caramel sauce and a rubber spatula in a dish


Home » Recipes » Sweets & Treats » RECIPE FOR CONDENSED MILK CARAMEL

This recipe for Condensed Milk Caramel is a hands off process that turns condensed milk into caramel sauce! It’s rich, thick, creamy, so easy to do and perfect to use in all of your favourite dessert recipes.

A few years back, when I was thriving in my *cheesecake era* – aka owned a cheesecake business and did nothing but eat, breathe and sleep cheesecake – I discovered this way of making dulce de leche (a form of caramel sauce) that was not only easy AF to do, required 1 simple ingredient but also kept my hands and mind free to do other things at the same time since I didn’t have to slave away over a hot stovetop constantly babysitting it (a common denominator in most other versions of homemade caramel sauce).

I was skeptical about it at first because I simply didn’t realize that making homemade caramel sauce from scratch could in fact be so dang easy. But, as busy as I was back then, I was willing to try whatever it took if it meant that I can pump out some more cheesecakes. And trust me, the dulce de leche version was amongst one of the most popular cheesecake flavours for my customers.

hands holding a dish with homemade caramel sauce and a rubber spatula

So, it goes without saying, that dulce de leche has a very special place in my heart. Not only did I soon perfect the simple art of making it from scratch myself at home through this easy method (which, if you’ve been here for a while, you already know is one of my favourite ways to get down in the kitchen) but I also spent a whole year eating the best of the best of it while backpacking around South America. You see, multiple Latin American countries claim to be the birthplace of dulce de leche and it’s a staple in the cuisines of many countries in the region. I definitely had enough of it within that year to know that I wanted it as a permanent staple in my home kitchen, too!

Lucky for both you and I, this oven baked method could not be any easier to make! I mean, the process alone of turning condensed milk into caramel sauce is almost like *magic*. And don’t even get me started on the magic that happens when you use it on anything from ice cream to cookies and cakes and everything in between. Heck, it’s so good, I won’t tell anyone if you just want to eat it just like that right by the spoonful!


hand holding a bowl of condensed milk with a spoon in it
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

That’s right! And no, you’re not seeing things. You really do only need 1 ingredient and 1 ingredient only to make this recipe for condensed milk caramel. Let’s discuss it in a little bit more detail down below:

  • Condensed Milk: The key (and only!) ingredient and base of our caramel sauce. It is a thick, sweet, and concentrated form of milk where water content has been removed and sugar has been added. Since the sugar content is crucial for the caramelization process, you want to make sure you’re grabbing sweetened condensed milk if you’re starting with the store bought stuff. However, if you’re feeling a little extra badass, try making your own homemade condensed milk, instead! You can normally find sweetened condensed milk in the baking section of most grocery stores.
caramel sauce dripping into a bowl


caramel sauce on a rubber spatula over a dish with more

You can find full instructions for how to make this recipe for condensed milk caramel in the recipe card down below. But here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose the proper dish. A dish with enough depth to contain the caramel as it bubbles and thickens during baking will give you the best results. I love using a ceramic pie pan for this.
  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly into the baking dish. This ensures uniform caramelization during baking. If you have to, use a rubber spatula to spread it out into an even layer before baking.
  • Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil before placing it in the oven. This helps trap steam, which aids in the caramelization process and prevents the top from drying out or cooking too quickly. The foil also prevents any water from the water bath from getting in.
  • Use a water bath. Place the baking dish in a larger pan. Then, add hot water to the larger pan to create a water bath. This gentle heat helps the caramel cook evenly as it bakes in the oven. EXTRA TIP: Be mindful when pouring the hot water into the pan. It should only come up the sides of the baking dish holding the caramel about halfway as you definitely don’t want any water accidently seeping into your caramel sauce. EXTRA EXTRA TIP: Be careful when moving the hot pan in the water bath as it’s extremely hot and will be bubbling/boiling.
  • Put it on the middle rack in the oven. This ensures that it cooks evenly and all the way through without risk of burning the bottom.
  • Don’t rush and trust the process. Turning condensed milk into caramel sauce using this oven baked method typically 1.5 to 2 hours. This slow baking process ensures thorough caramelization without burning. EXTRA TIP: The longer you bake, the thicker and darker the caramel will become. Adjust the baking time to achieve your preferred colour and thickness. I like checking on it in 30 minute increments just to make sure nothing is burning.
  • During baking, check the water level in the larger pan. If it’s getting low, add more hot water to maintain a consistent water bath. You may have to fill it again if all of the water evaporates before the condensed milk fully turns to caramel.
  • Use a hand blender (my favourite tip!) to ensure that you get a smooth and creamy consistency. Simply remove the foil once the caramel sauce is finished baking and looks as thick and dark as you want it to be. Then, carefully, blend the sauce right in the dish on the lowest speed until there are no bubbles/lumps.
side view of homemade caramel sauce in a dish with a rubber spatula



