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 The Purple Foodie June 30, 2009 at 1:46 AM

Hey Kavita,

Ack! It sucks that it didn't work for you. :(

I haven't tried the microwave method (I'm kinda old fashioned when it comes to using the microwave for cooking). I have seen that quite a few people have tried the method successfully. Looks like your microwave heats considerably! I suggest the next time you keep checking for colour and consistency after the first 5-6 minutes, keeping in mind the step by step images shown on cooking for engineers. Once you’ve whisked it all together, you should get the smooth texture as well.

Another option that takes about 30-40 minutes is putting the can of milkmaid in a pressure cooker. Just make sure there is enough water and that you open it well after it has cooled. A few of my blogger friends have tried this method with excellent results.

All the best for your second attempt! :)


2 The Purple Foodie June 30, 2009 at 1:53 AM

Oh, and if you're fond of cooking/baking, investing in an instant read thermometer will be totally worth it. You can check for the temperatures mentioned on the same cooking for engineers site link I've mentioned in the post.


3 Anonymous July 2, 2009 at 2:34 PM

Hello all. i used to make tonnes of this stuff for banoffee pie in my restaraunt. Just a tip fo everyone – if youve made some and you want to make some more i suggest getting a really big pan and filling it with tins. As many as you want so you have loads ready as it keeps- unopened forever as it is completely sealed, literally years probably. then there will allways be some to hand. Happyy cooking


4 Shaheen July 3, 2009 at 1:08 AM

Anon: your idea WINS hands down for this. Love it! I'm going to do this in the future *happy dance*


5 crazyvero5 July 7, 2009 at 9:26 PM

I'm from Venezuela and my favorite way to eat dulce de leche is in Obleas.

Obleas are a dessert made by putting dulce de leche between to big communion wafers (before they are consecrated of course). The nuns in my school would make the wafers and make Obleas to sell at school festivals. They are absolutely delicious when they are fresh and warm and the wafers are crunchy. You can buy them ready made or buy kits in Hispanic stores to make them at home, but nothing beats the fresh thing.


6 SpanishExpert July 16, 2009 at 3:45 AM

I have these Dulce de Leche candies with tequila flavor that are oh so deliciosos. Muchas gracias por la receta!


7 Anonymous July 16, 2009 at 6:16 AM

this is eagle brand, that's all. you can buy it off the shelf. all that fat is only just a bit better than my german grandmothers fall-back dessert, lard spread on bread covered with suger.


8 ~RED~ July 21, 2009 at 1:51 AM

Thank you so much for the post, i have a cookie brittle recipe i am going to somehow incorperate this into, perhaps drizzle it over the top along with melted chocolate!


9 Anonymous July 26, 2009 at 10:33 AM

You can buy it already made in the pudding isle at Walmart. The price is good and so is the Dulce de Leche


10 Anonymous July 28, 2009 at 7:13 PM

The only trick to the immersion-without-opening technique is making absolute sure the water level stays higher than the can – ni other words keep checking it to make sure it stays totally immersed.


11 Anonymous September 10, 2009 at 3:50 AM



12 Psyche1226 September 10, 2009 at 7:29 AM

I cannot understand why this alarming superstition about exploding cans persists. Just think about it for a second. Things that explode do so because there is AIR trapped inside that expands when heated. This is the principle upon which popcorn kernels explode into fluff. By definition, there is no air inside a can of condensed milk; it has been vaccuumed out! This is the whole idea of canning…if there was any air in there the milk would have gone bad many moons ago!

The only scenario I can imagine in which the can would explode would be in the case of a can whose integrity was damaged in some way…perhaps a bad enough dent. The funny thing is that I've been on LOTS of forums, and while everyone repeats this urban legend, none have ever testified that it has actually happened to them. I myself have prepared dulce de leche this way twice, and it worked beautifully.


