Dulce de Leche – 2 Ways!

Dulce de leche on a spoon

Learn how to make Dulce de Leche two different ways! The classic version is made from milk, sugar and baking soda while the easy version is made with a simple can of sweetened condensed milk. Both produce a delicious and rich caramel-like sauce that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful!

Do you ever get a craving for a decadent and comforting dessert that tastes so rich and delicious, you can’t wait to put it on everything? Then you need some dulce de leche!

This caramel-like sauce is so versatile, it can be used as a sauce, a spread, eaten on it’s own, mixed in as a flavoring and countless other ways.

What is dulce de leche?

Dulce de leche is a thickened caramel-like sauce that’s made with milk, sugar and sometimes flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. It’s prepared by slowly heating milk and sugar until the mixture caramelizes and thickens, turning it into a sauce that’s often referred to as Mexican caramel.

What’s the difference between dulce de leche and cajeta?

Dulce de leche is sometimes called cajeta because they’re very similar. Though they’re made the same exact way, cajeta uses goat’s milk whereas dulce de leche uses cow’s milk. If your tummy is sensitive to cow’s milk, take a look at my cajeta recipe.

Dulce de Leche – 2 Ways

There are two ways to make dulce de leche:

  1. The classic version made on the stovetop with five ingredients including milk, sugar, baking soda, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon.
  2. The easy 1-ingredient version made in the oven with one can of sweetened condensed milk.

Both versions are similar in flavor and color, but where they differ is the actual cooking method and time.

Making the Classic Version

To make the classic version, heat up some milk, sugar and baking soda in a pot over medium high heat. Once the mixture boils, reduce it to a simmer and cook for about 1-1 1/2 hours until it’s thickened and transformed into a beautiful golden brown color.

I like adding in some vanilla extract and a touch of ground cinnamon at the end for extra flavor, but that’s completely optional.

This method requires more attention and some stirring every now and then to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Making the Easy 1-Ingredient Version

To make the easy version, simply pour a can of sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch baking dish like a glass pie plate and cover the top tightly with aluminum foil. Then place the pie plate into a larger dish like a roasting pan and fill up the pan with water until it reaches halfway up the pie plate.

This creates a water bath (or a bain-marie or baño-maría) that helps the sweetened condensed milk cook slowly and gently.

Bake this for 2 hours at 425°F and just set it and forget it. The longer it cooks, the darker and thicker it becomes.

Though this method takes a little longer than the classic method, it doesn’t require much attention once it’s in the oven.

Ways to enjoy dulce de leche

Besides eating it by the spoonful, here are some other ways to eat this amazing Mexican dessert!

  • spread onto dough to make Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Rolls
  • spread onto cookies or graham crackers
  • stirred into coffee or hot chocolate
  • drizzled on crepes, ice cream or brownies
  • spread on fruit likes bananas and apples

More Mexican desserts

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Dulce de Leche

Learn how to make Dulce de Leche two different ways! Choose the classic or easy version using milk and sugar or a can of sweetened condensed milk.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 10 servings (2 tablespoons each)
Calories 152kcal
Author Isabel Eats


For the classic version

For the easy 1-ingredient version

  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk


For the classic version

  • In a large pot over medium heat, stir together milk, sugar, and baking soda.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, making sure to remove the pot from the stove if it looks like the mixture is going to foam over. Keep stirring until the foam subsides and then return to the stovetop. 
  • Once the mixture is boiling consistently without foaming, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the milk has caramelized and thickened. 
  • When the mixture is a beautiful golden brown and the mixture has thickened to where it sticks very well to the back of a spoon, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and ground cinnamon.
  • Transfer to a glass jar to cool and enjoy!

For the easy 1-ingredient version

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch baking dish (I used a pie plate) and cover it tightly with foil. 
  • Place the covered dish in a larger pan (like a roasting pan) and pour hot water into the larger pan until it comes halfway up the side of the 9-inch dish.
  • Carefully transfer it to the oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Remove the 9-inch baking dish from the water bath and carefully remove the foil. Whisk the dulce de leche until completely smooth and transfer it to a glass jar to cool. Enjoy!


Makes about 1 1/4 cups.
Storage: Store dulce de leche in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to one month.
For the easy version: Check the water level in the roasting pan halfway through baking and add more hot water if needed. If the dulce de leche has not reached a beautiful golden brown color after the time is over, let it bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts
Dulce de Leche
Amount Per Serving (2 tablespoons)
Calories 152 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Cholesterol 14mg5%
Sodium 80mg3%
Potassium 156mg4%
Carbohydrates 29g10%
Sugar 28g31%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 100IU2%
Vitamin C 1.7mg2%
Calcium 130mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 152kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 80mg | Potassium: 156mg | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 100IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 130mg

This recipe was originally posted in 2017 and was updated in March 2020 with new photos, helpful tips and an additional alternative way to make the recipe.

The post Dulce de Leche – 2 Ways! appeared first on Isabel Eats.

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