Explosion-Free Way of Cooking of Dulce De Leche

Here is a simple set of steps you need to follow to cook your can of condensed milk without a fear it explodes all over the kitchen you’ve just renovated.

Since it takes time, I prefer to cook more than one can at once and keep the cooked condensed milk at room temperature until needed.

Take the biggest high-sided pot you own (8-quart works well). Place one unopened can (or two, or three – as many as can fit the bottom of the pot) of full-fat condensed milk onto the bottom of the pot, pour cold water over the can/cans, so the water level is well above the cans and just about an inch below the rim of the pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot with a lid and simmer for two and a half hours (make sure it’s a low simmer, adjust the heat as needed).

I recommend to set a timer. And I don’t recommend to go shopping while your dulce de leche is cooking. If the pot is tall, and the water is not boiling vigorously, you might not need to add more water to the pot. Although it’s wise to check the water level once in a while (every 30-45 minutes, I would say).

The can(s) have to be submerged all the time.

If needed, add more hot water from a kettle, and continue cooking. Once the time has passed, turn the heat off and let the cans cool in the water. Store at room temperature.

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56 Responses to “Explosion-Free Way of Cooking of Dulce De Leche”

  1. that s what I do and they re super delicious. The last can I opened it had some caramelised hard bits of sugar. did I leave them to boil too long or did I leave them too long on the shelf ?

  2. Natalie, I think you stored them for too long either before or after cooking.

  3. A very practical method! It’s my favorite Dulce Leche recipe…



  4. I’ve never cooked dulce de leche before and saw this method on TV just yesterday! Will try this soon!

  5. this is exactly how i make my dulche de leche! it’s easy and always tastes so good!

  6. I am printing this now otherwise i might forget were i bookmarked it.
    How long can you keep thi can unopened.

  7. Was reading the recipe, you didn’t write the total amount of time one need to cook this.
    You just wrote 30 -45 minutes for cheking the water

  8. I’ve never made it before, but I really want to now! YUM!

  9. Rosa, thank you! It’s my favorite recipe, too :)

    Pigpigscornner, it’s worth to try :)

    Meeta, I can’t agree with you more :)

    Happy Cook, I usually consume it withing a month or so. If you keep it for too long grainy sugar crystals form at the bottom of the can (the same thing happens to uncooked condensed milk, as well; I always check an expiration date on a can before buying).

    And I wrote the total cooking time, although I did it in words :) I will highlight it, to make it more noticeable.

    Maria, thank you! It is yum :)

  10. I’ve never made it, but I do so want to Vera. The only thing that keeps me off is the 2 1/2 hours of guilty cooking pleasure. I wish it’s part of the DB challenge for some month, & then I’ll have an excuse!

  11. explosions bad. dulce de leche good. :)

  12. Thanks for the tip! I must try this because I don’t care for store-bought ddl.

  13. Thanks for the great how-to!

  14. Thanks Vera– now I am only a little bit afraid to try it at home : )

    My only problem will be how not to eat all the cans at once.

  15. Wow, this is a great money saver. I have always been shocked by how much the pre-made stuff costs at the store – like $10!

  16. Gorgeous caramel! I’ve tried this method too, and liked the result.

  17. This is a great method of making dulce de leche! Next time I make alfajores, I’ll keep this one handy. Your caramel looks luscious!

  18. First of all wanted to tell you that I love your blog! Your pictures always come out beautiful and the recipes are the best!

    As to the condensed milk, we’ve made it this exact way for ages now :) The only difference now is that I use pressure cooker and it takes 30-40 minutes for cooking instead of 2-3 hours :) Saves us both on time and the electricity bill)) :)

    Oh and did I tell you that – “you’re the best!!”??


  19. Mmm I adore Dulce de leche! It’s so delicious :) Yours looks amazing, I love that first photo. I open the can and put it in the oven as I’m just too forgetful and accident prone lol

  20. my favorite!

