Dulce de Leche Recipe

dulce de leche

The first time I had Dulce de Leche I began spooning it directly from the jar and into my mouth and before I knew it, I had made it almost all the way through the jar.
It was that good!

I scraped it off the spoon with my teeth, savoring every sticky, sugary mouthful. The jar of Dulce de Leche I was given had a picture of a goat on the label and was called Cajeta. I had developed a fondness for goat milk since I lived very near a goat dairy in upstate New York, and while perhaps not to everyone’s taste, the farmhouse tang of it I found very appealing.

Once in a while they’d invite me over for some homemade goat milk ice cream which was so delicious that any ice cream I ate with cow’s milk after that seemed bland and one-dimensional. Since I also love anything caramelized, coupled with the barnyardy taste of goat milk, I’d found heaven in this sweet-silky paste…conveniently packed in a nice glass jar from our friends south-of-the-border.

Eventually the rest of the world discovered Dulce de Leche and now there’s scores of Dulce de Leche (or is that Dulces des Leches?) on the market…although nowadays most of what’s available is made from the more public-friendly cow’s milk.

If you do come across some made from goat milk, I urge you to try it: it’s incredible!


I had always associated this delicious spread with Argentina and Mexico, but when I moved to France, I was surprised to see fromageries all across Paris with bright-orange signs announcing the presence of Confiture de Lait, Ici!”. And sure enough, between the earthenware bowls of gloppy and rich crème frâiche and mounds of sunshine-yellow beurre en baratte inside, there’s always a heaping bowl of shiny and deeply caramelized milk jam that they’re happy to scoop up for you to take home to spread on your morning baguette, which the French call le tartine.

It’s the traditional breakfast of leftover baguette from dinner the night before, toasted, then smeared with lots of butter, perhaps some nice jam, or confiture de lait (which as you can imagine, is especially popular with les enfants.) The crusty, buttery rusk of bread is dipped in your morning bowl of café au lait, a rather delightful way to start the day.

For sweetened condensed milk, the brand I like best is Longevity, which I’ve found in Asian markets in the United States. But any brand will work. Do not use evaporated milk, though, which is the same thing but without sugar.

brownies

Dulce de Leche or Confiture de Lait

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)

Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

Pour one can (400 gr/14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish. Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.

Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.

Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 to 1¼ hours. (Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).

Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using. Makes about 1 cup (250ml).

72 comments

  • This reminds me so much of growing up. In Brazil ‘doce de leite’ as we call it, has always been very popular. What a surprise to see it here in your blog.

    Always good things.

  • Hmmm, I always boil the cans, but I do make it a point to be separated from the stove by a wall for as much of the boiling time as possible! Actually I read that as long as the cans stay completely submerged, there’s very little risk.

    Have you tried making your own goat-milk cajeta? I did a few months ago and it was stellar. Let me know if you’d like the recipe. By the way, I love your addition of sea salt to the milk, I’ll have to try it.

  • Here in Argentina the Dulce de Leche is THE national sweet… there are several versions and dulce de leche icecream is great! For me the best procedure is boiling milk, sugar and sodium bicarbonate but boiling condensed milk cans is also good… always taking care of covering the cans with water. Next post I´ll send my recipe…

  • I’ve always wanted to try making dulce de leche, but that can-boiling business seemed too scary. Now with your recipe, though, I see some caramelized condensed milk in my immediate future! Thank you.

  • Hi David!
    Thanks for delivering the most comfortable and easiest way to make Dulce de Leche straight to my door (or computer…)! I can see some very yummy dessert next weekend… ;)

  • I have been reading everything – just lacking time for commenting. So in no particular order here goes;

    Among the things I love about Paris is having met you * And learned of your blog.

    Is all Cajeta made from goat’s milk? I purchased a large jar of Cajeta at the Mexican restaurant supply here in Paris, and have been slowly going through it. Yum! We put it in plain yogurt, but a pinch on a crepe, or on toast is a good idea.

    As much as I agree with some of your things to hate about Paris I don’t universally include bad coffee. You can find really good coffee, you have to search it out.

    Hope your internet/cable is back soon. Have you thought about getting a FreeBox?

  • Thank you for this excellent and easy recipe. I love this stuff madly. It’s really nice swirled into Greek yogurt. Milk with milk. And a few walnuts.

  • I like this coincidence – I just picked up my very first jar of confiture de lait at a fromagerie on Rue St Antoine when I was in Paris a few weeks ago, and ate my first few spoons this weekend! It’s totally scrummy and spreading it on bread sounds good or stirring into yogurt even better…

  • A jar of confiture du lait was the only foodstuff I brought home from Paris last month and I’ve been hoarding it. Thanks to you I can now eat the whole thing!!

