May 22, 2020

Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed Milk)

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. It’s delicious straight out of the can, with ice cream, in coffee or spread onto apple slices.

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An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

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Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed Milk) Recipe:

Cooking sweetened condensed milk is almost like a tradition among Ukrainian families, except we always called it sguschonka. We use it for cookies and cakes and that’s why we need the thickest texture possible to create thick fillings and frostings for desserts. Using this method of cooking sweetened condensed milk, you get the best results with minimal attention.

You might notice on the back of the can, it says ‘never heat in unopened can’. This is basic knowledge, meaning you don’t want to stick the can into microwave, oven or stove. Just as you would not heat any other canned soups or sauces in cans. You always want to make sure it’s covered in water before it’s being heated.

I like to boil 4-5 cans at a time so I always have some on hand. For last minute baking or when we feel like eating dessert, we make the Waffle Cake. It’s the most delicious, quickest dulce de leche dessert you will ever have!

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

What is Dulce de Leche?

Dulce de leche (cooked condensed milk) is a thickened caramel-like sauce that’s made out of milk and sugar. In other words, it’s sweetened condensed milk heated until it thickens and caramelizes. It’s thick and gooey confection, with a nutty brown color and a taste that’s not quite like anything else. You can also call it jam that’s made out of sweetened condensed milk.

It’s creamy, sweet and caramelized and can range in consistency from a chewy candy to a soft sauce, depends on your desired consistency and color. Very similar to caramel sauce, but so much easier to make especially if you’re using store-bought sweetened condensed milk.

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

Dulce de Leche Ingredients:

This quick tutorial requires only 1 ingredient since water does not really count as an ingredient. We like to use our favorite brand Nestle La Lechera, but you can use any of your favorite brands in here. You can do as much as 5 cans in a pot in single row, or as little as 1 can. Use room temperature water to fully cover the cans making sure they are always fully submerged in water.

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

How to Make Dulce de Leche From Condensed Milk?

  1. Remove the labels off the cans.
  2. Place cans of sweetened condensed milk into a big pot right-side up. You need a pot with lid.
  3. Cover cans with room temperature water, making sure the water level is at least 2-inches above the cans.
  4. Bring the water to a very light rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to lowest and let simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours for thickest texture, making sure cans are fully submerged in water at all times. 
  5. Once cans have simmered to desired cooking time, remove the pot from the heat and leave the cans in the water to cool to room temperature. This will ensure the thickest dulce de leche texture possible. 
  6. If not using right away, refrigerate once cooled for up to 1 month in unopened cans.

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

How Long Should I Cook the Condensed Milk?

The cook time will depend on how thick and dark you want the dulce de leche to be.

  • 2-hours cook time will result in a lighter caramel (golden creamy dulce de leche with a thinner texture).
  • 3 to 3 1/2-hours cook time will result in a dark brown rich color with thickest texture possible.

How to Store Dulce de Leche?

Let dulce de leche cool to room temperature in cans. Without opening the cans, store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. From experience, a month was the longest I kept it without it sugaring.

If you opened a can and want to store leftovers, transfer to an airtight container or glass jar. Never store opened dulce de leche in a can!

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

Is Dulce de Leche Caramel?

The key difference between dulce de leche and caramel is that dulce de leche is made from condensed milk (milk and sugar), while caramel is made from sugar and water.

Dulce de leche is usually made by heating up condensed milk and it contains higher sugar levels than regular milk. Once it’s heated, the sugar browns creating golden brown color. Caramel is made by heating sugar until it’s brown in color and sometimes milk and butter are added to create caramel sauce. 

Ways to Enjoy Dulce de Leche:

Eating it by spoonful is probably the most common way to enjoy dulce de leche, but not in my family. We make dulce de leche to use in fillings for desserts or to make cake frosting combined with cream cheese and/or heavy cream. The thicker the dulce de leche, the better results and easier it is to work with when it comes to Ukrainian desserts. Here are some other fun ways to enjoy dulce de leche:

  • As a sweetener in coffee or hot chocolate (dulce de leche + milk)
  • Drizzle on crepes, ice cream or brownies
  • For sticking cookies together
  • Dulce de leche apples – just like caramel apples
  • Spread onto graham crackers or plain biscuits
  • As a dip or spread for churros or apple slices
  • Cheesecake or as caramel layer between cake slices