  21. Jenna, Oakland CA on February 11th, 2009 at 4:40 am

    howdy – would a slow cooker work? I mean is the temperature right?
    my cooker has a high high setting (lid rattles from steam), so i never use it for animal products–cooked black beans 2nite in under 2 hours.
    the low setting is excellent for a braise, but the cooking never takes anywhere as long as a recipe dictates. so i guess both settings are kinda high. i’ve read that nowadays mfr.s set them to work hotter.
    anyway, any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

  22. My mother does the same thing, the results are so good!
    Well done for putting up this post- I wish people would stop worry about making dulce de leche at home.

  23. Mmmm, looks perfect! Thanks for the instructions, we’ve boiled it in a pot before but never had it submerged.

    I also tried a method I saw recently on a blog, where you are to poke a hole in the top lid and then boil. It was like layers of the earth’s crust… with perfect dulce de leche at the bottom, a thin layer of condensed milk at the top, and every stage in between. It still tasted good, but wasn’t quite right.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing :)

  24. This is such a smart idea. It seems simple and easier than other recipes. I love ducle de leche so much, so I can’t wait to make this.

  25. Deeba, unfortunately it will probably never be a part of the DB challenge; it’s too easy to make :)

    Grace, :)

    Dragana, Lisa, you’re very welcome!

    Jen, have no fear :) I’m with you :)

    Dana, I haven’t even seen it in stores here; they offer only butterscotch sauce :(

    Y, thank you! It is quite likeable :)

    Lisa, thank you! You reminded me about one of my favorite cookies; I love alfajores.

    Marina, thank you so much for your words! I’m truly touched!
    That’s a great tip about using a pressure cooker. Unfortunately, I don’t have one (honestly, I’m scared of them; comes from my childhood :)

    Lorraine, thank you :)

    Aran, mine too :)

    Jenna, I think it should work; I’ve never tried it though. But anyway, I wouldn’t leave it unattended (check the water level, keep it submerged all the time). But if you also own a pressure cooker, that would be just great for it, as Marina (two comments above yours) suggested; it takes about 30 minutes to cook and there are no worries about the water evaporation.

    May, my mother, and the mother of my mother do the same thing :)
    So, your wish is my wish :)

    Jacque, thank you! I prefer my dulce de leche rather uniform – from top to bottom :) And you are very welcome!

    Abby, thank you! I’m pretty sure you will like the result :)

  26. It´s great recipe, my favorite!

  27. Thank you for this information! I’ll be trying this very soon. I just have to make sure I don’t open the cans and start eating them as is!

  28. Ana, thank you; mine too :)

    Camille, you are very welcome! It’s not easy – not to eat it as is :)

  29. I guess I am lucky enough to have never witnessed the explosion of any kind in my kitchen even though my mom owned a pressure cooker since as far as I can remember into my childhood.

    I think the secret to a non-explosive cooking technique is the low temperature. If you’re using an electric stove then it’s a number 2 or barely simmering.

  30. Dear Vera, I missed your blog so much that I just had to visit it from Argentina as well :) And you´re such a mind reader, I fell in love with dulce de leche here and decided to make it at home, and here you are with this great and easy way of making it.
    Thanks! Looks gorgeous as ever!

  31. Miri, thank you very much for your words! You are always so kind! I just hope you have a wonderful time there.

  32. Hi Vera- a friend of mine wanted to make dulce de leche so I sent him your recipe. It worked perfectly and I was lucky enough to get to sample the results– delicious.

  33. Jen, I’m so glad everyone is alive and happy :)

  34. Thankyou for cleating the dou, i must have missed it in writtings :-)

  35. i made it using carnation condesend milk. it took along time of course. but i think i felt the can taste!

  36. Latifa, this is strange. Try not to scrape it from the lid and very bottom of the can; maybe it will help.

  37. I love it, it is my favorite thing but I come from a family where it is a crime to cook condensed milk cans. So I make it from scratch using my grandmother’s recipe which requires four hours of low heat cooking to reduce for example 2 liters of milk into 400 grams of doce de leite. Can use the oven to cook the condensed milk too…


  38. This question is for Mariana
    Vera for you if you can answer :-)

    When using pressure cooker, do you put the whistle on or no?

  39. Hi Vera,
    I am really interested in this technique for making Dulce de leche unfortunately I am concerned with the BPA lining inside the can leaching very dangerous toxins inside the dulce.
    “Bisphenol-A is a plastic and resin ingredient used to line metal food and drink cans, and it’s a main building block for polycarbonate (PC) plastics. Even at low doses, Bisphenol A has been linked to cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, obesity, and insulin resistance, which can lead to Type II diabetes.”
    Sorry for pooping the party but our health is very important. Your website is truly amazing and your recipes the best.

