Make Caramel with Condensed Milk: Many of us have vivid childhood memories centered on caramel. I recall getting a piece of caramel from my grandmother, who always had a few pieces of caramel in her coat pocket. I also recall my mother making caramel apples for Halloween every year.
You can make caramel by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk until the sugar inside turns brown. With the addition of heat, the sugar caramelizes. Because sweetened condensed milk contains more sugar than regular milk, it is an ideal ingredient for making caramel.
Although sweetened condensed milk does not produce the traditional caramels used by my grandfather and mother, I prefer the caramel it produces when baked. I make decadent coffee, tea, pies, and cakes with heated condensed milk. You’ll be able to do the same after I share my methods for turning condensed milk into caramel.
How Can I Make Caramel with Condensed Milk?
In general, condensed milk becomes caramel by being heated until the sugar in it turns brown in color. Sweetened condensed milk contains more sugar than regular milk, making it an ideal ingredient for caramelizing.
Read more about Why We Love Caramel from Sweetened Condensed Milk.
A can of properly boiled sweetened condensed milk!
What Is the Difference Between Caramel and Dulce de Leche?
When you heat milk and sugar together, you get dulce de leche.
I use heated sweetened condensed milk to make a perfect dulce de leche for my sweet dishes. One of my favorite aspects of making dulce de leche is being able to transform a pantry staple into satisfying caramelized milk, and the fact that it’s so simple to do makes it one of my favorite kitchen tricks.
To make true caramel, use granulated sugar and slowly cook it down with only water.
Condensed milk does not become caramel when viewed from a different angle. Instead, condensed milk is transformed into dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is caramelized milk, which is not the same as caramel.
How Do Condensed Milk, Sweetened Condensed Milk, and Evaporated Milk Differ?
Sweetened condensed milk and condensed milk are the same thing. There are no milk cans labeled “unsweetened condensed milk,” and any can labeled “condensed milk” contains sweetener.
Evaporated milk is a canned cow’s milk product that contains no added sweetener. Evaporated milk, like condensed milk, has had 60% of its water removed.
Heat is used to homogenize and sterilize both evaporated milk and condensed milk. Due to the lack of sugar, evaporated milk may require more preservatives to keep the product shelf-stable. It usually comes in a can and has a two-year shelf life if properly stored and unopened.
The added sugar in condensed milk aids in the reduction of bacterial growth.
I frequently use evaporated milk in savory dishes like dressings and breading. But when I need to make an impressive dessert for friends and family, I reach for condensed milk.
*By the way, I recently published an article contrasting This article explains the differences and similarities between condensed milk and evaporated milk. Evaporated Milk vs. Condensed Milk
Why don’t cans of condensed milk explode when they’re heated?
Because the boiling point of water is lower than the boiling point of condensed milk, cans of condensed milk do not explode when boiled. As long as the can is submerged, the water outside will never be hot enough to cause the condensed milk to boil, expand, and explode.
If the can is not submerged in water, it absorbs heat from the pot’s bottom and can become hotter than the water remaining inside the pot. This has the potential to cause the can to expand and explode.
When caramelized, boiled condensed milk turns brown!
If you’d like to check Turning Condensed Milk Into Caramel Using Oven.
How Long Does Caramel Condensed Milk Last?
Refrigerated condensed milk caramel will keep for a few weeks. Because sweetened condensed milk “caramel” is actually caramelized milk, it must be stored in the refrigerator and will not last as long as traditional caramel made from granulated sugar.
In the fridge, dulce de leche frequently becomes hard. Fortunately, small amounts of caramel sauce can be easily microwaved. When I want to use the dulce de leche to top a bowl of ice cream, I do this.
Making Caramel with Condensed Milk
Cooking condensed milk to make caramel is old school classic cooking in my opinion.
My grandmothers’ pantry was always stocked with cans of condensed milk, which were ideal for a variety of desserts.
Buying a can of sweetened condensed milk and turning it into caramel yourself was and still is much cheaper than having it done for you.
Making caramel from sweetened condensed milk would entail placing a sweetened can of condensed milk in a pan on the stovetop, allowing it to boil and eventually turn into caramel.
However, it was a slow process that took between 3 and 4 hours on average.
How do you quickly make caramel from condensed milk? As previously stated, this is when the instant pot comes into play.
Instead of taking several hours, you have significantly reduced the time.
Another interesting point is that when you boil condensed milk on the stovetop, the flavor is lost, whereas the instant pot retains the flavor by pressure cooking.
Caramel in the Instant Pot (dulce de leche)
If it’s just instant pot caramel, why is it commonly referred to as instant pot dulce de leche?
Dulce de leche is a Spanish term for caramel made from sweetened canned milk.
Many desserts are described in this way throughout Spain, Portugal, and other neighboring European countries.
We have dulce de leche ice cream in Portugal, which is vanilla ice cream sweetened with condensed caramel.
Instant Pot Condensed Milk Cooking
Making caramel with condensed milk in the instant pot is so simple that you’ll want to do it all the time. Just maybe start running if it becomes a daily habit!
The can of condensed milk’s wrapping is removed.
It is submerged in the instant pot with just enough water to cover it.
It cooks under pressure.
You open the can.
You consume it.
Consider using the instant pot to transform condensed milk into caramel. Have I gotten you hooked on this simple kitchen gadget yet?
Caramel Sauce in the Instant Pot
If you want to make instant pot caramel sauce out of your instant pot caramel, I recommend adding some milk and a little water to your instant pot caramel until it reaches the desired thickness.
I’ve discovered that skimmed milk is best because it’s fat-free, making it thin and easy to make something super thick and skinny.
How Long Should Condensed Milk Be Cooked to Make Caramel?
It only takes 40 minutes to cook condensed milk in the instant pot to make caramel.
But there’s also the time it takes to bring your instant pot to pressure and wait for your caramel to cool enough to touch.
One of my best time-saving tips is to fill your instant pot with warm water. Because there is a large amount of water to pressurize.