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

Tips for Making Dulce de Leche:

  • Use stainless steel pot for best results and better control of heat and water.
  • Cover pot with lid to keep water from evaporating.
  • Reduce heat to low as soon as pot with cans starts boiling.
  • Pay attention to the water level. Make sure cans are submerged in water at all times. Not enough water can lead to cans overheating, tearing or even popping. (For decades using this method, we never had it happen).
  • Do not try to open cans while still hot as the hot dulce de leche may spit out because of the pressure inside.
  • Refrigerate cooled cans of dulce de leche unopened for better storage lifetime and to prevent sugaring. Never refrigerate opened dulce de leche in cans. Transfer leftovers into airtight container or glass jar. 

Best Brand of Sweetened Condensed Milk:

Our all-time favorite is the Nestle La Lechera brand. My husband and kids love to spread sweetened condensed milk over a freshly baked slice of bread or our Bread Machine White Bread.

La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk has the best taste before it even turns into dulce de leche. Therefore, I always have at least 2 cans on hand. You will get same results from Eagle Brand and genetic store brands should work just as fine.

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. #dulcedeleche #sweetenedcondensedmilk #howtomakedulcedeleche #lalechera #nestle #olgainthekitchen #howto #dessert #filling #caramel

Where to Buy Dulce de Leche?

Nowadays, you can find dulce de leche in any grocery store or supermarkets. In my whole lifetime, I purchased store-bought dulce de leche maybe 3 times. I have to be honest; it is not the same as homemade. It’s called dulce de leche, but at the same time has some hidden additions in it that makes it taste like dulce de leche with something extra. Homemade is thousand times better!

Our All-Time Favorite Dulce de Leche Cookies:

We love dulce de leche desserts! I won’t be wrong if I say we have at least one variety of them at every gathering. We especially like dulce de leche cookies; the filling is irresistible!

Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed Milk)

5 from 7 votes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

An easy Dulce de Leche (Cooked Condensed milk) recipe with only 1 ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk is cooked until it becomes thick, creamy caramel-like pudding that you can use for many dessert recipes. It’s delicious straight out of the can, with ice cream, in coffee or spread onto apple slices.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Remove the labels off the cans.

  2. Place 4 cans of sweetened condensed milk into a big pot right-side up. You need a pot with lid.

  3. Cover cans with room temperature water, making sure the water level is at least 2-inches above the cans. 

  4. Bring the water to a very light rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to lowest and let simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours for thickest texture, making sure cans are fully submerged in water at all times. Add more hot water if needed in case some water evaporates during the simmering process. With lid on, you shouldn’t have to do it.

  5. Once cans have simmered to desired cooking time, remove the pot from the heat and leave the cans in the water to cool to room temperature. This will ensure the thickest dulce de leche texture possible. For slightly thinner or lighter in color dulce de leche, remove cans from the hot water using a pair of kitchen tongs and allow them to cool to room temperature. Giving time to cool, will let dulce de leche firm up. Do not try to open cans while still hot as the hot dulce de leche may spit out because of the pressure inside.

  6. If not using right away, refrigerate once cooled for up to 1 month in unopened cans.

Recipe Notes

  • Store: Cool dulce de leche to room temperature. Without opening the cans, store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Store opened can leftovers in an airtight container or glass jar in refrigerator. Never store opened dulce de leche in a can!
  • Ways to Enjoy Dulce de Leche: Eating spoonful. Use in desserts as filling or in frosting (Oreshki or Peach Cookies). As a sweetener in coffee or hot chocolate (dulce de leche + milk). Drizzle on crepes, ice cream or brownies. Spread onto graham crackers or plain biscuits. As a dip or spread for churros or apple slices. Cheesecake or as caramel layer between cake slices.

  • Cook Time: 2-hours for lighter caramel (golden creamy dulce de leche with a thinner texture). 3 to 3 1/2-hours cook for dark brown rich color with thickest texture possible.
  • Stainless Steel Pot: Use for best results and better control of heat and water.
  • Lid: Cover pot with lid to keep water from evaporating.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @olgainthekitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #olgainthekitchen - I'd love to see your creations!

We first published this recipe in July 2017 and updated it in May 2020 with new photos and more tips.  

As Featured On

  • Taste of Home
  • Food Gawker

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