One Ingredient Caramel

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How to Make One Ingredient Caramel

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This is one of our favorite caramel sauces for topping desserts, dipping apples and eating with almost everything!

Ok, ok I know… its not technically “CARAMEL”.. maybe more along the lines of a dulce de leche.. but it is dang delicious with that sweet caramely goodness!

In this recipe, sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it creates a deliciously rich caramel sauce! The best part is this recipe has ONE ingredient! Just one!  Easy huh?  I personally LOVE sweetened condensed milk in any dessert and this has to be one of my favorites!

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You’re going to simply pour condensed milk into a pie pan or casserole dish.  Cover it with foil and place it in a larger pan of water and bake.  SO easy!  I put my water level about 1/2″ to 3/4″ (depending on your pan) so just check the oven every now and then to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated.

One more thing, you may get a little crust on the top once your caramel bakes (which is delicious).  You can either just serve it as it, just eat the caramel underneath or blend it with an immersion blender. In the image below my caramel has been blended with an immersion blender while warm.  Any little crusty bits on the top just melt right into the caramel.

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Please note that this recipe has been adapted from the original recipe which included cooking a can of unopened sweetened condensed milk fully submerged in a large pot (1″ above the can) and boiled for 3 hours.  There has been some question as to the safety of the original method (although, like many of you, I’ve been doing it for years and years).  I’ve decided to err on the side of caution and try another method.

I’m more than happy to report that not only was it easy, it was quicker than the original method and it tastes just as amazing.  You won’t be disappointed.

Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel!

This is one of our favorite caramel sauces for topping desserts, dipping apples and eating with almost everything!

Did you make this recipe?

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (regular or low fat)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a casserole dish or pie plate. Cover with foil.
  3. Place in a larger pan and fill to 3/4″ with water. (Fill water as needed while baking)
  4. Bake 60-90 minutes or until condensed milk has reached a golden brown color.
  5. Cool completely.

Notes:

If your caramel forms a thin crust on top, you can either just use the caramel underneath or blend using an immersion blender for a minute to mix it in.

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Holly Nilsson

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

81 comments on “One Ingredient Caramel”

  1. This is what I use as the base for a banoffee pie. Hmm, now I think I will make one this long holiday weekend!

  2. Please give some suggestions of how to use this?

    • It’s delicious as a caramel topping on ice cream or to dip fruit in. We’ve drizzled in on cake too! I have a recipe for Banoffee Pie (banana/caramel) which I am hoping to post today! (You will find it posted here once it’s up)

    • My Mom always made this when I was growing. She would use it for icing on a devil’s food cake and top with pecans.

    • If you let it go for 4 hours it becomes more stiff and you can use it for pie. Scoop it out into a graham cracker crust and top with cool whip. Yummy!

      • I’ve been making this for years, but I’ve never cooked it for more than 90 minutes. Any longer and it will burn! I use it to make caramel tart. I make my own shortcrust base, top it with the caramel, then top with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Delicious.

  3. WARNING! This stuff can and will explode if you let the water boil off. Our family calls this Blow Up Pudding because our Grandmother blew up a can of this all over her kitchen. Fortunately no one was in the kitchen when it happened.

    Deliciously Dangerous stuff.

  4. I do candy making.It makes a wonderful candy filling.

  5. How long can I keep it for?

    • I’m not sure how long it would last, we always seem to eat it pretty quickly!

      • I make this all the time. Once I made extra to keep on hand, like you recommend. It actually doesn’t keep. I mean, it doesn’t go bad, but sugar crystals start to form and it has a crunchy, sugary texture to it. I was able to salvage it some by heating it in a saucepan, but it wasn’t the same.

  6. I really like how you have a slow cooker method for this and i can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much!

  7. A friend served this in a stack on a small plate for each diner, starting with a slice of lettuce, a slice of canned pineapple, a section of the caramel, topped with whipped cream. (By the way, watch the incorrect use of apostrophe. It’s the possessive “its,” not “it’s.”)