13 patience February 5, 2011 at 10:13 AM

I know this is two years late replying, but I think the problem and danger was/is burn injuries when the hot can was opened too soon and the contents exploded out into hands and faces.
I have a great recipe for the caramel which is so simple.
1 tip the can into a microwave jug preferably corningware or glass as the caramel can melt ordinary microwave bowls.
Microwave on high for 3 minutes(check after 2 as it can burn)
2. Stir in a tablespoon of butter and stir until smooth
3 Crush a packet of gingernut biscuits/cookies (about 250gms/8ozs of the really hard ones) eg Arnotts
4. Add crushed crumbs and a half cup of sultanas to the caramel and stir through.
5 Allow mixture to cool covered in fridge until it hardens enough to
be able to roll small walnut size balls (Keep hands wet to stop sticking) Roll the balls in dessicated coconut and store inthe fridge.
They are really good as a sweet treat after dinner(or breakfast or for breakfast….) and are so quick to make. They keep for weeks, and months probably if you don’t eat them for breakfast. I also froze a batch and they came out perfectly.


14 patience February 5, 2011 at 10:25 AM

oops I left out an ingredient in the Gingernut Bites
but it probably wouldn’t matter much. In case there is not enough sugar in the caramel and the biscuits/cookies :-) you should add 3 tablespoons of Golden Syrup / treacle in UK/ and I think Corn Syrup in US, to the can of condensed milk and microwave together. If you can’t get the Golden Syrup(sugar can syrup) it won’t make a difference to the outcome but maybe a slight taste variation
ALso inthe recipe post above I meant to tip the contents of the condensed milk can into the microwave jug not the can itself which would be a disaster!
Can a post be edited???


15 hazel May 16, 2011 at 1:34 PM

hi i just want to ask, is dulce de leche still edible if we leave the cooked condensed milk can unopened for like a week or more?


16 The Purple Foodie May 23, 2011 at 2:11 PM

I think it should be okay because:
a. It’s still air tight in the tin
b. The high sugar itself acts as a preservative


17 Anonymous September 11, 2009 at 7:53 AM

Too many comments to read them all. I didn't know that you could put metal(eg can) in the microwave. Doesn't it cause arcing (nasty electrical sparks?) Also, if the can is heated slowly I don't think there should be too much of a problem. I ran over a full can with the car(accidently) and it didn't break! Please advise if microwave ovens have changed.


18 The Purple Foodie September 13, 2009 at 9:41 PM

crazyvero5 – I have to look up Obleas. thanks for introducing me to it. :)

spanish expert: now you're just naughty to have tequila flavour candies, aren't you?

RED: Sounds like an awesome idea!

psyche1226: You've got me thinking. Will read more into it.

Anon: You CANNOT put the metal can in the microwave. You will indeed end up with a lot of fireworks. You need to transfer it to a glass bowl if you want to use the microwave method.


19 Garden Tool User September 17, 2009 at 11:15 PM

Wow, that looks absolutely delicious! Great post, you did such a nice job presenting the pictures too…I am definitely going to have to try that recipe this weekend! Thanks :)


20 Anushruti September 19, 2009 at 10:09 PM

Have you tried using the pressure cooker?


21 Anushruti September 19, 2009 at 10:10 PM

Your dulce de leche looks so delicious Shaheen!


22 The Purple Foodie September 19, 2009 at 10:13 PM

Anushruti: Thanks! no, I haven't tried the pressure cooker method. But I can imagine it being done so much faster than any other methods. Microwaving comes first, but I'm not an advocate of it so I won't push that method to you.


23 sheila September 20, 2009 at 7:50 AM

My mother used to do this to condensed milk in the can when I was little (50 yrs ago). I never remembered a can even bulging, let alone exploding. That stuff was really sweet though. I need to try this and see if my daughter likes it. Thanks for the post. I never would have remembered it otherwise.


24 Anonymous October 14, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Can one place the can in water in a crockpot/slowcooker?



25 The Purple Foodie October 15, 2009 at 12:46 AM

Sheila: thanks for letting me know! I hope your daughter likes it!

Anon: Yes, you can place it fully immersed in water in a crockpot. I haven't tried it, but maybe you can google it to see what measures someone has taken when using a slow cooker?