  • OH MY GOD!

    This looks so damned good that I’m salivating at this school computer. How improper of me. David, that top picture is nearly pornographic it’s so good.

    Okay, I’m making some tonight. That’s it.

  • My mother used to make dulce de leche by boiling the cans. She called it “caramel pudding” and I assumed it was a white trash delicacy (canned milk? boiling tin?).

  • First of all that comment about the Diamond nose was very funny, to some of us. And if you could see my nose you would know that I don’t have first hand experience.
    Second, can’t wait to make this recipe. Not one for boiling pans, this looks easy and delicious, and cant wait to think of lots of ways to use it up.

  • One of the things I enjoyed most about a trip to Argentina a few years ago was having dulce de leche several times a day! In addition to having it on my breakfast toast, there was frequently a scoop of it served alongside flan. Sounds like overkill, but it was a brilliant idea.

  • David, how long will this last in the fridge? I am not taking in to consideration how fast i might eat it but if I wanted to give as a holiday gift…WHat do you think?

  • Omigosh. Manjar!!!! I discovered this food of the gods when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile in the early 90s. I became an addict. I would eat it straight from the container. I finally had to stop when I realized I was gaining weight.

    But my roommates kept buying it. They thought they were hiding it from me, but I could find it no matter where they put it. Behind the red wine? Please. (Yes, I had no shame. I would steal the manjar of others.)

    One of them thought he could deter me from eating his manjar by leaving me a note on top of the container. He wrote, “CF – I spit in the manjar.” Right. Like that was going to stop me in my desperate search for a hit.

  • Whoa, another walk down memory lane. Growing up, my grandfather always had Longevity sweetened condensed milk in his pantry. I remember having many cups of Lipton black tea with the sweetened condensed milk. It’s delicious! Definitely richer than plain old cream and sugar.

  • This post made me laugh out loud! I completely agree that spooning dulce de leche directly into one’s mouth is the way to go. I really enjoy your sense of humor!

  • I have spent all day at work surfing through your blog and adoring all of your recipes and getting antsy over the descriptions. This recipe, however, has made it into my oven!! (40 minutes left, woo!)
    Teach me your ways, oh cooking guru.

  • Okay, this is so unfair. I had just convinced myself that the can of Nestles Dulce de Leche that I bought would be fine as my intro to the caramelized treat. Now you post an easy homemade version! Curse you, you clever creative person.

    Okay, I’ll still try my can. But next week after I’ve worked off the pounds, I’ll make yours as well. The addition of salt makes me drool in anticipation…

  • I just wanted to share that recently I used cajeta to make a Tres Leches cake. I told my Argentine friend about my discovery and she looked horrified. She told me to never say that word to an Argentinian — evidently it is quite obscene! I didn’t have the nerve to ask her to translate (she’s 85!).
    I am looking for ice cream recipes that use goat’s milk. Hopefully there’s one here on your site.

  • hey

    i made the dulche de leche, and it’s brilliant, but i didn’t really know what to do with all of it, so i made ice-cream of it (i’m in an ice-cream period)

    so, i’ll post the recipe, for those who are interested, it’s still at an early stage, i was just messing and improvising in the kitchen, but it might be a good start

    it might need more dulche de leche compared to the milk, but i quite lik it as it is now: extremly soft and subtle

    i used goat milk, which i had lying around in my fridge (i was going to make cheese, once..) i thought of what you said about the dulche made of goat milk, so i figured, it got to be a great combo

    i also used brown sugar (the standard brown sugar, not cassonade graffae) because the flavor just had to go well with caramel

    some of you probably like it sweeter, or with a more caramel flavour, only i’m not sure what the risks are of losing the goat milk flavour, if you push up the sugar or caramel level

    anyway, this is what i did yesterday:

    the quantity is in the metric system

    400 grams of dulce de leche
    75 grams of brown sugar
    1/2 liter of goat milk
    some milkpowder
    3 eating spoons of vodka for the texture

    didn’t heat it up, just mixed it all together in a bowl and churned it in the machine
    might be easier to heat up the dulce first though, in the micro wave, its probably easier to mix then

    personaly i think it turned out great, not to sweet, no eggs, not to much sugar, so even healthier then average ice cream, and the quantity dulce versus goat milk is perfect i think

    if you can help me to improve it, please let me know

    grts

  • yes, some comment on my own recipe:

    i used too much vodka aparently, u can taste it in the ice dream (had a second tasting), only a little at the very beginning, but still, u shouldn’t, also i should have been less impatient and heated it, the sugar didn’t really blend in perfectly

    next time i’m gonna put in some little drops of pure dulce de leche in the ice cream, right before i freeze it, and find a way to get that perfect texture again, with only one spoon of vodka

    anyone an idea?

