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Evaporated Milk Caramel

This easy evaporated milk caramel sauce requires only 6 ingredients and is ready in 15 minutes. It’s a delicious topping for just about any dessert. From ice cream sundaes to cheesecake and brownies, you’ll want to spoon the caramel sauce over everything!

For more dessert sauces, try our hot fudge sauce, blackberry syrup, and lemon curd sauce.

spoon dipping into a jar of evaporated milk caramel sauce.

Easy caramel sauce with evaporated milk

This evaporated milk caramel sauce has an addicting, rich flavor and a smooth, thick texture.

It’s good enough to eat right out of the jar, but it’s even better drizzled over melty ice cream or a gooey brownie.

If you find homemade caramel sauce intimidating, my simple recipe will change your mind.

I’ve been making and perfecting this recipe for many years. In this post, you’ll learn my foolproof method to cook the perfect caramel sauce every time!

And if you love caramel as much as I do, try my evaporated milk fudge too!

evaporated milk caramel ingredients.

Ingredients

Let’s chat about the ingredients needed to make the best caramel sauce with evaporated milk!

  • 1 cup light brown sugar – I prefer brown sugar over granulated sugar because it cuts down the cooking time and creates a rich flavor. Be sure to pack the sugar into your measuring cup for accurate results.
  • 1/4 cup water – helps the sugar melt better.
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter – Since we’re adding extra salt, unsalted butter is best.
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk – incorporates perfectly into the caramel and gives the sauce a velvety smooth, silky consistency. Have the milk at room temperature.
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract – I recommend pure vanilla extract for the best taste.
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon salt – Regular table salt or sea salt will work fine. Use as little or as much as you like to achieve your desired level of sweetness.

How to make caramel with evaporated milk

To make caramel sauce, the sugar needs to cook at a specific temperature until it caramelizes. Here’s a breakdown of the recipe step-by-step:

step 1 dissolve sugar.

1.  Dissolve the sugar

Add the sugar, water, and butter to a large, heavy-bottom saucepan. Heat over medium flame, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.

step 2 cook caramel.

2.  Cook

Once everything is liquid, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Do not stir the mixture at this point. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture turns a deep amber color.

step 3 incorporate evaporated milk.

3. Incorporate evaporated milk

Take the saucepan off the heat and slowly pour in the evaporated milk, whisking constantly as you go. Feel free to stir in additional evaporated milk for a thinner consistency.

step add vanilla and salt.

4. Add flavorings

Whisk in the vanilla extract and season the caramel sauce with salt according to your taste.

step 5 cool caramel sauce.

5. Cool

Transfer the sauce to a jar or storage container and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. I recommend cooling the sauce before sealing and keeping it in the refrigerator.

Tips for success

If you’re striving for the perfect evaporated milk caramel sauce, read through my tips and tricks.

  • Use a large, heavy-bottom saucepan: A sturdy, heavy-bottom saucepan works best because it distributes the heat evenly and caramelizes the sugar evenly. Also, the evaporated milk bubbles up quite a bit when you pour it in, so opt for a saucepan with high sides that can hold at least 2 quarts.
  • Prepare ingredients: Have all the evaporated milk and vanilla measured and ready so you can add them once the caramel comes off the heat.
  • Use medium heat: Cook the caramel over medium heat to avoid burning the sugar.
  • Stay safe: The caramel will bubble and steam when you add the evaporated milk. Please wear oven mitts to protect against splatters and keep exposed skin out of the way.
  • Adjust the consistency: My recipe produces a lovely, thick, yet pourable sauce. You can change the consistency by adding more or less evaporated milk. For a thinner, syrup-like consistency, stir in additional evaporated milk. For a thicker texture, use only 1/2 cup evaporated milk or continue cooking the caramel over low flame after adding the milk.
hand pouring homemade caramel with evaporated milk over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Serving suggestions

Caramel sauce with evaporated milk makes everything more delicious, and the serving options are endless! I’ve put together a few of my favorite pairings as inspiration.

jar filled with evaporated milk caramel recipe.

Store & reheat

Storage instructions

Let the caramel sauce cool completely, and then store it in a sealed jar or airtight container. The sauce will stay good at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months.

Reheat

You can enjoy the sauce cold, at room temperature, or reheat it gently in the microwave. To reheat, microwave the sauce in 30-second bursts, stirring between each heating, until your desired temperature.

