How to Make Caramel from Condensed Milk

Out of all the sweet toppings out there, caramel remains a favorite choice for most people. And if you have a can of condensed milk lying around, you can whip up a batch of caramel to drizzle on your cakes, sundaes, and graham crackers in no time.

Hey, there! My name is Michelle, and I’ve been baking for over ten years. I love caramel-flavored anything, and I will admit that nothing beats fresh, homemade caramel. I’ve tried making it a few different ways, and I’m sharing which ones work the best.

Whether you want to whip up a batch of freshly made caramel in 20 minutes or have all the time in the world, there’s a method that will work for you. The best part is that most methods only require a single ingredient: sweetened condensed milk.

Who’s ready to make some caramel?

Satisfy your caramel cravings in a pinch with one of these great methods for making caramel from condensed milk.

Method 1: Making Caramel from Condensed Milk on a Stove

You have two options for making caramel from condensed milk using your stove.

Stovetop – Multiple Ingredients (Fastest Method)

The quickest way to appease your caramel desires is by utilizing your stovetop. Yes, this method requires a few extra ingredients. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. More ingredients mean more flavor, and who doesn’t want that?

What You Need:

How-To Guide:

Step 1: Bring the milk and brown sugar to a boil, stirring constantly.

Step 2: Reduce heat and simmer on low for approximately five minutes.

Step 3: Once the sauce has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat.

Step 4: Stir in the remaining ingredients.

This recipe will harden as it cools. If you need to make it soft again, simply warm it up in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Store in an airtight container and use within seven days of making.

Stovetop – Unopened Can (Classic Method)

If you’re someone who prefers “classic” and “tried-and-true” methods, this one’s for you.

Did you know that you can put an entire, unopened can of sweetened condensed milk into a pot of boiling water and make caramel? Yup, it’s true, and it’s the most prominent way of making caramel from condensed milk. 

Just do the following:

Step 1: Remove the label from the can of milk.

Step 2: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Make sure there is enough water to cover the can entirely.

Step 3: Carefully place the pan inside the boiling water, ensuring it is fully covered.

Step 4: Boil the can for three hours. Add more water as necessary.

Step 5: After the three-hour mark, carefully remove from the boiling water.

Step 6: Wait until it’s cooled before opening and enjoying it!

Method 2: Making Caramel from Condensed Milk in the Oven

If you don’t want to fuss with constantly mixing or adding ingredients, then the oven method may be the better choice for you. This method requires a single can of sweetened condensed milk and two pans to be successful.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425F.

Step 2: Pour out a can of milk into a small dish/plate.

Step 3: Place in a larger dish/plate/pan with water approximately ¾ inches high.

Step 4: Bake for around 75 minutes. Add more water during the baking process if necessary.

Step 5: Once the milk has reached a golden brown hue, remove it from the oven.

With this method, it’s not uncommon for a thin crust to form on the top of the pan. You can dispose of this crust or place the contents of the pan in an immersion blender, so it gets mixed together.

If you don’t end up using all of the caramel, you can store it in an airtight container for a few weeks.

However, the crust may re-form while in the fridge. So, do as directed above: skim it off or blend it into the rest of the caramel sauce.

Method 3: Making Caramel from Condensed Milk in the Microwave

If you’re really short on time and need caramel now, you can always opt for the microwave instead. This is a bit trickier because it happens so quickly, and your caramel can quickly go from golden and tasty to burn and atrocious. 

To make caramel from condensed milk in the microwave, follow these directions (carefully):

Step 1: Pour 1 ½ cups of sweetened condensed milk into a microwave-safe container and cook on high for one minute.

Step 2: Remove from the microwave and stir generously.

Step 3: Cook on high for an additional minute. If it is going to spill over the bowl, remove it immediately.

Step 4: Stir the caramel again.

Step 5: Cook the caramel on 50% power for one another minute. Again, make sure it does not boil over. Continue cooking until the milk has turned a yellow/gold hue.