  • YUM. Joey’s recipe is much easier than the one I’ve been making today cooking over the stove for hours. I’ll have to try that one next time.

  • Catherine- it’s a vulgar term for the vulva. Hershey used the name in some Mexican-themed products for the American market in 2005 but there was a pretty strong Argentinian reaction to it. I don’t know what happened after that.

    Thanks for the recipe, I think I’ll try it store-bought first, then make my own if I find it agreeable. (Which I most certainly will- I already eat condensed milk straight from the can as it is!)

  • This is such great information! I love Dulce de Leche but never thought to make this myself. Thanks for the post!

  • I just made this today using David’s method and it looks fantastic. Left it in oven for 1.5 hours at 425 degrees

    I am making chocolate sandwich cookied with the Dulce la Leche and will post the results tomorrow!

  • Ok… I’d love to make this dulce de leche from scratch ie without the canned milk, as I have an abundance of goat’s milk from my girls. Could someone please email me the recipe? Preferrably one that gives me measurements on how much goats milk, how much sugar? How long to cook it? Many thanks!

  • Karin,
    In one of my East Indian cookbooks I remember there are directions on how to do this, wide flat pan with a fan directed on it and stir constantly. A friend’s mother visiting from Poland made this too as a filling for cookies but no added sugar – it gets sweet just from the lactose (milk sugar) naturally in the milk. So, in your place I’d either just experiment with what I just wrote or check the library for Indian cookbooks (or ask an Indian). Good luck. I’d like to try this with sheep’s milk.

  • In Mexico dulce de leche is called cajeta and it is always made of goat´s milk in Argentina and Uruguar they called it Dulce de Leche and it is made from cow´s milk, (dulces de leche in plural), the way you do cajeta or dulce de leche is to boil milk, sugar and bicarbonate for one or two hours, mmmm!!!

  • I don’t know why people associate Dulce de leche with Mexico. It’s from Argentina. Mexico has “Manjar blanco”, wich is not the same by far.

  • also, “cajeta” and “dulce de leche” is NOT the same. They look alike, but they are not the same.

    Sigh

  • Hi Mia: I often associated dulce de leche with Mexico because living in California, it was sold in the Mexican markets. But yes, you’re of course correct that it’s Argentina and I updated the post to reflect that. Thanks!

  • Hi David,

    I love your recipies and comments. I am ubable to print your recipies without all the advertisements. Could you add a print option that deletes the ads, so the size of the recipe will be redable?

    My best,

    Rose Lee

  • Dear Rose: I’ve tried adding that option but it’s virtually impossible at this point due to the software I’m using. Try cutting and pasting the recipe into a Word document, then printing it out. Thanks!

  • Hi, just wondering if 14 oz. of the milk makes 14 oz. of dulce de leche? I can never tell what reduces and what doesn’t, so if you could just clear that up, it’d be really helpful. Thanks! ~Maddie

  • I had no idea I had been making dulche de leche at home for years when I had been boiling cans of condensed milk. I do this to make the filling for banoffee pie and its so easy and delicious. A young friend ( he actually has a Michelin rosette for his signature cheesecake, no less!) gave me the hint to fold mashed banana into the boiled condensed milk, or as I should say now, the dulche de leche, fill the pie crust with this, then top with sliced bananas. It makes it lighter, less sweet, and fools you into less guilt! Well worth a try.

  • Janice, we also used to boil cans of condensed milk to make Caramel Slice. We always had to boil extra because we had to test so much of it for taste…
    Apparently, it’s dangerous because the cans can explode (not that I’ve ever had that happen to me), and I have seen a product here in Australia that is supposed to be the same as boiled condensed milk.
    Caramel slice has a biscuit crust, as you would make for cheesecake, and then you spread a thick layer of the boiled condensed milk over the top and then top that with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Set it in the fridge for a couple of hours, then slice into small squares and devour!

  • I have just made my first batch of dulce de leche, by boiling a can of condensed milk in my pressure cooker! Yum

  • Thanks for the easy and delicious recipe. Now I have a use for that can of sweetened condensed milk from last year’s holidays. I didn’t realize it was so easy to make. Pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream — it will all be so much better with a dollop of ddl on it!

  • Does anyone know what could cause the dulce de leche to come out lumpy? I did the above method and got great color and flavor but small lumps throughout !?!