    • Calm down Richard. This isn’t a website about the proper use of the English language. Before you correct peoples us of apostrophes try learning the difference between “diner” and “dinner”.

  8. I tried this once in a crock pot and it didn’t work. Has anybody tried this and it worked? Just wondering.

    • Hi Ericka,
      This is late, but I have it is delicious. It does work in the crock pot needs to be cook longer.
      I like this method, I also put mine in a jar.

      Hope this helps

  9. will it work for carmaled apples???????

    • It’s a much softer type of caramel, more like a dip so it probably wouldn’t work for caramel apples. It is delicious to dip apples into it!

      • It actually gets really thick if you cook it longer, 3 hours or over and it is spreadable, over 4 and it is like a pudding but thicker.

  10. My mom used to make this for us and we would spread it on toast, I’m talking about maybe 55 yrs ago. Its wonderful..

  11. Can this be used to make popcorn balls?

  12. For the love of God don’t heat a can! Aluminum and BPA can leach into your food!
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-talk-can-dont/

    • Come on Shari,
      Lighten up. People have been doing this for 50 plus years. I ate this all the time as a child. People think they are so much smarter now. And much sicker than they were back then.

  13. why put the can on it’s side , can’t we let it stand?

  14. A friend introduced this to me as it was her favorite dessert growing up. I’ve done it several times on the stove with success every time. I make brownies and use it as the filling and sprinkle sea salt on it before adding the last layer of brownie mix. They don’t last long.

  15. Can you spread this Carmel on cakes?

  16. Take a pound cake and cut in half horizontally
    Spread caramel over bottom half and return the top half
    Drizzle with rum
    Absolutely amazing!

  17. I just tried this (as in i just pulled it out of the crockpot). Its been on low since 11 am and it turned almost the consistency of flan. Did i let it go too long?

  18. I’m going to try this for a community fall party this Sunday! How much does one can of sweetened condensed milk serve with apples? Looking to make quite a bit. And does it stay pretty creamy if not eaten right away?? For example, if I cook it on Saturday, will it still be creamy Sunday, or does it harden like caramel does?

    • It will stay creamy Natalie, I’ve left it cooked in my cupboard for a long time! Each can will make about 1 cup of dip.

      • Can this be stored in cupboard instead of fridge. That would be wonderful if so! I wanted to make as gifts and do not have a place to refrigerate.

        • Originally this recipe featured the can being boiled unopened to make the caramel sauce. As the can was unopened, I would store it in the refrigerator.

          There were concernts about the saftey of boiling a can so the recipe was retested and updated with the new method. Using this methough, I would store this in the refrigerator.

  19. I have caramelized sweetened condensed as far back as I can remember. I learned to caramelized this milk from my mother. I always put the cans in my fridge after they cool. I have never had sugar crystals in the caramel. I always boil the water at medium. The cans must be covered with the water the entire time it boils; 8 hours.

  20. Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel!
    I was raised with “Sweet Stuff”. My Grandma made this in the 1920’s. My Mom spread this on toast and used it as a sandwich filling. Instead of PB&J you can have PB&C! Or just “C”!

    I only boil it about 1 hour, no more than 1.5 hours if I had to add more water and it wasn’t hot enough and I thought I lost time. If you stand it in your pan try to turn it over about half-way through because it gets a thicker, sugary layer on the bottom where stove heat is more intense. I often lay it on it’s side and move it occasionally. Since you need to keep an eye on the water level it is easy to turn it then too. It takes a long time to cool, so plan ahead.

    Scrape it into a ZipLock or similar covered container and keep it in the refrigerator. It will last several weeks but we usually use it up way before that! LOL

    You’ll want to pull it out of the refrigerator at the beginning of your breakfast or lunch prep to just take a bit of the chill off so it doesn’t tear the bread. Probably good as a dip too – warmed up or cold.