Method 4: Making Caramel from Condensed Milk in a Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers are handy inventions that have recently gotten a lot of attention (although they’ve been around for an impressive amount of time). If you have an electric pressure cooker and want to make caramel from condensed milk, follow these steps:

Step 1: Place the trivet and steamer basket inside the electric pressure cooker.

Step 2: Place the can of condensed milk on top. Ensure it is lying on its side but not touching any part of the pressure cooker.

Step 3: Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to cover the can without exceeding the “max” limit.

Step 4: Close, lock and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. 

Step 5: Disengage the “Keep Warm” option, allowing the pressure cooker to naturally release instead. 

Step 6: Let the pressure cooker cool overnight before opening.

Method 5: Making Caramel from Condensed Milk in a Slow Cooker

Do you prefer slower methods? If the pressure cooker isn’t your thing and you prefer the low-and-slow appeal of a crockpot, use this method instead:

Step 1: Place two cans of sweetened condensed milk into the slow cooker on their sides.

Step 2: Pour water over the cans until they are completely submerged.

Step 3: Cook on “low” for eight to ten hours.

Step 4: Remove cans carefully and let them cool on the countertop, or place them in a bowl of cold water to speed up the cooling process. 

How does condensed milk turn into caramel?

Now that you know many methods for making caramel from condensed milk, you might wonder – what’s the deal with condensed milk? How does it turn into caramel anyway?

When condensed milk is boiled, it turns brown in color, creating the caramel we all know and love. 


Whether you’re a fan of slow cookers, ovens, or stovetops, there is a caramel method that will work for you. If you still want to learn more about this topic, check out a few of the most commonly asked questions below.

Can you turn evaporated milk into caramel?

If you only have evaporated milk on hand and not condensed milk, you can still make the caramel successfully. You will need to boil unsalted butter, brown sugar, and water, then stir in the evaporated milk. 

How long does condensed milk caramel last?

Caramel made from condensed milk (and nothing else) will typically last anywhere from two to four weeks in the fridge, although you’re likely to use it before it expires. Make sure it’s stored in an airtight container. You can also freeze to prolong your longevity, too.

How do you know when the caramel sauce is done?

The easiest way to tell that your caramel sauce is done is by the color. It will turn a golden/coppery hue. The sauce will also get thicker. When you notice the color and thickness, remove it from the heat immediately. Otherwise, it may burn.

Final Words

Making caramel from condensed milk is a cinch. Most methods only require a single ingredient and anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 hours. With so many options, you can find a method to suit your needs.

Have you tried any of these methods? How did it work out? Share with us!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Caroline A Becker

    Can I make this up and preserve it in canning jars? Hot water bath them so I can sell them at market.

    • Michelle

      Hi, Caroline!

      Unfortunately, I’m not 100% sure, as I have never tried it.

      I’d recommend doing a trial run before taking it to the market.

      Let me know how they turn out!

  • Krisie

    My condensed milk in a glass jar with tin foil in a crockpot didn’t carmelize.

    • Michelle

      I’m sorry to hear that! Maybe try a different method?

  • Therese Finlay

    Hi, I always made my Caramel from condensed milk years ago, with the new cans being ring top open are they ok to do them the old wat or will they explode.

    • Michelle

      Good question! I haven’t personally tried the ring top, but I have seen many recipes using them just fine.

  • Elaine

    Thank you for a variety of ways to make caramel 🙂
    I simmer 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk in the can in water about 3 hours. So good and no preservatives!
    My question is, once it’s done how long will the caramel last in the un-opened can?
    Should I put un-opened cans in the fridge or is storing cans in my cabinet okay?
    All I can find is how long it lasts once can is opened.

    • Michelle

      Hi Elaine,
      Store it in the fridge for 3/4 weeks.

  • Julie

    I used your slo-cooker method to make the sweetened condensed caramel sauce. It is wonderful! For convenience, I made two cans but I will need to store one of the cans in the freezer. Would you suggest I put it in a plastic freezing container,? Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

    • Michelle

      HI Julie,
      Great! So glad we could help. Yes, store it in a plastic freezing container.