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How to make Dulce de Leche - 2 Easy ways to make Dulce de Leche at home.

How to Make Dulce de Leche (Bold Baking Basics)

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Making homemade dulce de leche has never been so easy. With one of my simple two methods, my dulce de leche recipe is fool-proof.

Hi Bold Bakers!

Dulce de leche (pronounced “DOOL-se de LE-che”) is a creamy caramel sauce that is used in many desserts like my Ice CreamBanoffee Pie, cheesecakes and more. My dulce de leche recipe includes two simple methods.

What is Dulce De Leche?

Dulce de Leche is similar to caramel and comes from sweetened milk, such as condensed milk. When heated, the sugar in the milk becomes caramelized and transforms into that sweet golden-brown color with deeply decadent flavor.

 

How to Make Dulce De Leche: Method One

My homemade dulce de leche can be made in two ways. The first uses sugar, milk and a touch of vanilla. These ingredients are combined in a saucepan, brought to a boil and then simmered. This process thickens the mixture after 1 hour and thirty minutes to 1 hour and forty-five minutes. Once past this point, stir the mixture often to avoid burning the milk. Be careful and watch your pan.

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4.9 from 11 reviews
How to Make Dulce de Leche
 
Serves: 1½ cups
Ingredients
  • 4 cups (32oz/1000ml) milk
  • 1 ¼ cups ((10oz/300g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Stir together milk and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and thickened, about 1½ to 1¾ hours. (skim away any foam that forms during simmering)
  3. After about an hour, stir more often as milk caramelizes, to avoid burning.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  5. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Makes about 1½ cups.

How to Make Dulce De Leche: Method Two

With time and a watchful eye, you can make dulce de leche with condensed milk. First, remove the label from your can so you don’t have a watery paper situation in your pot. Place a rag in your pot and beneath your can of condensed milk to keep it from rattling throughout the next two and a half hours. Fill your pot with cold water, making sure it comes up to one inch from the top of the pot. Keep in mind that water will evaporate so it is highly important to watch your water levels and replenish the water when needed.

On medium-high heat, bring your water to a simmer then lower the temperature to maintain that simmer for 2 and a half hours. You’ll yield a beautiful and smooth dulce de leche.

Be very careful not to burn yourself when you remove your cans! Safety is paramount. Use tongs or an oven mitt to remove your can (or cans). Your dulce de leche will store for up to a year once done and will be great on a variety of treats.

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4.9 from 11 reviews
How to Make Dulce de Leche
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 1 can
Ingredients
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions
  1. Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. It is no longer needed! If you leave it on, you'll get a papery mess in the water.
  2. Place the can in a small pot and fill it with enough water to come up to one inch (2.5cm) from the top of the can. You will need to add more water during the cooking process to make sure water doesn't go below this level as it evaporates. Don't let the water come higher than ½ inch (1.25cm) from the top of can, though, as you don't want any getting on the top of the can and going into the holes you pierced.
  3. To prevent the can from rattling in the water (which can be annoying when you consider that it'll need to be in there for several hours) put a rag under the can.
  4. Place the pot on your stove and turn it on to medium-high heat.
  5. Watch the water closely until you see the water come to a simmer.
  6. Lower the heat to hold the water at a simmer. A soft Dulce de leche takes about 2½ hours.
  7. Remove the can with tongs or an oven mitt and place on a rack to cool. Be careful when emptying the contents, as you can get burned.
  8. Open the can carefully with a can opener and pour into a bowl. The top will be more fluid, and there will be thicker, darker chunks at the bottom which will need to be scraped out. When everything is in the bowl, whisk together to make it homogeneous.
Notes
The leftover dulce de leche will keep for a couple of weeks, refrigerated. It would be great stirred into coffee or cocoa, spread on toast, or warmed and drizzled on ice cream. Try it with peanut butter on a sandwich (surely the top trade at the school lunch table).

Find dulce de leche in my other recipes:

 

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155 Comments

  1. Khuraim on June 11, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Hi Gemma.
    As soon as I took my dulce de Leche off the heat it began to harden. Can you tell me why and how to fix it?

    • Gemma Stafford on June 11, 2018 at 2:42 am

      Hi there,
      I think you took it too far! This will happen as it turns from liquid to hard caramel. I ma not sure how you will rescue this one, though it should dissolve in a little hot water, it may change it too much to use as you wish. Oh dear! I think you will need to try this!
      Gemma 🙂

  2. Gail on April 19, 2018 at 4:26 am

    My mother use to boil the unopened can of condensed milk and I have done it countless times, I have found a easy “no watch” method by pouring the condensed milk into clean 1/2 pint glass jelly jars fill about half full. put the cover on tightly and place in a crock pot, fill the crock pot with warm water (Just a little above the fill line on your jars) I set mine upright. cover and cook on high for about 4 hours. I only fill my jars about 3/4 full and get two jars per can of condensed milk. So easy and I don’t have to watch it on the stove.

