Homemade Dulce de Leche {easy!}

As you all know by now, I fell in love with a lot of culinary-related things while living in Brazil.  Black beans, pressure cooking, limonada, mangoes, and churrasco to name a few.  Well add this to the list.  Sweetened condensed milk is used for a lot of things there.  While here in the US we use it more as a recipe ingredient, in most parts of South America it’s used more as a condiment, drizzled over fruit for dessert or stirred into lime juice for our favorite drink ever.   Dulce de Leche is just caramelized sweetened condensed milk (no wonder it’s so good, right?!)  and it’s super easy to make.  Oh ya, and it tastes like heaven.

Now, in Brazil people generally pop the sealed can of sweetened condensed milk in a pressure cooker.  You can also simmer the whole can in water for about 3 hours and let it cool completely.  Those methods work, and I’ve done them before but I’m telling you right now that it’s not recommended- got it?  I have to make that clear so that when someone tries it and it blows up in their face they don’t come throw cans of sweetened condensed milk in my windows late at night with angry notes attached.

Instead I’m going to show you a super easy (and pretty quick) method in the oven.  See my note at the end of this post about crock pot instructions as well.

The best part?  It only requires *one* ingredient:

Just pour a can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow dish- a pie plate works great.  You’ll need to make a water bath, so now set the dish inside of a larger dish.  I’m using a roasting pan.  Cover your pie plate tightly with aluminum foil.  If you fail to cover the dish, you’ll get a thick skin over your milk and it won’t caramelize.  I’ve forgot this step once- don’t make the same mistake!

Fill the larger pan (the roasting pan in my pictures) with water until it reaches about half way up the side of the pan containing the sweetened condensed milk.  Bake for about an hour and then carefully peek under the foil.  If it is not yet a caramely brown color, then let it bake a little longer.  It can sometimes take up to an hour and 20 minutes or so.

Use a spoon or whisk to stir until smooth.  Oh my deliciousness…

Now you can cool it and store in the fridge, where it will develop a thicker consistency, or use it warm.  One of my favorite things to do is dip fresh, crisp apples in it.

I actually love really cold apples with warm dulce de leche.  mmmm…

Or you can use it in any recipe that calls for dulce de leche.  If you want to simply eat it, try it as a fruit dip, spread on bread, crackers, or cookies, or on top of ice cream.




  1. I love your Brazilian inspired recipes! Especially since you "americanize" them so that it's easier to do it here… I've always been scared to making doce de leite in the pressure cooker… but I'll have to try it like this! It's also perfect mixed with a can of creme de leite (media crema) and some walnuts… we call it Stogonofe de Nozes and it's a classic christmas dessert in Brazil – and it's sooooooo good!

  2. I really am almost in shock that it is only one ingredient and it's so easy to make… I <3 <3 <3 Dulce de leche but have a friend who always makes it for me when ever I want! Im trying it this weekend!

  3. I've heard of doing this before but only the simmering the closed can method…and frankly I'm a little to chicken to try that! I envision having to dodge cans of exploding condensed milk! Now that I know there's a safe method that won't give me nightmares I'll have to give it a try. I'm thinking brownies with ice cream smothered in dulce de leche sounds so good.

  4. I did the cans in water last Christmas and made cute little scrapbook paper labels for them. I gave them to the neighbors as part of our goodie basket. I do have to admit that I wouldn't let ANYONE in the kitchen while they were simmering. Chicken, that's me.


  5. I've done it on the stovetop, too. The annoying part about that is that you have to keep checking to make sure the cans are still covered by an inch of water so they don't explode. I can't wait to try the crockpot method.

  6. Oh my word ….

    in the crockpot? really?

    I can't wait to try this!!!!!

    my mouth is truly drooling now…. yuuummmm

  7. This is wonderful! I live in Costa Rica and also enjoy dulce de leche very much (this kind more than the canned kind), but I don't have a pressure cooker… this is the perfect answer!