  40. Virginie, thank you for the information. I read that cans with condensed milk contain less BPA than with other products. Although, I agree it definitely should be considered. I buy organic condensed milk in cans without white lining. Not every manufacturer uses BPA. Some brands, like Eden Foods and Trader Joes are BPA free.

  41. Have you ever tried this with canned goat milk or coconut milk?? I was wondering if it would work. I can’t eat cows milk any more.

  42. MyRecessionKitchen, sorry couldn’t reply earlier. No, unfortunately you can’t cook the canned coconut milk or goat milk the same way. But you can cook the goat milk on the stove, with an addition of sugar and baking soda to caramelize it and thicken. Actually, I believe, originally it was made from the goat milk. So, if you don’t find the goat taste too strong, you can give it a try. I don’t have a recipe, but I’m sure it can be googled. Hope, it helps.

  43. Hi Vera,
    My Mexican grandmother used to make dulce de leche this way all the time! I’m so glad to see the recipe here because since she died at 100 years old (!) 17 years ago, I’ve never been sure about how long to cook it, and if it would truly work unopened….though that was how I remembered her doing it. Your recipe says ‘condensed milk’, but I’m sure that you meant ’sweetened condensed milk’, right? Just checkin’… thanks for your wonderful blog! I’m a new fan!

  44. Leslie, it is definitely sweetened condensed milk. Thank you for your kind words.

  45. Hey Vera!
    I’m in luv with ur site! Thanks sooooo soooooo MUCH! Just tried the Dulce de Leche in a pressure cooker(with the whistle on) for about 35min – ur tips assuring me that we wouldn’t have any explosions! ;) Came out woww!! Can’t wait to try ur rice pudding with it now!.. Will keep visitin ur site often.. u got urself an ardent fan! :) Thanks again! ***Hugs***

  46. Hello Vera. I’ve made DDL once, by cooking some milk, golden syrup plus some other stuff. Anyway, it took about one hour and it came out pretty nicely. I’d like to try this boiling method but it’s a bit harder to get condensed milk here, what you usually find in the supermarkets are sweetened creamer.

  47. Kaytee, thank you! I’m so glad you liked it.

    Sumaiyyah, the original method is to cook milk, sugar, and baking soda on the stove top. You can google the recipe, I’m sure you’ll find it.

  48. There are a number of sites that give instructions for making this in a crockpot, or even dumping the condensed milk in a pie pan and baking in the oven–which would bypass the concerns re BPA in the can. No matter how you make it, it is delicious!!!!

  49. Can we mix this caramel with heavy cream to act as a filling of vanilla cake

  50. my mother used to make this alot. We use it for bread spread.

  51. Dear Vera, Can you tell me how long I can store the unopened can?
    Should I refrigerate it if I am keeping it for like 6 months, unopened?

  52. Rose, I’ve never tried to keep it for six months! The longest period I kept it for was probably about a month or so. I do put it in the fridge, but I don’t think it’s actually necessary.

  53. Hi, I have been reading up on this the last few days as I am making a banoffe pie this weekend and would like to try this. I have never heard of boiling a tin before until a few days ago. I also seen it on ‘This morning’ a few days ago but Phil Vickery said Holly should have pierced the tin? Do you pierce the tin?

  54. Kirsteen, no you don’t pierce the tin, just submerge it and make sure it stays under water for all cooking time.

  55. [...] can (14 oz) dulce de leche, homemade or good quality [...]

  56. I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t want to eat anything that is cooked in a can. These cans are aluminum and there are many studies that have proven that aluminum is not good for you.

    The easy way to get around this is to empty the condensed milk into a canning jar and place on the lid. Then proceed to cook it either on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. The benefit of this method is that you can see how dark the dulce de leche is. I like mine on the dark side. The darker the dulce the richer the taste…to a point. It can taste burned so don’t go much past a medium peanut butter color.
    I generally cook it in my slow cooker. To get to the color I like it takes about 10 hours on low.

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