Dulce de Leche is a deliciously sweet treat made from 1 simple, easy to find ingredient. To make this homemade dulce de leche recipe, it will cost you about $2 so you can forget about spending over $6 in specialty food stores the next time you need it! 

Photo of a scoop of Dulce de Leche in the can it was simmered in.

How many times have you come across an ingredient in a recipe that you just can’t find in your regular grocery store? For me, it’s been countless times, and dulce de leche is one of those elusive ingredients that continues to confound me. 

I often think that my grocery store has a fairly extensive selection of ethnic food but then again, I can’t find things like decent lo mein noodles or Thai chili paste, or dulce de leche.

What Is Dulce de Leche Anyway?

Translated to English, dulce de leche means sweetened milk. In Latin American markets, it’s as common as peanut butter is in any traditional grocery store in the U.S. 

Photo of a stack of Butter Cookies with Dulce de Leche Filling. The cookies are dipped in dark chocolate.

It’s deeper, richer, and thicker in consistency than caramel and it is fantastic mixed into things like frosting and brownies.

The first time I needed dulce de leche for a recipe, I foolishly spent over $10 on a jar from a specialty food store.

Well, never again. Never. Ever. 

Because I have found the secret to this elusive ingredient: a $2 can of sweetened condensed milk. Yup, that’s all you’ll need! 

Photo of a scoop of Dulce de Leche in the can it was simmered in.

How to Make Dulce de Leche

STEP 1: Prick a tiny hole in the top of the can. This is a must in order to prevent the can from exploding as you cook it.

STEP 2: Place the can in a small saucepan and fill the pan with enough water to co

STEP 3: Boil the heck out of the can. Seriously, you’ll need about 3 ½ hours and you’ll need to add more water to the saucepan every so often.

Once you pop that can open, you will end up with simply gorgeous and over-the-top amazing dulce de leche.  I challenge you to not eat this right off the spoon!

What Can You Make with It?

Dulce de leche is much thicker than caramel so rather than drizzling it over things, you’ll can spoon it over ice cream or as a dip for apples or pretzels.

It works so great as a filling in cupcakes and cookies (or these pretzel Linzer cookies!), wrapped up inside some cinnamon rolls, or swirled into hot chocolate or a latte.

You can spoon it into little mason jars and tie them up with pretty ribbon or twine for Christmas treat packages (it does need to be refrigerated though!).

I’m sure you guys could come up with a 100 more uses aside from eating straight off a spoon!

Photo of a scoop of Dulce de Leche in the can it was simmered in.

Homemade Dulce de Leche Recipe

Yield: about 1 ½ cups
Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Dulce de leche is a smooth and creamy dessert treat that is similar to caramel but is thicker and richer in flavor. It's made with sweetened condensed milk and can be used in SO many ways: spooned onto ice cream, mixed into brownie batter, filled in between sandwich cookies, made into frosting, and the list goes on.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. If the can has a pull tab, lift the tab very carefully and slowly, just until the seal of the can pops with a tiny hole - you don't want to open the can more than this much.  If your can doesn't have a pull tab, pop the seal with a tiny pinch of a can opener.
  2. Place the can in a medium stainless steel sauce pot (do not use non-stick or enamel-coated) and pour water about ¾ the way up the can.
  3. Bring water to a simmer over medium-low to medium heat and simmer for 3 to 3 ½ hours, replenishing the water level every 30 minutes or so.  Don't worry if the milk bubbles out of the can - only a few tablespoons will be lost.
  4. Remove the can from the water and allow the can to cool completely. Open the can and stir the dulce de leche to achieve a consistent thickness. Either use immediately or store the dulce de leche to an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes

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