Homemade Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche..Wikipedia defines it as a milk based syrup. In Portuguese it means “milk candy”.

Have you had it? No? Yes? Well let me tell you it is sooooo very creamy, sweet and milky. You can use it over anything, ice cream, flan, over cookies and even in coffee. The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to find. I needed some for a little something I was making, but I couldn’t find it at my grocery ( they usually have it). I wasn’t going to let this deter me. So I had to make my own. I remember seeing it on the Food Network (possibly Emeril), that all Dulce de Leche was, is boiled Sweetened condensed milk. It does take about 3 1/2 hours to create. But you are just tending to the water level. Not a biggie! So I suggest you hunt out a recipe that calls for dulce de leche and make it! It is sooooooooo ridiculously delicious!


1 can Sweetened condensed milk


Remove label if there is one. Do NOT open the can. Poke a few holes in the top of the can with a nail or can opener. Place in sauce pan fill with water so 2/3 of the can is covered with water. Boil for 3 to 4 hours. Keep an eye on the water to keep at an adequate level. After the 3 to 4 hours remove from boiling water and carefully remove lid. Pour into bowl and stir any goopy pieces so the mixture is smooth!


A few folks have commented on that they have heard stories of this method of making Dulce de Leche exploding. While others have said this was the only way they have made it. Accidents can always happen. I took great care in poking adequate size holes in the lid. I guess I got lucky.
Maybe next time I will try this method. I certainly wouldn’t want to scrape Dulce de Leche off of my ceiling, or for that matter, off my face!!!


  1. 1

    Funny my husband was just telling me about this same method today

  2. 2

    I never knew it was so easy! It comes out a gorgeous caramel color, doesn’t it? I would easily enjoy this over ice cream. Looks fantastic Leslie.

  3. 3
    RecipeGirl says:

    You are SOOOOOOOOO lucky that you didn’t have a huge, exploding mess. (I’ve heard some nightmare stories about doing it this way!)

    Whatcha gonna make with it?????

  4. 4
    Anonymous says:

    Oh how I remember my mother doing this when i was a kid. Us kids were always assigned to watch the can and water level.

    After immigrating to the US as not coming from a Spanish speaking country it took me a while to figure out what Dulce de Leche was. We just called it cooked condensed milk. And preparing it this way it’s really difficult not to just eat it from the can, but to use it for baking instead. It is absolute heaven.

    No pre-prepared caramel comes close.

  5. 5
    noble pig says:

    I never had any idea how this was made…yum and easy.

  6. 6

    That looks fabulous. I will definitely be trying this, as I have a recipe for dulce de leche sandwich cookies I have been dying to make! I can buy it but I can’t justify spending nearly 3 pounds for a small jar. Thank you so much for the idea 🙂

  7. 7

    I haven’t been able to find Dulce de Leche here in Holland, so thanks to you I’ll be able to recreate it. I will definetely be giving this a try!

  8. 8
    mysweetestday says:

    interesting…sounds easy enough!

  9. 9
    Susan Macaluso says:

    Oh my…. GAWD! I’m doing that.

  10. 10

    I lived in South America for two years and this was a staple there. We had it daily, spread on French bread with breakfast and tea time. (We didn’t eat a real dinner.) Would you believe that sometimes they wouldn’t poke holes in the top and turn the can over and back while it cooked? That’s really really dangerous!

  11. 11
    VeggieGirl says:



  12. 12

    That’s great that you made it yourself. I was lucky that I found some at the store this weekend for a recipe I wanted to try. I needed a shortcut since I was baking other things as well last night.

  13. 13
    Susan Macaluso says:

    Oh…..and I have a giveaway!!

  14. 14

    I never knew that Dulce de Leche was made of sweetened condensed milk. I assumed it was much more complicated! LOL

  15. 15

    Dulce de Leche is one food’s finest evils!

    Now that I’ve seen this method (successful), I’m gonna give it a try.

  16. 16

    Wow, I didn’t realize how easy it was to make. I am going to try it soon.

  17. 17

    This can be a dangerous way to make Dulce de leache. I have heard of more than one case where someone has been burned when the can exploded (even when you poke holes in the can). There are alternative methods. You can find one at http://www.davidlebovitz.com

  18. 18

    Thanks for the link. I didnt even think of it exploding since I punched generous size holes in it. I suppose I was lucky this time. Maybe I will try it in the oven next time.

  19. 19
    Happy cook says:

    Here we too don’t get dulce de leche, i am so going to make this.
    Thankyou for telling how to make them at home.
    I have also heard that sometimes it explode.

  20. 20
    Sweet Bird says:

    I’ve used this method many times for making dulce de leche and it works every time. I will point out one piece of advice, do not, I repeat do not attempt this in an enamelware saucepan. The tin tends to rust as it boils and it leaves indelible rust stains on your pan. Yes I learned this the hard way, with a nearly brand new Tyvoli.

    Other than that, it’s fab!

  21. 21

    Now that you have made dulce de leche, you are half way to the most heavenly British creation – the Banoffee pie! (Pie crust, 2 cans of dulce de leche, a couple of sliced bananas, topped with whipped cream).

    I’ve always been told NOT to make holes in the can because it needs the pressure to caramelise, but that it won’t explode as long as you keep the water level up. Sounds like I have been dicing with death.

  22. 22
    Clumbsy Cookie says:

    This is the way my mom allways did it and everyone else I think. It can explode yes, if the can is hot. The way we allways did it was to let the can cool completely and then open it normally. It’s delicious! But know we can get it allready cooked so no more cooking and waiting! We even get a new one with chocolate!!!

