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Have you ever wondered how to make sweetened condensed milk? With just a few simple ingredients, you can make this Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk recipe – it’s easy and tastes so much better than what comes out of a can.

Filling Pitcher with Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

I came across a recipe that I wanted to try for coconut macaroons, but didn’t know of a substitute for sweetened condensed milk since I didn’t have any on hand. What I did have was a cookbook that I’d checked out from the library, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks.

The book is a treasure trove of recipes for making everything from Homemade Twinkies® and Snickers® bars to perfected pie crust and fudge brownies. I say perfected because this cookbook feels like a mouthwatering science textbook. Who knew that could be done? And, as you’ve guessed, she included a very precise sweetened condensed milk recipe.

I decided to try it and what a revelation! Maybe it’s the heavy cream in addition to the milk (to help keep the mixture from curdling), but the texture and, more importantly the flavor, is far superior than anything I’ve poured from a can. I chose not to add any aromatics like cinnamon or vanilla bean, but I may in the future for making no churn ice cream or some other treat. 

Ingredients You Need to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk

  • Milk: whole milk
  • Heavy Cream
  • Sugar: granulated white sugar or superfine sugar
  • Kosher Salt: or 1/2 the amount of fine sea salt
Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk served in glass pitcher

Recipe Tips

Also I found that it took a bit longer on my stove for the mixture to reduce by half, but appreciated her advice to pay attention to how long it takes your dairy mixture to come to a simmer: shorter than 12 minutes, turn the burner down slightly; longer than 12 minutes, turn it up slightly. She also warns against using sweeteners like agave, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar and even raw cane sugar as their higher acidity may cause the dairy to curdle. See what I mean? Science textbook!

The version of the recipe I’m posting here is slightly simplified from the original, skipping the instruction to weigh on a digital scale before and after simmering. You can certainly go that route if you like and will find her instructions to do so here.

Evaporated Milk vs. Sweetened Condensed Milk

Note that sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are not the same. Both are heated until reduced by about half of their original volume, evaporating off water content. But evaporated milk is not sweetened and can’t be used in recipes interchangeably.

More Better-Than-Store-Bought Recipes to Try

How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk

Combine milk, cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to simmer, about 12 minutes.

Simmering Dairy Mixture

Stir and simmer until mixture has reduced by half, about 30 minutes more. It will foam suddenly just before it’s finished. Let the foam subside and transfer to an airtight container. Let cool completely; refrigerate for up to a month. Bring to room temperature before using.

Dairy Mixture Reduced by Half
Foaming Dairy Mixture
Pouring Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk into airtight container

Recipe Video

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

5 from 14 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 124
Servings: 16 servings
This recipe for sweetened condensed milk is adapted from Stella Parks excellent book: BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts

Ingredients  

  • 4 cups whole milk 32 ounces
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream 6 ounces
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar 7 ounces
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions 

  • In a 5-quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar and kosher salt. Place on stovetop over medium heat; stirring occasionally with a silicone or other heat resistant spatula. The mixture should begin to simmer at about 12 minutes, if much faster, reduce heat slightly; much slower, increase heat slightly.
  • Stirring constantly, simmer for another 30 minutes, scraping the sides often. When the mixture has reduced by about half it will suddenly turn foamy. Keep stirring until the foam subsides and pour mixture into a glass measuring pitcher. You should have 2 cups, if less, you can top with milk and blend to emulsify. If you have more than two cups, return to pan and continue to simmer until reduced to 2 cups.
  • Store in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Bring to room temperature before using.

Notes

  1. This makes about 2 cups, or 16 2-tablespoon servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 49mg | Potassium: 89mg | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 263IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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74 Comments

  1. Holly says:

    Thank you for the recipe, I love cooking from scratch. Is it possible to make this recipe using half the sugar? And no sugar replacement? weird question, I know. I am curious if I can make my own with the same consistency but less sugar.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Holly! Yes, this should work just fine with half of the sugar. You can always add more to taste if it isn’t sweet enough.

  2. Norma Schutt says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is so delicious. It’s spot on for the taste of the rich sweet creamy stuff in a can but better because it’s homemade without any junk you don’t want. The directions were also super easy to follow. It foamed up when it said it would and yielded almost exactly the amount I was expecting. I used it to make a key lime pie for Thanksgiving. My theme for the meal was “no cans were to be opened” and this was perfect.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      You made my day, Norma. Thank you for such a kind and thoughtful comment. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this recipe!