How to Microwave Condensed Milk to Make Caramel: Guide

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Do you love the taste of caramel but don’t know how to make it? It’s actually very easy to do! In this guide, I will teach you how to microwave condensed milk to make caramel.

As a general rule, you can microwave condensed milk to make caramel. Microwaving introduces heat to caramelize the condensed milk which is faster to make than on a stovetop. To make, simply pour the condensed milk into a bowl, microwave in 30-second intervals, and stir until brown and thick.

Microwaving Condensed Milk To Make Caramel

This process is much simpler than making caramel on the stovetop, and it only takes a few minutes. Let’s get started!

How to Microwave Condensed Milk?

As a whole, the proper way to microwave condensed milk is to pour it into a microwave-safe bowl and then heat it on high for about 1 minute. After that, take it out and whisk the milk until smooth. If there are lumps, microwave it for another 30 seconds. The milk should be thick and brown in color.

Here is a complete step-by-step guide on how to microwave condensed milk to make the caramel:

  • Carefully open the can of condensed milk and pour it into a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Put the bowl in the microwave and heat on high or medium for 1 minute
  • Stop the microwave and whisk the milk
  • Put it back and microwave for another minute.
  • Keep microwaving and whisking in 30-second intervals until the milk becomes thick and starts to turn brown.
  • Once it’s done, take it out of the microwave and allow it to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy.

I’ve made caramel on a stovetop for many years. When I was running low on time, I thought “why not use a microwave?”

Pour Condensed Milk Into A Microwave-Safe Bowl
Pour Condensed Milk Into A Microwave-Safe Bowl!

*By the way, the Double Boiler works great when you’re trying to melt something like chocolate while heating up other ingredients. I recently wrote an article that gives a breakdown of the 3 Best Double Boilers that people use in each stage of their baking journey.

After reviewing these double boilers, the Best Overall Double Boiler was the Stainless Series 2-Quart Covered Double Boiler which worked great for the dessert needs in my kitchen. You can check out this Double Boiler on Amazon!

Microwaves introduce the heat that is necessary to caramelize. I was thrilled to see that my microwaved condensed milk had caramelized. No one could tell the difference! Using a microwave or double boiler, my results are the same!

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What Happens When You Microwave Condensed Milk?

Generally speaking, when you microwave condensed milk, it will caramelize and become a thick, brown liquid. If you want to avoid burning, microwave initially for 1 minute on high and then on low for 30-second intervals, whisking in between each interval until it’s heated through.

Condensed milk contains a high amount of sugar, which caramelizes when heated. When microwaving, the milk will go through stages of light browning, dark browning, and eventually burning if left for too long.

That’s why it’s important to whisk it often and keep an eye on it while it’s cooking.

The caramelization is even faster if the condensed milk is sweetened. This means there is more sugar content which will react to the heat and turn brown quicker.

*Side Note: You might also want to know How To Turn Condensed Milk Into Caramel. I recently wrote an article about A Complete How-to Guide to Turning Condescend Milk Into Caramel, which you can check out here!

Does Condensed Milk Turn To Caramel In The Microwave?

As a general rule, condensed milk can turn to caramel in the microwave. This depends on how long and how well you whisk it. If you don’t whisk it often enough, the milk will start to burn. It’s important to keep an eye on it while microwaving and to whisk it frequently while heating in intervals.

Condensed milk will turn to caramel if it is cooked at medium heat and whisked at appropriate intervals. If you’re not sure whether or not it’s ready, caramelization happens when the milk becomes thick and brown in color.

If you heat it at too high of a temperature or for too long, the milk will boil over and burn.

Condensed Milk Turns Into Caramel
Condensed Milk Turns Into Caramel When Adding Heat!

*By the way, I enjoy making caramel apples for almost any holiday and I always wondered how to store them correctly. I recently did my research and wrote an article about The Best Ways To Store Caramel Apples To Keep Them Fresh. You can check out this article here!

I have seen friends burn their condensed milk in the microwave because they left it unattended for too long. It is important to reiterate that caramelization involves the sugar in the milk being oxidized when heated at medium to low temperatures.

What Happens When Condensed Milk Is Heated?

Generally speaking, heating condensed milk will cause the water to evaporate and the sugars to caramelize. This may take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat and how well you stir it. Once it begins to caramelize, stop heating and whisk the milk until smooth.

Whether you make caramel on a stovetop or in the microwave, the two key parts to a perfect caramel are:

  • Heat slowly on a medium-low heat
  • Mix frequently

Once you see a brown color and a very thick liquid, quickly turn off the heat and mix for an additional 2-3 minutes so that the residual heat does not burn it.

*By the way, I recently wrote an article comparing Condensed Milk Vs Evaporated Milk. This article breaks down all the similarities and differences between condensed milk and evaporated milk as well as how to convert one into the other. You can check out this article here!

Is It Safe To Microwave A Can Of Condensed Milk?

As a general rule, it is not safe to microwave an unopened can of condensed milk because it may explode. The contents are under pressure and when heated, the pressure will build up and cause the can to burst. To microwave, pour the contents of the can into a microwave-safe bowl and then microwave. 

You should never microwave anything in a can! Always pour the condensed milk or any other contents into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it according to the instructions above.


Do Not Microwave A Can of Any Kind
Do Not Microwave A Can of Any Kind!

Just opening up a can of condensed milk won’t help. Because cans are usually made of some form of metal, this will produce sparks and create dangerous situations! Always empty out your cans into a bowl and never microwave a can.

*By the way, I recently wrote an in-depth article about How To Safely Boil a Can of Condensed Milk. This article talks about what you’ll need to do to make sure that the can of condensed milk doesn’t explode when boiling it. You can check out this article here!

How to Heat Condensed Milk without A Microwave?

As a whole, you can heat condensed milk using a stovetop. Open the can and pour it into a double-boiler pan and cover. Place the pan over boiling water and then heat at medium heat for 30-50 minutes. Be sure to stir it often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom or burn.

You can also heat condensed milk in a slow cooker. Pour the milk into the slow cooker and set it to low heat. Cook for 50-120 minutes, stirring occasionally.

*By the way, I have been trying to find a great Slow Cooker for all of my kitchen needs and I recently came across an 8 Quart Programmable Crock-Pot Slow Cooker with Digital Countdown Timer that worked great for me! You can check out this Slow Cooker on Amazon!

The cooking time will depend on how much milk you’re heating and the size of your slow cooker. Once it’s heated through, remove it from heat and allow it to cool slightly before serving.

Slow cookers and double boilers are great methods for heating condensed milk if you don’t have a microwave. Just be sure to stir it often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom or burn.

*Side Note: I recently wrote an article about How to Boil A Can of Condensed Milk The Right Way. This article gives you a step-by-step outline for boiling a can correctly. You can check out this article here!

What is the Best Way to Caramelize Condensed Milk?

Generally speaking, using a microwave is faster and more efficient in caramelizing condensed milk. However, some people may prefer using a stovetop because it allows for more control over the heating process. Whichever method you choose, just be sure to whisk it often so it doesn’t stick or burn.

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Final Thoughts

When I found out you can use a microwave to make caramel out of condensed milk, it made things so much easier and faster. However, when I have time, I like to go the traditional route and use a stovetop.

Whether you use a microwave or stovetop to make caramel, the end product is always the same. A delicious treat for everyone to enjoy!

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My name is Fainna! I've been baking desserts ever since I was 10 years old with my grandma passing her baking wisdom down to me with every passing day. I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful here at my little Baking Nook!

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