Baking Basics: How to make homemade Dulce de Leche

How to make homemade Dulce de Leche ~ It’s as easy as open and pour and so much less expensive to make than to buy.

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Homemade Dulce de Leche

There are a few methods to making homemade dulce de leche. Whatever method you use just remember to start with a can of sweetened condensed milk and not evaporated milk. It’s easy to mistake one from another when purchasing because the packaging is very similar.  In general, the sweetened condensed milk is in a smaller can than the evaporated milk.

Sweetened condensed milk has sugar in it whereas evaporated milk does not. The process of turning sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche is simply to extract the water from the milk leaving behind the fat and sugar to caramelize.

I’ll be going over the methods I have tried: oven, stove top and microwave. Since I don’t I have a pressure cooker I won’t be covering that and I won’t going over the die-hard method of making it from scratch with whole milk and sugar which requires constant stirring.  I’m just too impatient for that method.

Dulce de Leche Bakers Royale copy1

The following three methods all begin with a can of sweetened condensed milk:

1. Oven: This is my favorite way to make it because it gives a smooth creamy texture with minimal work.  Empty the contents of a can into an oven-proof dish; sprinkle with some kosher salt and tightly cover it with foil.

Place the covered dish in a larger roasting or casserole pan and fill it up with water until it reaches three quarters of the up the covered dish to create a water bath. Bake at 425 degrees F for 60-90 minutes checking every 30minutes on the water level and adding more as needed.

Dulce de leche is ready when it takes on a brown and caramel-like appearance. Remove from the oven and whisk to smoothness. Let cool before storing.

2. Stovetop: This method takes the longest, but it allows for the most control over the consistency. Remove label from can. Pierce three holes in the formation of a triangle on top of can (this is critical to release the pressure from the heat or else the can may explode.) Place the can in a sauce pan and fill the sauce pan with water three-quarters of the way up the side of the can.

Bring water to a simmer and keep it there for 3-4 hours or until desired consistency. For a thicker more syrup-like texture cook closer to 4 hours. When ready, use tongs to remove can allow to cool slightly and pour dulce de leche in a bowl and whisk to smoothness. Let cool before storing.

3. Microwave: The fastest way, but I found it to yield a less smooth texture than the other two methods.

Empty contents of can in a microwave safe dish and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Cook it on medium in two minute increments stirring between each increment (be careful of any steam as you lift the plastic wrap) up to 10 minutes for  thinner pouring consistency, or up to 13-15 minutes for a thicker, syrup-like consistency. Let cool before storing.

Step by Step Bakers Royale1

Dulce de Leche Elements:

  • Basic Tools: Oven method:  heat-proof pan, roasting pan for a water bath, foil.  Stovetop Method: sauce pan.  Microwave method: heatproof  dish, plastic wrap
  • How to store dulce de leche: Place dulce de leche in a jar and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
  • How to re-heat dulce de leche: Place jar of dulce de leche in a saucepan filled with water half way up and simmer or microwave jar of dulce de leche.
  • Dulce de leche uses: Dulce de leche can be used as a spread or as a syrup. Its versatility lends itself well to being used in cakes, cookies, candy and custard dessert as a supporting role in flavor or as the main attraction of any dessert.

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  1. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonChris says

    I just browsed in your web site and loved it!
    Should you ever buy a pressure cooker you`ll have the quickest Dulce de Leche EVER!!!
    I use it a lot for filling cakes. Just add some coconut, nuts or even chocolate bites and it`s wonderful!!!
    Take care,

  2. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    OH! Finally! Thank you so much for posting a way to *make* dulche de leche! We can’t buy the premade stuff in Australia, so I’ve had to skip past every recipe that uses it, simply because we can’t get it. Now I can make them all!!


    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Maly replied: — June 9th, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

      Yes u can. It’s Nestlé top n fill. Tastes no different to home made DDL. I’m a cake decorator and when I don’t have time to make it myself I buy this for my DDL flavored cakes. Their so delicious :) my fav flavour. My hubby is also Chilean so it’s a must in our household, diet, life lol it’s found in baking or long life milk aisles in supermarkets for about $3.85.

      • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

        lisa replied: — September 15th, 2014 @ 4:35 am

        I have tried the caramel nestle my hubby didn’t like the taste not even the kids .

