Literally translated as “sweet/candy made of milk,” Dulce de Leche is an addictively delicious, toffee-flavored type of caramel sauce made from just one ingredient: sweetened condensed milk. If you, like me, have been wanting to make Banoffee Pie but haven’t been able to get your hands on this special ingredient, your wait is over.
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What is Dulce de Leche
Dulce de Leche (pronounced “dool-say day lay-chay”) is a caramelized confection made from sweetened milk. Originally from Latin America, this delectable spread has become wildly popular in Europe, America, and even India.
It also goes by the names “milk jam” or “caramelized milk” in the UK, confiture de lait in French, as well as manjar (“delicacy”) or ariquipe in other Spanish-speaking countries. If you make dulce de leche with goat’s milk, it’s known as cajeta.
Now dulce de leche is not easily available in most Indian cities but can be found online. So one of the ways is to make it yourself. This recipe will show you how.
I often make my own homemade dulce de leche. The first time I made it, I was simply bowled by the confection that dulce de leche is – thick, luscious, caramelized condensed milk with a toffee taste. It was just wow.
The toffee taste is one of the special characteristics of dulce de leche and can make you an addict if you have a sweeth tooth.
Methods To Make Dulce de Leche
- Slow Cooking Sweetened Milk – This method takes hours and hours on end with frequent stirrings in a pan on a stovetop. This is the traditional method, but unless you have plenty of time on hand, avoid it.
- Pressure Cooker or Pot – In this method, cans of sweetened condensed milk are cooked in a pan or pressure cooker with water. This one is an easy method, but there are chances of the can bursting. Why take the risk of such a mess?
- Oven Method – This is my favorite method to make dulce de leche. It won’t need much babysitting like the other options. Simply pour sweetened condensed milk in a pan nestled inside another pan with hot water. Bake for an hour or two hours. The hardest part is getting the pan out of the oven to check the condensed milk without spilling the hot water.
Note that dulce de leche made with sweetened condensed milk will be more sweeter than the one made using the traditional method with sweetened milk.
Aside from being addictively delicious (seriously, I’ve been putting this stuff on everything from my morning toast to ice cream, stirring it into Coffee and slathering it on Waffles and Pancakes, plus making my favorite: banoffee pie), this recipe is:
- Safe & Easy. Open a can, pour the contents into a pan, then bake in a bain marie. It’s so simple!
- Mess-Free. There’s only 1 pan to clean.
- Made With Just 1 Ingredient – ONE! And that is sweetened condensed milk. I have used a local brand but you can use any brand of sweetened condensed milk.
The oven method is adapted from David Lebovitz’s website.
How To Make Dulce De Leche
1. In a oven-safe, high heat-proof, ceramic pie pan pour condensed milk from 1 can (400 grams or 14 ounces).
Using a small silicone spatula scrape the sides and bottom of the can and add all of the condensed milk to the pan.
2. Seal the pan tightly with a tin foil or aluminium foil.
Seal properly and do not leave any surface of the condensed milk exposed – this will cause the oven heat to come in direct contact with the condensed milk, that might dry it out and blacken or char it.
3. Place this pan in a larger pan. A roasting pan can also be used. Preheat oven at 220° C/430° F for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Heat water till it starts boiling in a pan over the stovetop or use an electric kettle to boil water.
5. Carefully pour the hot water in the baking pan or roasting tray till it reaches halfway up the side of the pie pan.
Note that the amount of water to be added will depend on the size of the pans used.
Bake Dulce De Leche
6. Using oven mitts (oven gloves) carefully place both the pans in the oven. Bake at 220° C/430° F for an hour or two hours.
7. For a light caramelization of the condensed milk, you can bake for an hour. For a deeper caramelization, bake for two or for more than two hours.
Check and taste after an hour to see how you like it. Remove the pans carefully using oven mittens.
8. If you need more caramelization, then continue to bake for more 30 minutes to 1 hour, or more.
You can also add a pinch of salt (optional) in the dulce de leche after it is done. Mix well and use in desserts or sweets.
9. As you can see, it will continue to deepen in color as it bakes for more time. I baked for a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes.
10. Keep in mind that the baking time will vary depending on the temperature in the oven. So do check after 1 hour as checking often is difficult.
If the caramelization is less, then continue to bake for more 30 minutes to 1 hour or more. You can also check after 2 hours.
