ...uhmm..magic to it.
That magic is my secret ingredient and the unsung hero in this classic recipe - butter! And it takes this humble mixture to new heights. Whether baking up a storm during the holiday season or adding it to your daily herbal coffee, this homemade condensed milk recipe infuses your everyday moments with a touch of sweetness.
Looking for more healthy basics category? Check out How to Roast Buckwheat in the Oven, Healthy Marshmallows, and Roasted Garlic Confit.
- Prep and Cook Time: 5 minutes to prep and 45 minutes to simmer
- Cooking Method: Stove-top
- Dietary Info: Gluten-free with dairy-free option
- Tools Needed: Medium saucepan and a whisk
- Skill Level: Easy
Key Features & Benefits
Customize sweetness - Control the sweetness in the final product by adjusting the amount of sweetener to suit your taste preferences.
Wholesome ingredients: This homemade recipe allows better quality control by using wholesome and unprocessed ingredients as much as possible.
Versatile uses in recipes - Enjoy this homemade version for a special occasion or in your everyday morning coffee. The smooth consistency works great in milk fudge or other sweet treats.
Diet-friendly - Use honey to make GAPS-compliant condensed milk or use coconut milk to make dairy-free sweetened condensed milk.
Cost effective: Skip your local grocery store and make this homemade sweetened condensed milk recipe at a fraction of the cost.
Ingredients for Homemade Condensed Milk
Learn how to make sweetened condensed milk with 3 simple ingredients. This easy recipe can be made in under an hour.
- Milk: Any regular milk will work, but I recommend whole milk as the fat content helps to stabilize the condensed milk. If using reduced-fat milk or skim milk, be sure to add butter. This recipe can also work with dairy-free milk, such as almond milk, coconut milk, or cashew milk (though they are not our favorite choice for homemade condensed milk).
- Sugar: I used organic granulated sugar to keep the flavors mild but you can use any sweetener such as coconut sugar, brown sugar, rapadura, and sucanat. If using a liquid sweetener such as honey or maple syrup, reduce the amount to ½ cup.
- Butter: The butter is optional but helps stabilize the condensed milk, and the fat content prevents the milk from curdling during cooking. Use unsalted butter to keep the flavors mild.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- Vanilla - add a touch of vanilla extract or the seeds from the vanilla bean for a deliciously aromatic final product.
- Ultra creamy texture - swap a quarter cup of milk with heavy cream for super creamy, luxurious texture.
- Dulce de leche - if you keep cooking it longer, you'll make a caramel-like consistency.
💭Make it Nutrient-Dense: Use unpasteurized, unhomogenized whole cow's milk for maximum nutrition and check out this post on the best natural sweeteners for more mineral-rich sweeteners that would make excellent substitutions.
How to Make Condensed Milk
The complete printable recipe is below in the recipe card for your convenience. Follow these simple step-by-step instructions for the best results.
Step 1. Combine
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine milk and sugar together and whisk. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, whisking often.
Step 2. Simmer
As soon as the steam starts lifting off the milk and sugar dissolves, reduce to medium heat or medium-low heat and continue to simmer gently.
Step 3. Reduce
Add butter, if using, and continue on low simmer until darkened to a creamy color, thickened in consistency, and reduced by half, stirring every 15 minutes. Take care not to stir vigorously and avoid touching the bottom of the pan.
Step 4. Chill
When the condensed milk has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and pour it into a small glass jar. Cool at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator.
Helpful Tips for Homemade Condensed Milk
Continuously simmer condensed milk. It's essential to keep the milk gently simmering for the sugar to properly caramelize and the mixture to thicken. Keep an eye on the stove, checking the condensed milk every 5-10 minutes or so to make sure it doesn't boil over.
Mind the cook time. The exact cook time may vary depending on the heat and size of saucepan. If it takes more than 10 minutes to bring the milk and sugar mixture to a simmer, increase the heat to medium-high. Likewise, reduce heat if the milk begins to simmer faster.
Stir gently. When stirring and whisking, avoid scraping the bottom of the saucepan to prevent lifting up the cooked milk solids that may have stuck to the bottom.
Avoid separated layers. Stir during cooling to prevent condensed milk from forming a layer on top. Homemade sweetened condensed milk will thicken as it cools, especially once chilled in the refrigerator.
💭Meal Prep Suggestion: This condensed milk recipe is easy to scale up. Feel free to double the ingredients and use a larger pot to hold all the contents.
Aside from using it in regular dessert recipes like fudge and healthy vanilla ice cream, you can add it you your favorite creamy drinks for extra creaminess, such as honey hot chocolate or pumpkin spice latte.
More sweetened condensed milk pairing suggestions:
Storage and Reheating Instructions
How long does condensed milk last in the refrigerator?
To store: Store homemade condensed milk in an airtight container like a mason jar in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. Bring it to room temperature first before using and give it a quick stir for best results.
To freeze: You can freeze condensed milk in a wide-mouth jar with enough headspace for expansion for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and stir well to restore its smooth texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
While unsalted butter is recommended to control the salt content and flavor profile, you can use salted butter. Keep in mind, you may need to adjust the recipe that you are adding the condensed milk to.
A good way to check if the condensed milk is ready is when it coats the back of a spoon. Run your finger along the back of the spoon and if it leaves a clear trail, it's ready. Additionally, it will thicken as it cools so it's important to factor that in.
No, these two things are entirely different and serve different purposes. Both are made by removing water content of the milk. Condensed milk is sweetened with sugar, making it thick and sweet like syrup. Evaporated milk, on the other hand, is just reduced milk without added sugar and has a thinner consistency, similar to regular milk.
Looking for more related recipes? Here are some ideas:
Did you make this condensed milk recipe? Please leave a ⭐ recipe rating in the recipe card below and leave a review in the comments. Thank you!💚
Condensed Milk Recipe
- 2 cups whole milk
- ⅔ cup organic granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter optional
- Combine: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk milk and sugar together. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, whisking often (approx. 8-10 minutes).
- Simmer: As soon as the steam starts lifting off the milk and sugar is dissolved, reduce to medium-low heat and continue to gently simmer.
- Reduce: Add butter, if using, and continue to gently cook until darkened to a creamy color, thickened in consistency, and reduced by half, (approx. 45 minutes), stirring the condensed milk every 15 minutes or so but take care not to disturb vigorously and avoiding the bottom of the pot.
- Chill: When the condensed milk has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and pour it into a small glass jar. Cool at room temperature, then transfer to the refrigerator.
- Continuously simmer condensed milk. It's essential to keep the milk gently simmering for the sugar to properly caramelize and the mixture to thicken. Keep an eye on the stove, checking the condensed milk every 5-10 minutes or so to make sure it doesn't boil over.
- The exact cook time may vary depending on the heat and size of saucepan. If it takes more than 10 minutes to bring the milk and sugar mixture to a simmer, increase the heat to medium-high. Likewise, reduce heat if the milk begins to simmer faster.
- When stirring and whisking, avoid scraping the bottom of the saucepan to prevent lifting up the cooked milk solids that may have stuck to the bottom.
- Stir during cooling to prevent condensed milk from forming a layer on top. Homemade sweetened condensed milk will thicken as it cools especially once chilled in the refrigerator.