  3. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I have wanted to make dulce de leche for ever! I was going to try the crock pot method but I am afraid it will explode and I will lose an eye or something 😉

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Sharon replied: — July 21st, 2013 @ 7:39 am

      The slow cooker method works great – my husband just made two cans last night. Labels off, fully submerged in water, set to low. He’ll put them on just before bed and in the morning fish them out put them in the fridge.
      Perfect every time.

  4. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    so in love with these photos. i love making homemade dulce de leche. do you eat it with a spoon, like I do?

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — May 20th, 2011 @ 12:06 am

      Hi Susan-Yes! I’m so guilty of doing that and I’m guilty of putting a bit of it in my coffee! Thanks for the compliment on the photo. :)

      • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

        Deborah Benton replied: — September 10th, 2014 @ 9:48 am

        Thanks for that idea, Naomi. I have never thought of putting it in coffee. You shouldn’t need sugar or creamer using that, am I right? I love the International Creamers in chocolates, mochas, and caramels. I just love dulce de leche though.

  5. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAndrea says

    It’s funny to see it pre-made in the stores to me. I’m from Belize and we have always made it on the stove by boiling water and placing the can of condensed milk in it to boil, for what seemed to be all day.

  6. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonNicole @ itsfeedingtimeatthezoo says

    Thanks for this, I’ve tried the stovetop method before but I really like the idea of the oven-baked leche.

  7. Avatar for Naomi Robinsonannbaker says

    I remember my ggrandmother making it she taught me make delicious cupcakes filled with a dulce de leche centre………….i still makethem today as well as best icecream with dulce de leche

  8. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonLiz says

    Thanks for the information! I’ve never made dulce de leche before and I’m just wondering about yield, if you use a 400g can of condensed milk for example, how much would you expect to make out of it?

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Exx replied: — December 17th, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

      one serving, one can yields one selfish serving, maybe two.

  9. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonHelen says

    Saw it everyone during recent trip to South America. Now want to use it back home in Aus and can’t find it anywhere. Thanks for the recipes. Will try them out.

  10. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonHelen says

    Saw it everywhere during recent trip to South America. Now want to use it back home in Aus and can’t find it anywhere. Thanks for the recipes. Will try them out.

  11. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonDaphne says

    I tried the oven method tonight and the flavor is great but it looked kind of curdled. I’m using it in a recipe so looks don’t matter this time but did I do something wrong? It wasn’t done at an hour so I did it for about 90 minutes. The water bath was good the whole time. Just curious!

  12. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonChris Yarkosky says

    I’m 57 years young & my mother has made this for years. We never knew a name for it but my grandmother made it for years also. My siblings & I could not wait for it to be done & the cans cooled so my mom could use a can opener on both ends of the can & push the yummy stuff out of the can into a bowl which we immediately had spoons waiting to dip into the caramel. Good grief, how decliciously sweet it is! One of our favorite treats. Here’s how my mom made it & how I do it to this day. No mess, no fuss, no worry.
    Place 2 cans (we always made 2 just because we could fit it into the pot & the more to eat)of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk into a heavy deep pot. Completely cover the cans with water (about 2 inches above the cans) It doesn’t matter if the cans are on their side or upright. Bring water to a boil,cover, then reduce heat to a slow simmer & simmer for approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours. No stirring. No hassle. You only need to check to be sure cans remain covered with water at all times. I generally only have to add a little more water 1 -2 times during the cooking process & then go back to my business around the house. When time is up, I drain the water & add cold water from the tap & let cans cool to touch. The cooling takes awhile. Then take a can opener & open both ends of the can. Remove the one end/lid of the can. Then using the other end/lid, push the lid all the way thru the can & place the finished goodie into a bowl or container of choice. We refrigerate after opening & eating. Enjoy!

  13. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonFraida says

    Can you please give me suggestions for making dulce de leche on the stovetop if I am using a glass jar of sweetened condensed milk? Thank you.

  14. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAlexandra Brodhagen says

    Hello, I’m going to make this for a foods project and I would really like to know how much this makes. I need to have enough for close to 22 people, and the recipe doesn’t exactly say how much it makes. Thanks for your time,

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Néné replied: — June 25th, 2013 @ 5:54 am

      It’ll make exactly the same amount of dulce de leche as the amount of sweetened condensed milk in the can. There’s virtually no evaporation; the change is that the sugar caramelizes.

