Crazy for Crust

Jun 18

Homemade Dulce de Leche {slow cooker}

Pin It

Made in a slow cooker, this DIY Dulce de Leche is better (and cheaper) than store bought. It’s some of the best milky smooth caramel you’ll ever eat.

Get your spoon ready – you’ll want to eat this straight from the jar!

Homemade Crockpot Dulce de Leche - it's SO easy to make your own!

I have been really irritated lately. You see, I’ve made this DIY Dulce de Leche and I’ve made a few recipes with it (coming soon!), which means I’ve typed Dulce de Leche about 5,000,000 times.

Here’s the issue: I have a keyboard shortcut on my Mac. Whenever I type “de” it auto-fills with my personal email address. I set it up on my phone so forms would be easier and since both my phone and MacBook are smarter than me, they talk to each other and plot my demise. Do you see where I’m going with this?

EVERY time (and I mean Every. Single. Time.) I’ve typed Dulce de Leche lately it auto-fills with my email address. Over and over again. Even if I catch the pop up and “x” it out. It’s gotten to the point I often type “dulcede leche” and add the space. For this post, I’m cutting and pasting.

I don’t want to get rid of the shortcut, because then my Mac and my phone will plot against me and I won’t be able to use it on my phone.

But here’s the kicker: last week I was filling out a form on my Mac and I typed “de” and it didn’t autofill with my email address and I had to type it out on my own.

I was really angry then. I swear, I’m an Apple girl and all, but I really really really hate them sometimes. I don’t want my technology to be smarter than me. But it is.

In fact, not only is technology smarter, but so is my slow cooker. I tried to make Dulce de Leche from scratch using real milk and sugar and it was horrid. Burned, lumpy, and just not good at all. Turns out all I needed was my slow cooker to save the day.

DIY Dulce de Leche (4 of 8)

If we’re being honest with each other, I didn’t even know what dulce de leche was until a few years ago. Blogging has taught me so many things! Dulce de leche is quite possibly the best stuff ever. It’s milk and sugar that get boiled down and cooked until thick and sweet and rich. It’s Mexican caramel: creamy, milky, and so, so good.

Last year I used a can of dulce de leche to make easy ice cream. It was SO GOOD. I haven’t done much using it since, but I always see the cans at Walmart (they’re not cheap, about $3-4 a pop) and think about things to make. Then I went to Miami for BlogHer Food and it was everywhere. In dessert, in the grocery store, on menus. And I remembered just how much I love it. So I wanted to make my own.

After the from scratch fail (which I’m determined to try again), I decided to go the sweetened condensed milk route. I’ve known for years about making your own ducle de leche using sweetened condensed milk. People do it in the oven, in a pot, in a slow cooker. With the can, without. Every recipe is pretty much the same: cook the SCM for several hours and it turns into dulce de leche, like magic.

I decided to go the Crock Pot route because I wouldn’t have to baby-sit it. I could set it and forget it, the beauty of all things slow cooker. But I was afraid to do it in the can, because I’ve heard horror stories of exploding cans and fire. Then I happened along the Betty Crocker recipe, using mason jars.

I knew it was the perfect recipe for me because I love mason jars. #IknowImweird

Because this recipe is super difficult (HA, kidding), I decided to do a step-by-step for you. Ready? Here we go:

DIY Dulce de Leche (1 of 8)

Start with 3 8-ounce mason jars (or 6 4-ounce) and 2 14-ounce cans of sweetened condensed milk. Use jars that will fit in your crock pot, covered by 1-2 inches of water. Make sure the jars are clean and have fresh rings and lids.

DIY Dulce de Leche (2 of 8)

Evenly divide the SCM between the 3 jars. Seal tightly.

DIY Dulce de Leche (3 of 8)

Place your jars in your crockpot and cover with water so that there is about 1-2 inches of water above the lids. Cover and cook for 10 hours on LOW. When the time is up, lay out a kitchen towel on the counter. Use tongs to remove the jars (the water is almost boiling and the jars are HOT!) and let them cool to room temperature. The rings may have accumulated some rust during their bath, so just wipe that off with a towel. Then store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

The end result is a thick, sweet, milky flavored caramel. You can do so many things with it:

  • Eat it with a spoon
  • Spread it on graham crackers
  • Dip fruit in it
  • Warm the jar for a minute or two and then pour over ice cream

There are a few other recipes I have for you coming in the next few weeks. Stay tuned: you won’t want to miss them. File away this recipe because if you can’t find the canned kind, it’s so easy to make your own. And it tastes better too!

Homemade Crockpot Dulce de Leche - it's SO easy to make your own!

Put down the spoon. Save some for later!

Or just make more. Whatever!

diy Dulce de Leche {slow cooker}

diy Dulce de Leche {slow cooker}


  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3-8 ounce jars with rings and lids (or 4-6 ounce jars)
  • Water
  • Slow Cooker


  1. Divide the sweetened condensed milk among the 3 or 4 jars. (Make sure the jars you choose will fit in your crockpot with 1-2 inches of water covering them.) Seal the jars with clean rings and lids. Place in your slow cooker, making sure they do not touch.
  2. Fill the crockpot with water to cover 1-2 inches above the tops of the jars. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours.
  3. When they’re finished cooking, remove the jars carefully with tongs (they and the water will be HOT!) and place them on your kitchen counter to cool to room temperature. Once cool, refrigerate until using. Will keep for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.
  4. Some of the rings may get little rust spots from being in the water all day. Just wipe the rust off with a kitchen towel.

