Dulce De Leche

dulcedeleche Dulce De Leche

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It is crunch time around here. I still have lots of baking and other homemade food items to make, package, and deliver for Christmas.  This Christmas I made  dulce de leche for the kids to give to their teachers.  Because time is precious, I am going to show you how to make this under 30 minutes (20 minutes to be exact) using a pressure cooker or the more common way of cooking it on the stovetop.

I have a special fondness for dulce de leche.  Fifteen years ago I lived in a rural part of Bolivia for a summer volunteering at an elementary school.  For breakfast, someone from our group would walk across the street to a roadside vendor, buy sweet bread, bring it back to the house, and we all slathered dulce de leche on toast.  My word, just thinking about it brings back sweet memories.

Dulce de leche means “milk candy” in Spanish and is also known as milk caramel.  A very popular spread in South America, it is made by cooking sweetened milk which then turns into dulce de leche.  The easiest way to make this is by boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk for a few hours. As I already mentioned, I am going to show you how to make dulce de leche two ways.  The first method is using a stock pot.  The second and quickest method is using a pressure cooker.  The difference between the two methods is time.  One cooks at a simmering boil for 3 hours and the other 20 minutes.  So lets get started.

{Related Post: Simple Glorious Caramel Sauce}
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How to Make Dulce De Leche
The only ingredient you need are unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk.  Peel the labels off of each one.
condensedmilk Dulce De Lechepeeledlabels Dulce De LecheWhether you plan on cooking these cans in a pressure cooker or a regular pot,  fill your pot with water. Place cans in the pot making sure the water is well above the tops of the cans – otherwise your dulce de leche will explode onto your ceiling and could cause damage to your kitchen.
waterpot Dulce De Leche
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pressurecooker Dulce De Leche

If you are using a regular pot, make sure you have a lid. Bring water to boil and then to a simmer with the lid on. Check every 30 minutes to make sure the water level is still above the tops of the cans. Cook for 3 hours.

If you are using a pressure cooker, do the same thing above except make sure you have about 1.5 inches of water above the tops of the cans. Seal your lid on and when your pressure cooker indicates you have a seal, cook for 20 minutes (cooking time starts after your pressure cooker indicator pops up).  Allow the pot to completely cool before trying to un-tighten lid.

With both methods you must allow the unopened cans to completely cool before removing lid. Enjoy!

{Helpful comment from Amanda: DO NOT get over-excited and attempt to cool the cans down with cool, cold or icy water.  This can cause it to explode, as well.} – thanks Amanda!

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Comments

  1. Prego Cook says

    I made a batch of Dulce De Leche a few weeks ago and used it to make an Argentinian Christmas cookie called Alfajores…. they are a sandwich cookie that then have the edges rolled in dessicated coconut. So delicious!

    Love your site – the pictures are amazing! Just happened to find it tonight….

  2. Elise says

    I made mine this year directly into decorative mason jars, with fleur de sel added… delicious, and so easy to give as gifts after!

  3. Laura B says

    Wondering if you could tell me how long can I keep the dulce de leche cans once they are cooked. (unopen of course).
    I only did two this past week end, and only open one…
    thanks!
    Laura.

    • says

      Laura,
      They’ll keep for some time since they are still canned. I have a few cans that have been in my fridge for months. I just pull them out as needed. Hope this helps.

  4. Corinna says

    I just borrowed my neighbor’s pressure cooker today and, oila, 15 minutes later, I got dulce de leche!! Now, I have to figure out how to make those yummy Alfajores!

  5. Terry says

    I was taught the stove top method by several South American friends (Chileans) They taught me to boil the cans for only an hour. Are the extra 2 hours really necessary?

  6. Corinna says

    I’ve tried 2 recipes for the Alfajores cookies that would get dulce de leche sandwiched in the middle and I still don’t have the perfect cookie. Anyone have a good recipe for these?

  7. Corinna says

    Thanks, Alice for the recommendation. I did try out the recipe from Matt of MattBites.com and it was very delightful. My best friend, who is Argentinian, even gave me compliments! She says, though, that there is an alternative version where the cookie recipe is more like a shortbread one. I tried that one and those were hard to make sandwiches.

  8. Ashley says

    I made this recipe (the 3 hour method) for the third time and it was delicious at first, but I found that after a couple days, the dulce de leche turned gritty! can you tell me what might have caused this? I stored the DDL in small mason jars. thanks

  9. Teri says

    Hi! I know this is an old post of yours but I came across it in a search and I have a couple of questions:
    1) I read in a similar recipe that the sweetened condensed milk can(s) need to be placed on a steamer basket or trivet and not directly on the bottom of the pressure cooker or else they may explode, but you don’t say that anywhere. Is it ok for the can to touch the bottom of the pan, as well as the sides, as long as there is sufficient water above the top of the can?
    2) Do you know if this is safe for pressure cookers when using the new, pop-top Eagle brand cans?
    Thanks in advance! Have a great day!

  10. Priscilla says

    Hi,
    I see someone else found her dulce de leche crystallized after a few days in the refrigerator. I’ve used this method and others, I’ve tried different brands of sweetened condensed milk, but mine invariably crystallizes and gets a grainy texture after a few days. I’ve searched and searched, but I cannot find a solution. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • Margo says

      Priscilla, I’ve had only one can of dulce de leche develop a teaspoon-sized area of crystals in the center. It was pressure-cooked for 18 minutes, cooled overnight in the covered cooker, dried off and then re-shelved until opened. I used the rest of the dulce de leche in the can immediately, so cannot say whether refrigerating it might have let the crystalized area grow. Since then, I have shaken each can thoroughly before pressure cooking it, and then cook it for just 15 minutes for a more creamy result. It refrigerates beautifully after that treatment, with no crystals developing.

      • Priscilla says

        Thanks I’ll try that! I’m also wondering if it has to do with not letting the can cool completely to room temperature before opening. I’m usually in a hurry to use it, so I open it while it’s still slightly warm. Planning on doing some testing soon. Thanks for the suggestions!

  11. Kate Wetmore says

    I don’t worry about exploding cans, I worry about the aluminum in the can leaching into the dulce de leche. The better way to make it is to pour the condensed milk into a canning jar and then proceed as you outlined above. The other benefit to this method (other than not eating aluminum) is that you can watch the color of the dulce de leche and pull it out when it reaches your desired color. I like mine really dark!

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