Homemade Dulce de Leche

May 26, 2009

Dulce de Leche

Not too many moons ago I tweeted about my curiosity about dulce de leche (
dool-say deh lay-chay) to which people oohed, aahed and gushed about how delicious a treat it is and their favorite way of using it. I wondered how something as simple as condensed milk could be transformed to such a tasty caramel sauce, with just a little heat and a lot of time. I had read about it being super easy to make; simply plonk the can of condensed milk in a vessel of simmering water or microwave it (in a non-metallic bowl, of course) for 10-15 minutes, and there you have it. When I did make it, I was stunned by the results. From being just condensed milk, it had metamorphosed into a thick, creamy and rich dessert in its own right. I remember the first time I had it – I ate it by the spoonful straight from the jar and before I knew it, I was more than halfway through the jar, maybe with a little fed to my clothes. Sure, it can be used in cakes, as a topping for muffins and ice creams, spread over bread and cookies or swirled into brownies but on its own Dulce de Leche is pretty darn addictive.
Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche is a rich, milk-based caramel sauce. Now, Dulce de Leche is available packaged in bottles, but nothing compares to the richness and density of homemade Dulce de Leche.
Last night I made Dulce de Leche again, but this time around instead of opening the can up and letting it simmer in a water bath I immersed the entire can in water for 3 hours. I did risk an explosion (caused by the pressure built up in the can) but I found this to be a lot better because this way curiosity couldn’t get the better of me since there was nothing to check! Plus, when the can is completely immersed, you can get rid of the rattling sound the can would make when half immersed in water. Of course, I tired this method just this one time (I promise!). I recommend that you always pierce 2 or 3 holes at the top of the can or keep the can partially open while it simmers in a water bath. If you still want to give the first method a shot then make sure not to open the can immediately, else you just might have some hot Dulce de Leche in your face.
Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche

1 can of condensed milk (mine weighed 400g or a little under 1 pound)
  1. Either pierce two holes at the top of the can or with a can opener, open the can half way. No need to pull the lid back.
  2. Place the can in a deep sauce pan and fill the pan with water just until 3/4th of the can is immersed and simmer over low heat, 3-4 hours (I say 3-4 hours because that depends on how thick you want the dulce de leche to be – here I have simmered the can in water for 3 hours, but if you’d like it thicker, by all means continue simmering).
  3. Keep an eye on the the water level, making sure to refill the water and maintain the level. After the 3-4 hours, turn off the heat and let the can cool.
  4. Remove the lid and serve or use as desired.
Variation: Add half a teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg or half a vanilla bean to the dulce de leche to heighten the flavour! Oh and even a sprinkle of sea salt.

If you’ve got gallons of milk at hand then you might want to try this method of reducing the milk. And if you’re in a hurry, you can try the microwave method (aka cookingforengineers method!).Some Recipes that use Dulce De Leche as an ingredient or topping:Dulce De Leche Cake with Vanilla Bean
Cinnamon Sugar Churros
Crispy Apple Crumble
Paratha, Puff Pastry, Palmiers
Chocolate Brownies

{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dylan July 13, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Looking at the pics, i got an UNCONTROLLABLE CRAVING that just EXPLODED MY HEAD!!! luv ur blog..


2 SupMM July 16, 2011 at 2:32 PM

This is something my mom used to make for me when I was a kid. Still does whenever I go home. Its called ‘ghono doodh’ in Bengali which means thick milk. I just love to have it plain.

Btw I use the microwaving method to make banoffee pie. Super yum it is


3 White Girl August 17, 2011 at 7:23 PM

I got an idea from Food Network for a cake, and was looking for a recipe, which is how I found your site! I also make the Dulce De Leche at home from condensed milk. I use the fully immersed method and haven’t had a problem. I use a huge pot, several cans of condensed milk (this time I did 10 at once) and just make sure that they are completely covered with water for the entire three hours. It helps to put a lid on the pot to prevent a lot of water to escape as steam. I love that I can boil a bunch at a time, pull them out of the water, and store them in the cupboard for when I need them. Since I don’t open the cans at all (not even a little puncture) they will stay preserved until I open them. Anyway, thought I’d share my experience with you since it sounded like you didn’t want to do the fully immersed method again. Happy baking!


4 Marina R. August 31, 2011 at 8:43 AM

Guess what? I am from Russia, and this thing is very popular in our country as well. Nobody knows the phrase “dulce de leche”, we just call it “boiled condensed milk” (“varenaya sgushchenka”). When I was growing up, it was not sold ready-made in stores, so we made it ourselves, and we always used the full immersion method: boil for 3 or 4 hours in very large quantities of water, without any puncturing or opening the can. The can will explode only if there is very little water left in the pot. That never happened in our household or to anyone I personally know. Now in Russia it is widely available in stores, ready-made, so people hardly ever make it themselves any more. It is a popular ingredient in cakes and ice-cream, a spread for breads, and a topping for bliny (Russian pancakes). Anyway, I love your blog! Great pictures! Good luck!