Yes, boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk is another common method to make a simple caramel sauce known as dulce de leche. This process involves placing a sealed can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water and simmering it for an extended period. The slow and gentle simmering allows the sugars in the condensed milk to caramelize, resulting in a thick and creamy caramel-like sauce.

However, in this recipe for condensed milk caramel, we use the oven baked method. Therefore, the boiling of the can is not required. Instead, we pour the condensed milk into a dish and bake it until it caramelizes. Since this method doesn’t require a can, it’s great for those who also want to try making their own homemade condensed milk from scratch!


Sweetened condensed milk is used to make caramel because it contains a high concentration of sugar and milk solids. The process of making caramel involves heating sugar until it undergoes a series of chemical reactions known as caramelization. In the case of sweetened condensed milk, the added sugar and the milk proteins contribute to the caramelization process, resulting in the creation of caramel.

By simmering or baking sweetened condensed milk, you are essentially subjecting the sugars and milk solids in the product to prolonged heat. This process causes the sugars to caramelize, resulting in the formation of a rich and sweet caramel-like sauce known as dulce de leche.


If your condensed milk caramel is not thickening as expected, there could be a few reasons for this issue. Here are some common factors:

Insufficient cooking time. Caramelization and thickening require adequate cooking time. If you haven’t simmered the sweetened condensed milk long enough, it may not have reached the desired thickness. Extend the cooking time, and ensure the process is slow and steady.

Inadequate heat. Maintain a steady heat during the baking process. If the heat is too low, caramelization may not occur, and the mixture won’t thicken. Adjust the heat to achieve a gentle simmer in the water bath.

The water level of the water bath should remain consistent throughout the baking process. If the water level decreases significantly, it can affect the cooking and thickening of the caramel sauce. Add more hot water throughout baking as needed.

Please note that the caramel may continue to thicken as it cools. Allow the condensed milk to cool completely before assessing its final thickness. The cooling process is crucial for achieving the desired consistency.


Store your homemade dulce de leche in an airtight container or jar and keep it in the fridge. The cold temperature helps slow down bacterial growth and preserves the quality of the product. It can last for several weeks, however, for the best quality, try to use homemade dulce de leche within two to three weeks of making it.

homemade caramel sauce in a bowl
caramel sauce and a rubber spatula in a dish


Yield: ~1 Cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

This recipe for Condensed Milk Caramel is a hands off process that turns condensed milk into caramel sauce! It's rich, thick, creamy, so easy to do and perfect to use in all of your favourite dessert recipes.


  • 1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk*


  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Pour the condensed milk into a heatproof dish or pie pan. Cover the dish tightly with foil to prevent water from getting in. Then, place the dish in a larger baking pan.
    condensed milk in a pie dish
    circular dish covered with foil on a rectangular dish
  3. Fill the larger pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the smaller dish.
    aluminum foil covered circular pan in a steam filled rectangular pan
  4. Bake for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the condensed milk has turned into a rich caramel colour* Check occasionally and add more hot water to the larger pan if needed.
    homemade caramel sauce in a circular dish in a rectangular dish
  5. Carefully remove it from the oven and take off the foil. Then use a hand blender to blend the caramel sauce (at the lowest speed) to achieve a smooth consistency and get rid of any lumps. Let it cool, then use it as you would caramel sauce.
    hand with a blender blending caramel sauce in a pan
    homemade caramel sauce in a pie dish


        Try making your own homemade sweetened condensed milk from scratch yourself at home. Find my easy, 3 ingredient recipe HERE.

        The longer you bake, the thicker and darker the caramel will become. Adjust the baking time to achieve your preferred colour and thickness. I like checking on it in 30 minute increments just to make sure nothing is burning.

        Nutrition Information:
        Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
        Amount Per Serving: Calories: 123Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 49mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 21gProtein: 3g

        Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.

        Did you make this recipe? I love seeing your creations!

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