  15. Avatar for Naomi says

    Je suis agée de 38 ans , et j’assume totalement .
    Je porte le joli nom de Honore.
    Je suis une comptable . il semble que je suis geignarde.

  16. Avatar for Naomi says

    Mon nom est Favor.
    Je suis agée de 22 années .
    Ce que je fais , chauffeur de taxi . Si je suis parfois réservée, ce n’est pas forcément un défaut ?

  17. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Here is where I found the most delicious Dulce de Leche made in Australia.
    Its exactly like the real Dulce de leche you get in Argentina, not the condensed milk version.

  18. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonClaire says

    You are a lifesaver, thank you! Went to make my daughter’s birthday cake and discovered that the tin of caramel I had in the cupboard was actually condensed milk. I didn’t have time to boil it so tried your microwave method. It worked beautifully and I used a whisk to keep mixing inbetween blasts and it’s come out nice and smooth. Just waiting for it to cool down and then I’ll get back to the cake. Thank you so much again!

  19. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonMellie says

    This was such a life saver! Had to make a cake that required Dulce de Leche for an ingredient and a frosting! I found this and it helped so much! Waiting for it to cool. Thanks so much, this website is a lifesaver!

  20. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonShelli says

    Oh my. If you’re doing the method where you leave it in the can, completely avoid any accidental explosion by covering the cans COMPLETELY in water, the more the better.. No need to pierce the cans! Amazing! You can proceed to boil for about 4 hours checking periodically to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate below the tops of the cans. And that’s how ya do that! OR Do the same thing, but with a crock pot! High setting for four hours, cans submerged completely in water. Presto!

  21. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonDianne Berry says

    Great! I made it from scratch, but will try the SCM ( sweetened condensed milk) version. I would like to maybe add whipped cream and freeze for a geleto treat. Anyone try that yet? Wonder if I could skip eggs? Thank you!

  22. Avatar for Naomi Robinsonnicolas says

    You can also make it using a pressure cooker. Just cover the cans (I make 3 at the time) and cook for 12-15 min once the pressure was reach. Let it cool in the device until pressure is gone.

  23. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAlvaro says

    Hi! I’m from Uruguay. Don’t want to be rude but Please STOP calling this dulce de leche! Its not! Dulce de leche is ONLY milk, suger (maximum 25%), bicarbonate ens sometimes vanilla. You can buy it (many different brands) or make it home cooking this ingredients and having a lot of patience. What u say is ddl is cooked condensed milk. Similar but not Ddl! Ddl is of southamerican origin while your recipe is russian and much more sweet. The sweetened condensed milk contains 50 tp 70 % suger. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Deborah Benton replied: — September 10th, 2014 @ 10:02 am

      Thank you. I knew I had seen this in cans in stores. I thought it was an International type of Sweetened Condensed Milk that was a darker color. Although I have had it in many things, I have never baked with it. The reason I was checking it out now was because I just found a recipe for Alfajores and it calls for Dulce de Leche placed in the center. I’m sure you probably know that but now I know instead of having to buy the sweetened condensed milk I can just as well buy the Dulce de Leche in the International aisle in the grocery store. The ones I’ve saw is about the same price as the sweetened condensed milk. Thank you again. I love baking and my sweets but I also love easy.

  24. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonCarol says

    I think I might have over-toasted the oatmeal because the bars have a slight burned taste. Also, I don’t think the butterscotch chips improve the recipe. In fact, their weird color detracts from the dessert, making it look like a fake kid dessert. I was supposed to bring this to a dinner tonight, but I may scramble to make something else. Overall it was a disappointing recipe and I didn’t think it was particularly easy.

  25. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonCindylou says

    Cooked it the way u said in oven but it still appears it needs at least 30 more mins. Already been 90 mins. Is this a normal variation? What is the purpose of the foil? Can I leave it off for the next 30? And what is the purpose for the water bath?

  26. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonRobin says

    I tried the oven and microwave techniques. The oven technique was perfect with almost no work. The microwave version was tedious and came out with a texture like chewy peanut butter. Not good, I threw it out.

  27. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAZMuffy says

    So glad I found your site and the oven method for Dulce de Leche. I used to make it that way about 10 years ago, then moved and lost my guidelines (silly me!) Although I live in an area where it is available, I prefer to make my own. Thanks!