How to Make Caramel from Condensed Milk on the Stove

Apple being dipped in Caramel made from Condensed Milk

Usually, caramel is made by heating either brown or regular sugar to the point when it becomes a smooth and creamy texture. However, you can make caramel using sweetened condensed milk, resulting in a similarly delicious sauce with an extra-sweet kick.  If you haven’t heard about it, keep reading to learn how to make caramel from condensed milk on the stove.


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Is It Caramel Or Dulce De Leche?

Caramel sauce is prepared by melting sugar until it begins to brown on its own, then adding butter and cream at the end. Dulce de leche is prepared by heating milk and sugar for a longer period.

This recipe is actually a dulce de leche made with sweetened condensed milk, but most people refer to it as caramel.


One Essential Step in Making Caramel in a Can

There are no hard and fast rules in making this homemade caramel, but if you’re preparing dulce de leche/caramel in a can, you must follow one key step… Remove the paper wrapping and any remaining sticky glue.


Why so fussy about the wrapper?

It’s primarily a matter of cleanup. If the can of condensed milk has pieces of paper wrapper left to it, you can be certain that the sticky residue will seep into the pan, leaving a peculiar, tacky film. I realized my mistake after washing the interior of my pan with the scrubber sponge for the best part of 10-15 minutes (and a cup of dishwashing liquid), and I really don’t want you to do it.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • First, take the paper wrapping off.
  • Next, spray any adhesive remover on the sticky residue and rub it to clean it.
  • Then wash the can with soap and water.


How to Make Caramel from Condensed Milk on the Stove

Here is my tried-and-true recipe for making caramel from condensed milk on the stove if you were looking for it!


  • 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk


There are different ways of making caramel on the stove. I’ll share two of them in detail here.


Method 1: Making Caramel in the Can

  1. For this method, use a can of condensed milk with a sealed lid; a can with a pull-tab lid will not work. This is because as you boil the can, a lot of pressure will build up inside it, and you don’t want the lid to pop off.
  2. Fill the pan with water. Assure that the can is completely immersed and that an extra 2 inches of water surround it. As a result, the can wouldn’t overheat or explode, and the milk won’t burn in the process.
  3. After removing the label, place the unopened can in the pan on its side.
  4. Let the water simmer over high heat. When it starts to simmer, reduce the heat to medium and leave it to cook for another 2 to 3 hours (2 hours if you want a lighter caramel, or 3 hours if you desire it to be thicker and darker).
  5. After 30 minutes, check on the can. Turn the can every half hour to avoid burning. Refill the water as necessary to ensure that the can is always covered by one to two inches.
  6. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat. Put it on a wire rack. Allow it to cool down completely to room temperature before opening.


Method 2: Using a Double Boiler

making caramel with a double boilermaking caramel with a double boiler

People have been preparing caramel for years by following method 1. However, heating a metal can containing liquid is not the safest option, so here’s another method that is relatively safe and easy.

  1. Take a double boiler, fill the bottom section with water, and bring it to a boil.
  2. Next, pour the contents of a can of condensed milk into the top section.
  3. Place the top section over the boiling water and cover it with the lid. Over medium heat, bring it to a simmer.
  4. Simmer, occasionally stirring, for one and a half to two hours or until the milk turns thick and the desired caramel color is obtained.
  5. Take the pan off the heat.
  6. As the caramel cools, whisk it until it becomes smooth and lump free. Let about 20 minutes to cool before serving or adding it to any recipe.


Uses of Caramel

caramel sauce

  • Add it to brownies.
  • Fill thumbprint cookies with it.
  • Heat it and drizzle it over the ice cream.
  • Swirl it on the yogurt
  • Add into milkshakes.
  • For chocolate martinis, line it on a martini glass.
  • Incorporate into cheesecakes or custards.
  • Make coffee sweeter.
  • An excellent fruit salad dressing option.
  • Fill donuts and other desserts.
  • Prepare Dulce de Leche Bars.


Tips on How to Make Caramel from Condensed Milk

Apple being dipped in Caramel made from Condensed Milk

  • If you do not have a double boiler, use a pan and a glass bowl. Fill the pan halfway with water and place a glass bowl inside. Make sure that the bowl is large enough to seal the saucepan so that water doesn’t come inside the bowl.
  • After cooling down at room temperature, transfer the caramel to a glass jar, cover it with a lid, and refrigerate for up to a month.
  • You can freeze caramel and store it for up to 2-3 months in an airtight jar or plastic bag. Leave it at room temperature to thaw before using. I do not recommend microwave defrosting.
  • There is no need to refrigerate it if you have followed method one because the can is already sealed.



How to pronounce caramel

The word “caramel” is pronounced as “KER-uh-muhl” or “KAR-uh-muhl.”


How to thicken caramel sauce

Mix cornstarch or tapioca starch with water and add it to the sauce, then simmer and stir until it thickens. Another way is to mix flour with cold water, then add it to the sauce and stir until it thickens.


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Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.