How-to, Recipes, Techniques

Make Dulce de Leche from Evaporated Milk (with no risk of exploding tins)

Dulce de leche (is a confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelised sugar. Literally translated, it means “candy of milk“, “milk candy”, or “milk jam” in the same way that dulce de frutilla is strawberry jam.

I have always known you could make Dulce de Leche from boiling a full, unopened tin of evaporated milk for 2-3 hours but as this method requires you to watch over it to make sure the tin doesn’t boil dry and explode, trying it has never really appealed to me. I have seen people who empty the tin into a pan and boil it directly, but the dulce de leche does not obtain its lovely golden colour.

Alas, it seemed shop-bought was to be my destiny, until I found a neat way of making it (or at least a very good substitute for it!) in a pan, without risking any explosions.


  1. Measure out 1 part butter, 1 part brown sugar and 2 part evaporated milk.
  2. Melt the ingredients in a pan on a very low heat.
  3. Continue to simmer for around 20 minutes, ensuring to stir constantly.
  4. The dulce de leche is done when it gives off a ‘caramel’ smell and has a gloopy consistency. The longer you simmer it, the thicker it will get. You could even make a mixture of toffee consistency.

As dulce de leche’s flavour is essentially caramelised sugar, it is interchangeable for caramel or toffee in many recipes (I certainly know many banoffee pie recipes that call for it.) It’s a versatile mixture so experiment and have fun!

22 thoughts on “Make Dulce de Leche from Evaporated Milk (with no risk of exploding tins)”

    1. It’s a ratio so ‘1 part butter, 1 part brown sugar and 2 part evaporated milk’ means for every amount of butter you use, use the same amount of brown sugar and double the amount of evaporated milk.

      So if you want to use say 200g of evaporated milk, that’s 2 parts, so one part would be 100g of sugar and 100g of butter.

      Hope that makes sense 🙂

      1. It doesn’t matter that the ratio refers to weight in this case. Just make sure use the same unit when measuring each ingredient. Hope that makes sense!

    2. I used 2 cans of evap. milk. then filled 1 of the empty cans full of white sugar. Took me approx. 45 mins med-low temp. stirring occasionally until thick. Turned out amazing!
      Thanks for giving ratios made it extra easy.
      i think this method is not only safer than boiling sealed cans but also faster IMO

  1. Had this in my spanish class this morning and I knew I had to learn the recipe! So far so good 🙂 I will definitely use it again!
    Also very clear instructions so thanks !! 🙂

    1. Oh it’s so cool you got to try it in your Spanish class. We never got to try food in mine (luckily my boyfriend is great at making tapas!) Glad the recipe worked out for you and thanks for the taking the time to tell me 🙂

    1. Yes you can but the taste will be less ‘fudgy’ if that makes sense and the colour will differ slightly. I’m sure it will still be delicious 🙂

  2. Does it have to be evaporated milk or can you use condensed milk? Also, is there any possibility it can be modified to use regular milk?oh and one more question, does the percentage of milkfat make any difference in the recipe like it does in say cheese?

    1. Traditional Dulche de Leche is made from condensed milk so it definitely would work. However condensed milk has a significantly higher sugar content so I would recommend not adding more sugar to the mix.
      You can make the recipe from milk by It can be made by simmering one measure of milk until it is reduced by 60% before adding sugar. I think semi-skimmed milk is fine but a lower ft content would probably make the recipe too bland. However, I’ve never done this myself. But please experiment and let me know how it goes 🙂


    I learned this the hard way 😉 I was still able to salvage a large part of it by straining the mixture through cheesecloth…

    Thanks for the recipe!

  4. I love your dulche de leche recipe. I didn’t thicken it a lot. I then took a vanilla bean and scraped it into a bowl. I poured an 8 oz. instant vanilla pudding into the bowl. I added 3/4 cup of milk and the dulche de leche. I beat it with an electric mixer until it was real thick. I then added an 8 oz. container of coolwhip and folded it in by hand. I then poured it into a 9 in. cooked pie crust. I call it Roni’s Dulche de Leche vanilla cream pie.

  5. Hi! Awesome recipe, super excited to try a version that doesn’t involve 3 hours of watching a can!!
    So for your ratio did you do it by volume or weight?
    (yes a ratio is just a number, but the same volume of these ingredients will have different weights so the ratio will be different if you’re working in say grams compared to ml – e.g. if you have a 1:1 ratio of milk : flour, using one cup of each will give you very different results to using 250g of each!)

    1. Hi Kathryn, great question! I always use weight rather than volume. When I say ratios are just number, I meant the units of weight you use is irrelevant. Hope that helps

  6. So much safer than the boiling tin cans! That method is right up there with cooking with pressure cookers in my books.
    I added a small pinch of sea salt to enhance the caramel undertones

  7. The method of boiling sweetened condensed milk in the can starts with hammering two holes into the top of the can with a scrubbed large nail to let the steam out. That way it won’t explode. Dangerous otherwise.

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