    For other who have asked – this is not a hardened caramel. It is fluid and will leak out of a sandwich so don’t send it in a school lunch. I can see it as an excellent glaze, flavoring ingredient, dip. Think of it as a thick ice cream topping that is thinner than Hershey’s Fudge but thicker that Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.

    Thanks for bringing back memories.

  21. Questions:
    Will cooking this sauce for 10 hours make it darker?
    How long will the unopened cooked caramel last unrefrigerated?
    Once opened, how long will the sauce stay fresh in the refrigerator?
    I’ve had this sauce before and it’s wonderful! I’m so glad I can make it myself.
    Looking forward to making as gifts for the holidays!

    • I haven’t tried cooking it longer so I’m not sure what effect it would have.
      I’ve kept it unopened for a month or so as it’s still sealed. Once opened I would suggest using it within about a week.

      Enjoy!

  22. Mix a can of caramel with a container of Cool Whip for an amazing fruit dip.

  23. I find if the can is left in the same position when boiling it will burn or else some of it will be thicker than the rest of it. I normally turn the can, with a thongs, so it would cook more even. I find it easier to spread if it’s still warm, if it was cold I would stand it in hot water so it would come out of the can and I could spread it.

  24. Can I drink this for breakfast right now? :) Mmmm!

  25. I am trying to get on you site to receive news letter, posts ect. and having a hard time. Can you help me>

  26. Such an easy thing to make with some tips along! Thanks for sharing!

  27. I’ve heard that you can leave the milk in the can. put the can in a pan of water that covers the can and bring to a boil, reduce to slow boil, But I don’t remember how long you boil it. Have you ever heard of doing it that way?

    • Yes I’ve done it that way several times. I boil it for about 3 hour ensuring that the can is completely submerged at all times. You may need to top up the water.

  28. One ingredient is the perfect number if you ask me :) This looks perfect, Holly!!

  29. This looks so easy! I always have problems with caramel and this recipe might very well be the perfect solution.

  30. Thank you for the tutorial, it’s great! I don’t have oven so I can make caramel from condensed milk by “cooking a can of unopened sweetened condensed milk fully submerged in a large pot (1″ above the can) and boiled for 3 hours”. Thank you for the information.

  31. Just made this condensed milk caramel for the first time, followed the recipe exactly. It turned out great and was perfect sauce with some apple slices. So decided to play repeat but this time wicked in two tablespoons of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon to the condensed milk before baking…Husband and 80yr old Dad loved it over vanilla ice cream.

  32. Yes I have boiled it a pan for year but they now have stab top so not as safe to do it the old way. Thanks for the tip.

  33. They do make Caramel Sweetened Condensed Milk.

  34. I’m going to try your method of sweetened condensed milk caramel, I too have been boiling the unopened can! I love the caramel on crepes!

  35. I look forward to trying this. There is no question that the method of heating the milk in an unopened isn’t safe. We know a mother and daughter who were using that method to make caramel and the can exploded in the daughter’s face. After a trip to the burn center and a long recuperation she is much better, but please do not heat any unopened canned item.

  36. Thank you for this. I have always wondered what would be the easiest way to make caramel sauce when you may not have all ingredients.

  37. I know this is an old recipe but I wanted to add that I make this all the time but I pour it into little 8oz ball jars, close them up and put them in a large soup pot. Fill with water well above the jars. Bring to boil, reduce heat a bit and boil for at least 3 hours, you will see the color change. Check on it frequently and add more water as it boils off. Last time I made it I cooked it for 3-1/2 and that was well received. The longer you cook the darker and thicker it will become. Remove them and let them cool before opening. I have used these for gifts before and people love them.

  38. I love this idea, I’m going to use it to try and revive a cake I overcooked, I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  39. Holly you are awesome. It’s so great to have the help to live lavish for less. Looking forward to to keeping up with your ideas

  40. I was going to use this for caramel filled brownies. Will it harden into the consistency of a caramel candy or will it stay runny?

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