Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche is a milk-based caramel popular in Latin American countries. It has a thick consistency and is traditionally made by sloooooowly simmering milk and sugar until the milk evaporates (also known as the "Maillard reaction"). Dulce de leche is great with cookies, atop cakes, spread on toast, or by itself straight out of the jar. 

Not too runny, not too thick...PERFECT!

You can buy cans of dulce de leche in most grocery stores (check the ethnic aisle) or any Hispanic market. Or, you can make it yourself at home with just a single ingredient and a little bit of patience.

Dulce de Leche

2 cans of sweetened condensed milk

That cow is staring at me. I don't like it.

First, remove the paper labels from the cans of sweetened condensed milk. 

Ha! No more stinkeye from that cow!

Place the cans in a large stockpot and fill with water to cover the cans by at least 2". 

Bring the water to a rolling boil; reduce the heat to a simmer, cover pot slightly, and let simmer for 3 hours. This amount of time always yields the best consistency for me. If you prefer a runnier dulce de leche, reduce the simmer time. If you prefer a thicker dulce de leche, extend the simmer time.

Make sure that the cans are ALWAYS covered with water; if the tops of the cans become exposed, the difference in pressures can cause the can to explode. This warning is everywhere online, yet I haven't found a single confirmed story of someone having a can explore. 

That being said....

NOTE: A lot of people do NOT recommend this method. It has always worked for me, and I've never had an explosion. That being said, I've always been VERY careful to ensure that the cans stayed covered. Just be careful. /disclaimer.

The cans WILL rattle; you can place the cans atop a rack or trivet if you want.

After 3 hours, remove the pot from heat and let the can cool in the water for about 10-15 minutes. CAREFULLY remove the hot cans from the water and let cool completely. This should take about an hour or so.

The jar lifter is your friend. Get one. I promise you'll love it.

The cans can now be kept on the shelf for about a year. 

Mmmmm....buttery, sticky and sweet.

If you DO open a can (and you will), transfer the remaining contents to a glass jar and keep in the refrigerator. That is, if you have any of this sweet, sticky goodness left...

My 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk yielded 3 of these 1/2 pint jars.

The perfect size for gifting. Or for sitting in front of the TV with a spoon.

You can also make dulce de leche in a slow cooker by simply covering the cans with water and cooking on LOW for 8 hours. Or, you can pour the sweetened condensed milk into a pie plate, place in a hot water bath and bake at 425 degrees for 90 minutes. 


  1. I had no idea. This is so cool!

  2. I am a big fan of this method too! I usually let the cans cool overnight to make sure that there is no risk of explosion. I also use my pasta pot to make sure that the cans are covered with water at all times.

  3. Good idea, Adriana! I forgot to use a rack/trivet this time, so I had to listen to the cans rattling for HOURS!

  4. this is so amazing and cool, I can't wait to wake up tomorrow just so I can do to publix and the 2 cans or a dozen cans, so I can make this. THANKS A BUNCH