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How to make Caramel Dulce de Leche from Sweetened Condensed Milk

Caramel Dulce de Leche made from Sweetened Condensed Milk. Ah oh so easy way to make either a dulce de leche sauce, or a more thick set caramel with so many delicious uses. 

Caramel Dulce de Leche close up photo of a spoonfull scooped from the can

Caramel Dulce de Leche

I’ve sometimes said over the years that it doesn’t occur to me to post some of the simplest recipe ideas. Mistakenly, I think that there’s enough sources out there for simple recipe idea like this one.

It recently came to my attention though, that many people had never even heard of this method for making this most delicious, rich tasting delight. 

Caramel Dulce de Leche shown still in the can

Caramel Dulce de Leche

A reader recently found about it and was asking my advice on proper length of time, consistency, etc. I mentioned the email to my friend Terry, and to my surprise, he had never heard of it either.

That really surprised me because it is such a well established method in many rural parts of Newfoundland I have visited. He was brought up in Notre Dame Bay, not all that far from the Bonavista North area where I first encountered it back in the eighties.

I was visiting the Wesleyville area with a friend from my university days way back then and “caramel tarts” were something that everyone knew and loved there, it seemed.

Later on, as my love of British baking developed particularly, I learned that this was a common practice in the UK. There, it is very commonly used as part of the filling for a national favourite pie. 

If you have plenty of time, you can easily substitute it in the filling for my own recipe version of that Banoffee Pie here.

Banoffee Pie - caramel toffee, bananas, and whipped cream all in a graham cracker crumb crust!

Banoffee Pie

Looking to future recipes.

So just to add this recipe idea, which I will be using in future recipes, and to give a couple of tips and suggestions of how to do it myself, I’ve decided to add it here now.

Be warned this is SUPREMELY delicious stuff! It is a bit of a danger to have around the house for a sweet tooth like me.

Finished Dulce de Leche Caramel stored in a mason jar.

Dulce de leche from Sweetened Condensed Milk.

It is amazing in ice cream sundaes, as a filling for a caramel cake, or even spread on your morning toast. I’ll admit that I am known to take a heaping teaspoon full and eat it straight from the can or bottle. 

A Facebook friend recently told me that she uses it sometimes for sweetening tea or coffee. I’d like to try that too but again, that could prove to be risky for sweet lovers like me.

A very slow simmer is all you need when making this Caramel Dulce de Leche.

My favourite use for Caramel Dulce de Leche

My favourite use for this delicious confection comes as no surprise. I absolutely adore pastry of any kind and indeed that is how I first tasted this incredible caramel; inside a flaky crust.

Caramel Dulce de Leche Tarts using Sweet Short Crust Pastry

Caramel Dulce de Leche Tarts using Sweet Short Crust Pastry

Nowadays I make these Dulce de Leche Caramel Tarts in mini size using a sweet shortcrust pastry for quite possibly the best two bite treat ever known! You may not think that’s hyperbole once you try it for yourself!

It IS that good!

One note I should add is that Eagle Brand does now make a dulce de Leche version of this in its own product line. That, of course is fine if you just want it for sauce purposes to accompany desserts or to use on sundaes.

This method can be used to achieve that consistency as well. Or, as is my preference, to make a more thick set caramel like I use for those gorgeous little tarts.

Like this Caramel Dulce de Leche recipe?

You’ll find hundreds of other sweet ideas in our Cakes & Pies Category and even more in our Desserts Category.

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Caramel Dulce de Leche photo with title text added for Pinterest

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Finished Dulce de Leche Caramel stored in a mason jar.
Yield: 20 servings (1 tbsp)

How to make Caramel Dulce de Leche from Sweetened Condensed Milk

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 2 minutes

Caramel Dulce de Leche made from Sweetened Condensed Milk. Ah oh so easy way to make either a dulce de leche sauce or a more thick set caramel with so many delicious uses. 


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (300 ml in Canada, 14 oz can in the US)


  1. Lay the can on it's side in a deep pot and cover with hot water. 
  2. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Check on the pot every 30-45 minutes to see if the water needs topping up.
  4. When it does need topping up, add boiling water from the kettle, so as not to slow down the cooking process.
  5. Roll the can on the opposite side occasionally when you add water to ensure even cooking.
  6. Simmer for 3 hours for a thick set caramel as shown in the photos.
  7. Cool the can completely to room temperature before placing in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
  8. If not using this all at once, I store the remainder in a mason jar or sealed plastic container in the fridge.

IMPORTANT. Do NOT let the pot run dry. This can cause the can to expand and possibly burst open. Do NOT walk away from this as it boils. Monitor it closely to make sure the cans are always fully submerged and just gently simmering. I set a timer for every 30 minutes or so to check it.
Using a quite deep pot is a good idea as well, so it can hold more water.
Follow the instructions fully and you will have no issues with it at all.


For a more sauce like consistency, for sundaes and desserts, cut the time back to 90 to 120 minutes depending upon how dark and thick you want the sauce.

Experiment by making it a few times to get your own perfect sauce consistency and colour.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 62Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 7mgSodium 25mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 0gSugar 11gProtein 2g

The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.

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Sunday 21st of February 2021

You can boil 2 cans at once and store the second can UNOPENED in pantry for months.


Monday 16th of November 2020

I knew about cooking the can and have loved this since I was a kid. I am finding that whatever adhesive they use on the label or can creates a residue inside my pan. Have you experienced this and do you have any thoughts on how to avoid it?


Thursday 15th of October 2020

Hey Barry, I am wondering if this could be done in a slow cooker or crock pot? Thanks.


Sunday 11th of October 2020

How well does this caramel dulce de leche freeze and then thaw? For instance, if using as a bottom layer to a pie or tart will it thaw to be the same semi thick consistency as when it was first made? Thanks!


Friday 3rd of April 2020

My Nan used this as icing on a chocolate cake - it was everyone's favourite cake! And that was up Notre Dame Bay way too. Thanks for the nice memory.

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