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Decorative picture of condensed milk in a glass with a spoon in it
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5 from 1 vote

How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk

Learn how to make this sweet, thick, and syrupy milk from scratch. You only need two ingredients, and it's so easy to make. It's a key ingredient for many different desserts, including cakes, pies, ice cream, and fudge.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: condensed milk, sweetened condensed milk
Servings: 18 oz
Calories: 76kcal


  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar


  • In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar and milk and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Be sure that your saucepan isn't too small. It should be a maximum of ⅔ full.
  • Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 1 - 1 ½ hours and stir occasionally. For the first hour, it's fine to stir every 10-15 minutes. At the point where it already thickens a little, keep a closer eye on the milk and stir more frequently. Skimm off any foam skin that is building throughout cooking.
  • You know when it's done when it has slightly thickened, is reduced by half, has a bright, creamy color, and coats the back of a spoon. It will be more liquid than store-bought condensed milk at this point, and this is absolutely fine. It will thicken a lot once it's cooled. Transfer to a heat-proof jar and let cool to room temperature. Store it sealed in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or freeze it for up to 6 months.



Top tips
  • You may notice that foam skin is forming on top throughout simmering. Skimm off the skin with a spoon and don't whisk it into the milk, or the chilled milk could end up with small flaky lumps in it. However, the lumps are not hard, nor do they negatively affect the quality.
  • Cook it long enough until it has thickened slightly, darkened in color, and coats the back of a spoon. It should be reduced by half. If you accidentally undercooked it and it is too thin after chilling, you can return it to the saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook for a little longer.
  • If you accidentally overcooked the milk and it can't be poured easily, return it to the saucepan along with ¼ cup of milk (60ml) and bring it to a low simmer for a few minutes. Once it coats the back of a spoon, it's done.
  • When you cook it long enough until it caramelizes and darkens to a deep brown, you end up with homemade Dulce de Leche.

Note on ingredients and substitutions
  • Milk: You can either use whole milk or 2%. If you are intolerant to lactose, use lactose-free milk. To make it dairy-free or vegan, use your favorite dairy-free milk such as oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk - condensed coconut milk is very delicious and perfectly suitable for all kinds of desserts where a lovely coconut taste is desired. Substitute 1:1.
  • Sugar: Either regular or superfine sugar work perfectly. If you don't want to use refined sugar, you can substitute it for honey or maple syrup. Use Splenda granulated sweetener to make sugar-free condensed milk. Substitute Splenda 1:1 and any liquid sweetener 1 cup for 1 cup (240ml).
Please keep in mind that every alteration will change the flavor.

Evaporated milk
If you want to use evaporated milk instead of regular milk, the cooking time reduces a lot. Use 1 can (14oz / 397g) of evaporated milk and ¾ cup of sugar (150g) and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and reach the desired consistency as directed in the recipe. Don't cook it for too long that the evaporated milk doesn't reduce in volume by much.

More questions?
Make this recipe perfect every time. So be sure to check the full post above. I included easy step-by-step photo instructions and a video.


Serving: 1oz | Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 72mg | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 88IU | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 1mg