26 Jamie October 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Wow! I really never knew that this was so simple to make! I assume that you use sweetened condensed milk? And yum with sea salt must taste like crème au beurre salé!


27 The Cooking Ninja October 15, 2009 at 1:58 PM

My ex-Chilean boss made this once in the office. :) He was craving for it that he went out and bought a can and did it in the office. ;)


28 The Purple Foodie October 15, 2009 at 11:39 PM

Jamie: Yes, you need to use sweetened condensed milk. Otherwise it just won't caralemise.

The Cooking Ninja: now that's a funny story!


29 Nachiketa November 18, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Made Banoffee Pie for a friend's birthday using Dulce de Leche.

Posted the recipe here

The Variable – Nachiketa


30 Kitchen Butterfly November 22, 2009 at 3:12 AM

Oh I tried to make Dulche de Leche….simmered for 2 hours and left overnight. The next day, I opened a can of pure liquid…browned milk! And in a flash of inspiration, trasnformed that to Caramel curd :-)


31 Yen Learns to Cook! December 15, 2009 at 9:14 AM

Very cool! I was always curious about the whole dulche de leche process… will definitey have to try soon :)


32 Anonymous January 20, 2010 at 8:45 PM

It is reallyy adictive!! If you want some recipes with dulce de leche you can visit this site http://www.dulcedelechemardel.com
This factory is in Spain and their brand is very good


33 megan February 26, 2010 at 6:03 AM

we are virginians hanging out it buenos aires for 1 year. we took our 4 kids on a year of adventures in south america…it has been such a great experience for the whole family…lots of togetherness.
back on topic, i have tasted and fallen in love with dulce de leche! thanks for the recipe so i can recreate it once we are back in the states.
if you ever want a "bucket" of the stuff from here, let me know and i will ship you some!
love you BLOG…thanks so very much for your hard work.


34 Lee March 8, 2010 at 1:46 PM

How do I add vanilla beans into the dulce if the can isn't opened beforehand? Do I whisk it in after it caramelizes… and get lots of goopy mess?


35 The Purple Foodie March 8, 2010 at 11:30 PM

I stirred it into the dulce de leche after it was ready. I think what might be more helpful is putting the DDL back into the water bath so that the vanilla flavour can infuse into the dluce de leche beautifully.


36 annecourager March 12, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Yes! This is SO addictive and luscious. I am one who makes it in a pressure cooker – 8-10 cans of Eagle Brand condensed milk at a time, for 30 minutes. Keeps indefinitely and it is fabulous.


37 Maitreyi April 17, 2010 at 4:33 PM

i love Dulce de Leche !! it tastes heavenly in Banoffee/Banoffi pie. Do try it. Banofee pie is a very easy dessert made from bananas, cream and dulce de leche.got the recipe from of the net. You ll love it Shaheen!!


38 MG April 23, 2010 at 5:15 AM

When I don't have the time and need my dulce de leche fix, I buy it at amigofoods.com already made. They have the brands from Argentina.


39 cooksome June 15, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Is this made with regular condensed milk, or sweetened condensed milk


40 The Purple Foodie June 15, 2010 at 5:48 PM

cooksome: you need to use sweetened consensed milk. else, it won’t caramelise and give you the darker colour.


41 Ahana July 24, 2010 at 6:26 PM

ohhh i so love Dulce de Leche(tho i din knw it was called ,what it is called..lol) i so often make this and use it for my banoffee pie and loads of other puddings and pie fillings!!..it looks absolutly yummylicious!!


42 Carine September 8, 2010 at 6:18 PM

I’m addicted to Dulce De Leche (and so as chocolates…haha). And I made it too! It tastes….oh….sweet HOLY MAMA! I ‘ve posted about it on my site too.


43 Traci September 11, 2010 at 9:55 AM

I make mine in the crock pot. Use ‘low’ setting for 8-10 hours. Perfect. 8 hours results in a paler color and 10 hours is dark and very thick.


