Making certain kitchen staples gives you a sense of accomplishment. Condensed milk is just one example of an ingredient that can be easily made at home with fewer additives and customized exactly to your liking.
Today we will take a look at how to make sweetened condensed milk using powdered whole water, milk, and sugar. You also have the option of adding some vanilla extract or other flavorings.
What Is Condensed Milk?
In the simplest explanation, condensed milk is a sweet, thick, and syrupy dairy product that is created by removing most of the water content from regular milk and adding a bunch of white sugar to it.
This process results in a highly concentrated, sweet, and creamy substance that is used in a variety of recipes, mostly desserts and beverages.
Traditional condensed milk is made by simmering cow’s milk (usually whole milk) while constantly stirring to prevent scorching. This slow heating process causes a significant reduction in the milk’s water content, concentrating the solids in the milk and natural sugars.
Granulated sugar is then added to the reduced milk, typically in a 1:1 ratio with the milk solids, creating a sweetened condensed milk.
The mixture is further heated to dissolve the white sugar completely. This process results in a thick, creamy, and intensely sweet product.
Ingredients Needed To Make This Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe
This is a 3-ingredient homemade condensed milk recipe. All that you need is granulated sugar, powdered milk, and hot water.
Let’s start with arguably the most important ingredient today, milk powder.
Also commonly referred to as powdered milk, this is a dry product of dehydrated milk that retains most of the nutrients and milk fat. When rehydrated, it retains its creamy texture and replicates fresh milk nearly perfectly.
When buying milk powder, make sure to check the flavorings added (there shouldn’t be any) and milk fat content. Unless you want a reduced-fat homemade condensed milk, of course.
Now, traditionally, white sugar is used; however, there are many alternatives you can play around with. My favorite is brown sugar. It adds a delicious caramel-like flavor to your homemade sweetened condensed milk, almost like dulce de leche.
Other alternatives to consider include coconut sugar (especially if you are making a vegan or dairy-free homemade sweetened condensed milk recipe), maple syrup, or agave nectar.
Sugar can be sprinkled at the top of the recipe, like on the Molten Chocolate Lava Cookie.
Finally, the hot water is simply to help reconstitute the powdered milk and dissolve the sugar.
How to make Condensed Milk
1. Combine sugar dry milk in a medium bowl.
2. Then add the water and whisk until smooth and well-integrated.
3. Let it thicken for about 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
4. Enjoy immediately or store in a sealed container in the fridge for later use.
What Does Condensed Milk Taste Like?
Condensed milk has a rich and sweet flavor with a caramelized undertone due to its sugar content
It has a distinct sweetness that is both creamy and sugary, making it a popular ingredient in desserts, coffee, and confectionery.
Sometimes manufacturers add vanilla extract to give it a dessert-like flavor.
Texture and Consistency Of Condensed Milk
The texture of condensed milk is smooth and creamy. It should have a consistency that is thicker than maple syrup but not as thick as honey.
It is pourable but has a viscosity that allows it to coat the back of a spoon. This texture is ideal for adding richness and sweetness to various dishes.
Traditional Condensed Milk Variations
There are several variations of condensed milk, mainly sweetened condensed milk and unsweetened alternatives.
Sweetened condensed milk is the most common type, as described above, made by adding sugar to reduced milk.
Unsweetened condensed milk omits the sugar, resulting in a concentrated milk product without the sweetness. It is used as a base for various recipes where the sweetness needs to be controlled.
Low-fat or skimmed condensed milk is also a common variation. These versions are made with reduced-fat or skimmed milk instead of full-fat milk, offering a lower-fat alternative while maintaining the characteristic sweet and creamy qualities.
Some variations of condensed milk also include added flavors like vanilla extract, maple syrup, or chocolate to enhance the taste and versatility of the product.
If you don’t have any by hand, consider using a substitute for sweetened condensed milk.
Sweetened Condensed Milk Versus Evaporated Milk
Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk, while both products created through a process that involves removing water from fresh milk, are notably distinct in terms of their production, flavor, texture, and culinary applications.
A sweetened condensed milk recipe is made by simmering dairy milk and adding sugar during the process, resulting in a thick, sweet, and creamy product with a caramelized undertone.
Evaporated milk, on the other hand, is made by heating regular milk to eliminate roughly 60% of its water content. Unlike sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk contains no added sugar, essentially rendering it a concentrated dairy milk with a creamy consistency and a mild, unsweetened flavor.
How To Make Dairy-Free Condensed Milk
If you want to make sweetened condensed milk dairy-free, substitute the powdered milk with an alternative such as coconut milk powder, almond milk powder, or a different kind of plant-based milk alternative.
These can be tricky to find, but worth the effort.
Can You Make A Vegan Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe?
If you also want to make this homemade condensed milk vegan, check the sugar to ensure it’s vegan-certified. Plus, any additives like vanilla extract should also be double-checked. You’d be surprised to find how many plant-based products aren’t vegan!
Again, you can replace the whole milk powder with coconut milk or almond-based alternatives.
How To Store A Homemade Version Of Store-Bought Condensed Milk?
First, allow the freshly made condensed milk to cool completely to room temperature.
Once cooled, place your condensed milk in an airtight container. It’s best to store it inside the fridge for several weeks.
Alternatively, you can store it at room temperature for up to a week. You can use your homemade condensed milk in your favorite recipes like a tres leches cake, my famous Creamy Batido De Trigo Recipe, and even some savory recipes like a broccoli chicken casserole. You can even use it to substitute honey or maple syrup, which is often in shortage and expensive.
Tips For How To Make Condensed Milk At Home
When combining the ingredients for your condensed milk, you have to dissolve sugar (no matter what type) completely before allowing the condensed milk to rest and achieve its desired consistency.
Don’t stir frequently otherwise it will cause the granulated sugar to crystalize, at which point the batch has been ruined. For a smooth thick consistency, you want to leave the milk and sugar un-aggitated for as long as possible.
Always use medium-low heat to medium heat! If your heat is too high (even at medium-high), your homemade condensed milk will burn. In this scenario, in the best case you end up with dulce de leche (caramel-like sweetened condensed milk). If your heat is too low, your homemade sweetened condensed milk will take forever to reduce!
Some people like adding a dollop of unsalted butter to add a creamier richer mouthfeel. This isn’t necessary and condensed milk typically isn’t made this way. Plus, it will reduce the shelf-life of the product and thin the thick consistency.
FAQs About Condensed Milk
Which is better, homemade condensed milk or store-bought canned condensed milk?
This is entirely up to your preference. Buying pre-made condensed milk from your local grocery store does offer convenience. However, in my opinion, when you make condensed milk from scratch, it allows you versatility and a less-processed, artificial product. You can add extra flavors like vanilla extract or mint essence.
If you make condensed milk yourself, is it healthy?
This is definitely not a healthy ingredient. If you look at the nutrition information of condensed milk, you will see that it mainly consists of whole milk and sugar. These two ingredients are loaded with calories in sugar and fat form.
Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
- ¾ cup White Granulated Sugar
- ¾ cup Dry Milk
- ½ cup Hot Water
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine all three specified ingredients.
- Vigorously whisk the mixture until all clumps are thoroughly dissolved, achieving a smooth consistency.
- Allow the mixture to rest and thicken for approximately 10 minutes.
- Utilize it immediately or preserve it in a securely sealed container within the refrigerator.