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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Baking Substitution: Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

With holiday baking in full swing, I thought I would share this substitution recipe. I first stumbled upon this recipe when my kids were small and our grocery budget was smaller. I was perusing a Parenting magazine at the library when I came across a recipe for 7-Layer Magic Bars. I had had them once before, so I knew they would thrill my husband and kids. However, I didn't have some of the ingredients. This substitution recipe made the Magic happen in my house that year. I posted this recipe a few years ago, in 2019. It was useful to me then, and is now once again.

Homemade sweetened condensed milk works:

  • in those bar cookie recipes (like Magic Bars) where ingredients are layered, then the milk is poured over all 
  • in Tres Leche cake, a yummy south-of-the-border fruit and cream cake
  • in homemade ice cream -- very quick and easy ice cream if you have some of this in the fridge)
  • to make your own seasonal coffee creamers, just add spices and/or extracts 
  • in candy-making, such as fudge 
  • or for use in caramel sauce

While this recipe yields just over 3/4 cup of finished product (about 8 to 9 ounces), larger batches can be made to keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days for use in many different baking/cooking recipes.

The savings -- about half the cost of commercial 

For a price comparison, Walmart's Great value brand of SCM is $1.94/14 ounces at my local store, or 13.9 cents per ounce. This year (2022), that's my best price locally. My homemade version cost me about 55 cents in ingredients (in 2022) for 8.75 ounces, and about 5 cents for the gas stove, for a total of about 60 cents, or 7 cents per ounce, about half the cost of the commercial product.


  1. That is a substantial savings on making your own SCM at home. We never have whole milk around. Do you think it would work with skim milk? However, if I ever get around to baking, I will probably buy it. In fact, I usually have some lurking in the back of the pantry from when I had intentions of making something that didn't happen.

    1. Good question--we also don't drink whole milk. The savings is pretty substantial and sometimes it's nice to have substitutions if you don't want to head to the store.

      We made snow ice cream a few years ago--it was something my daughter saw and wanted to try. I don't remember the proportions, but the ingredients were fresh snow, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract. It's a fun winter activity for kids.

    2. Hi Live and Learn,
      I think you can make a reasonable substitution even with skim milk. It may not be quite as thick. If you have any powdered milk on hand, you could add a tablespoon of powdered milk to the liquid skim milk. The extra milk solids would compensate for the butter fat of whole milk. When I've made yogurt with 2% milk, I add some powdered milk to compensate in a similar way. It helps to slightly thicken the finished product.

    3. Hi Kris,
      Your snow ice cream sounds like a fun project. I'll be remembering that when we get more snow. Thank you!

  2. Interesting you mentioned 7 layer bars because I just made those using ingredients I had in my pantry that I wanted to use. I did not have butterscotch chips but I did have bakers chocolate both white and dark bars so I chopped those up and used them instead. They were less sweet because the chocolate was not sweet and it was still very good. I also used cinnamon graham instead of regular ones and that was a excellent as well. I had SCM in the pantry so I used that and I find that Aldi prices are very good for things like SCM and evaporated milk that I probably will buy it if I ever needed it again. I'm making a bunch of sweets for Christmas and not necessarily for me so I made peanut butter balls (AKA buckeyes) and my husband already found them. Next will be scotcharoos.

    1. Hi Alice,
      was the baking chocolate you used completely unsweetened? That sounds like something that would interest me. You get the sweet taste from the other ingredients, but the dark chocolate taste stands out. I'm going to remember this for making chocolate chip cookies with slightly less sweet taste.
      The rest of your sweet treats sound delicious!

    2. I am not completely 100% certain but I doubt they were not totally unsweetened. The box was thrown away so I can't check but they were a high percentage of unsweetened.


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