Recipes

How to Make Your Own Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

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Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

 

Dear friends,

I was recently going to try a new recipe for homemade ice cream that called for a generous portion of canned sweetened condensed milk. 

I love sweetened condensed milk (SCM) in recipes like pies and cookies, but as a primary ingredient I hesitated because to me the commercial product always has a slight canned flavor. 

Thus began my quest to see if I could make sweetened condensed milk from scratch. The short answer is, yes! You can make your own SCM, and I promise you will love it!

Why It’s Worth Making Your Own 

  • Save money! A 14-ounce can of Eagle Brand SCM is $3.49 at my store. My cost for the homemade version was $1.40.
  • Use organic ingredients if you like. No additives or preservatives!
  • No canned flavor. 
  • It’s so good you can eat it with a spoon. In your closet. With the door closed. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

I’m always grateful to other cooks who blaze new trails, and owe a debt of gratitude to Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking and Add a Pinch for sharing their recipes for homemade sweetened condensed milk.

But before I could enjoy my own silky made-from-scratch SCM, I experienced a BIG FAIL. 

A Cooking Experiment Gone Wrong

I decided to try a lazier approach (are you surprised) and cook the SCM mixture in a slow cooker. This seemed like a good idea on the surface, but it didn’t work for me because there is a sweet spot near the end of cooking when a little watchfulness is required to avoid overcooking. 

I missed the window, and ended up with a brown, curdled mixture. The result is just too ugly to post on this blog. If you want to see the gnarly picture, you’ll have to click the box below. (WARNING: Do not view photo for more than 2 seconds or your eyeballs may burn.)

 

Hideous food photo

 

I’m sorry you had to see that. 

What is Sweetened Condensed Milk, Anyway? 

I’m so glad you asked. Milk is considered condensed or evaporated when 60% of the liquid has been cooked out. Canned evaporated milk is unsweetened, while sweetened condensed milk is always…well, sweetened, and much thicker due to its sugar content. 

To safeguard against accidentally using SCM when you meant to use evaporated milk, I always recommend making your Enchiladas Suiza before getting into the margaritas. 

Anyway, back to the process. Once I recovered from my ugly slow cooker incident, I made a couple of changes to the basic recipe of slow-cooked milk and sugar. 

Some reviewers of similar recipes had problems with the mixture getting grainy, a result I suspected was due to the formation of sugar crystals. An easy solution to counter the crystal formation is to add a bit of corn syrup or honey to the solution. The other change I made was to add just a dash of salt to bring out the caramel notes. 

In the photos below I cooked a double batch of the recipe so I could give a jar to my blogger friend Kathleen at The Fresh Cooky, because she always brings me tasty treats like Homemade Granola and homemade Elderberry Syrup.

The recipe is very simple and uses just 4 ingredients. The only step that requires attention is watching the stove and keeping the temperature just right near the end of the process.

Shall we get started? 

Cooking Sweetened Condensed Milk from Scratch

After whisking together milk, sugar, corn syrup or honey, and salt together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, you’ll cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it just comes to a simmer.

 

Saucepan with sweetened condensed milk

 

Reduce heat to medium-low and fiddle around with the heat until the mixture is just barely simmering with a few lazy bubbles here and there.

 

Simmering sweetened condensed milk

 

When the color of the mixture starts to deepen a little, keep a close eye on it. Once it starts developing that light caramel color, it quickly thickens. Pull it off the stove as soon as it is just a little thinner than store-bought sweetened condensed milk. 

For me, the doubled recipe perfectly filled 2 empty Bonne Marie jam jars with a little extra left over to stir into my coffee. 

 

Homemade sweetened condensed milk

 

By the way, you’ll need 10 ounces or 1-1/4 cups of SCM to equal a 14-ounce can of the commercial product. The difference is due to the fact that canned goods are measured by weight, not liquid volume. 

