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Close up of jar with dulce de leche on a white surface

Dulce de Leche Recipe

This truly is the best recipe for making dulce de leche scratch, that wonderful sweet milk jam from Argentina, where I'm from. In this post, you'll find the most useful tips ever that were handed down from generations in my family making it.

  • Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups



For regular dulce de leche:

  • 4 cups (1 lt.) of whole milk
  • 1 cup (200g) white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional; I use it because it makes a richer dulce de leche)
  • Vanilla drops (optional)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

For thicker dulce de leche:

  • 1 cup regular dulce de leche (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 tablespoon milk


For regular dulce de leche:

  1. Heat the milk (and cream if using) over medium heat in a large saucepan with high sides and double or triple bottom.
  2. Add the sugar when it’s warm and mix. 
  3. Add the baking soda and stir until it dissolves.
  4. When it starts to boil, lower the heat to a minimum but keep it simmering.
  5. At this point is where you can add a plate upside down, glass marbles, or some other small glass object that can withstand the heat. What they do is move around so it ‘stirs’ the mixture and also helps with crystallization.
  6. Let it reduce, stirring every so often, about an hour, or an hour and a half. This depends on the amount of milk you’re using and the amount of heat. 
  7. It darkens from the bicarbonate and thickens. If you added a plate you can stir once in a while, but it not, you should stir more often.
  8. At some point, usually an hour from the moment it starts to simmer, it gets quite dark and thickens. At this point, it’s almost ready. Maybe a few minutes more. Make sure you take out the plate and stir constantly during these last moments.
  9. If you put a little on a plate it will run immediately, be quite liquid. It will thicken a lot as it cools and even more in the refrigerator.
  10. Remove from the heat, add vanilla and salt if using, transfer to a bowl and let cool. If you stir over a bowl with ice water it will cool faster and generally makes it creamier because there’s a smaller chance of crystallization. 
  11. Whisk at the end before refrigerating to make it as creamy as possible. 
  12. Fill a jar and keep refrigerated.

For thicker dulce de leche:

Option 1

  1. Mix cornstarch and milk in a small bowl or cup.
  2. Put the dulce de leche in a small saucepan over low heat.
  3. Stir constantly, and when the dulce de leche becomes more liquid, add the cornstarch slowly while stirring with a wooden spoon.
  4. Bring the mixture to a slow boil, stirring all the time. You don't want the mixture to stick.
  5. Boil for about 2 minutes, being careful it doesn't burn in the bottom of the pan. Check that it has somewhat thickened, but remember it will completely set after it's cooled and refrigerated. 
  6. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 1 hour before using, or for several weeks in a closed jar. 

Option 2

  1. Melt 50g (3 1/2 tablespoons) butter in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add a can of condensed milk (400g / 14oz) and 200g (7oz) regular dulce de leche.
  3. Stir over low heat until it thickens and let cool before using. 


Milk - use whole milk for the best results. This is a jam and the richness and fat in regular milk make for a more luscious product.

Cream - it adds even more richness, so I hardly make it without if I have some at home. 

Sugar - regular granulated sugar is what you want. I did try it with powdered sugar but the result is grainy. Brown sugar might work, but sometimes the consistency is not right.

Baking soda - this ingredient is crucial if you want a brown color. Use more for deeper caramel color and less for a more tea-with-milk type of hue.

Vanilla and salt - these can be categorized as optional, but I think a few drops of vanilla and a small pinch of sea salt deepen the flavor and make this milk jam so much tastier!

Saucepan: it should be deep because the milk when it boils can creep up quickly and you don't want it to spill, and heavy-bottomed because there's way less possibility of it scorching or sticking.

The plate inside: this is a peculiar tip and you can see it in the video tutorial above, but it's what they did in the old days, back when most of the food was homemade and took all day. My grandmother used glass marbles, but those are hard to find nowadays. The next best thing was a plate upside down, though I also use the super small glass things I show in the video also. The idea is to have something that moves around, mimicking stirring, so you don't have to do it manually. Because you need to stir very often otherwise.

Commercial dulce de leche: you can buy it online. The best one available to use for fillings right now is Vacalin dulce de leche repostero, which is the one we use here, so I recommend it. Others that are usually available for the regular type are Cachafaz Dulce de Leche, Havanna Argentina Dulce de Leche sauce, and DDL&Co. premium dulce de leche.

  • Author: Paula Montenegro
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 120
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Argentinian

Keywords: dulce de leche recipe