5 matt September 16, 2011 at 11:02 PM

I used the alton brown method. Grass fed local whole milk, cup of saw cane sugar , teaspoon of baking soda and a vanilla bean. I might go sprinkle some sea salt on it now actually.
Takes about 2-3 hours on the stovetop.

fricken amazing.


6 Florencia September 16, 2011 at 10:01 PM

Hi everybody ! i´m from ARGENTINA, here is where de Dulce De Leche was created ! and you can buy it is the supermarket and everywhere! a lot of recepies used Dulce de Leche…! everibody has in the refrigerator an pot of ddl, is used like Butter for toast bread… mmmmmm…. and the BEST EVER is “LA SERENISIMA ESTILO COLINIAL” http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-ash2/41783_87701307910_2262947_n.jpg REALLY ADDICTIVE! jaja and the other delicious is “LA PATAIA” from Uruguay.


7 Davita November 4, 2011 at 7:38 PM

im thinking of making this for gifts for my family, and i have a question for you. do you get a full can of dulce de leche or does it reduce? and by how much? i am very excited to try this!


8 Florencia November 4, 2011 at 8:38 PM

Hi Davita ! Yes, you get a can of Dulce de Leche, anyway, I advise you to try one and then do the rest to gift! (sorry for my english….) :P Saludos !


9 Trudy Haines November 18, 2011 at 6:32 AM

Could this be done in a slow cooker or does it have to be done by boiling in water on a stove?



10 Pepe Corvina December 9, 2011 at 11:41 PM

Hi there!
What you get after boiling condensed milk is more likely the Uruguayan dulce de leche, rather than the Argentinean, which is vanilla aromatized. When I lived in Canada I tried to include the vanilla at the end, but doesn´t work.
Anyway, awsome coincidence the usage of dulce de leche in Russia with the pancakes (we use crepes instead). Cheers from the End of the World.


11 Suchi December 10, 2011 at 8:01 AM

The best Dulce de Leche. Thanks a lot. Impressed my family by using them on bread pudding. Just spread it on the bread with the usual nuts and raisins and it tastes so divine. Thank you so much. Loved the recipes on your site. Got a few list lined up for trial. Lets see how it turns out.
Keep up the great work.
Warm Regards


12 Carol December 13, 2011 at 12:47 AM

Do I need to use sweetened condenced milk, or reg. condenced milk? Thanks


13 Pepe Corvina December 20, 2011 at 2:18 AM

Sweetened condensed milk works best! Enjoy


14 NIKITA March 7, 2012 at 9:30 PM

IS not from argentina SORRY its from europe they send it to southamerica to Chile and argentina Europeans were before than southamerican was discovered by the Spanish


15 Yan April 7, 2012 at 7:49 PM

lol a argentinean slave invented this.


16 Ashton March 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM

I tried preparing this, however the contents turned dark brown and tasted bitter, just like how sugar tastes when it is heated on a pan. where did I go wrong?


17 Sunbula April 25, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Since most indian house-holds have a pressure cooker, I find it much easier to make use of it for my dulce de leche. As it can be made well in advance, I choose to make 2-3 at a time. Remove the plastic lid of the condensed tin can and place them in the pressure cooker. Pour water halfway up so that the cans are mostly covered in water. Clamp on the lid and weight. Keep on a high flame till the first whistle and then lower the heat. After 35 minutes, yummy, gooey Dulche de leche!!


18 Simran Namrata Khiantani May 10, 2012 at 7:35 PM

We grew up (in Mumbai) with visitors from Argentina bringing us jumbo sized cans of dulce de leche. It was in our pantry, just as honey is in almost everyone’s home! And so it went atop everything- every dessert ever. Crepes on Sunday morning was our favorite. Lately I roll a crepe with dulce de leche filling, sprinkle sugar on top and caramalized it with a blow torch, serve with sliced bananas. Simple heaven.


19 Esmeralda Worman May 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM

I am 66 and when I was a child in South Africa my mother used boil a can of condensed milk. I have never known the name of it but I always and still do love it.


20 sunil shanmugaum May 27, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Cooking the sweetened condensed milk without opening it for 3- 4 hours will give you the best result.It will taste bitter if you do not use a under liner for the tins as the heat from the gas will be more at the middle.Just let the water simmer,the more you cook it ,the darker the dulce de leche gets.3 hrs min,4hrs max.


21 Adrianne October 15, 2013 at 9:10 PM

Tried for first time today. Yummers!!!!! I put one can of sweetened condensed milk in my crock pot, filled crock pot with hot water until can was covered. Cooked on high for 4 hours. Let cool for 2-3 hours. Turned out perfect. :-)


22 Rashi November 6, 2013 at 6:16 PM

I know how hard I am trying to control myself to go and dip a finger in the jar of dulce de leche I just made. So easy and so delicious! Need to cook up some cake to go along with it now :) . Thanks for sharing your recipe and experience.


23 Soumitra Velkar April 1, 2014 at 2:46 PM

I made this last weekend and it turned out perfect. (I submerged a sealed can under water and boiled it for 3 hours) I read somewhere that using a pressure cooker reduces the time to around 30-40 minutes.. Any idea whether one uses a sealed can in the pressure cooker and submerges the whole thing in water?


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