You may need to add more evaporated milk as the caramel thickens in the fridge.

More evaporated milk desserts

evaporated milk caramel.

Evaporated Milk Caramel Recipe

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This easy evaporated milk caramel sauce requires only 6 ingredients and is ready in 15 minutes. It’s a delicious topping for just about any dessert. From ice cream sundaes to cheesecake and brownies, you’ll want to spoon the caramel sauce over everything!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup / 200 g / 7 oz light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml / 2 fl oz water
  • 1/4 cup / 55 g / 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup / 160 ml / 5.4 fl oz evaporated milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the sugar. Add the sugar, water, and butter to a large, heavy-bottom saucepan. Heat over medium flame, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Cook. Once everything is liquid, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Do not stir the mixture at this point. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture turns a deep amber color.
  3. Incorporate evaporated milk. Take the saucepan off the heat and slowly pour in the evaporated milk, whisking constantly as you go. Feel free to stir in additional evaporated milk for a thinner consistency.
  4. Add flavorings. Whisk in the vanilla extract and season the caramel sauce with salt according to your taste.
  5. Cool. Transfer the sauce to a jar or storage container and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will thicken as it cools. I recommend cooling the sauce before sealing and keeping it in the refrigerator.

Notes

Tips

  • Use a large, heavy-bottom saucepan: A sturdy, heavy-bottom saucepan works best because it distributes the heat evenly and caramelizes the sugar evenly. Also, the evaporated milk bubbles up quite a bit when you pour it in, so opt for a saucepan with high sides that can hold at least 2 quarts.
  • Prepare ingredients: Have all the evaporated milk and vanilla measured and ready so you can add them once the caramel comes off the heat.
  • Use medium heat: Cook the caramel over medium heat to avoid burning the sugar.
  • Stay safe: The caramel will bubble and steam when you add the evaporated milk. Please wear oven mitts to protect against splatters and keep exposed skin out of the way.
  • Adjust the consistency: My recipe produces a lovely, thick, yet pourable sauce. You can change the consistency by adding more or less evaporated milk. For a thinner, syrup-like consistency, stir in additional evaporated milk. For a thicker texture, use only 1/2 cup evaporated milk or continue cooking the caramel over low flame after adding the milk.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 69mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 1g

FAQ

Can you make caramel with evaporated milk?

Yes, you can make delicious caramel with evaporated milk. Over the years, I have tested different caramel recipes with heavy cream and evaporated milk.
 
I found that evaporated milk incorporates slightly better into the caramel than heavy cream. Evaporated milk creates a creamy, smooth caramel sauce every time without the heaviness and oiliness of heavy cream.

Can I make this recipe with heavy cream?

Yes, you can substitute heavy cream in this recipe if that’s what you have on hand.

Why is my caramel sauce clumpy?

If the caramel mixture clumps up as you stir in the evaporated milk, it’s likely the evaporated milk was too cold. If using evaporated milk from the fridge, set it out on the counter before you begin the recipe.
 
If your caramel sauce clumps, return it to the stove and cook over low heat until everything is fully liquid again.

How do you thicken caramel sauce?

If your caramel sauce is too runny, you probably didn’t cook the sugar mixture long enough. The sugar needs to come to a rolling boil and then simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
 
And please remember that warm caramel sauce is thinner and will thicken up as it cools.

Can you freeze evaporated milk caramel sauce?

Sure! Freezing caramel sauce is perfect when you want to keep the sauce for longer storage or make a double batch to use later.
 
First, let the caramel sauce cool completely. Then, transfer it to a freezer-friendly container. Be sure to leave some room at the top as the liquid expands as it freezes. Freeze for up to 3 months.
 
When it’s time to eat, defrost the sauce in the fridge overnight.

What makes evaporated milk caramel so good?

Easier than you think: Making caramel sauce from scratch may sound difficult, but it really isn’t. With just 6 ingredients and a few simple steps, you have a delicious, salted caramel sauce, and you don’t even need a candy thermometer or any special equipment.
 
Customizable: You can make the dessert sauce as salty or as sweet as you wish. 1/4 teaspoon is a good starting point. You can add more if you prefer a less sweet topping. And if you don’t like salted caramel, add just a pinch of salt to elevate the flavor.
 
Delicious topping for everything: You can pour this caramel sauce over any dessert and treat it like cake, ice cream, brownies, cheesecake, and so much more.

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