  • briana: In general, if there are lumps, the dulce de leche can be beaten until smooth. If there are stubborn lumps, try blending it in a blender or food processor; it should smooth right out.

  • After having spent two months in Argentina at the beginning of this year, I definitely developed a taste for dulce de leche, however, I have to say that I much prefer dulce crema de leche (or dulce de leche con crema), which I found in Uruguay and is much thicker, richer and creamier tasting, but still with that gorgeous slightly salty caramel taste. Have you ever tried it? The brand I kept coming across was “Conaprole”, in far too little red tubs, and having returned to Australia now I just can’t find it anywhere.

    So I guess my question is not only, “have you ever tried it?”, but also, “dear god man do you know how to make it?!”

    I’ve never thought of mixing dulce de leche with plain yogurt before, but I still have three jars of it, so I’m going to try that post haste.

  • I’ve used your method many times over the last few years to make Dulce de Leche; thanks so much for posting it!

  • Thank you for posting these instructions. Growing up my mom would make this for my sisters and I but she’d cook the condensed milk in a pot of water, still in a sealed can, for hours and hours. I’ve tried making it the way my mom did but I’m so impatient I always end up opening the can way too early. 1 – 1 1/4hrs sounds so doable and especially right now that I’m making a cake for a friend, the dulce de leche is going to be the cake filling. Yum!

  • Hi! Being from Argentina I was used to simply purchase Dulce de Leche from the supermarket, but since I have been living abroad for over 4 years I welcome any dulce de leche recipe that will make me feel at home!. I did not know yours and will definitely try it.
    I usually make dulce de leche from the scratch: 3 liters of milk, 1 kilo of sugar, 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate, 1 spoon of glucose and a bit of vanilla (to taste). You simply put the milk in a pan and bring it to the boil, then add sugar, glucose and bicarbonate and let it simmer in low heat for about 3 hours (more if you like it thicker).
    Easy and yummy!

  • David,
    I have to confess that I was going to buy the dulce de leche for these brownies, but they didn’t have it in the store (surprising, given the large Latin section). So, I made the dulce last night and will do the brownies tonight. I just want to say that the method is so easy and foolproof. Whatever dulce I have left after the brownies will be getting swirled into a batch of your vanilla ice cream to serve on top of the brownies. If you don’t mind, Nutella might be involved, too.
    One embarrassing thing – my husband tasted it and pronounced it “dulce de licious.”
    Le sigh.

  • Thank you for this recipe! I made dulce de leche this morning and spread it on crepes. Amazing!

  • I made the dulce de leche last Sunday and then made the brownies with it 2 days later. Sinfully rich.

    First those cheesecake brownies, and now this! I can’t wait to see what’s next!

  • WOW! It’s so simple and yet it looks really (x100) good! Can’t wait to try this out next time. definitely different from the usual dulce de leche that uses about 4 ingredients like milk, sugar & etc! Will definitely try this out soon. Thanks!

  • Thank you very much for this recipe! At last, I was able to make dulce de leche!! :)

  • how much DDL will i end up with using a 14oz can milk?

  • … I have just come back from Argentina with plans to cook as many Argentinian dishes as I can and I also needed to make something with dulce de leche in for a barbecue we are going to this weekend…. and now I have a recipe! Thank you – I have to say i was terrified at the thought of having to boil a tin!

  • Taste report – it was gorgeous! I gave it to an Argentinean friend who pronounced it delicious and couldn’t believe that it had been made so easily. THANK YOU!

  • David,

    I have a stove top steamer that I use for making flan etc. It would be more convenient for me than using the oven. Is it the same method as putting water in the oven?

    If you think I can use the steamer, would the time be the same? For my flan, I use about 45 mins but here it looks like around 1 hour.

    Thanks,
    Charlotte

  • Charlotte: I’ve not prepared the recipe that way, but if you do, please let me know if it turned out and if it was successful.

  • Dulce de Leche in Argentina. It’s very popular in Mexico too. You can find it in almost all countries of LatinAmerica. Here in Venezuela we call Arequipe as in Colombia, and you can buy it in all supermarket and grocery stores. In Venezuela one of the most common uses is to fill birthday cakes, it’s delicious!.

  • I’m not sure it was such a good idea to have found this recipe; it is so ridiculously easy (and inexpensive) to make that there is no reason not to have it on hand all the time. Until I found this recipe I rationed out small portions of store-bought dulce de leche because I could only find it at approx. US $8 per itsey bitsey jar here in Switzerland.

    I’m going to come clean and let the world in on my favorite nighttime snack: pecans (which I import from the US and roast to crispen them up) smeared with Nutella and/or dulce de leche. I call them European Turtles for American Ex-Pats!

