Thursday, May 29, 2014

Homemade : Dulce de Leche (two ways)

Today, I'm sharing on how to make Homemade Dulce de Leche, two ways. Most of you would already know how Dulce de Leche is made, and would have probably made them before. I have not seen Dulce de Leche being sold anywhere here in the area where I live, maybe I could probably get it from Cold Storage or The Grocer, but since I'm not going to these places anytime soon, and not even sure if I can find it, I decided to make them instead.

Dulce de Leche is a sauce or syrup, similar in taste to caramel, but is made by heating sweetened condensed milk until it turns gloriously brown, the colour of caramel. It is a common ingredient used in South American countries. The Mexican use goat's milk to make Dulce de Leche, and one of these days, I would try to get some, just to compare on the difference in taste.

There are various ways of making Dulce de Leche. The most common method is to use a can of condensed milk and boil it for about 2 hours, fully submerged in boiling water at all times. I have read that there is a risk in using this method, due to the heat, the can may bulge, and there is a danger of it exploding. (Imagine the clean-up that you have to do, if that happens!) Some suggests to make two tiny holes (at opposites sides of each other) at the top of the can, then place it in a pot of water, upright position, filling the pot with hot water to about 1" from the top of the can, letting it boil for 2 hours. Which method should I use? Neither, as I further read that it is not a good idea to even use the can method as the cans are not meant to be used in high temperature conditions, since they are not manufactured for such use, and it would not be recommended for health reasons. Both methods have been used by many, so it is up to your personal preference and judgement. 

I'm sharing two ways of making Dulce de Leche, the first one by making it all from scratch, without any condensed milk, but with regular full cream milk. The second is by using canned condensed milk. Let us start with the first method first :

The first method :

  1. You will need four ingredients ; a liter of full cream milk, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 vanilla pod.  Dissolve the baking soda in 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl, and keep aside.
  2. Combine the milk and sugar in a heavy pot, with tall sides. 
  3. Split the vanilla beans, scrape the seeds into the milk mixture along with the pods.
  4. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar has fully dissolved.
  5. Remove the pot from heat, add in the baking soda and water solution, stirring vigorously. Mixture will bubble up immediately. Stir until the mixture settles down. Return the pot to the heat and bring to a brisk simmer. 
  6. Simmer for an hour, or until it turns golden brown, you need not stir it all the time. I stirred the mixture now and then, about 15-20 minutes in between or so.
  7. When the mixture has turned a dark golden brown, check on it frequently. Decide how thick or dense you want your Dulce de Leche to be. Let it simmer longer for a thicker set. 
  8. Remove from heat, strain into a glass container or jar, let cool, seal and store in refrigerator.

From 1 liter of milk, the yield is only about 1 cup of Dulce de Leche.

I made mine into a pourable sauce consistency, the colour is really dark, and it took me about 1 hour 40 minutes for the whole process. Taste is really good, with sort of like a "butterscotch flavour".

The second method :

  1. You will need : 1 can of condensed milk, some sea salt. Open up the can of condensed milk and pour it into a 8" baking dish (I used a Pyrex dish). Sprinkle with some sea salt over the top.
  2. Cover the dish with a piece of large foil, tucking in the ends snugly. Place the dish in a roasting tray, filling it with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake in the oven at 425F (220C) for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, checking the roasting tray a few times, and adding more hot water if necessary. (I baked mine for 1-1/2 hours, and adding on the hot water, once).
  3. Once the colour of the milk has become the colour of dark butterscotch, remove it from the oven. Remove the foil and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour in an air-tight jar, and store in refrigerator.

Gloriously creamy and thick, since condensed milk is used. 

My notes and comparison :
Taste :
Method One 
Between these two methods, I prefer the first method. Making the Dulce de Leche from scratch using full cream milk and sugar, simmering it to the point until it takes on the colour of dark caramel, makes it tastes so similar to a butterscotch flavour. I made mine into a pouring consistency, it is not as creamy, and  as rich as when using the canned condensed milk, but the taste makes up for it, and it is not as sweet as the condensed milk version. This is especially good drizzled over pancakes and crepes. For a thicker set to spread over bread and toasts, simmer it longer until it reached your desired thickness.
Method Two
Using the canned condensed milk, the texture is very creamy and thick, as condensed milk is already creamy and thick! Tastewise, it is extremely sweet. This would be great for baking and making ice creams, and I have been enjoying some of it in my morning coffee.

