Put aside your usual can of sweetened condensed milk and make your own sweet creamy condensed coconut milk goodness at home! Sweetened condensed milk is used in so many recipes from fudge to coconut macaroons for Passover, and is a great sweetener to add to your matcha lattes and bubble teas.
This recipe works with whole milk, evaporated milk, and full-fat canned coconut milk.
Why this Recipe Works
Sweetened condensed milk is actually easy to make at home – all you need are two ingredients, some heat, and a little patience. This makes it an ideal homemade alternative to buying a can at the store.
This recipe works great with both dairy milk and full-fat canned coconut milk. It is helpful to have a dairy-free, plant-based version available for all my favorite recipes.
As the name suggests, sweetened condensed milk is made when you add sugar to milk and then heat it over a long period of time so that you remove the water content (condensing it) and are left with a thick, dense, rich milk liquid.
This recipe reduces the milk or coconut milk by half, yielding the perfect thickness after cooling.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Full-fat coconut milk – I usually make this a non-dairy recipe, but it also works with dairy milk. It can be made with full-fat canned coconut milk, evaporated milk, or whole milk.
Sugar – Use granulated sugar to sweeten your milk. I find it yields the best final product thickness.
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How to Make this Recipe
This recipe is super simple with only two steps! First, add the granulated sugar and coconut milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to fully dissolve the sugar.
Note: If your coconut milk is a little chunky out of the can, use a whisk to break up the chunks and create a smooth liquid.
Once the mixture comes to a very light simmer, cook the mixture gradually over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
As the water content is removed, the mixture will reduce down until it is about half the volume of liquid. This should take about 35-45 minutes.
As it cooks, the coconut milk will darken slightly in color and this is normal. Let the mixture cool before storing in an airtight jar or container.
Important note: The condensed milk will thicken as it cools. The best way to check if you have reduced it by half is to let it cool in a liquid measuring cup. If it isn't half of your original volume, add it back to the saucepan and continue to reduce it.
Sweetened Condensed Milk FAQs
When you continue to heat the milk, it actually continues to thicken and deepen in color until it becomes dulce de leche, or 'cooked condensed milk.' However, this is reliant on you cooking the milk slowly over medium heat. Turning your heat up too high too quickly will burn the mixture, or otherwise tamper with it and stop it from condensing properly.
This will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week. Unlike canned versions, homemade sweetened condensed milk does not have added shelf stabilizers that give it such a long shelf-life.
Both of these are made by reducing the water in the milk, but they cannot be used interchangeably unless a recipe states they can. The difference is that sweetened condensed milk has far more sugar added which allows it to reach a caramel-like consistency, while evaporated milk is thinner.
It does if you're making it with a dairy product (cow's milk), but I use coconut milk so it is lactose-free.
Yes, it is gluten-free.
Curious about making more homemade dairy-free milk and recipes that use this sweetened condensed coconut milk? Try these great ideas.
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Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
- 2 cups full-fat coconut milk or dairy milk
- ⅔ cups sugar granulated
- Add the sugar and milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until reduced by half, 35-45 minutes.