20 Minute Dulce de Leche

Traditionally, dulce de leche can take anywhere from 2-3 hours – which means a rather large time investment for such a simple yet delicious dessert. I’ve gotten the prep time down to about 20 minutes (less, for most uses). It’s wonderfull what a little experimenting can do!

Cook time: 20 minutes (active) More time for larger batches.

Yield: 8-10 bite size caramels


  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 4-6 Drops of Vanilla Extract, or Vanilla Bean, to taste.
  • Dash of Salt
  • Pinch of Baking Powder


Pour all ingredients into your pot (non-stick) and bring to a rapid boil at high heat. Stir vigorously until the milk starts to condense and darken, 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and then low as the dulce de leche thickens. Continue to stir throughout to avoid scorching. More time in the pot yeilds a harder candy.


  • The original recipe calls for BAKING SODA, not BAKING POWDER. I substituted to see what would happen, and I liked the results. I would assume using baking powder leads to an end result less dense than mine. Pretty please let me know how it turns out if you make it with baking soda.
  • If you want to make dulce de leche sauce, mix in sweetened condensed milk to the final product while it’s still warm.
  • Darker dulce de leche has more flavor, but it’s also harder and more dense. Experiment with cook times to find your preference. My cook times lean toward a harder, caramel candy.


If you want your dulce de leche even faster, start off using sweetened condensed milk right out of the can (make sure to add the baking powder). It tastes a little different, but practically shaves off the rapid boil stage.

I really want to hear about any experiments with, or different ways to make, dulce de leche. A good friend of mine told me her family used to make it by boiling sweetened condensed milk while still in the unopened can. No stirring, but it could explode! WILD!

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10 Comments on “20 Minute Dulce de Leche”

  1. Derek O. Says:

    I’ve made dulce de leche using the unopened can method, and yes, it CAN explode. I speak from personal experience. I once put an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk on the stove in a pot of water to boil. Not long after, I fell asleep on the couch in the living room.

    I woke up to a very loud bang coming from the kitchen. I knew immediately what it was. I entered the kitchen, full of dread. Caramelized milk was spattered all over the stove, walls, floor and ceiling. Fortunately, the kitchen was empty at the moment of detonation. It could have caused some serious injury.

    I haven’t made it since. This method seems a lot less risky. And quicker.

  2. katie Says:

    my mom is colombian and I grew up on dulce de leche. She used to make it with a can of sweetened condensed milk and it turned into a caramel cream. It was so good. I recently made a big batch from scratch. I like your idea of making a small batch and rolling them into candies!

  3. Heidi Says:

    Nice video! There are several different ways to make it, and many methods include heating sweetened condensed milk while still in the can, which apparently never explodes, although some involve poking hole vents in the can (which I do). This method involves more patience, as you will need at least half an hour to allow the can to cool a bit. I may have to give your method a shot and compare!

  4. You mean there is more to Dulce de Leche than opening a can? Totally kidding. I’m impressed you attempted a video.

  5. danwalsh Says:

    Rough times Derek! I’m glad no one was hurt. I blew up a soda can in a bonfire once. It was like Armageddon! I can’t even fathom the amount a mayhem the pressure build up in a tin can would cause!

    @calliewl suggested giving these away as Valentine’s day gifts. What an excellent idea! Follow this genius here: http://twitter.com/calliewl

    Crazy Orange Turtle’s Slow Cooker Dulce de Leche recipe explains why Baking Soda is important in the recipe (scientific) and is a super low maintenance way to make some dulce. http://glutenfreeturtle.com/2008/01/09/slow-cooker-dulce-de-leche-cajeta-gluten-free/

  6. Mike Says:

    Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

  7. molly Says:

    great demonstration on how to make dulce de leche. can’t wait to try out your recipe. will keep you posted on how it works…

  8. Hans Says:

    Baking soda (a base) raises the pH which allows it to darken more and give a much better taste. Baking powder has acid to counter the base, so the net result is it doesn’t do anything for your dulce de leche except maybe add a little bitterness. Use baking soda.

  9. Barbara Says:

    I have made dulce de leche for years by boiling the unopened can (cover the can) in a pressure cooker! It only takes about 1/2 hour and I’ve never had a problem. Even so, I find the finished product doesn’t even come close to the ‘real’ stuff – condensed milk just is not the same, but will substitute when one lives in a country that has no dulce de leche.

  10. Moranna Says:

    Never tried making dulce de leche myself – rather put off by the ‘long time investmwent’ required. Might try your 20 minute version.

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