    • Gemma Stafford on April 20, 2018 at 7:37 am

      Hi Gail,
      Great idea, thank you for this. Other Bold Bakers are always looking for ways to do this safely.
      Thank you for your input,
      Gemma 🙂

  3. Cherry Reyes on February 12, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Gemma, I made these today using the 2nd method. I loved it! I was full of anticipation as I took the can opener and I was nervous to see how dark the condensed milk got. It turned into a lovely golden brown! Yay!

    While boiling the can I also sterilized a bottle to transfer the dulce de leche in. My questions are :

    1. Would it be ok to just do the dulce de leche cans and not open them after being cooled? I would like to make more than one can at a time to save on gas and effort and keep them for future use.

    2. Does the unopened can need to be refrigirated? Or can I just keep it in a cool, warm place? How long will it keep in the can?

    3. Once I open the can, is refrigiration needed? How long will it keep opened/refrigirated/ at room temp?

    ♥ ♥ ♥

    BTW, I am making your red-velvet pancakes and pairing it with this for Valentine’s day tomorrow for my mom. 😉

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Kevin, and Waffles. (He should meet the dog in the youtube channel Cooking with Dog!)

    Cheers!

    Cherry

    • Gemma Stafford on February 13, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Hi Cherry,
      well done you!
      Now that you have done this one time you can simmer a bit longer too, for a darker result, it is practice and experience.
      Do simmer more than one can at a time. Remove the label, and lay the cans on their sides, this prevents them rattling in the pot (which is annoying).
      When they are done mark the can, with a marker or simple label, so that you do not get it confused with anything else.
      Then you can either refrigerate or keep in your larder. This is a really useful ingredient to have on hand. Lemon curd, I am fond of saying, is the other one, but it will not keep as long!
      Wishing you and you mom a really happy Valentines day, she will be happy!
      Gemma 😉

      • Cherry Reyes on February 13, 2018 at 10:39 am

        Thank you. I hope to learn how to make lemon curd next time. BTW… I have not heard of any other fruit being turned into a curd though. I wonder if other fruits like other berries or citrus can be made into curd. 🙂

        Enjoy your Valentine’s day!

        • Gemma Stafford on February 15, 2018 at 5:35 am

          Hi Cherry,
          Yes! You can make curd from lots of fruits, citrus works best. Orange/lime/raspberry/rhubarb all come to mind.
          Do google specific recipes for the fruit you might like to use, an acid fruit works best, but you can combine fruits too!
          Gemma 🙂

  4. Danyah AL-Tamimi on February 9, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Tryed it 8 months ago and I used a small can ( 90 gm ) of condensed milk and it took me about 2¼ hours to turn into a medium dark brown color
    Drizzle it on top of a date cake ( which I’ll post a photo of it now ) ..
    It Was YUM😋👌

    Thanks Jemma ❤

    • Gemma Stafford on February 10, 2018 at 6:09 am

      Great, and the lovely thing is that you can have this ready ahead of time. My Mum always get a couple of cans ready, and a jar of lemon curd, when she has guests to stay, easy to pull a dessert together!
      Gemma 🙂

      • Eimerene Santos on February 12, 2018 at 5:43 am

        Hi Ms. Gemma,

        Can I use this as filling on my chocolate cakes? Still newbie in baking.

        • Gemma Stafford on February 12, 2018 at 3:26 pm

          Yes you sure can. That would be a lovely addition.

          Gemma.

      • Moosa maqbool on March 2, 2018 at 7:36 am

        It get very sticky and the taste is like milk and colour is goldish white ……

        Can u tell me what is my mistake 1 make with 2cups milk
        Half cup and 1/4s half suger

        • Gemma Stafford on March 5, 2018 at 8:14 am

          Hi there,
          you need to take it further, keep on simmering, you are nearly there. It takes a little courage!
          Gemma 😉

  5. Rose on January 19, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    hi gemma, what is the difference of this recipe than those of recipes call for butter and heavy cream? i would like to make your caramel recipe coz its so easy 😀 but wondering if there’s a huge difference on taste.

    • Gemma Stafford on January 19, 2018 at 6:03 pm

      So Rose Dulce de leche is cooked milk to make a caramel. The cream and butter caramel is just a different caramel but still is lovely.

      Personally I prefer butter and cream. Here’s my salted caramel sauce

      Gemma.

      • Rose on January 19, 2018 at 6:34 pm

        Thanks Gemma! Ill try your salted caramel sauce. my milk + sugar did not colour as dark as yours 🙁 and it did harden after cooling it down. It turned hard caramel candy.. I’ll try to see how can I use it..

