Dulce de Leche with Condensed Milk (Easy Recipe)

Learn how to make dulce de leche at home using two ingredients: boiling water and cans of condensed milk! It’s an easy and hands-off process that transforms condensed milk into a sweet and rich caramel-like sauce to drizzle over ice cream, cakes, and much more.

Cans on condensed milk on counter.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make dulce de leche at home? It’s incredibly easy! All you need are cans of sweetened condensed milk and boiling water.

Dulce de leche is a popular caramel-like sauce in Latin America but isn’t always easy to find in the United States. Luckily, making it yourself only requires 2 ingredients and a few hours of your time.

Sometimes known as Mexican caramel, dulce de leche with condensed milk will remind you of traditional caramel sauce but with a milder sweetness and a rich, milky consistency. It’s much simpler to make than caramel, too. All you need to do is boil the cans of condensed milk in a pot of water for several hours, and voila! Homemade dulce de leche that lasts for months.

This thick, creamy, and silky smooth sauce is a must-have for your Latin and Spanish desserts. Use it as a dip for churros, drizzle it over ice cream, or layer it in a cake or sandwich cookies!

What is dulce de leche?

Also known as caramelized milk, dulce de leche (pronounced dulse-eh deh lech-ay) is a thick, butterscotch-like sauce that’s popular throughout Latin America. It has a very creamy and subtly sweet flavor, which makes it perfect for drizzling over cakes, ice cream, brownies, waffles, and more sweet treats. 

Dulce de leche is traditionally made by heating sugar and milk together until they turn into a sticky, caramelized, sweet, and rich sauce. However, boiling cans of sweetened condensed in a pot of water is my preferred method because it’s practically foolproof.

Can of dulce de leche with lid removed.

Is dulce de leche the same as caramel?

They’re very similar in consistency and color, but dulce de leche and caramel aren’t quite the same. Dulce de leche is creamier, as it’s made by boiling condensed milk until it turns into a sweet and rich brown sauce. 

Caramel is much sweeter than dulce de leche. It’s made by heating sugar, butter, and cream together until they become a sticky and sweet syrup.

Ingredients

There are only two ingredients needed to make dulce de leche from scratch:

  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Water

The condensed milk is boiled directly in the cans over several hours until it caramelizes. I made this recipe with 3 cans but you can use as many as you need or that fit in your pot!

How to make dulce de leche with condensed milk

Remove the labels and glue from the cans of sweetened condensed milk, then place them in a large pot.

Add enough water to cover the cans by 2 inches. Bring the water to a low boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer.

Cover the pot and allow the water* to simmer on the lowest heat for 3 ½ hours. 

*Remember: The cans need to be submerged at all times! Keep adding more water as needed during the cooking process. Covering the pot helps to reduce evaporation.

Once the time is up, take the pot off of the heat but keep the cans in the water. Let the water and cans come down to room temperature before carefully opening them and using the dulce de leche.

Tips and tricks

  • The cans need to be submerged in water at all times. Check on them every 30 minutes or so and keep adding more water as needed.
  • It’s very dangerous if the cans aren’t fully covered in water because this makes them more susceptible to tearing or exploding.
  • I like to keep a lid on the pot as the water is boiling to help cut back on evaporation, thus preventing me from adding more water again and again.
  • Do not open the cans if they’re still hot. This can cause the dulce de leche to sputter and spray, which can potentially burn your skin.
  • If you’d like a lighter dulce de leche (like the top spoon below), you can reduce the cook time to 2 1/2 hours.
Spoons of dulce de leche on tray.

Serving suggestions

While homemade dulce de leche is delicious straight from the can, you can drizzle it over top or spread it in between the layers of all kinds of sweet treats to upgrade their flavors. Try it with any of these ideas and dessert recipes:

Dulce de leche will also pair well with plenty of these Spanish Desserts or Cinco De Mayo Desserts.

Storing

Once they’re cool, you can store the cans of boiled condensed milk in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or in the freezer for about 6 months.

Opened cans will only last for about 1 week in the fridge. To retain freshness, transfer the sauce from the opened cans to an airtight container or sealed mason jar.

​​​​Did you make dulce de leche from scratch?

If you tried this dulce de leche recipe, I would love to hear about your experience! So, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

For more great Platings and Pairings recipes, be sure to follow me on  Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Facebook.

PS – Looking for more ways to use condensed milk? Check out these 35+ Condensed Milk Recipes!

Spoonful taken out of can of dulce de leche made with condensed milk.

Dulce de Leche (with Condensed Milk)

Learn how to make dulce de leche at home using two ingredients: boiling water and cans of condensed milk! It’s an easy and hands-off process that transforms condensed milk into a sweet and rich caramel-like sauce to drizzle over ice cream, cakes, and much more.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 18 people

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Remove the label from your cans and remove as much of the glue as possible.
  • Place the cans in a large pot and add enough water to the pot to cover the cans by 2-inches.
  • Bring the water to a low boil over medium-high heat. Then, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and let simmer for 3 1/2 hours. Important, make sure the cans are fully submerged at all times, adding additional water if needed during the cooking process. I like to cover my pot to cut back on the evaporation.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and leave the cans in the water. Let the water in the pot and the cans come to room temperature. Careful: Opening the cans while still hot can cause sputtering and burns.
  • Store the cans in the refrigerator. Unopened cans will last up to three months. Once opened, the dulce de leche will last about one week in the fridge.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

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Nutrition

Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 84mg | Potassium: 245mg | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 176IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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