Dulce de Leche – how to

I’ve made dulce de leche before, but not like this. You might argue this is the only way to do it, and you’re probably right. There’s nothing else that can bring you such a rewarding feeling as boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for 4 hours and it not exploding.

I even left the house for a while to get dinner while this was going on, and people asked “what if something happens?” My response was “what if something happens while I’m home?” Ultimately, my reaction would be the same. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” (and I’m not really sure where it would go from there – shock, awe, dismay, laughter, sobbing, shaking, more screaming… the possibilities are endless). What would you do with 4 hours to kill?

Anyways, I made this so I could use it as a filling in Alfajores, a cookie my sister was introduced to while on her travels. The thought of it was terrifying, but really you’re just boiling water, so don’t worry. I got the directions from Instructables.com, which has a great slide show demonstration, but I have my own step by step photos to prove that I survived this and you will too.

You only need one ingredient for this, a can of sweetened condensed milk.

The key to boiling properly, as I focused on after panic set in when I realized there really was a chance this could explode, is that the can needs to be covered at all times with water. I used a ridiculously (comicly) oversized pot to be sure that there was never a chance the water could boil down lower.

Set the water to boil. Peel off the label of the milk so you’re left with a clean can. I rinsed it as well to get the gunk off that was leftover from the label.

Using tongs (didn’t get an action shot of this, sorry. Decided to prevent myself from being scalded) I lowered the can into the boiling water. Now here is where you go, “umm are you crazy?” because this is something I messed up on. You should put the can in the water before you start to boil. Guess what, my kitchen and I were okay. Still though, put the can in first.

Bring the water to a boil once the can is in. Then, reduce it to a simmer, and set your timer for 3.5 hours. Don’t worry, it’ll still be cooking for that extra half hour.

Here’s a picture of my really, really large pot just in case you thought I was exaggerating.

It’s really important to make sure the can stays covered with water at all times, so feel free to add more as needed.

After the time is up, use tongs to carefully remove the can from the boiling water and put it on a wire rack. It has to cool completely before you can open it. Towards the end, after an hour and a half, when it still wasn’t cool I put it in some cold water to help speed things up. It sort of worked. I’d recommend making this at a time when you have patience. Not like me, who made this so it finished cooking at 10:30pm.

Use a can opener to open, and enjoy!


  1. Wow, seems simple really, just have to be around to keep it covered.. now what to do with it, though I think quite a few recipes I have run across have it in it.. you are using it for cookies, what are some other uses?

  2. Filling for a cupcake, topping for a brownie or apple cake, I used it as a topping for a pie, a drizzle for cupcakes, put it on ice cream… mmmm anything you want!

  3. Oh my that looks amazing! I have never had a recipe that requires it but I think you can actually buy a can of condensed milk pre-boiled in the supermarket here in Australia… Will definitely try this if I have the need. I understand your fear though… I would think that it definitely needs a hole punctured in the lid (but I obviously have no idea haha)

    1. Once you make it, you’ll find all kinds of excuses to use it 😉

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