DIY: How to Make Homemade Dulce de Leche

in Condiments, DIY, Dulce de Leche

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Making homemade dulce de leche (which I never seem to pronounce correctly) is super easy and so much more economical than buying it at the store. And you have a number of options when it comes to method. A quick Google search will yield recipes that can be baked, cooked over double-boiler, microwaved, and even starting from scratch with milk and sugar.

Me? I use the method that I think makes the darkest and very, very best dulce de leche. It’s also the method that just about every site in that Google search cautions against: the homemade bomb method.

Okay, so it’s not really a bomb. But it could be one. And if you’re smart about it, and maybe even a little lucky, it’s not dangerous at all. I’ve made countless cans of dulce de leche using the boil-the-can method.

No bombs. No e’splosions. JUST KNOW THAT IT COULD HAPPEN.

Just rich, caramely goodness with endless possibilites: Use it in ice cream. On ice cream. Drizzled over a whipped cream-topped mug of hot chocolate. Eat it straight off the spoon. Sandwich it between two vanilla wafers. Bake it in fancy homemade candy bar squares. Drizzle it over donuts! Use it to fill a cupcake. Use it in cupcake frosting. You get the idea πŸ™‚

Now go make your own dulce de leche!

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Making your own homemade dulce de leche is as easy as (carefully) simmering a pot of water.


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, label removed


  1. Place a small washcloth or several folded paper towels in the bottom of a pot and set the cans on top.
  2. Pour water to reach ~2 inches over the can.
  3. Bring water to a simmer and cook covered for ~3 hours, checking every 30 minutes to make sure the water level doesn't evaporate below the lip of the can.
  4. Let cool, open the can, and use. Keep any leftovers refrigerated.


Yields: ~1 1/2 cups

Estimated time: 3 hours

31 comments… add one
  • Trish

    I use this method for making dulce de leche (and i always pronounce it wrong too!) but I was always taught to never never never, not ever open the tin at all until it has cooled down after the cooking. I have always been taught that opening the tin a fraction is what makes it explode. Certainly having a sealed tin, and making sure the water lever stays topped up has always worked for me.

  • “e’splosions”…:) makes me giggle. perhpas this would be a nice 4th of july recipe to add to a roundup list for next year. πŸ˜‰

  • It’s really too simple not to try isn’t it! I’d have to set a timer every 30 minutes though or I’ll forget to refill the water.

  • I’ve been wanting to do this for a while! I have a few cans of sweetened condensed milk in my pantry… might finally be time!

  • I’ve been trying to limit my dairy intake, but as Claire put it, this really is too simple not to try. It looks absolutely incredible. My husband just discovered chocolate Chinese noodle cookies, I bet this would be fabulous mixed into those.

  • Here, in Brazil, we just leave the closed can in a pressure cooker with water for about 40 minutes. Reminds me of my childhood! πŸ˜‰

  • do you use condensed milk or sweetened condensed milk? thanks

  • I’ve wanted to make homemade dulce de leche for the longest time, but have always been intimidated. This makes it look easy. Thanks for sharing!

  • Caroline Mitsuko

    Here, in Brazil, we just leave the closed can in a pressure cooker with water for about 40 minutes. Reminds me of my childhood! [2]

  • Wow I’ve never heard of making your own dulche de leche. What a great idea!

  • I’ve made this a lot and I’ve never popped the can. I always wait til it’s cooled before opening though.

  • I do this all.the.time! So good, so dangerous. πŸ™‚

  • My mom used to do this when I was little and we always ate it with pineapple.

  • OMG..this is my favorite and only method of making Dulce de Leche!

  • I think that’s how they make it in Russia (although they sell it all ready in cans as well) because it’s translated as “boiled condensed milk.” I’ve heard the crockpot method works well too. It would be pretty awesome to set it up before bed and wake up to the sweet smell of dolce de leche. Mmm, now I want some πŸ™‚

  • Whammy!

    Dool-say day letch-ay – the Y’s are much softer with a Spanish accent, but just like we say most foreign words in English, try to be semi-accurate without sounding pretentious.

  • I made dulce de leche last week for the first time using David Lebovitz version and loved it. I think I’ll keep with his version as I’m quite the fraidy (sp?) cat when it comes to this method. πŸ™‚ It looks great, though!!

  • Annie

    I never open my cans either, but I keep them covered with water and simmer them. So far no problems with explosions!

  • Make two cans
    Let cool -ish.
    Put into a graham cracker crust.
    Chill. (I do it over night) you want it nice and cold.
    Serve with cut strawberries and kiwis
    Top with a dollop of whipped cream.
    Makes a delightful crowd pleasing Carmel Pie
    Perfect for summer!

  • Just discovered your blog through a BlogHer referral, and wanted to tell you that your photography is stunning! Really lovely shots and recipes…especially love this dulce de leche one, huge fan of the stuff, it’s so addictive!

  • Madelyn

    Unbelievable. I made your Dulce le Leche buttercream frosting yesterday to put over Devil’s Food cupcakes & it was TO DIE FOR. My friends & family devoured it & my husband & I finished off the cooked Dulce le Leche in our coffee this morning. This could be dangerous…

  • Zan

    I have made this many times for “Carmel” sauce no one believes it can be this easy. Tastes great on ice cream, fruit and angle food cake.

  • Harry

    I have 2 cans, unbreached, in big deep pot completely submerged in water.. when it gets low, i boil a 2nd pot of water and once it’s boiling i pour it in. Making sure the cans stay covered all the time. oooooo! it’s time to take them off!

  • Mardi Wetmore

    My concern with cooking it in the can is what will leach out of the can and into the finished dulce de leche. The better way is to pour the condensed milk into a canning jar then close the lid. Then follow the directions as above. What’s nice about this method is that you can check to see how dark the dulce is getting as it goes. Some people like it darker and some lighter. I like mine on the darker side.

    • Katie K

      Genius! Doing this.

  • My dolce de leche, made from scratch, has turned grainy. Now that its cold it is a hard grainy rock. Help. What do I do to fix it. ..if I can

  • Lilian

    Hi there,

    may i know are we suppose to simmer it at low heat for the 3 hours? meaning, once water boils, then i lower to low heat and let simmer for 3 hours?

    please clarify. thank you dear!

    • The latter – but you’re talking about maybe a 15 minute difference in the end. Either way, it will be magical and delicious πŸ™‚

  • Judy

    During college I tried making this in my mom’s kitchen and got the e-splosion. It was years before she got the goop off the ceiling! Lately I’ve been more careful, but residual glue on the can ends up on the inside of the pan and takes ages to scrub off. I love the idea of using a canning jar, can’t wait to try that! Thanks!

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