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'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……..

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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?

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