  • Hi David

    Thank you very much for sharing your recipe with us. It looks nice and thick, just like I need it for my recipe.
    Just a couple of quick questions if you won’t mind please:
    I want to make alfajores, which are latinoamerican cookies, and I make lots to give away, so I need lots of dulce de leche!
    Could I cook 2 cans in the oven in the pie plate or should I separate them in two pie plates and cook them separately, one on the top shelf and the other below. Should I increase the time if cooking in one plate?
    The other question I would like to ask you is; when I have made the dulce boiling the can, which I was always scared of; after one of two days of being made, it would “sugar up”, it wasn’t smooth anymore, you could taste little sugar particles when you ate it. I know you are a fan of dulce de leche and it probably doesn’t last long in your refrigerator but have you ever encountered this problem?
    Thanks very much David and greetings from L’Anglaterre!

    Best wishes,
    Lizzie

  • If you do cook two cans at once, using this method, they’ll take longer to cook for certain but I’ve not doubled the recipe so can’t advise. I also don’t boil the entire cans as some people do, because of the danger.

  • I love the oven / water bath method for dulce de leche… comes out smooth and keeps well in refrig; I’m obsessed with perfecting the dulce de leche brownie recipe because they are soooo good… mine were too over done around the edges the first time so I need to adjust the cooking time a tad

  • I can get Goat’s Milk Cajeta at Mexican Groceries. Very cute picture of goat on the bottle.

  • Made this today and it is delicious! I am Korean but grew up in Argentina and then moved to the states when I was 6. I had been searching for a recipe to make at home…the stuff in the can that they sell at the store doesn’t do it justice. I had tried a recipe last year that had me mixing the milk for over 5 hours. Luckily, my parents went back to Argentina to visit relatives and brought back some real dulce de leche. It is now all gone and I was trying to get myself “excited” about stirring that milk for a few hours again. THEN, I found your recipe! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Can’t wait to have it with a fresh baguette!

  • When I lived in Aix-en-Provence, I had the chance to visit some friends up in Douvaine, right near Geneva in Haute-Savoie and that was my first official exposure to the blissful sugary coma of experiencing Confiture du lait! I sort of assumed I’d never have anything like it back in the States. . . so I am very excited to try making it myself this weekend!! Thanks for posting the recipe! I’m so glad it has salt in it! In paris this summer, I fell deeply madly into obsession with salted caramel. I wonder if the Sel de Guerrigues (my spelling might be awful) that the French seem so apt to put into caramel is easily substitutable. . . do you think any sea salt will really do?

  • Yes, any sea salt will do. Enjoy the recipe!

  • I’m glad I found this! My fiance, who is from Venezuela, loves this recipe and I’m delighted that it’s so easy. Came out perfect the first time I tried it. I’m making more today so we can have it on his birthday icecream and, uh, probably everything else we can think to slather it on. Thank you for posting!

  • Oh my, oh my…gorgeous stuff! I have now made 2 batches in 3 weeks, first one doubled, 2nd one tripled…okay, I have shared though I eye …(ha, even with my aging cat who just laps it up, a spoonful a night with me!)

  • Is there any way to soften dulce de leche if you make it too thick? I don’t want to warm it and further thicken it.

    What I have worked well in alfajores, but I’d like to scoop the (too stiff) remainder up and jar it.

    Thanks for your suggestions!

  • Ashley: You can thin it with a little bit of milk or cream, until it’s the consistency you’d like it to be.

  • cajeta is not a bad bad word, its something like shit, its used like this, if something or somebody suffers and impact or falls, we say “se hizo mierda” (it made shit), but to not say that word, some people says “se hizo cajeta”, amore inocent option is “se hizo bolsa” bolsa means that plastic bag from the supermarket.

  • David,

    This sound delicious and I will be making this absolutely tonight, but what I wanted to know is what you do with it besides spread it on your toast. I would be absolutely grateful to know some of the uses of this besides just eating it out of the jar.

    Thank you.

  • Svetlana: Here in Argentina we use Dulce de Leche in almost everything: cakes, cookies, brownies, bonbons or candies, in crepes or hotcakes, etc. your imagination is the limit!

    Also we have 2 types of it, one is the Dulce de Leche “repostero” that have a more pasty and sweeter, and is used for cakes and chocolates, and the other is Dulce de leche “estilo colonial” that is a bit more delicate but not good for cakes and those stuff.

    David good recipe! my grandma used to do it with the same recipe (xD now she just buy from the supermarket)

    (sorry for my awful English, I’m using Google’s translator for some words xD! jaja)