Homemade Dulce de Leche: A Rich Caramel Sauce

dulce de leche drizzled over cheesecake
DebbiSmirnoff/Getty Images
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 45 mins
Total: 50 mins
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
532 Calories
18g Fat
79g Carbs
16g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 532
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 69mg 23%
Sodium 495mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 79g 29%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 16g
Calcium 620mg 48%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Dulce de leche (also known as manjar, manjar blanco, and arequipe), is widely adored all over South America. It's​ found in birthday cakes, ice cream, pastries, cookies, and more. Recipes vary by region, but it basically involves boiling milk and sugar until the mixture turns into a thick, golden caramel sauce. It's a slow process but worth every minute.

It's easy to find commercially prepared and canned dulce de leche in stores, but homemade tastes much, much better.


  • 1 14-ounce can of condensed milk (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Generous pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Steps to Make It

  1. Place the evaporated and condensed milks in a heavy-bottomed pot with the corn syrup. Add the cinnamon sticks, baking soda, and a pinch of salt if desired. (Salt doesn't always appear in traditional dulce de leche recipes, but it intensifies the flavor).

  2. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a flat-edge wooden or silicone spoon until the water begins to evaporate into steam. Keep stirring to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan, where it can burn. Adjust the temperature as necessary to keep the pot just barely simmering.

  3. As the mixture slowly starts to thicken and darken slightly in color, be patient and keep stirring. The entire process takes 30 to 45 minutes.

  4. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the pot erupts in big slow bubbles and the mixture looks very thick. At this point, you should test the consistency. Lift the spoon up out of the mixture and let some of the sauce drizzle back onto the surface of the dulce de leche. If it forms a ribbon that does not disappear after 10 seconds or so, the sauce is ready. You can also check by dragging the spoon along the bottom of the pot. You should be able to see the bottom for a few seconds before the thickened caramel closes in on itself and covers the bottom again.

  5. Remove the pot from heat and let it cool for 5 minutes. Take out and discard the cinnamon sticks, and stir in the vanilla.

  6. Let the dulce de leche cool completely before you use it in a recipe or serve it.


Tip: If the dulce de leche starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, you can quickly move it to a fresh one before it starts to burn and continue on with the process. If burnt chunks accidentally get mixed in, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pot, then continue cooking and stirring until it reaches the desired consistency.

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