11. Dulce de leche stays well at room temperature for a few days. It will keep in a lidded jar for a month in the fridge.
If you are planning to use dulce de leche within a day, then you might as well keep it at room temperature.
Note that if you keep it in the fridge, the color lightens and the consistency becomes more fluid.
If you cook it for too long, it will become very thick because too much moisture will evaporate. If this happens, simply blitz with about a few teaspoons of cream until it is the proper consistency.
Yes, it will act like a thick caramel sauce and become thicker and tighter as it cools.
Pretty much anything you want! Swirl it into brownies, use it to top pancakes, waffles, or crepes, add it to your morning coffee, use it as a dip for fruits, pour it over ice cream, you name it!
If you come up with a spectacular idea for how to use this liquid gold, make sure to let me know in the comments so I can cheer you on (and try your brilliant idea!). 🙂
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Dulce de Leche Recipe
- 1 ceramic pie dish or ceramic pie pan
- 1 baking pan or roasting pan
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk – 400 grams or 14 ounces can
- 3 cups hot water or as required
- In an oven-safe and heat-proof ceramic pie pan pour condensed milk from 1 can of 400 grams or 14 ounces. Using a small silicone spatula scrape the sides and bottom of the can and add all of the condensed milk into the pan.
- Seal the pan tightly with a tin foil or aluminium foil.
- Place this pan in a larger pan and set aside. Preheat oven at 220° C or 430° F for 10 to 15 minutes.Note that a roasting tray can also be used.
- In a saucepan or a pan, heat water on a stovetop. You could also use an electric kettle to boil water.
- Heat water till it starts boiling.
- Carefully pour the hot water in the baking pan or roasting tray till it reaches half of the pie pan. Note that the amount of water to be added will depend on the size of the two pans.
Making Dulce de Leche
- Using oven mitts (oven gloves) carefully place both the pans in the oven. Bake at 220 degrees celsius for an hour or two hours or more.
- For a light caramelization of the condensed milk, you can bake for an hour. For a more deeper caramelization, bake for two or for more than two hours.
- Check after an hour of baking. Remove the pans carefully using oven mittens.
- If the caramelization is less, then continue to bake for more 30 minutes to 1 hour or more. You can even check after 2 hours. You can also add a pinch of salt (optional) in the dulce de leche after it is done. Mix well and use in desserts or sweets.
- Dulce de leche stays well at room temperature for a few days. You can also keep in the fridge in an airtight jar or container.
- It keeps well for a month in the fridge. You can also keep it in the freezer for a few months, but seal it properly.
- On keeping in the refrigerator, the color slightly lightens and the consistency becomes more fluid. So if you are planning to use dulce de leche in a day, then might as well keep it at room temperature after making it.
- To make dulce de leche recipe, you can use any good brand of sweetened condensed milk.
- You have to remember and keep a check while the condensed milk cooks in the oven. So use a timer or set the timer of your oven if you have one. You can opt to check after 1 hour or after 2 hours. If you prefer more caramelization, bake for some more time. It took 2 hours and 45 minutes in my oven to get the desired caramelization and thickness.
- Seal the pan containing the condensed milk tightly so that the oven heat does not come in direct contact with the condensed milk – this might cause the condensed milk to dry out and blacken or char the surface layer.
- Note that the approximate nutrition info is for 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of dulce de leche.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This homemade Dulce De Leche recipe from the archives first published in August 2019 has been updated and republished on February 2023.
Hi, can we substitute a smaller baking tin instead of a ceramic dish to pour the condensed milk in?
Yes, you can do that.
just a question
If I were to remove the top of the can,
Surround it with water to the halfway mark at least
Pressure cook it
Will that not be quicker and less energy consuming ?
if pressure cooked with water, it will be steaming. the water will create steam in the cooker. chances are that the condensed milk will have water floating on top as the top of the can is removed. there are methods to pressure cook where the can is not opened. the can is kept as it is in the water and immersed completely in it and then pressure cooked. i find this method risky. on the web you will find the pressure cooking method also. in the method just check for the volume of cooker used (4-litre or 5-litre etc) and the amount of water added.
A big fan of your blog. Have tried so many recipes and everytime it’s been a hit.
I have a question. Can we use a metal pan like a baking pan instead of a ceramic pan if we don’t have one?
thank you kanchana. yes, you can use a metal baking pan. you can even use a heatproof glass baking pan.
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