Dulce de Leche

1 can sweetened condensed milk, label removed

Using a can opener, open the can half way. Do not pull back the lid, leave it in place. Place in a deep sauce pan and fill the pan with water just to the edge of the top of the can. Simmer over low heat, 4-5 hours or until a thick, creamy caramel forms, adding more water as it evaporates. Take care to keep the water level as close to the top of the can as possible for best results. After the 4 hours, use an oven mitt to remove the can from the pan and allow to cool. Remove the lid and serve. Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.

My thoughts:

I’ve always wanted to make dulce de leche (AKA confiture de lait, doce de leite or cajeta) but have always been put off by the “can might explode” warnings that are both on the can and that accompany the typical dulce de leche directions that state to totally submerge an unopened can in water and allow it to simmer for hours. Apparently, pressure can build up in the can and cause some sort explosion, especially if you are not careful and too much of the water evaporates. I have never actually met anyone this has happened to, but I sort of feel like if there is a 1 in 100 chance something might happen, more than likely, I will be that one. So I never attempted it. Then, the other day, I got to thinking-what if I opened the can slightly to release the pressure? So tonight as an experiment I opened a can part way but didn’t peel back the lid, so it remained “closed”, and just filled the pan up to the edge of the can so no water would get in to dilute the caramel, but that the majority of the can was covered. To my delight, it worked perfectly. The tiny 1/8 inch of condensed milk at the very top was slightly lighter in color, but was easily mixed in to form a delicious, thick and creamy caramel treat, perfect for dipping cookies and fruit or spreading on anything you can imagine. Best of all, it costs just a fraction of the amount a prepared jar goes for at the supermarket, and tastes even better.


  1. Dulce de Leche is surely the stuff dreams are made of and so easy to make as well! I use it to make Banoffi Pie too.

  2. I want to try this – it looks great and you have taken the fear away in making it 🙂 Thanks!

  3. I love making my own Dulce de Leche, and I haven’t had a problem yet, and if I do oh well I will clean it up and move on to making more!

  4. After trying to make my own dulce de leche, and spending way too much time to do so, I’ll be trying this way next time.

  5. Heavens! This looks wonderful. Who knew? I’ll have to try it soon. My husband and I are both crazy for caramel.

  6. I opened a can of sweetened condensed milk last week and it had already thickened and turned this caramel color. I wasn’t sure if it was safe to eat, though!

  7. I’d love to make my own dulce de leche soon!


  8. I’ve always been scared of the can exploding too so I’ve never tried to make dulce de leche at home before. Thank you for this recipe! Another way I read about is to empty the contents in a saucepan or slow cooker and simmer for a few hours but I’ve never tried that.

  9. Amy: I thought about that method too, but I think it would require a lot of stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan at all.

  10. I’d never thought about making this before, until just last week when I came across Banoffee Pie online, which I had never heard of and looked yummy. It includes this as an ingredient. And then I saw the exploding can warnings, so thanks for the experiment. Glad it worked. I did find Paula Deen’s Banoffee Pie recipe, which gives an alternate caramelizing method in the oven, but you would have a sticky pan to clean up later.

  11. Paula Deen makes Banofee Pie? I didn’t think it had crossed to these american shores!

  12. Great idea! I’ve always been worried about the exploding portion of it too . . . I had good results making it in a slow cooker/crockpot. Just be sure to spray it thoroughly with nonstick cookspray and leave on low.

  13. heDo you know if it would be possible to use a slow cooker instead of the pot of water? It would be much easier to make sure the water didn’t evaporate, since with the top on a slow cooker doesn’t let the water evaporate and uncover the can. I really want to try it but would like some input


  14. The can does not need to boil for hours, nor will it explode if you do not open it. I’ve done this many times. It only needs to boil for a half hour and I have always used an unopened can. My friend’s father has been doing this for years and actually gave me the idea.

  15. ujiAnon: While I am glad you have had success, this is a much safer method and yields much better results than one could possibly get in 1/2 hour.

  16. I love how you mention your fear of explosion. I had the same fear. I finally made some dulce de leche but using the sugar and milk method rather than the can of condensed milk method.

    I wrote about your way though as well. Thanks for the tips!