Ann Reardon

Dulce de Leche Recipe Thick Caramel

spoonful of dulce de leche thick caramel

Dulce de leche is a thick, caramel milk-based sauce. I have seen many recipes for it that involve simmering an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a big pot of water for several hours. I have tried this in the past, despite warnings that it might explode. It worked fine but still had that distinctive sweetened condensed milk taste. So try this recipe instead, its faster and is delectable.

Dulce de leche ingredients (makes 1 cup of thick dulce de leche)

4 cups or 1litre (0.26 gallons) milk (4% fat)
2 cups or 436g (15.38 ounces) sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

making dulce de leche caramel

Bring the milk to the boil, add the sugar, vanilla and baking soda. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Reduce the heat and wash down the sides of the pan using a wet pastry brush. Simmer over medium heat for about 1 hour scooping off any froth every fifteen minutes.

As you get closer to an hour monitor the syrup regularly to check it is not burning on the bottom of the pan.

Pour through a fine metal sieve into a bowl and allow to cool.  It will thicken more on cooling.

Use as a sauce or as a component for desserts like ‘gold bar’ or banoffee tart.

Excess can placed in a ziplock bag and stored in the freezer.

Troubleshooting: If on cooling it is not as thick as you need it has not been heated hot enough.  Pour into a clean saucepan and stir as it boils until a small teaspoonful placed on the bench cools to be thick.  WARNING: Caramel is extremely hot, any little splatters will burn, so wear protective gloves while stirring.

by Ann Reardon How To Cook That


I have been busy over the last year planning, writing and overseeing the photography and layout for my first ever cookbook! There are heaps of my favourite dessert recipes in there with a chapter on pastries, ice-cream, yummy cakes, artistic desserts and of course chocolate desserts. Each chapter has its own intro explaining the food science that you'll need to know for success every time. Booksellers where you can purchase your very own copy:

All recipe quantities in the book are in grams, ounces and cups.

293 Comments View Comments

  1. Hi Ann it’s Jordan again what is full cream milk and where do u get it

    • Sorry Ann I just answered my own question but thanks . I will try this recipe today thanks

    • full cream milk is just normal milk, ie not a reduced fat or skim milk.

  2. Hi, I made this tonight and it was simmering non stop for abut 1.5 hours which I thought would be enough. It is chilled now and in the fridge but is still too runny. Should I put it back in a saucepan and boil it again to thicken it up?

    • Hi fiona, yes heat and bubble more to thicken, just a question were you using a wide based saucepan or a narrow one, I am wondering if that is effecting the time ti takes as I always use quite a big saucepan.

  3. How do I reheat the excess dulce de leche?

    • Hi tiffany, you can put it in a saucepan and reheat as much as you need or microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each time.

  4. Made this tonight! Took me a little longer, more near two hours than over one hour.

    However, it turned out great! I test everynow and then with a teaspoon and put some of the mixture on a saucer to check the consistency.

    It is now cooling and I cannot wait to use it!

    It tastes a bit different than the condensed milk method, I like this one better!

    Love from The Netherlands!

    • Hi suzanne, I am glad it worked for you, if you turn your heat up a bit higher next time it should be a bit quicker. I prefer the taste of this to the condensed milk version too.

      • Can i substitute baking powder for baking soda in this recipe?

        • Hi syakira, I think it should be fine baking powder has baking soda plus other ingredients in it.

    • Hey suzanne! Welke melk heb jij gebruikt? Xx veerle

    • Welke melk gebruikte jij? Xx

  5. hi ann i was wondering what kind of milk to use

    • Ho jordan, full cream milk is ideal for this recipe

  6. True dulce de leche simply requires a can of sweetened condensed milk, time, and a pan of boiling water or a crock pot. Put can in hot water, wait 4-6 hours, wait for water to cool, open can of caramel 🙂

    • Hi dostoevsky, I have made it using that method too but it tastes of sweetened condensed milk, and there is a risk of the can exploding.

    • This is the easier method but I don’t cook it in the can. I worry about what would leach out of the can and into the milk. I empty the can into a canning jar (one 14 oz can fills two half pint jars a bout 2/3), put on the lid and then cook it in a crockpot for anywhere from 6-10 hours. How long depends on your crockpot. I have a newer crockpot (they cook hotter) and I let it go for 8 hours or more. The longer you cook it the darker it gets and the richer it tastes.

      I store mine in the refrigerator and serve it on ice cream or use it in recipes.

      • :0

  7. Hi, I was wondering around how much vanilla is necessary? This sounds delicious by the way!

  8. Could you store it in a jar? And keep it on the shelf or in the fridge!

    • Hi Alison yes you can, or if wanting to store for longer place in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

  9. Hey there, im making this for a spanish project, and i doubled the recipe so to be sure i had enough for the class. but its been over 2 hours, and it is still very thin, but also very dark. should i keep waiting? This is the third recipe I’ve tried tonight, going on six hours over the stove. a little worn out, your help is appreciated!

    • Hi John, I have only ever made this in single batches so am not sure how long it would take as a double recipe, how did it end up?

  10. are 2 cups of sugar = to 400g? difficult to get these converted here in ireland lol thanks

    • Hi ger, I just added weights to the recipe for you. 2 cups = 460g sugar

  11. What type of sugar should I use caster sugar , granulated or brown sugar ? Thanks

    • Hi Lynn, caster or granulated white sugar are both fine.

  12. Hi Ann,
    Thanks to your recipe!!! I love it!! But it turns out so hard that I can barely dig it, how am I suppose to do in this situation? Did I do something wrong??

    • Hi Melody, Once it starts to thicken the hotter you let it get the harder it will set. When it strats to thicken take a small amount and place it on the bench top or a cold plate so it cools quickly and you can see the consistency, if too thin keep going…

  13. I have been looking for a new Caramel sauce recipe. This looks even better! Thank you so much.

  14. You’re the best. I cannot wait for the next week. I’m so glad to found you. I’m your friend from Germany. Many thanks for all your easy recipes!

    • thanks Gabby

  15. How long can I store this??

    • Hi TIna, store in the freezer for months

  16. Recipe sounds delish! Can this be made ahead and if so, how do you store it? Can you freeze it?

    • Hi Sonya, yes it can be made ahead and frozen, I store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

      • Thanks Ann!

  17. Thank you for the recipe.. but will it harden when it gets cold? and is it good for fillings? Thank you again xo

    • Hi Wany, It gets thick like int he picture when cold but not hard. I add some the cream and whip it up together to make a caramel filling for cakes.

      • hi ann
        should I whip thicking cream then put the caramel and then fold it with a spoon sorry im new in baking

        • is that right

          • Hi Beth, just put your whipping cream in a bowl, add a spoon or two of dulce de leche and then whip with electric beaters until thick. Or you can use it to make caramel buttercream that recipe will be up with video instructions next week.

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe. Just one question, should you stir this occasionally while it’s cooking, or just leave it until near the end?

    • Hi Samantha no need to stir, but not a problem if you do. Just be careful because it can bubble up suddenly when you stir.

  19. hi ann, you have a great site. what particular milk do you use for this recipe? condensed or fresh milk? thanks

    • Full cream fresh milk.

      • Thank You! i was about to ask the same question
        lov your work!

        lots of love from Egypt!

        • thanks Farah greetings from Australia

  20. Thanks I have been looking for a good recipe for this, it turned out perfectly.

1 2 3 8

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>