Homemade Dulce de Leche

By • March 31, 2014 37 Comments

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Author Notes: Caution: before you proceed with this recipe, understand that dulce de leche is dangerously addictive. It's perfectly sweet and rich -- without being too sweet or too rich. Its name also translates to "milk jam," so it is perfectly acceptable to spread thickly on buttered toast, topped with a sprinkle of sea salt.
For a vegan variation, replace the milk with coconut milk. This can also be made with goats milk for an added tang, but then you're technically making cajeta.
This recipe was inspired by the versions by Deb Perelman and Alton Brown, then adapted.
Catherine Lamb

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Mix the first four ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat.
  2. Stir in the baking soda, then put the mixture back on the stove over low heat. You want the mixture to bubble along the edges, but not to boil over.
  3. Let the mixture cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The color will begin to sneak from white to tan after an hour or so, then will darken rapidly. Keep a close eye on it now, stirring constantly. As the mixture darkens it will become thicker, and also nuttier. After your dulce de leche reaches your desired tone of caramel color, take it off the heat and let it cool slightly
  4. If you want your dulce de leche to have a silky smooth texture, push it through a fine mesh strainer. If you don't want to go through the extra effort, it will be more than fine as is.
  5. Dulce de leche keeps, refrigerated, for up to four weeks. Eat it over ice cream, spread on toast, or right out of the jar.

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Comments (37) Questions (0)


9 months ago Mauricio Leonardo

mmm... this is delicious, but in Argentina it is not grainy, it is very smooth... in Chile it is called manjar... it can be made by boling a can of condensed milk (dont open the can) for several hours (2 or so...)


about 1 year ago Kerri

I think the can in water is fine. I have done it for years just the can in a pot of boiling water for an hour. Of course, make sure the water doesn't run out,,, but why would you walk away from the stove when you're cooking anyway, right?


about 1 year ago Gloria Baker

who would think dulce de leche will have so many comments.
Im agree with Chef Carlos.
I grow with Dukce de leche and think fudge is different dulce de leche is cooked milk with sugar and is amazing!
Nestle has a product they called Caramel and this is mkore alike to dulce de leche anyway the best dulce de leche for me is made in home!


about 1 year ago Chef Carlos

Dear Jewels - hard to believe that dulce de leche is really fudge. When I think of fudge, Mackinac Island or Maine comes to mind, not Buenos Aires


9 months ago Mauricio Leonardo

never thought of that


about 1 year ago Jewels Vern

FWIW this is called "fudge" in English. A fellow from Columbia gave me a half coconut shell full of something incredibly good but he didn't know what it was called, he only knew it was made from milk and sugar. It took me a lot of searching to discover the name. Modern Americans are so accustomed to *chocolate* fudge that we perceive plain fudge to be an exciting new flavor.

Fudge is a crystalline product, that's why it takes so long to form. The quick recipe uses marshmallow creme to jump start the crystallization process so it is not such a demanding process. Milk and honey is a time honored combination, but for some reason fudge is a quite recent invention, 1896. Some combinations might crystallize and some might not. Useful information for experimenters: https://en.wikipedia.org...


about 1 year ago Victor Leal

I use the condensed in a can/water method. After it's done I add toasted pecans or walnuts and coconut. Top a really good vanilla ice cream and you're good to go.


about 1 year ago raisingkane

It's late and I want to go to bed. Early work day tomorrow. My dulce de leche has been simmering for 2.5 hours and it looks like it could last another hour. Uh, wonder what would happen if I turn it off and go to bed and finish it in the morning? Probably not a good idea...


12 months ago weshook

I made this today, and I know that your comment was 3 months ago, but I had to go in and out of the house today and didn't want to leave this cooking while I was out so I turned it off when I left and resumed when I returned. I also was cooking down 1/2 gallon of milk instead of 1 quart so it took longer. but it eventually cooked down and is so delicious. I am looking forward to making alfajores now.


over 1 year ago Michele

I just finished making a batch and the color is much darker than the photo here. I used raw milk and I wonder if that contributed to the deeper color. It's delicious!!


over 1 year ago J. P. Higgins

I hate to say this but the color isn't as dark as I'd like to see it. But then, I spent a month in Buenos Aires last year and became addicted to La Salamandra Dulce de Leche. It's like a staple down there. They put dulce de leche in everything. So the question is - how do make the Argentinian version?


over 1 year ago JadeTree

Great success with this recipe; delicious results! Generously gave one jar away and made a friend for life. I must say that this definitely a litmus test for one's stovetop. My crummy electric burners turned out to be very difficult to regulate for a long, slow process like this one that is more delicate than a braise. It took me almost *three* hours to get to a good, caramel-colored stage (a bit darker than the pictures above) because my burners are so clumsy to calibrate. You know, too low, then boiling and frothing, then low again, aggravation. So electric stove people, get ready to know your appliance better!


over 1 year ago Elena

Which coconut milk would you use for the vegan option?


over 1 year ago Gloria Baker

I wanna say cover the t5ins with water in the pressupre cook.


over 1 year ago Gloria Baker

In a pressure cooker with wáter over the tins I cook about 1 hour, LET COOL BY a while before to open the pressure cook.
And let the tins cool before to open. And is ready!


over 1 year ago Girl in a Food Frenzy

Dangerously addictive, must be dangerously good!


over 1 year ago Cyndylee1

How long in a pressure cooker and what weight, full steam?


over 1 year ago Anna Olsen

I can't have the sugar. Can this be made with agave or with honey? Please!!! I love dulce de lecho so much, help


over 1 year ago Gloria Baker

Omy I love all dulces de leche lol and for this only make when I will make a recipe ha!
anyway I think I will make this!!


over 1 year ago Chef Carlos

Muy bien, German, how about sharing your recipe to create darker, smoother dulce de leche? I agree, it's much darker in Argentina than this version. Question #2: what do you think about Mexican Cajeta?


over 1 year ago Gloria Baker

Yes I know but for me is perfect (Im from Chile) and love Dulce de leche so much. Yes in tins is more darkness but I love this type (the most dangerous lol) Love grainy! You still live in ARgentina ? they have amazing dulce de leche and alfajores!xxxx


over 1 year ago German

Thanks. And very nice, but if I may: this is not really what Dulce de Leche should look like. It's much darker, and more velvet looking. This looks a bit grainy, right? Hope this is helpful. Living and cooking in Argentina my whole life.