  8. I am making different kinds of homemade ice cream toppings as part of our Christmas goodie basket gifts. Do you have a method of how to do this in my own jars and have them successfully seal? Can I just put sweetened condensed milk in my jars and pressure cook them?

  9. I was just at Walmart and actually saw that they had a can of Dulce de leche condensed milk and I thought " I wonder what you do with that?" Now that I know how to make and use it, I better try it! thanks!

  10. I had to laugh at this. I used to live with my aunt for a few years and her boyfriend was from Belize. He always did the simmer thing with the sweetened condensed milk on the stove top – at least once a week. One day, while my aunt was on vacation, he was doing this on the stove top and would come to check on it every once in a while. Well, he was also outside working on his car. I was in my bedroom and heard this huge explosion. We both came running into the kitchen from different directions and there was nothing but sticky pudding all over the ceiling, the walls, everywhere. Looked like something from the movies. I started laughing so hard! And of course, left him to clean up his mess.

  11. I started reading this and thought, "nuts, I'd like to not have to buy the can stuff anymore, but this needs a can." And then I continued reading. WHOA, I CAN use homemade "sweetened condensed milk"!

    Just make up the milk and use your method to make the creme de leche.

    YEAH! Thanks for posting this!

  12. I've tried this on the stove top! It took about 2-3 hours on low heat….we have cooked it longer (like 4 hours) but it was too thick. Also–make sure you let the water COMPLETELY cool to room temp before removing the can from the water……..

  13. Your website is really starting to tick me off. Everything you post looks so darn fabulous that I have to drop what I'm doing, go to the store, and then immediately make it. If you could please post something that looks simply mediocre, I would really appreciate it.


  14. Oh wow. What a coincedense. I made this for my daughter and her friends for her Halloween party. They all stood around the crock pot dipping and eating. It was gone sooo fast. I also put out three dishes of sides to go with it so it was like eating one of those fancy caramel apples. I got mini choc chips, crushed up Heath bar and chopped peanuts. They have other wonderful mini topping in the baking aisle that you can use. Just another way to make wonderful MORE wonderful!

  15. I love love LOVE when you do Brazilian things! I miss it so much (I have been home for …5 1/2 years). Keep 'em coming!

  16. I've done this before but used 2 cans. I poured them into an 8.5 x 11 casserole dish, covered it with foil, set it inside a 9 x 11 dish and water bath. After cooking, poured into pie crust/plate, and wa-lah—caramel pie! Top with whipped cream and crushed Heath Bar. Everyone will think you have slaved for hours!

  17. I usually do the scary boiling the closed can method b/c I can store the finished cans in the cupboard until I'm ready to use them. But the fastest way is in the microwave: Place the sweetened condensed milk in a large microwaveable bowl and cook on medium power for about 4 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Reduce the powder to medium-low and continue to cook for another 8 to 12 minutes, or until the milk has thickened and has turned a light caramel color. Remove from microwave and beat until smooth.

  18. Looks amazing – and I'm still in shock that it only has one ingredient! I love the ice cream and brownies idea someone posted. Perhaps this weekend I'll have an extra treat!

  19. The method for cooking it in a pan of boiling water is the one I've always used. We put 3 cans and submerge them in the water, making sure the water never gets to the can. About 3 hours later, I have 3 cans. Then I use a graham cracker crust and pour each can into the pie dish. It's called Caramel Pie and is AWESOME!!!! I do love your idea of doing it in the oven. I've never had a can pop myself but have wondered about it, LOL. I've never even had one bulge out.

  20. How do you do it in a pressure cooker?

    And on a side note, do you have any other pressure cooker recipes? I just got an electric one for my birthday.

  21. If I wanted to make this in advance for a birthday party, how would you reheat it so the mixture is not thick and still tastes just as wonderful?

  22. For those in Texas…during the summer months, simply place an unopened can in your garage one night…open the next. Voilà!

  23. I did the stove top method last spring for my sons geography project, no problems. Yesterday I did the crockpot method. I have a mini crockpot that fits one can perfectly. Worked great, yummy, yummy, yummy.

