Have You Tried: Dulce de Leche?

Dulce de Leche. Doce de Leite. Confiture de lait. Cajeta.

Whatever you may call it, if you have not, you must try it as soon as humanly possible.

And better yet–make your own.

Now, if you are someone who likes the idea of danger, press on with my how-to. If not, then please click over to this site for safer instructions.  Please don’t boil the cans as I describe below if your can of sweetened condensed milk has a lid with a ring pull.  It will probably explode.  You’re been warned. :)

Basically, we are talking about boiling an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk.

I like to live on the wild side when cooking. And frankly, I’ve never had a problem boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for a few hours. I’ve been doing it for years. Not one burn. Not one exploding can.

But then again, you have to keep a close eye on it–which can be hard when you have kids. I set my timer.

A few helpful hints–

First of all, use a VERY large pan. Like this stock pot.


Secondly, it’s important that the cans stay fully submerged in water while they cook. And it really shouldn’t be a rolling boil–more of a simmer. I like to turn the cans on their sides and I rotate them every 15-20 minutes or so. Maybe it’s overkill, but I want them to cook evenly.

Two and a half hours is the perfect amount of time for sea level.  For high altitude, cook for at least three hours.  Too little and the sugar doesn’t caramelize as much and the dulce de leche is runny. Too much and it will be too thick. (I’ve done this–remedy it by adding a bit of regular milk or a little sweetened condensed milk.)


Third, let them cool before you open the cans. Believe me–this is the hardest part. Okay, yes–I did burn my mouth once because I couldn’t wait to have some.

When it’s cooled, it will be very thick. Unopened cans do not require refrigeration.


You may find an open can in the fridge that looks like this:

It’s hard to say who the culprit was…ah hem.

We use dulce de leche as a dip for fruit, a spread for toast, cake filling. (Updated coconut cake with dulce de leche filling.)

or very recently, I made a delicious batch of Dulce de Leche Ice Cream.

If you are hard core, you could also make dulce de leche from scratch using this recipe by Alton Brown.

Other recipes using Dulce de Leche:
Coconut Butter Thin with Dulce de Leche Filling (coconut alfajores)
Banofee Pie
MattBites’ Alfajores
Smitten Kitchen’s Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars
David Lebowitz’s Dulce de Leche Brownies
Confessions of a Foodie Bride’s Snickery Squares

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7 Comments

  1. Interesting, I never let it boil less than 3 hours!

    Here’s my number on tip for making your own dulce de leche at home: use a pressure cooker. Peel the can, place in about 1 inch of water in the cooker, and pressure cook the can for 45 minutes to an hour. Way faster, way safer, fantastic results. You can do several cans at once, and cans keep indefinitely if unopened.

  2. Azucar–I bet it’s the altitude difference, no? I dunno.

    So, I’m thinking if I had a pressure cooker it could be pretty dangerous–not in a bodily harm way, but in a an “I’d-eat-a-can-a-day” way.

  3. I did not know that this was called dulce de leche. I ate something very similar in Ukraine all the time and they called it “Iriska” or “sgushonoe moloko” which translates to condensed milk. They would also make it themselves this way, boiling it in the can. It’s so good!

    Thanks for the recipe. I will be sure to make it now.

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