Slow Cooker Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel

Slow Cooker Sweetened Condensed Milk Caramel, often referred to as “crockpot caramel,” is a delectably creamy and rich dessert topping that’s surprisingly simple to make, yet yields a result that’s both gourmet in flavor and velvety in texture. This recipe transforms ordinary cans of sweetened condensed milk into a lush, golden-brown caramel sauce, harnessing the gentle, consistent heat of a slow cooker.

To begin, you typically start with one or more cans of sweetened condensed milk. These cans are left unopened and placed directly into the slow cooker. The key here is to ensure that the cans are completely submerged in water throughout the cooking process. This is crucial for even heating and to prevent the cans from overheating or potentially bursting.

The slow cooker is set to low, and the cans bathe in this warm environment for several hours, usually around 8 to 10 hours, depending on the desired thickness and depth of flavor. Throughout this process, the sweetened condensed milk undergoes a remarkable transformation, slowly evolving from a pale, milky white to a rich golden brown. This color change is due to the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned foods their desirable flavor.

Once the cooking time is up, the cans are carefully removed from the hot water and allowed to cool completely before opening. This cooling period is critical for safety and for the caramel to set to the right consistency.

Upon opening the cans, you are greeted with a smooth, creamy caramel that is uniformly caramelized, boasting a flavor that is a perfect balance of sweet and complex, with subtle toasty and buttery notes. The texture is thick and spoonable, ideal for drizzling over desserts like ice cream, cakes, or pies. It can also be used as a filling for candies or pastries.

One of the beauties of this recipe is its simplicity and the transformation of a single ingredient through slow cooking. It requires minimal preparation, yet the outcome is an indulgent treat that can elevate the simplest of desserts to something special. Additionally, this method is incredibly versatile – you can adjust the cooking time to make the caramel as thick or as runny as you like, and it can be flavored with additional ingredients like vanilla, sea salt, or bourbon for a unique twist.

This slow cooker caramel is not only delicious but also practical. The caramel can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks, making it a convenient make-ahead option for quick dessert assembly or an impromptu sweet treat. Its rich flavor and velvety texture, combined with the ease of preparation, make it a favorite among both novice cooks and seasoned chefs alike.

Yields 1 to 1 1/2 cups of caramel


1 (14-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk


Remove the label from the can, ensuring no paper remnants are left behind.

Lay the can on its side in the slow cooker. You can cook multiple cans for a larger batch.

Fill the cooker with water, covering the cans by at least 2 inches to prevent pressure build-up and possible explosion.

Cook on ‘Low’ for 8 hours. Carefully remove the hot can with tongs.

Let the can cool completely at room temperature to achieve that perfect caramel consistency.

Open the cooled can to reveal your homemade caramel, a golden delight for any dessert.

Variations & Tips:

For lighter caramel, reduce the cooking time to 6 hours.

Safety first: Never open a hot can to avoid burns from erupting contents.

Make caramel in bulk and store unopened cans in your pantry.

Add a pinch of sea salt or half a teaspoon of vanilla extract after cooling for extra flavor.

For those who love a culinary adventure, this caramel can also be made in a pressure cooker in about 40 minutes – always follow your pressure cooker’s safety guidelines!

There you have it – an easy yet sumptuous cream cheese pie recipe, ready to elevate any gathering with its delightful taste. Give it a try, and watch as it becomes a much-requested favorite!

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