  24. Shannon- I'm not an expert canner, so I really don't know the answer to that!

    Toni- Oh NO! See, that's why they don't recommend that, I'm glad no one was hurt!

    Jaime- It's never really recommended to heat stuff in the can, but since you're the crock pot is at such a low heat, it's pretty safe. I can't tell you there's no risk of explosion though, because I don't know!

    Emy- I really do need to post some pressure cooker recipes, I love mine!

    Toni M- Just store in the fridge- you can warm it up in the microwave and just whisk until smooth.

  25. Easy Peasy! I tried the oven method using fat-free sweetened condensed milk. (thats 2 pts/2 TBSP for all you WWs out there) It was DEEELISH! I dipped apples in it, but I'm thinking drizzled on hot popcorn would be sooo good!

  26. I tried this, and after 2 hours it was only slightly carmelized. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing wrong. I just might have to brave the 15 degree weather to go get the ready made stuff at walmart.

  27. This isn't the only disgustingly decadent desert made with only sweetened condensed milk I've seen. (Triple Alliteration)

    Try boiling a can of it (unopened) for 20 minutes and then chilling it. If it worked when you open it, you should have a custard like cylinder that you can slice and serve with a berry topping or something like that.

  28. I just made some tonight to see how well it works and I was amazed. As a single man in college I appreciate foods that sound like they would be hard to pull off but are really easy. They tend to impress the fairer sex with minimal effort. (Don't tell on me)

    And yes, ice cold apples and piping hot dulce de leche is all kinds of awesome. Too bad the it cancels out the nutritional benefits of the apples.

  29. This looks delicious! This is my first time visiting your blog and I must say it is adorable. I was wondering if you had a certain recipe that I have been searching for and craving for years now. I visited Brazil in 2001 and had the most amazing tapioca pancake thingy. We were visiting Olinda, Brazil and there was a vendor selling these tapioca things. They were almost like tapioca tortillas with coconut and condensed milk on them. Any ideas? I would love to be able to make these at home. Thanks for your help! Love the site!

  30. Aloha,
    So..my family and I have had the Horrible Plague for the last week, one will be half way thru it then another one gets it, now baby girl has it. The only thing that I have eaten in the last 2 days is jello. So, I’m looking thru my blog files to find an easy soup recipe that doesn’t require much manpower, and I see this post. No soup for my family, yet, but dulce de leche is in the oven. I hope it makes the plague go away!

    You girls are amazing.


  31. Similar to Kim’s experience, when we lived in Las Vegas my stored can of sweetened condensed milk carmelized and I thought it had gone bad so I threw it out. I had no idea this was a desireable product. (I must have lived under a rock too, or in an oven!). The next time it happened, I smelled it, tasted it, then threw it into the recipe anyway – and it turned out great!

  32. So this looks so delicious… I’m thinking on top of a scoop on top of vanilla ice cream (possibly on top of an ooey gooey brownie)
    But it is just my husband and I and as much as I would love to eat an entire can of sweetened condensed milk by myself (caramelized or not) I don’t think we will finish it in one sitting. You said it can be refrigerated and it will thicken… after you put it in the fridge could you pull it out and zap it in the microwave for a few seconds like those little jars of hot fudge and caramel?

  33. I did the cans on the stove a couple of years ago. No problems with explosion but it tasted awful.Found the labels in the trash-I had used evaporated milk by mistake. So I bought some sweetened condensed milk and made it in the crock pot. So good. Easy to eat way too much. I wonder how it would work to put it in a covered bowl in the crock pot-maybe with a little water.
    @Darlene: I would love to have your recipe for homemade sweetened condensed milk. Since the powers that be have decided not to ban BPA in food and drink containers,as much as possible I’m avoiding cans.

  34. If you put the UNOPENED can of Sweetened Condensed Milk into a pan of water and simmer it for about an 1 1/2 hours you will get the same result. Make sure you do not open the can until it has cooled, otherwise the milk might splatter and burn your skin.This is how we do it in England. No, the can will NOT explode.

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