How to Make Dulce de Leche

How to Make Dulce de Leche

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Dulce de Leche
My translation, caramelized heavenly milk
Actual translation, candy made from milk
Universal translation, damn that’s good!

What is Dulce de Leche?

For those of you who are new to dulce de leche, it is probably easiest to think of it as sweetened caramelized milk. It is made by reducing milk and sugar over low heat. It takes about an hour and a half to two hours to make, but like homemade caramel, it’s worth the work.

The exact origins of this sweet treat are a debate. Most believe that dulce de leche originated in Argentina. However, this is a continuous point and many Latin American countries claim to create this luscious sauce. Me, I say I don’t care who created it. I am just glad they did. So on behalf of American dulce de leche lovers, thank you, whoever you are (or were).

As much as I love it, I am embarrassed to admit that I did not discover dulce de leche until 2012. To be fair, I have been narrow in my dessert options until the last decade. However, I was getting married that summer and we wanted to offer two different types of desserts. We were eating at one of my favorite Denver restaurants, Tony P’s, and that is where I was introduced to dulce de leche. Tony’s cake introduced me to a whole new world of flavor. (Thank you, Tony!)

Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake and Coffee

What is the Difference Between Dulce de Leche, Caramel and Butterscotch?

The truth is dulce de leche, caramel, and butterscotch are all very smilier and yet still very different. It took me some time before I could tell the difference between the three. Here is how I think of the differences…

Dulce de leche is made from slowly cooking milk and sugar together at a low temperature. The caramel color comes from the browning of the milk. Some recipes, including mine, use baking soda. By adding baking soda the cooking process is sped up (but note it still takes a long time to make).

Caramel is made from cooking granulated sugar at a high temperature. As the sugar melts, it caramelizes. To achieve caramelization, the temperature must reach between 240 – 245 degrees.

Butterscotch is made from cooking brown sugar with butter, also at a high temperature. Butterscotch has a sweeter flavor than caramel. It is also softer than caramel.

Easiest way to think of it…

  • Dulce de Leche = Milk +Sugar
  • Caramel = Sugar
  • Butterscotch = Brown Sugar + Butter

Dulce de Leche Pour

What Can I Use it With?

I use dulce de leche where caramel is often used. In fact, I created this batch to use in a coffee cake recipe I am developing. There is enough leftover that I will also be using to make cinnamon rolls. Aka, there will be lots of dulce de leche recipes coming your way! Here are a few other places I think you will enjoy it.

Use as a topping on

  • Budino
  • Sundae’s
  • Ice cream
  • Doughnuts
  • Cheesecakes
  • Brownies/blondies
  • Waffles
  • Pancakes

Use as a filling with

  • Cookies
  • Macaron’s
  • Cakes
  • Crapes
  • Swiss roll cake
  • Trifle
  • Tarts
  • Chocolate

Use as a dip/mix with

  • Apples
  • Popcorn
  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Marshmallow
  • Pretzels
  • Coffee
  • Granola
Dulce de Leche across dough

How do I make It?

There are two common ways to make dulce de leche. One is the traditional Argentinian way and the other is using condensed milk. For this recipe, I am going to focus on the traditional Argentinian way. It is a slow process, but to be honest, I like the slow process. While the milk is caramelizing there is time to do other things in the kitchen. Just make sure you stay close towards the end so that you can stir the milk often.

What you'll need
1 Cinnamon Stick
(1 cup)
Baking Soda
(1/4 teaspoon)
Dark Corn Syrup
(1 tablespoon)
Whole Milk
(4 cups)
Add milk, sugar, dark corn syrup, cinnamon stick. Stir.
Bring to a boil and then add baking soda.
Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring periodically.
Stir more towards the end to avoid burning. Quantity should reduce to 1 cup
Cool for an hour. The end result is thicker and darker.
Use it as a topping, on desserts or with sweets. Can be stored up to one month in the refrigerator.
For written instructions visit Life on Westerly Creek
Check out my other content @lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.
Dulce de Leche Jar and Spoon

Dulce de Leche Recipe

Dulce de Leche is sweetened caramelized milk that is perfect with coffee, cakes, crepes, macarons, ice cream, and a million other things.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Sauces
Cuisine argentinian, hispanic, Latin American


  • Heavy saucepan



  • In a heavy saucepan over medium heat add milk, sugar, dark corn syrup, and cinnamon stick and stir.
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a low simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture.
  • Continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
    **About an hour into the process, stir more often to prevent the milk from burning.
  • Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.
  • Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.


Dulce de Leche by lifeonwesterlycreek on Jumprope.
Keyword Caramel, Dulce de Leche
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