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How to Make Dulce de Leche

By Kelsey Banfield |

Dulce de LecheThe best part about making this thick sweet caramel-like sauce, which actually means “sweet milk” in spanish, is that it only requires one ingredient. All you need is a singular can of sweetened condensed milk and you are good to go. A couple of hours on the stovetop and, voila, the delicious sauce is yours to use in a wide variety of desserts! My personal favorite thing to do is pour the dulce de leche into glass jars (as pictured above) and give them away as gifts. You can also use it to drizzle over ice-cream, into milkshakes or over cheesecake. The possibilities are endless, and each one is delicious.

Homemade Dulce de Leche

1 can sweetened condensed milk

. Puncture 2 small holes in the top of  dulce de leche can and remove the label.

2. Place the can in a large saucepan and fill it with water that is 1 inch below the top of the can. This will essentially form a water bath.

3. Bring the water to a low simmer and let it simmer for at least 2 hours. Use tongs to remove the can once the time is up. Allow the can to cool, then open it with a can opener and decant the dulce de leche into a jar.

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About Kelsey Banfield


Kelsey Banfield

Kelsey Banfield is the food writer and the founder of The Naptime Chef. She writes a daily food column for Babble Food and her food writing has also appeared in the places like Parents magazine, and Martha Stewart Living. Kelsey lives in southern Connecticut with her husband and daughter. Read bio and latest posts → Read Kelsey's latest posts →

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19 thoughts on “How to Make Dulce de Leche

  1. Leslie says:

    Hey Kelsey – Living in Argentina where Dulce De Leche is not just a given, it is a full on staple to the normal diet – there is lots to with this great sauce. Here are a few:
    1) Frozen Dessert – I mix dulce de leche with cream cheese and a bit of whipped cream. Portion into cups with crushed cookie bit and freeze. Individual desserts for days!

    2) Choco-torta – an Argentina dessert – this easy to make cake using layers of cookies dipped in your favorite liquor (I use rum cream) with layers of dulce de leche and cream cheese. Layer and put in the fridge overnight to set.

    3) Garlic dulce de leche – sounds weird, but adding a little bit of garlic makes dulce de leche the perfect spread to add to any cheese platter.

  2. katrina says:

    I grew up with this (I’m part Uruguayan) and never made it until recently, relying on family members to bring jars home from trips back to the motherland. it’s really easy! I never puncture any holes in the can, because I turn it over halfway through. I’m sure it works both ways though. I recommend it on toast, between cornstarch cookies (look up a recipe for alfajores on the web) or with ice cream of course!

  3. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef says:

    @Leslie, this is SOO awesome. I never quite realized how part of a normal diet it is in Argentina. I LOVE all of these great ideas. I might just give the garlic verion a try… @Katrina, thanks for the recipe ideas!

  4. Melanie says:

    Last month, for my son’s birthday cake, I used dulce de leche as a filling in an apple cake – sort of like a toffee apple. Delicious!

  5. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef says:

    That sounds delicious Melanie, thanks for the idea!

  6. Leslie Girl says:

    In the South, we call this “Danger Puddin’ because it can explode. Ha!

  7. Caitlin says:

    mmm… I’ve been in love with everything caramel lately. I’ve always been scared to make it, for the reason the previous commentator mentioned- I just get this image in my head of the can exploding and sticky dulce de leche EVERYWHERE.

  8. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef says:

    Don’t worry Caitlin, that’s what the holes in the cans are for!

  9. Erica says:

    I had no idea it was that simple.

  10. [...] with sweetness. If you can’t find bottled dulce de leche, you can make your own – Kelsey shows you how here. You could swap sourdough or a good-quality raisin bread for the crusty loaf; and use any kind of [...]

  11. Casey says:

    it says to puncture a hole in the dulce de leche can, do you mean the condensed milk can? I’m a little confused :p

  12. Kimmie says:

    I left the can of sweetened condensed milk in the bath for almost 2 1/2 hours and it never got the dark color….what did I do wrong?

    1. Jessica says:

      I’ve had this problem before as well when trying to make it at home, either in stove-top or oven recipes. Finally I figured out that I just have to do it much longer than it says (usually at least twice as much) probably because I’m at high altitude or something. When it gets up to that length of time and running a stove or oven for that long though, it just doesn’t seem as worth to me over buying it, unfortunately.

    2. Connie Lee says:

      My can has been in the water bath for over 2 hours now, when a little oozed out I noticed it wasn’t the caramel color, so I’m on the 3rd hour now. Can you tell us why it’s changing color?? Thanks!

  13. I really appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thx again!

  14. Kirsten says:

    When I lived in Argentina, my host mother made a birthday cake for her granddaughter. It was white cake, then dulce de leche was slathered on, and then strawberries and little merengues (which can be bought in bags at the stores there) were placed all over the cake. It was heavenly. I can’t wait to try your method for making this wonderful treat!! (My area is not diverse enough to have dulce de leche at Walmart yet).

  15. Margaret Filler says:

    I use dulce de leche to make Banana Cream Pie. Prepare pie crust…cook…cool. Sprinkle 1/4 Cup crushed pecans in bottom of crust. Slice 2 or 3 bananas over pecans,snug them together. Pour dulce de leche over bananas. Ice with whipped cream or cool whip. Sprinkle 1/4 Cup crushed pecans over top. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Enjoy!

  16. Connie Lee says:

    Ok, after 3 hours of simmering, upon opening the can it was still a very light color in the top of the can. I stirred it, it was a darker color in the bottom, but stirring it resulted in clumps. I have used both methods to make dulce del leche now. This method and the crockpot. The crockpot came out perfect. I will be going back to the crockpot method. But thanks for sharing.

  17. Julia says:

    For goodness’ sake, make it in your slow cooker. And you can empty the cans into canning jars. Can also add some flavoring at this point.

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