44 aiko November 13, 2010 at 8:38 PM

You know by doing this you are melting the chemical plastic lining (BPA) into your dulce de leche.


45 Angela December 23, 2010 at 12:31 AM

I grew up in Greece, and chocolate is big for breakfast. One of the treats that brings be back to childhood, is condensed milk and cocoa powder (unsweetened) you add some milk in a cup, stir in cocoa powder (making sure you smoosh up the cocoa very well) until a nice dark chocolate color…OH MY!!!!!!!!


46 chris January 5, 2011 at 12:40 AM

I used to put the can right in the oven on 300* for 30 minutes. (unopened, no kidding) Now it can be bought pre-cooked by Goya foods.


47 Nancy January 7, 2011 at 7:32 AM

Yes the can can explode. My Irish mother did it over 50 years ago when she let the can boil dry I’ll never forget the cursing.It was my Swedish father’s favorite not hers, and she made him clean the sticky gooey stuff off the ceiling and walls of the kitchen. It wasn’t called dulce de leche in that part of western New York in the 1950″s


48 Pudding Pie Lane February 27, 2011 at 10:52 PM

WHAT?!?! Only 15 minutes to turn condensed milk into toffee?! I did a blog post on banoffee pie and I boiled the tin for 3 hours! Ooops…

That’s probably why your dulce de leche looks so much better than mine ;)


49 The Purple Foodie February 28, 2011 at 7:15 AM

Oh no, I let it simmer as well. The microwave method, although popular, didn’t work for me.


50 Jessica C March 23, 2011 at 11:38 PM

I make this all the time. I use the Crockpot method. It takes 9 hours on low but afterward it is so yummy. Just put it in a pie crust and cover it in home made whip cream and you got your self a yummy dessert that people will keep asking for.


51 Bhavna April 14, 2011 at 7:15 PM

You know what – your picture is what got me to this entry – coz the other day I opened a can of expired condensed milk for a recipe and it looked just like this – its a pity I dint know then that it would still be edible as I hadn’t heard of this before..but now I know!! Thanks for this :)


52 Chelsea May 3, 2011 at 12:38 AM

Yum!!! I love dulce de leche and had forgotten how easy it was to make. I’m making some as we speak to put on sliced bananas for a sweet (sort of) healthy treat. Thanks!



53 Lota May 3, 2011 at 6:56 PM

We usually don’t punch holes in it before cooking – friends’ father once did and it exploded, they had to decorate the whole kitchen again. Here they sell them in 200 g cans, so we tend to get 2. We put them on their sides in the pot and keep the waterlevel over the cans. After 3 hours it’s lovely caramel.

If put between waffel sheets (4-6 layers) then the fun really starts. After letting it sit for few hours and cutting into pieces.


54 Enrique June 5, 2011 at 7:12 AM

I just want to mention that if you leave condensed milk cans in a warm place (attic, near a water heater, etc.) for a long time (months) You will also get a “dulce de leche” but with a different (aged)? flavour. It is hard to describe, but i learned about it as i moved from one house to another and some cans were mixed up and ended in a box with books in my attic.
Texture was more “solid” but spreadable, color was lighter, but it had a lot more taste than my “regular” pressure cooker kind.


55 JC June 20, 2011 at 8:02 AM

How funny. I remember making this once as a kid living in Thailand after hearing my mom telling me about how she and her cousins would make it when they were kids living in Bombay. I had no idea what Dulce de Leche was back then, but I had forgotten all about it. Now I’m in the US, hear about dulce de leche often, love it, but it wasn’t until I came across this post that I remembered making it as a kid! Thanks for bringing me back full circle. I find it especially ironic since you’re also from Bombay (I can’t call it anything else either) like my mom. The comment above me has me wondering though. With the insanely hot weather we get in California, I wonder if I can place a can out in a sunny spot in the back yard all summer long and open it in the fall to find a perfectly aged can of dulce de leche. It’s much too hot right now to have anything simmer on the stove for 4 hours, but as soon as the weather cools down a little (in November!) I’ll make enough to last me through the next year!


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