Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk can be made with ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen. Cooking sweetened condensed milk will take time, but when you taste it, you may never want to buy it in a can again.

Spoonful of Homemade Condensed Milk Lifted from a Jar on a Coaster, and in the Background, a Kitchen Towel and a Teacup

Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

I have used condensed milk all my life. There was always a can of condensed milk in the cupboard when I was growing up. I have fond memories of my dad making us thick slices of warm baguettes with creamy condensed milk drizzled on top. While we ate, my dad would make himself chicory coffee with a big dollop of condensed milk. As an adult and a mom, I am now the parent who puts condensed milk in her mug of coffee.

Whenever I travel to Southeast Asia, the first thing I do is visit a cafe to get a strong iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk. According to my parents, condensed milk was popular when they were growing up in Cambodia, primarily because of the lack of available refrigeration for fresh milk and also the fact that most cows were used for manual labor, not milk. Interestingly, across Asia, condensed milk diluted with water was fed to babies and used as creamer in coffee.  

What Is Condensed Milk?

Condensed milk is milk that has been condensed by means of heat. As the milk cooks, the majority of the water evaporates, and the texture of the milk becomes gooey.  And it becomes sweeter; another very important ingredient in condensed milk is sugar. (If there was no sugar added it would be evaporated milk.) Sugar is added not only for sweetness; it prolongs shelf life. Typical microorganisms are not able to grow and multiply due to the high content of sugar in condensed milk, allowing it to last longer.  

Jar of Homemade Condensed Milk Surrounded by a Spoon With Condensed Milk, a Plate, and a Kitchen Towel

Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

History of Condensed Milk

In the 1850s, there was little available refrigeration for dairy products. An inventor named Gail Borden boarded a ship that carried farm animals on a journey from Europe to the US. The ship was carrying livestock to provide food for passengers and the crew. During that trip, the cows became sick and died. Children on the ship drank milk from the sick cows and they became very ill. Through this experience, Borden became passionate about finding a way to preserve milk for safe consumption. 

Inspired by the Shaker community, Borden tried to use a vacuum evaporator, a device that reduces the interior pressure of the evaporation chamber below atmospheric pressure. In doing so it eliminates the requirement of heat in the condensation process. Unfortunately, his first two attempts using this technology failed. Then, Borden found a successful technique and in 1858 opened the New York Condensed Milk Company that manufactured and marketed the iconic Eagle Brand that established the industry.

Homemade Is Better

Homemade condensed milk is not only cheaper, but it tastes more delicious, as making it requires less heat and sugar, allowing the flavor of the milk to come through. Also, canned condensed milk can contain preservatives or additives, while homemade condensed milk only takes two ingredients to make. Finally, you can personalize your homemade condensed milk by adding different spices and extracts such as cinnamon, vanilla, chocolate, or nutmeg. 

How to Store Homemade Condensed Milk 

Before storing condensed milk, cool it completely, and transfer it to an airtight container, such as a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Label and date; it will last for 1 month in the refrigerator. 

The condensed milk will become thicker as it cools. To make it pourable, you can microwave the condensed milk in 10-second intervals until it has reached the desired consistency when you want to use it again.

Spoonful of Homemade Condensed Milk Poured Into a Cup of Coffee, and in the Background, a Kitchen Towel and a Jar With More Condensed Milk

Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

Condensed Milk Recipes

Once you make your condensed milk here are examples of exciting recipes you can use it in:

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 8 (2 tablespoon) servings
Yield 1 cup

If you want to make more than 1 cup of condensed milk, I highly suggest you use two medium saucepans instead of one large pot, because it takes less time to condense. During my recipe testing, I found that it took 40 minutes to condense 4 cups in two medium saucepans, rather than 3 hours in one large pot. Even though you will have to wash an extra pot, it will save you a lot more time cooking.


  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on your preference (the full amount makes it quite sweet)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Begin cooking the ingredients: 

    Combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Turn the heat to medium high. Whisk the milk until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the milk to come to a very gentle simmer.

    Milk Mixture Whisked in a Pan on the Stove for Homemade Condensed Milk Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

  2. Lower the heat and simmer: 

    Once the sugar is dissolved, lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Do not whisk again (more whisking will create crystals on the sides of the pan). Do not allow the milk to go beyond simmering. If you see the milk foaming up, lower the heat immediately to prevent burning and spilling. 

    Simmer the milk uncovered, stirring occasionally to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the volume is reduced by half. This may take 30 to 45 minutes. 

    Simple Tip!

    If you’re not sure if the milk is reduced by half, pour it into a measuring cup to check.

    Homemade Condensed Milk Mixture Boiling in a Pan on a Stove

    Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

    Spatula Used Stir Condensed Milk Recipe in Pan on the Stove

    Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

  3. Check the color and consistency: 

    When the body of the condensed milk is similar to maple syrup and deepens in color somewhat, the condensed milk is ready. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat. If there are solids or foam in the condensed milk, pour it through a wire strainer. Allow to cool.

    Simple Tip!

    Initially, your condensed milk may seem thin. It will become thicker as it cools.

    Homemade Condensed Milk Boiling Down in a Pan on the Stove

    Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

    Vanilla Extract Added to Pan With Homemade Condensed Milk Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

    Homemade Condensed Milk Run Through a Sieve Into a Jar

    Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

  4. Store:

    Place cooled condensed milk in a container with a tight-fitting lid and label with the date it was made. It will last for 1 month in the refrigerator. 

    Simple Tip!

    To make the chilled condensed milk  pourable, microwave it in 10-second intervals until it has reached the desired consistency.

    Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below! 

    Jar of Homemade Condensed Milk on a Coaster With a Spoon in It, and in the Background, a Kitchen Towel and a Teacup

    Simply Recipes / Tara Omidvar

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
111 Calories
2g Fat
22g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 111
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 93mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 82mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.