Texture :
Method One
You've got to keep track of the consistency you want, once it has reached the colour of deep golden brown. To make it really thick, more cooking time is needed with constant monitoring.
Method Two
The advantage of using canned condensed milk is you do not have to actually keep close track of the creamy consistency, as it is already thick to begin with.

Ease of Making :
Method One
Even though the mixture is left to simmer without the need for constant stirring, it makes clean up a little messier, but bearable! Easy to do, but need monitoring towards the end to keep track of the colour and thickness you want.
Method Two
Really easy method. Just leave it in the oven without disturbing it at all. The only work is, to check on the water level in the roasting pan at halftime and add more if necessary. This is definitely the easier method between these two.

For a pouring consistency, I would go with the first method. And for a thicker and creamier one, definitely the second method. It all depends what you are using the Dulce de Leche for. I'm sure you'll find something to use it for, with either methods of making. 

Remarks - Recipe Source :
The above recipes was sourced from various websites in the internet. Most of them have used the same amount of ingredients and the same method of preparation. I'm listing two of the sources here for reference
The Kitchn (making Dulce de Leche from full cream milk)
David Lebovitz (making Dulce de Leche using canned condensed milk, also can be found in "The Perfect Scoop" pg 171)


I am linking this post to Little Thumbs Up event, ingredient for this month is Milk, organised by Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, Doreen of My Favourite D.I.Y., hosted by Tze of Awayofmind Bakery House.


  1. I adore dulce de leche lol
    Is one of favorites and we always make.
    Times ago I sharing recipe with a site and when I used dulce de leche he said he cannot accept the recipe because I used a dulce de leche tine!
    I never send other again.
    Happens dear I grow with dulce de leche (here is so important)
    When I was a child My birthsday's cake was filling with it.!
    and my mom make alfajores of course!!
    And I have a label called Dulce de Leche!
    I love your secon recipe I never made at oven I will try this because yesterday I made creoes and at night the men said and don´t have dulce de leche??
    and I haven´t
    Thanks for this recipe Joiyce.
    I will add my bread to your Cook your books!

  2. your dulce de leche look georgeous Joyce!

  3. How beautiful :) you're so patient in the kitchen, your kids and hubby must love all the good stuff you make! How do you find time to cook and bake desserts? It's a challenge for me with a toddler to keep up with the garden, housework and everything else! I love cooking and I'd like to do more baking, but mostly I bake a lot during the holidays. Just like you I like to make things from scratch. Have a great week!

  4. Hi Joyce,

    I'm afraid of using the method of boiling the whole can of condensed milk for hours. Imagine the pressure that is building up inside the can... yucks!

    I can see your DDL made with method is dark and more syrupy. The one with condensed milk is too thick and lack of colour... Thanks for your info. Now, I know which method to use if I have to make DDL!


  5. Hi Joyce! I have heard of Dulce de Leche but have never tasted it! So from your own research and development (hee..hee...) I think I would go for method 1. Worth trying one of these days.

  6. Hi Joyce, I love DDL! I always used the boiling whole can method, next time will try out your methods :D.

  7. Wow, lots of work involved where, almost like making kaya:D I would try the first method too if I have more free time in my hands:D Thanks for sharing your R&D which benefited us bloggers:P

  8. Ooooo I have to say the second method sounds really easy! Good for lazy ppl like me :P

  9. seems complicated Joyce...but thanks for the detailed info.. meantime will await for yr DDL products:))

  10. these are keeper for sure since i can't get DDL in Beijing. the last time i bought DDL from Uruguay, i ended up using it once, and then throwing the entire can away as it expired by the time i wanted to next use it.. sigh... human... we need it, we don't have.. we don't wanna use it, it's in abundance

  11. Second method sounds easy for me, i do DDL through pressure cooker, but oven method seems prefect for me to give a try soon.

  12. Joyce (and everybody) I yesterday I made the oven recipe and was delicious and amazing love the color and was thick and delicious.
    Love this recipe.we ate a lot with a teaspoon lol hope the next time I can put in a jar:)

    1. Hi Gloria,
      Glad to know that the oven method works out great for you. Haha! You have to make more for your jar! :)

  13. never had the real dulce de leche but I know a method where you boil the condensed milk , submerged in water for 3 hours. THanks for the new methods.

  14. Wow..this looks really yum! Aiming to try one of these days.

  15. hi Joyce, thks for sharing
    all along the only method I know is only to boil canned condensed milk for 4 hours
    I did once and I was not feeling peaceful for that 4 hours - fear of explosion in my kitchen! LOL
    will try these 2 methods ':)