easy dulce de leche

Oh boy, I may have done a bad thing when I made this… I may have opened Pandora’s box. Now I want this delicious dulce de leche on everything. I’ve been sneaking spoonfuls out of the fridge just to get a “fix” all week.

Dulce de leche, which translates to “milk candy”, is a delicious caramel like dip. It is usually made by slowly cooking milk and sugar until the moisture boils off and the sugars caramelize leaving you with a thick, rich, creamy sauce.

Although it is printed clearly on every can of sweetened condensed milk NOT to heat the cans unopened, one of the most common ways to make dulce de leche is to boil the unopened cans in a pot full of water on the stove for 3-4 hours. Now, that method is very dangerous because the temperature is difficult to control and if too much water boils away the internal temp of the can will keep rising until it explodes. I’ve seen this happen. It’s not pretty and caramel is nearly impossible to clean off of the ceiling and walls.

Using a slow cooker is much, much safer (although, the danger still exists). A slow cooker will maintain a fairly constant temperature (and a much lower temperature), the lid will prevent the water from boiling off and most lids secure into place with a clamp which would help stifle an explosion. BUT, the can still warns against heating unopened cans… so… follow this recipe at your own risk.

Okay, so if you haven’t been scared off, this recipe is so super easy that it’s almost unfair. Not to mention, you can make a batch of it for about $1.50 which is far less than the bottles of caramel ice cream topping or dip that you’d buy at the store. What can you use it for? Dipping fruit, topping desserts or stir it into your coffee drinks. It tastes exactly like those little square caramel candies that you can buy around Halloween time.

Easy Dulce de Leche

dulce de leche

4.63 from 8 votes

Easy Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche is easy to make using nothing but a slow cooker and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Total Cost $1.38 recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 5 minutes


  • 1 13 oz can sweetened condensed milk $1.38


  1. Remove the label from the can(s). Place the can(s) in the slow cooker and fill with water. The water needs to come at least one inch above the top of the can to maintain proper, even heat. Secure the lid on the slow cooker, set the temperature to LOW and let cook for 8 hours.
  2. After 8 hours, turn the heat off, remove the lid of the slow cooker and allow the water and cans to cool undisturbed. Once cool, open the can and remove the dulce de leche. It is ready to serve! Store leftovers in the refrigerator.


Step By Step Photos

sweetened condensed milk
Start with a can (or cans) of sweetened condensed milk, NOT evaporated milk. It needs the extra sugar that is in sweetened condensed milk for caramelization.

cans in slow cooker
Remove the labels from the cans and place them in the slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker with water until it covers the cans by one inch (there is water in that picture but you can’t see it because it’s CLEAR! HA!). Secure the lid on the slow cooker, turn the heat on to LOW and let cook for 8 hours.

dulce de leche
After 8 hours, turn off the heat, carefully remove the lid of the slow cooker and allow the water and cans to cool undisturbed. Once cool, the dulce de leche is ready to serve!

dulce de leche
Completely decadent!

label cans
I labeled and dated my extra cans and am keeping them in the refrigerator (in case the seal was compromised on a microscopic level as the can oxidized in the water and heat).

apples in dulce de leche
The sweet and creamy dulce de leche was PERFECT with tart granny smith apples!

caramel dipped apple
Hellooooooo delicious!

The longer you cook the dulce de leche, the darker and thicker it will get. So, if you prefer a lighter, more fluid dulce de leche, let it cook for about two hour less or carefully remove the cans from the hot water and let them cool in the air which will stop the cooking process sooner.