International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche Recipe (Latin American caramel spread)

(Latin American caramel spread)

Image Creative Commons by Kai Hendry

Average: 4.1 (83 votes)

Dulce de leche, is a sweet caramel spread popular throughout Latin America and used as a spread for bread, pastries, cakes, crepes and cookies like Argentinian alfajores cookies. It is known as cajeta in Mexico, manjar blanco in Peru, Chile and Bolivia, and arequipe in Colombia.

About 3 cups


  • Whole milk -- 4 cups
  • Sugar -- 1 1/4 cups
  • Vanilla -- 1 teaspoon
  • Baking soda -- 1/4 teaspoon


  1. Add all the ingredients to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir well to dissolve the sugar completely.
  2. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened and caramelized, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Transfer to a clean glass jar and refrigerate. Will keep for 1-2 weeks.


  • Goat's milk is used in Peru and Mexico.


it is known as manjar blanco in peru, not natillas.

Natillas in Peru refers to natillas norteñas, which is more of a caramel custard than a spread. I have updated the information in the recipe. Thanks for the tip, Sandra!

A more simple way of making manjar is to take a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT Evaporated Milk) remove the label and put it in a large sauce pan and boil it for at least 2 hours. Keep adding water so the can remains covered. When done, put cold water in the pan to let it cool off. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a proper container. It is exactly the same as what I tasted in Santiago. So Delicious!!!

This is indeed a way many South American cooks make their own dulce de leche (manjar). I actually do it this way myself from time to time. Just be aware that there are cases where the can explodes, so I can't really "officially" endorse it. ;)

No need to resort to boiling/pressure cooking a can (which is dangerous) - many Latin American markets and better supermarkeets now carry canned, jarred and squeeze-bottle versions of cajeta/dulce de leche/manjar.

If you still can't find ready made versions of this sweet, it's far safer to open a can of condensed milk, pour it into a saucepan and very gently reduce it over low heat, stirring from time to time. I learned this method in Australia - Oz folks do this all the time to make chocolate caramel slices.

don't boil off the water in the pan " no go BOOM "

hi cindy! is ti possible to cook it in a pressure cooker?tnx!

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into pint canning jars put on lids and rings, put into a crock pot cover with water and cook on low 10 hours, it comes out perfect with no hazard of explosion!

Mine took over 3 hours to caramelize.. just saying

It took you longer because it was on a constant low boil (aka-simmer)

Mine took 3.5 to 4 hours as well.

I just made this recipe tonight, and it turned out beautifully! Took about an hour and 15 mins to caramelize, and it tastes amazing! Thank you for such a great recipe! Definitely adding this to my recipe book!!

I am making the for my spanish class so I hope it works!

Me tooo !

As am I

A dear friend from Colombia taught me recently how to make dulce de leche immediately, as she told me "The only thing to fear is the pressure cooker, but only if you're frightened of one":

Place a can of sweetened condensed milk into a pressure cooker (remove label), pour water half-way up the can, close the pot and on a high heat bring the pressure to high, then put the heat to very low and cook for ten minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to decrease on its own, do not force the lid open. Once the pressure has all escaped and the lid can be removed easily extract the can and place into a pot of cold tap water, let sit for an hour, and the dulce de leche is then ready. I use this method constantly, so good with alfajores (pity the person who's never had one!!!) and slather the insides of cakes usually no matter what the exterior frosting is.

Can you can this after you make it for longer storage?

 You probably could, but I wouldn't know how. I would say to just make small batches and eat it up quickly!