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Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

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Did you know that you can make homemade sweetened condensed milk in your own kitchen? That’s right, it only takes 4 common ingredients to make your own liquid gold!

Looking down into jar of sweetened condensed milk with spoon.

Have you ever wanted to make a recipe but it called for a can of sweetened condensed milk and you didn’t have any? Or maybe you have some milk getting close to the expiration date and you need a way to prolong it for a bit.

Perhaps you are just trying to do away with canned products. Or maybe you just really like making things completely from scratch.

Butter, milk, sugar and vanilla ready to be made into sweetened condensed milk.

No matter the motivation, making your own sweetened condensed milk is pretty easy. It does take a little bit of time, but not much effort.

If you can simmer some milk and sugar, you can make your own liquid gold. Then use it for baking, stirring into your coffee or tea, or eating with a spoon. We don’t judge around here!

How to make condensed milk

The biggest key to this recipe is to pick a large enough saucepan. The mixture will foam as it simmers, so you need plenty of room to avoid boil overs and the following mess.

Past that all you have to do is bring sugar and milk to a light boil, then drop it to a simmer and let it do its thing. Reduce the mixture until you have one cup of thick sweet milk.

This is a lot like the process for making cajeta or dulce de leche, but you don’t want the mixture to take on any color. We are just looking for reduced volume here.

Spoonful of hot sweetened condensed milk over saucepan.

If you are looking to use your sweetened condensed milk in a baking recipe, you want to make sure you get it reduced to as close to a cup as possible. If you are wanting to use it for a less finnicky purpose, the precision matters less.

Once your milk is condensed, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. That’s it!

Now all you have to do is let it cool. Then put it in the refrigerator, it will thicken up quite a bit as it cools and chills.

Because of the sugar content, your homemade sweetened condensed milk will last several months in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for even longer storage, up to a year.

Tips and Tricks

If your milk starts to curdle a bit, don’t despair. Just skim off those solids and keep going.

You can use dairy free milk if that’s your preference. You can also use maple syrup or honey in place of the granulated sugar. Just reduce the mixture to that one cup mark and you should be good.

Jar of freshly made sweetened condensed milk.

You can omit the butter if you desire, but I find it helps to give that rich thickness that we are used to from the can. Either way, it is sure to be delicious.

If the butter starts to separate out, just stir it back in before using it. Or give it a few stirs as it cools to help it incorporate more fully.

What is the difference between evaporated milk and condensed milk?

Both of these products are made by reducing the amount of water in the milk. Evaporated milk is just that, with nothing added so it can be used in savory dishes as well as sweet.

Condensed milk has sugar added into the mixture, which makes sense as it is commonly called sweetened condensed milk. It is lightly caramelized and perfect for using in a variety of drinks and desserts.

Pouring jar of homemade sweetened condensed milk into instant pot of rice pudding.

Recipes that use sweetened condensed milk

Now that you have your sweetened condensed milk, what can you use it for? Well the possibilities are endless!

Sweetened condensed milk cookies are soft and chewy. They are a lot like soft sugar cookies, but even better!

Our favorite cheesecake uses sweetened condensed milk. And you can make a pumpkin pie with sweetened condensed milk as well.

Pale yellow sweetened condensed milk and spoon in jar.

And of course you can make frosting with sweetened condensed milk. I have a collection of everything from 3 ingredient Russian buttercream to rich chocolate sweetened condensed milk buttercream and everything in between.

I used this batch of homemade sweetened condensed milk to make the instant pot rice pudding pictured above. Don’t worry, the recipe for that is coming soon!

The only question is which of the recipes using sweetened condensed milk will you make first?

Looking down into jar of sweetened condensed milk with spoon.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Servings: 20 1 Tablespoon Servings
Author: Carlee
Did you know that you can make homemade sweetened condensed milk in your own kitchen? That's right, it only takes 4 common ingredients to make your own liquid gold!
4.93 from 13 ratings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Put sugar and milk in medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, then reduce the heat to medium low. The mixture will foam up, so be sure to have room for the mixture to grow in the pan.
    2 cups whole milk, ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • Simmer over medium-low heat until the volume is reduced to 1 cup, this should take between 30 and 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
    4 Tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Stir before using.


This recipe makes 1 1/4 cups of sweetened condensed milk which is enough to replace a 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk.
I used salted butter. If you use unsalted, you may want to add a tiny pinch of salt to the milk mixture.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 65kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 1gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 29mgSugar: 9g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Sunday 7th of January 2024

Can this be made in the instant pot? If so, how?

Will the finished product be able to be used interchangeably with a can of SCM to make Carmel sauce, either by boiling in a jar, or in a slow cooker?


Sunday 7th of January 2024

I haven't tried making it in the Instant Pot. My hunch would be that you would get a burn warning before it thickened enough. Yes, it should work great for making into a caramel sauce.


Thursday 26th of January 2023

I made this and it turned out great. How long can this be stored? Refrigerator, freezer, canned?


Thursday 26th of January 2023

I am so glad you liked it! If you have it in a good airtight container, it should stay good for several months in the refrigerator. You can try freezing it for longer storage, but there's a chance it will split.


Friday 3rd of December 2021

Can you use evaporated milk to start with instead of whole milk?


Friday 3rd of December 2021

I can't see why not and then the process should go faster because most of the water is already gone!

Pat Bowen

Sunday 24th of October 2021

Can this be made with Splenda instead of sugar?


Sunday 24th of October 2021

That should work fine 🙂

Karen @karenskitchenstories

Wednesday 1st of September 2021

What a cool thing to make on your own even if there's a grocery store right around the corner!


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

@Karen @karenskitchenstories, When i was growing up you made or grew everthing. You only went to town for staples


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

@Karen @karenskitchenstories, i love. Making every from scratch. It is more rewarding When the family reacts to your work