        • Gemma Stafford on January 21, 2018 at 6:09 pm

          Heat it up again to soften it before using it. 🙂

  6. anna on January 15, 2018 at 9:46 am

    hi i would like to know if i can you soy milk or other non dairy milk to make dulce de leche . thanks

    • Gemma Stafford on January 15, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Anna,

      Yes you can. Also if you just wait I’m about to release a vegan caramel sauce recipe if that’s what you are looking for. It’s really good.

      Gemma.

  7. Ditzygypsy on January 12, 2018 at 5:50 am

    Hi! These are such great recipes and such excellent learning videos. And I just love Gemma. I could watch her all day. I was wondering if anyone knows about the the holes in the can mentioned in the condensed milk method of the Dulce de Leche recipe? The written recipe says not to let the water go over the top of the can because it might leak into the holes that you poked into the can. But I don’t see anywhere that tells me how many holes to poke into the can or if I should be poking holes into the can. And there’s no hole poking in the video either? To poke or not to poke, lol? I don’t want my can blowing up because I didn’t poke holes into it, so any suggestions are very much appreciated. Thank you!

    • Gemma Stafford on January 12, 2018 at 6:16 am

      Hi there,
      I never poke holes in the can really! I usually pop them into the water on their sides, which prevent them dancing around the pot, bring to the boil and simmer for up to three hours, make sure the water level does not drop too much below the level of the can.
      I make a few at a time too, take off the label, and mark the cans with a label/pen to tell me what it is. The longer you boil the cans the darker the caramel!
      Try it, it is a good thing to have in the fridge and will last for ages,
      Gemma 🙂

  8. Kelly on January 9, 2018 at 4:35 am

    Hi there. I was wondering if you had tried almond milk or coconut milk full fat from a can? Also, have you tried or do you think liquid stevia would work in this? Thank you!!

    • Gemma Stafford on January 9, 2018 at 9:12 am

      Hi Kelly,
      No, I did not try this, but it is perfectly possible. It has a different name, which I cannot think of right now, but it is ‘a thing’ Dulce De Leche from coconut milk, and I bet it is delicio
      The problem is that stevia will not caramelize, and so it will not thicken the milk to condense it. Dulce De Leche is a milk caramel really, it needs a sugar.
      Stevia/xylitol/splenda will not caramelize. Maple syrup/honey/agave will, these however are high in fructose, so it is a dilemma, I am sorry.
      Gemma 🙂

  9. Nushrat Chaudhury on December 21, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Hi Gemma
    How are you?I’m not sure whether you received my other comment.I just want to ask you that I have made dulce de leche for banoffe pie and it got harden as I was mixing the vanilla essence.So what should I do to bring it to a consistency that I can use for banoffee pie

    • Gemma Stafford on December 22, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      Hi there,
      I think I got this on email today Nushrat.
      I am not too sure what happened here, but I would get it back on the heat, a low heat and dissolve the sugars again, this should sort it out for you,
      Gemma 🙂

      • Nushrat on December 23, 2017 at 6:29 am

        Thank you for your reply and I have received your email too.I was able to fix it

        • Gemma Stafford on December 23, 2017 at 9:27 am

          Great! I’d appreciate it if you left a review when you make it. You can just comment and give it a star rating. 5 stars are appreciated! 🙂

          • Nushrat on December 24, 2017 at 7:08 am

            Hi Gemma,
            I really love all your recipes and I find them quite easy to make,though i had some issues making dulcce de leche but I still loved it.Hope to see more amazing recipes soon and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and new year.So MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!



          • Gemma Stafford on December 24, 2017 at 2:55 pm

            Well thank you for that lovely message. I really appreciate it.

            Happy Christmas and New year to you also,
            Gemma.



  10. majel dayte on December 14, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    hi Gemma…
    is it ok to put some vanilla extract or some peanut to the finished.product of ddl b4 transfer to sealed jar?

    • Gemma Stafford on December 15, 2017 at 4:17 am

      Hi there,
      Yes, but it depends on the peanuts! I would slightly roast them, to preserve them, before adding. I am not sure why you would do this though!
      Gemma 🙂

  11. Ornela on November 22, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Hi Gemma,
    I used a large can of condensed milk(1000 ml) and let it for 3 hours but it didn’t get as dark as yours and it seems to me that it doesn’t change the taste too much..it had a taste similar to condensed milk.. what can I do ?
    Thank you

    • Gemma Stafford on November 23, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Hi Ornela,

      That is a very big can. I’m surprised it didn’t change color after all that time.

      The only thing I can suggest is cooking it now in a pot over low heat and stir as it caramelizes. It could take 20/30 minutes.

      Best,
      Gemma.

  12. Marj on November 16, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Hi gemma! I just want to ask, is it safe to boil the can directly? Will chemicals not leak or something? Thanks!!

    • Gemma Stafford on November 16, 2017 at 3:38 am

      Hi there Marj,
      Yes, it is safe. Most foods are packed in steel cans. If they were not safe they would not be allowed to use them. Pots are also made from steel. Do not worry about this. I hope this is of help,
      Gemma 🙂

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