Each year at Christmas, and many other times through the year, we see a lot of people cooking Slow Cooker Caramel 🙂
What’s not to love about it right?
It’s a can full of deliciousness on every level!
The method is easy 🙂
Take one (or more) can/s of sweetened condensed milk
Place them in your slow cooker
Cover it WELL with regular tap water, ideally up to an inch over the top of the cans at all times during cooking (very important)
Cook on high for around 6hrs, lid on (see note below)
Cool FULLY before opening (very important)
Eat by the spoon full or add it to your other recipes 🙂
That’s it. How easy and not to mention yummy does that sound right?
Note: Everyone has their own preference on cooking time in their slow cookers.
⏱ My preferred timing of choice that NEVER lets me down >>
This is 6hrs high starting from regular tap water temperature + 2hrs left in the same cooking water in the then turned off slow cooker as it cools down 🙂
But it’s really up to you what you prefer 🙂
But people still have a lot of questions about the topic.
Including questions about old stories of exploding cans and worries over how to do it safely to avoid this happening.
And understandably we want safe slow cooking to be our priority!
So let’s run through some of the common questions together 🙂
How do I place them in the slow cooker to cook them? And will they explode!?
Cans can be placed either way up in your slow cooker or even lay on their sides.
I like to remove the paper labels from my can before I cook just for less mess to clean up at the end.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing about cooking caramel is that the cans stay well covered with water at all times! This is the most important step to minimise any risk of exploding cans which could happen if they were cooked without water fully covering them. I like to add an inch or so water over the top level of the cans to be sure.
Many might recall stories from their childhood of exploding cans on the stove top. These cans most likely boiled away their water and became dry/uncovered before exploding hot caramel all over the kitchen.
The best thing about slow cooking caramel is due to the condensation of slow cooking you are almost certain not to lose water level and if anything you may in fact gain it during cooking.
However do keep an eye on them to be sure and don’t leave them cooking unattended.
Can I do more than one can at a time?
Yes – you can do as many cans at once as you can fit in your cooker
I still cook multiple cans for the same amount of time – 6hrs on high
Do I need to put anything in with or under them to protect my cooker?
I like to place a sheet of baking paper on the base of my slow cooker before placing the cans on top of that – just to ensure the surface of my cooker is protected.
What kinds of cans can I use?
You can use regular cans or ring pull cans
My experience with ring pull cans has been no different to regular cans
However I do place the ring pull cans ring side down or on their side, rather than ring pull facing up
This can also be done with skim sweetened condensed milk, and the chocolate sweetened condensed milk as well as the regular variety.
I think my can is leaking/rusting?
Sometimes during cooking you may notice a little bit of rust coloured bubbles around the can – this is ok and is just the can reacting in the water.
If however you ever noticed any bulging of your can or leaking of caramel out of it I would personally stop the cooking immediately at this point and try not to disturb the can until it has cooled. Personally I’ve never seen or known of this to happen though.
How do I know when they are done?
In short – not until you open them 🙂 However I find that 6hrs on high, then leaving them to cool in the cooking water another hour or two before removing them from the water and into a cool water bath until fully cooled always provides consistent well cooked results.
There is however another method to cook them in a jar – CARAMEL IN A JAR METHOD – which does allow you to see the cooking process as it goes along if you are really worried that your timing could be out.
The Jar method is also great if you’ve cooked it in the can, opened it, and found it not cooked enough – transfer to a jar and finish it off that way 🙂
When can I open the can?
NB: Only when fully cooled!
This is very important as the contents of that can are under pressure and opening of the can before it’s fully cooled could have you coated in burning hot caramel. I know it’s tempting to want to see early but don’t.
My guide is that if I cannot hold the can in my hand easily then it’s not cool enough!
I tend to leave it to cool in the slow cooker water for a while, then I move it to the bench if I’m no hurry to open, or to a sink filled with cold tap water (as pictured above) if I’m in a hurry to speed up the cooling process. Just make sure that you don’t take your can out of cold water and mistake a cold surface for cold inside. It’s better you wait then rush into opening it and be sorry you did so.
What do I do with the caramel once I cook it?
Eat it with a spoon? hahaha I’m only half joking about that 😉
However there are so so many options to use your caramel in and many recipes to do so. We have a great post on our FB group where members have gathered together their recipes and ways to use their cooked caramel. You can read them HERE
It can also be used to make some slow cooker fudges like Dulche De Leche, Caramel Maple Brown Sugar Fudge, and Soft Caramel Fudge when used in place of the Top’n’Fill canned caramel.
How long will it keep for and where?
So long as the tin remains sealed it will keep in your pantry as long as it’s original use by date on can says.
After opening the can it needs to go in the fridge and I would use it within 2wks – if it ever lasted that long in my fridge 😉
Why don’t I just buy the ready made caramel in a can?
You could – but it doesn’t taste ANYWHERE near as good as the real thing! That pre made can version is like the poor cousin of the REAL thing! Try it and you’ll see 🙂
It’s also much cheaper to slow cook it at just 4c an hour vs your stove. Who doesn’t like to save money right 😉
And how good will it feel to tell others you actually made it yourself!
Not to mention the fact it’s MUCH less likely to ever boil dry and explode all over your kitchen like those stove made versions too often do. I’d go for slow cooking safety any day 🙂
Important safety notes!
– ALWAYS KEEP WELL COVERED WITH WATER WHILE COOKING
– ALWAYS COOL FULLY BEFORE OPENING
All that’s left now is to go cook yourself some caramel and ENJOY!!! 🙂