  23. 23
    Anonymous says:

    This method does make very tasty dulce de leche, and it’s often used as an easy-to-make homemade alternative to store-bought dulce de leche in Argentina. However, this is NOT how real dulce de leche is made; the real process is quite a bit longer and it’s done from fresh milk.

  24. 24

    … oh my god! I just followed the link to the other method of making it. Dulce de leche with homemade goat’s milk icecream? Yum!

  25. 25
    Mommy's Kitchen says:

    I love Dulce de Leche. I am lucky enough to find it in the latin isle at my walmart so i dont have to attempt this yet!! Yours looks super creamy great job.

  26. 26

    YUM! The pictures are amazing and I am sure it tastes even better. Happy 100 too!

  27. 27

    Wow, super cool. Thanks for this one. I will try it for sure!

  28. 28

    Leslie, this is my all time favorite treat! I’ve also heard scary stories. But it never stopped me from boiling a can 🙂 I never make the holes though, just keep the water level way above the can. Works always well!
    P.S. Thank you so much for your kind words left on my blog. I appreciate it a lot!

  29. 29

    I made this a few months back, there was 1 problem… I was the only on that liked I mean really loved it!

  30. 30

    ok, I really feel bad for saying that. but that’s not really dulce de leche. I’m not from Argentina, but here in Brazil we do eat our share of doce de leite. and it’s made with whole milk and sugar, and it takes a while to be ready. but my mother made the can stuff for me when I was a child. just because even a child could make it. and don’t worry, it doesn’t explode. unless you open the can when it’s too hot. and you made it in a pressure pan…

  31. 31

    mmmmmmm. I looove DULCE DE LECHE Hagen Dazz ice cream. the best.

  32. 32

    omg. I’ve been looking for a ddl recipe, love your photography.

  33. 33

    I’ve been meaning to try this for the longest time, but as usual, I PROCRASTINATE :(… but you inspire me to make this soon… 🙂 thanks Les.. it looks lovely…

  34. 34
    Donna in VA says:

    I’ve made this before and it is SINFUL.

  35. 35

    milk candy, indeed! awesome money shot. 🙂

  36. 36

    Oh my, my daughter will be in heaven!


  37. 37

    I tried this yesterday, boiled it on the stove for 4 hours at about 2/3 of a can deep. The top part of the can pretty much stayed the same, and the bottom of the can kind of gelatinized somehow… it didn’t look quite the same as your picture at all. Perhaps I used the wrong kind of sweetened condensed milk, or maybe the holes I put in the can were too big?

  38. 38

    Oh, how funny, I was just thinking about this. Someone told me how easy and fabulous it is! I haven’t heard of it exploding though. Yikes, I can just imagine that happening in my kitchen!

  39. 39

    Yikes…I didn’t know you had to poke holes in the lid! I’ve always just put the can in-I guess I’m lucky I didn’t have a sticky mess on my hands!

  40. 40

    Wait a minute? You mean all those tiny little jars of the expensive dulce de leche are made with one ingredient? Ohh man! Well, now I know not to spend fortunes on it anymore.
    Thank goodness you did this.

  41. 41
    Michelle Dargen says:

    Dulce de Leche is one of my most favorite things. OMG I could eat an entire pan of it. I just made some this past weekend to put in brownies. YUM!

    I always make mine in the oven. Super easy and no risk of exploding cans. I usually make 2 cans at a time because 1 just isn’t enough.

  42. 42

    You very welcome, but watch out, its addicting!

  43. 43

    I have been wanting to try dulce de leche for a long time but I have been unable to find it. Making your own sounds great!

  44. 44

    Great! Thanks for sharing.

  45. 45
    Prudent Homemaker says:

    My South American roomates in college used to make this all the time. I never had them teach me and I’ve been looking for instructions for this. Thank you!

  46. 46

    Prudent Homemaker.
    You very welcome! Be careful..its addicting!

  47. 47

    Hello there, this recipe is incredbly popular here in Brazil, just that I don’t poke holes on it, and I cook in a pressurized pan, for just 40 minuts, its amazing for filling cakes or just eating as it is. It NEVER exploded or anything, just low the temprature when it stars boiling and it will be fine.

  48. 48

    Thanks NAtalie..
    I am glad to hear that you cooked it in the pot and never had an accident! It sure is yummy!

  49. 49

    Oh how I love this stuff. I use to make it every year as a filling for some of my Christmas candies.
    The can won’t build pressure to explode if there are holes in it. I think the risk of explosion is only if there are no holes and the water boils out enough to super heat the can.
    I’ve always made it by not puncturing the can and making sure it had at least an inch of water over top. It’s no more dangerous really than home canning or tinning.

  50. 50

    20 years ago, I was babysitting for a week while the parents went on vacation. On the first day, I decided to make dulce de leche. I didn’t poke the holes in the can, and I covered the can with water, and proceeded to boil the heck out of it. I went into the computer room and proceeded to play Yahtzee for hours. Suddenly, I heard a loud BOOM, and then the sounds of two dogs happily licking away in the kitchen.

    For the next 5 days, I cleaned, scraped, and scrubbed that kitchen (with the vaulted ceilings and millions of nick nacks and plants!). I even had the curtains dry cleaned. I begged the kid I was babysitting not to tell his parents when they got home.

    I would have gotten away with it, except that when the parents got home, the kid ran up to the stove and looked up into the hood (where he KNEW I’d missed). To this day, they’re STILL talking about it!

  51. 51

    I think it will explode when the milk reaches the holes. Oh. but i think I’ll still try it. yum!