Dulce de leche is eaten with almost everything in Argentina: on toast for breakfast, and alongside flans, pancakes and cakes. Here are two versions of this rich caramel which you can also eat with a spoon straight from the jar!




Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Dulce de leche is traditionally made on the stovetop in Argentina. It is a labour of love that must be watched at all times. As odd as this may sound, not all stovetops are alike. If the lowest setting on your stovetop isn’t low enough, you may have to use a heat diffuser to avoid the mixture from catching and burning. Constant stirring towards the end of cooking will produce a thick and rich coffee-coloured dulce de leche.

Alternatively known as the cheat’s version, oven-baked dulce de leche requires only one ingredient and it is more convenient to make. Cooking a tin of condensed milk in a hot water bath maintains a constant temperature and allows the milk to caramelise and thicken to that distinctive texture and colour.


Stove-top version (makes 410 g)

  • 1 litre (34 fl oz / 4 cups) full-cream (whole) milk
  • 300 g (10½ oz) granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • pinch salt

Oven-baked version (makes 550 g)

  • 2 395 g (14 oz) tins sweetened condensed milk


Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


This recipe makes 400-550 g.

Stove-top recipe

1. Heat the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Just before the mixture comes to the boil, reduce the heat to very low, ensuring that the mixture maintains a very gentle simmer (you may need to adjust the heat
accordingly). Cook, stirring often, for about 1 hour, in which time the mixture will darken and thicken. From this point, stir the mixture frequently to avoid it catching and burning. Continue stirring for 20–30 minutes, until the mixture is thick and toffee-coloured.

2. To test if the dulce de leche is ready, place a spoonful on a cold saucer or plate. Allow it to cool and thicken, then run your finger through the centre of the dulce de leche. If the mixture doesn’t pool back, it is ready. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.

3. Transfer the dulce de leche to a very clean and dry glass jar. It will keep in the fridge for 2–3 weeks.


Oven-baked recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

2. Pour the condensed milk into a 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cup) baking dish and cover with foil. Sit the baking dish in a larger dish and pour enough boiling water to come half way up the sides of the dish with the condensed milk. Cook in the oven, topping up with boiling water to maintain the level, for 2 hours, or until the condensed milk is toffee-coloured (the top will be darker).

3. Carefully remove from the oven and stir to combine while still warm. Set aside to cool completely.

4. Transfer the dulce de leche to a very clean and dry glass jar. It will keep in the fridge for 2–3 weeks.


Recipe from The Food of Argentina by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz, Smith Street Books, RRP $44.99