Dulce de Leche Recipe

Dulce de Leche by Cakewalker

Miraculous is a word to describe the transformation of three simple ingredients into divine syrup. It is science, really, but what happens when molecules merge leads to a product with seemingly endless uses, and a flavor adored across the globe.

Dulce de leche is a sauce-like condiment, akin to caramel, which can be a cake filling, a dessert topping, flavor enhancer, sweetener, or just about anything you can think of. One of the easiest and most popular ways to make it is by cooking an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk submerged in a pot of slow boiling water. This was the first method I used to make the tasty concoction. While I never encountered any exploding cans, the danger of this occurring is highly possible.

Beginning cooking stages by Cakewalker

Beginning cook stages: starting milk mixture (top). After about 20 minutes a light tan hue appears (middle). By 30 minutes, the liquid looks more like a latte (bottom).

Ending cooking phase by Cakewalker

End stages: Near 40 minutes, the color darkens (top). Closer to an hour, it has thickened and the simmering is a bit more assertive (middle). At one hour, it takes on a deep caramel color (bottom).


























Today we’re getting back to basics by making this remarkable product from scratch. Cooked on the stovetop, the time honored method yields a milk caramel which I think has superior flavor to that of the can version. You’ll see there are options to skew flavors if you like. So let’s prepare to take three humble ingredients and turn them into one sensational taste treat. Are you ready?


Get special cooking tips and watch the process unfold in this quick video!


Jar of Dulce de Leche by Cakewalker

Dulce de Leche Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: Approximately one cup

Dulce de Leche Recipe

Smooth, silky and completely sublime, this dulce de leche recipe transforms common kitchen ingredients into liquid gold.


  • 1 quart whole cow’s milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda


  • In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan with tall sides, add the milk, sugar and baking soda (and optional flavor ingredients or substitutions if using). Stirring frequently, cook over medium heat until the milk mixture becomes a glossy caramel color, about 1 hour. The dulce de leche will have reduced to about a cup, maybe slightly more. Transfer to a heatproof container, cool, and use. Store sealed in the refrigerator.
  • Optional flavor ingredients and substitutions
    1.) Add one or all of the following three ingredients at the beginning:
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, or the seeds scraped from half a vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2.) Substitute a full measure of goat’s milk, or part goat’s milk and part cow’s milk combined to make a quart (this concoction is typically known as a Mexican cajeta)


Within about 10 minutes, as the mixture heats, it will foam up considerably. To reduce the possibility of a boil over, turn down the heat to low (or completely off) for a few moments until the foam subsides, then slowly return the heat to medium. Resist the temptation to stir down the foam, as the added agitation may hasten a boil over. The photos depicted herein show a product cooked to a deep caramel hue, about one hour and ten minutes. This was my intent for the final cooled product will be quite thick as needed for a specific use. In general, these types of mixtures thicken as they cool—typically the longer they cook, the thicker they’ll be at room temperature. However, the one hour cook time is a good benchmark for a classic dulce de leche viscosity. In this regard, you’ll now it’s ready when the mixture coats the back of a spoon, and leaves a wake when you draw your finger across the spoon. I won’t tell if you lick your finger.



  1. Brooks! We have similar stoves, similar granite, the same spoon rest, and a shared love of dulce de leche. Twinsies!! Speaking of spoons, hand over the wooden spoon & the pan full of that gorgeous dulce de leche and no one will get hurt. (just kidding; sort of)

  2. I make this using goat milk and we call it cajeta; just a bit different taste but either way is amazing.

    I’m so with you on the can business; Besides I want a fresh product not a caramelized canned one! 🙂

  3. Lick my finger? I am more concerned that I will have third degree burns from licking the saucepan!!!

    Great tips in your video, too.

  4. That’s the real deal! I’m guilty of boiling a can. You’re my inspiration today!!

  5. I’ve always been too chicken to boil the can of sweetened condensed milk. I’d much rather start from scratch…and you’ve provided the perfect tutorial! I cannot wait to give this a try and incorporate my homemade dulce de leche into a wonderful dessert! Have a terrific holiday, Brooks!

    • Brooks Walker says

      Many thanks, Liz. I just know you’re going to whip fabulous treats with this milk caramel!

  6. I love this stuff! And I’ve never made it from scratch — just the can method. Definitely need to try this — it’s simple! And I believe you when you say it’s better than the can method.

    • Brooks Walker says

      What I like about making this from scratch is, you can skew the flavor, and have full knowledge of what ingredients went into the making of it. Please give it a try, John, and thanks for stopping by!

  7. myriam young says

    Hi, I love caramel-like sauces. How to make a coconut flavoured dulce de leche recipe ?
    Substitute with coconut milk and palm sugar? Direct exchange with cow’s milk and gran. sugar?

    Thanks v. much for sharing


    • Brooks Walker says

      Hello Myriam, I’ve not made a coconut flavored one before so I can’t say how my recipe would perform with the swap outs you mention. However, you can make a coconut version―and there are several recipe options on the internet. Just look them up, compare the measurements and methods, and then choose accordingly. I hope this helps. Thank you for asking, and best wishes!

  8. Brooks, I have never made dulce de leche because I’ve only seen the in-the-can method which did not appeal to me for a number of reasons. This is something I’m going to try soon!

    • Brooks Walker says

      I think you’ll like the clean results you get from scratch, Jean. You have so much more control over the depth of caramelization, and the final flavor. Best wishes!

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