Is there anything better than a can of homemade dulce de leche? I absolutely love this sweet treat and there is so much you can do with a can of this creamy caramel sauce. It’s delicious over ice cream or any other dessert but can also be incorporated into baked goods such as this dulce de leche brownie or a banoffee pie.

dulce de leche recipe

Dulce de leche recipe

Now there are more than one way to make dulce de leche. The first time I made it I was scared it would blow up in my face. You’ve probably heard stories of a can exploding while being cooked. So the first time I made this I used the oven. You need only a can (or two) of sweetened condensed milk and you pour the contents in an oven dish. Once it is in you cover it with aluminum foil and place in the oven for about 2 hours or until it gets a light or darker brown color. As you can see from the images which mention oven below it, the result I had from my first attempt was quite blond. Leaving it longer in the oven will – no doubt – create a darker result.

​Making dulce de leche with a water bath

Now in the meantime I have found out that making this dulce de leche recipe is not so scary at all and actually the easiest way to make dulce de leche. You just need one unopened can of the condensed milk and you place it in a large pot of water. Now the important thing to keep in mind is that the water level needs to be above the cans at all times, so make sure there is enough water in the pan. The cook time is a couple of hours so check the water level a couple of times and add additional water if needed. I usually check about every hour or so, to make sure the water is still on top of the cans. 

Dulce de leche from the oven
Dulce de leche from the oven after 1,5 hours

You can’t check how things are going like you can when you make the dulce de leche in the oven, but if you boil it for about 3 hours you’re sure to get a good result. They don’t need to boil very hard, just a soft bubble is more than enough. For best results let it simmer lightly.

Once the three hours are passed you take out the cans and let them come to room temperature before opening them. I usually make 2 or 3 cans at the same time, since it keeps really well once caramelized. Even an opened jar will keep for quite a long time. So no reason not to make extra of this easy dulce de leche.

Dulce de leche in slowcooker

Now there are different methods to make dulce de leche and you can use either a slowcooker or a pressure cooker for doing so. The good thing about using a slow cooker is that you don’t need to watch the water level as closely. Fluids don’t vaporize as easily in the slow cooker so while it takes longer you don’t have to watch it all the time.

Dulce de leche

You simply add water to the bowl of the slow cooker and place the cans (remove any paper) on their side in the slow cooker. Obviously the cans need to be closed at this time. Now turn the slow cooker setting to low and let it simmer away for about 8 hours. While the low heat will make sure there is not much water disappearing it’s still good to check halfway through to make sure there is enough water left.

​Making dulce de leche in the instant pot

Now you can also use the pressure cooker in the instant pot for making the dulce de leche. You can either do this with the can still intact or by placing the contents of the can inside a small bowl. Let’s first address the one with the can. Now it’s very important to keep the water level above the can here too. Maybe even more so. Remove the paper from the tin and make sure there are no dents or other irregularities in the can. It’s need to be perfectly closed. 

Dulce de leche

You place the can inside the instant pot and fill with cold water above the can. Now put the lid on and the pressure cooker to high. As soon it reaches the pressure let it cook for about 30-35 minutes. Let the steam escape naturally and let the can cool down completely in the instant pot. So that will take a couple of hours. So you do need a little bit of patience. But it’s the safest way.

The other method is easier and comparable to making dulce de leche in the oven. You place the contents of the condensed milk in an rvs type of bowl that will fit inside the instant pot. Add about a cup of water to the instant pot bowl and place the bowl containing the dulce de leche inside. Close the lid and put the pressure on high. Let it cook for about 45 minutes before releasing the pressure and taking the bowl out. Remember it is sitting in hot water at this point and the bowl itself will be hot as well, so let it cool down enough.

Dulce de leche looks all wrong!

Now don’t panic when you take a look inside you’re bowl and think that it didn’t work. The top of the dulce de leche will look terrible, cracked and dried. That is normal but whisking it with an immersion blender will fix the issue and give you a smooth and velvety result.

Using this method you can add a little bit of baking soda to the condensed milk which will make it caramelize sooner and the end result become darker. 

Dulce de leche

Dulce de leche with condensed coconut milk

While the regular method is with whole milk you can also use coconut milk for making this dulce de leche recipe. You follow the exact same procedures but instead of the regular milk you use a can of condensed coconut milk. The flavor will be similar but with a coconut finish to it. Perfect if you want it to be lactose free.

Of course you can also buy store-bought dulce de leche but I find making it myself is always so much better! It’s creamier and not as scary as you might think. The easiest recipe for me is still just dumping the cans inside a water bath but you can try out the oven method or the slow cooker or instant pot too. Whichever feels best for you!

dulce de leche recipe
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Dulce de leche recipe

Easy to make dulce de leche recipe. Keeps for a long time. Perfect for all sorts of desserts.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 1 can


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk


Water bath

  • Take a large pot and fill with cold water. Remove the paper from the cans. Place the can(s) in the pan and make sure the water level is well above the cans. Check this during the cooking process!
  • Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to low. It can be at a very low simmer for about 3 hours.
  • Leave to cool and then remove the cans from the water

In the oven

  • Preheat the oven to 220˚C. Pour the contents of the can into a shallow oven dish and wrap tightly with aluminium foil. Once wrapped put the shallow dish inside a bigger oven tray which you can fill half way up the other dish with hot water and place in the oven. Leave in the oven for roughly 2 hours and check the water level in your oven dish every once in a while and add where needed.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and once to your preferred color, whisk until the cream is smooth and leave to cool!


Nutritional value is for the entire can
Course: Basic, condiment
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: condensed milk

Nutrition Information

Calories: 1271kcal, Carbohydrates: 215g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 34g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 135mg, Sodium: 503mg, Potassium: 1469mg, Sugar: 215g, Vitamin A: 1057IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 1125mg, Iron: 1mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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