Recipes with Sweetened Condensed Milk

Now that you can make your own SCM whenever you like, here are some delectable recipes to try:

Pound Cake with Sweetened Condensed Milk from Julie at My Southern Roots

7-Layer Bars from Amber at Dessert Now, Dinner Later

Banana Pudding from Brandie at The Country Cook

Homemade Mounds Bars from Marie at Not Enough Cinnamon

Easy Pumpkin Pie from The Kitchn

Butter Cake from Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen

 

Here’s the easy recipe, and if you enjoy it I’d be thrilled if you clicked those stars below to give it a 5-star rating.: 

 

Yield: 10 ounces

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Smooth, rich and creamy, you'll love the hint of caramel flavor and pure homemade goodness when you make your own sweetened condensed milk.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole pasteurized milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Whisk the milk, sugar, corn syrup and salt together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and fiddle around with the heat until the mixture is just barely simmering - a few bubbles here and there. You want it just hot enough to release steam and reduce down the mixture, but not so hot that it turns into caramel.
  3. When the color of the mixture starts to deepen a little, keep a close eye on it. Once it starts developing that light caramel color, it cooks fast and thickens quickly. Pull it off the stove as soon as it is just a little thinner than store-bought sweetened condensed milk (about the consistency of pancake syrup). It will thicken slightly as it cools.
  4. Cool for 15 minutes and pour in a clean, sterilized jar. Cover and rest until completely cool. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks. Makes about 1 1/4 cups or 10 fluid ounces, which is the equivalent of a 14 ounce can (which is measured by weight).

Notes

If you want your SCM to have a hint of vanilla flavor, whisk in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the mixture before cooking.

For a creamier SCM, you can substitute 1/2 cup heavy cream for 1/2 cup of the whole milk.

Sweetened condensed milk can be used as a yummy coffee creamer for hot or iced coffee.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 89Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 54mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 2g

 

Are you on Pinterest? You can save or share the recipe with this handy pin:

 

With this homemade sweetened condensed milk recipe?, its easy to make your own and save money. No canned flavor, all natural ingredients, and no need to run to the store if youre out! #sweetenedcondensedmilk #condensedmilk #bakingsubstitutions #homemadeingredients #bakingbasics

 

Let’s keep this party going! I’d love to connect with you on social media:

 

I love sharing your culinary creations. If you prepare this recipe and post a photo, tag me on Instagram or Twitter at @elizacross or @theyoloblog or use #TheYOLOBlog hashtag.

 

How About You?

What have you been cooking this month? Have you been staying closer to home and trying more new things? Do you like to try cooking commercial products from scratch? I’d love to hear what you’re enjoying during these precious days of August. 

Best always,

Signature for Eliza Cross

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Eliza Cross is the author of 15 books, including recent titles like Bacon Beans and Beer and Small Bites. She blogs at ElizaCross.com and is the founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society. Her articles have appeared in publications like Sunset, Parents and Writers' Digest. Eliza lives near Denver with her family.

2 Comments

  • Matt

    Hi Eliza, That’s an amazing recipe. I can’t wait to try this method. Out of curiosity, you mentioned in the blog that it was $1.40 to make verus buying a can for $3.49 from your store.

    How did you determined the cost of making it if some of the ingredients could have been pricey in itself, like cost of Milk, the syrup and etc. Could you break down how you got that figure? Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • Eliza Cross

    Dear Matt,
    I love questions like this! Here’s how I arrived at the $1.40 price, based on current prices at my local King Soopers grocery store. I did have all of the ingredients on hand.

    1/2 gallon whole organic milk – $3.69 for 64 ounces; 2 cups = 92 cents
    Pure cane sugar – $3.69 for 4 pounds or 9.16 cups; 2/3 cup = 27 cents
    Corn syrup – $3.49 for 16 fl ounces or 32 tablespoons; 2 tablespoons = 22 cents
    Salt – $.59 for 26 ounces or 144 teaspoons; 1/8 teaspoon = .0005 (fraction of a cent)
    Total: $1.41

    If you don’t have corn syrup on hand, you can substitute honey which is about the same price ($2.50 for 12 ounces or 32 tablespoons; 2 tablespoons = 21 cents).
    Thank you for your comment and a great question!

    All the best,
    Eliza

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