Easy Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

easy-dulce-de-leche-ice-cream (1 of 1)

Banana Caramel Pecan Doughnuts

banana-caramel-pecan-doughnuts (5 of 6)

75 Caramel Recipes

75 Gooey Caramel Recipes

Sweets from friends:
Caramel Snickerdoodle Bars by Taste and Tell
Dulce de Leche Churro Donuts by Oh Sweet Basil
Peanut Butter Cheesecake with dulce de leche and pretzel crust by Something Swanky



    Pin It Yum

73 Responses to “Homemade Dulce de Leche {slow cooker}”

  1. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness posted on June 18, 2014 at 3:13 am (#)

    “because then my Mac and my phone will plot against me and I won’t be able to use it on my phone.” That just made me laugh. I feel the SAME! My autocorrect on my phone always changes “don’t” to “foot.” Who uses foot more than don’t? I hate technology sometimes.
    I have never made my own dulce de leche, but I love the stuff! An easy crockpot recipe? YES! Pinned :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      I’m glad it’s not just me. My phone also knows I’m afraid of lice because whenever I type love or like it autocorrects to lice. Stupid technology.


      • Cora A replied on August 29th, 2014 at 3:45 am

        i love your blog Dorothy! you’re such a fun person with so much humor .. who would not love baking if all felt like you do.

        • Dorothy Kern replied on August 29th, 2014 at 4:06 pm

          Aw, you’re sweet, thank you Cora! :)

  2. Chloe @ foodlikecake posted on June 18, 2014 at 3:32 am (#)

    Yum! I love dulche de leche!


  3. Mir posted on June 18, 2014 at 3:42 am (#)

    No stirring at the stove for a million hours? Yes! I can’t wait to try this. It’s very exciting!


  4. How to Philosophize with Cake posted on June 18, 2014 at 3:45 am (#)

    What a great idea! I’ve always wanted to make dulce de leche, but it just seems like so much work. Love this! :)


  5. Kathy Huff posted on June 18, 2014 at 4:30 am (#)

    My Aunt used to cook cans of SCM to make the BEST caramel pie. All you need is a baked pie crust, caramel, and whipped cream for the top. Yum!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 6:47 am

      Just wait until Monday Kathy!!! :)


  6. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice posted on June 18, 2014 at 4:49 am (#)

    Dulce de leche is popping up everywhere, and I love that this is a slow cooker recipe! Perfect to use for those hot summer days. Don’t know how long this would last in my house though, I have a feeling I would eat it by the spoonfuls! Pinned!


  7. Ashton posted on June 18, 2014 at 4:57 am (#)

    hahaha, I have no idea how you survived that shortcut fiasco!!! I would be DYING! LOL. Way to go though, because this dulce de leche looks amazing and was totally worth the hassle of posting!!


  8. Danielle posted on June 18, 2014 at 5:25 am (#)

    I love how easy this rwci


  9. Danielle posted on June 18, 2014 at 5:25 am (#)

    I love how easy this recipe is and it looks absolutely delicious! Can’t wait to see your next recipes with it!


  10. marcie posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:23 am (#)

    The auto-fill on my phone and computer drive me crazy some times! ugh. I’ve only made dulce de leche once, and it wasn’t too successful, so I’ve never done it again. This looks so easy and is a must-try!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Exactly why I went with the SCM version!!


  11. Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:24 am (#)

    Girl are you kidding me? I can make this in a slow cooker? So excited to try this! Looks unbelievable!


  12. Jill @ Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons posted on June 18, 2014 at 8:07 am (#)

    Wow….this is a great idea Dorothy!


  13. Carol M posted on June 18, 2014 at 9:03 am (#)

    Caramel is one of my favorite sweets. So yummy with nuts covered with chocolate, also caramel coated apples rolled in nuts. This is also a low cost way to make caramel. I definitely will try this recipe.


  14. Heather @ French Press posted on June 18, 2014 at 9:30 am (#)

    Stella had some for the first time last week and is now hooked! I cannot wait to try it at home


  15. Lauren posted on June 18, 2014 at 9:47 am (#)

    I love this idea!! I’ve seen this been done with the straight up cans, but this makes a lot more sense for me! Brilliant, girl!!


  16. Pingback:

  17. Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking posted on June 18, 2014 at 10:26 am (#)

    I’m an Apple girl too but sometimes, sometimes the technology makes me want to cry! Why won’t my photos on my phone sync on my Mac anymore! why?!?!?!! I feel for you. Aaaaannnndd I kind of want to figure out how to get it to auto populate my email. So smart!

    Just like this dulce de leche!! So smart! I’ve never made it, never even eaten it and that just seems so wrong! I must, I must! It doesn’t hurt that now I have an excuse to buy some of those adorable tiny Ball jars. Just sayin’….


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Mine doesn’t sync photos anymore either. WHY NOT???? OH THE PAIN. The auto-populate is under settings – keyboard settings. You can add shortcuts there!


      • Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking replied on June 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

        I will add that shortcut today! Yay for not having to type out my really long email address ever again! I am so glad that it’s not just me but I also, clearly, feel your frustration! I also fear that its only a matter of time before all the photos on my phone disappear and I’ll be left with nothing. :-(

  18. ami@naivecookcooks posted on June 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm (#)

    I need to try my hands at this! Delicious!


  19. Kelly - Life made Sweeter posted on June 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm (#)

    Boo to auto-correct, it drives me bonkers sometimes too! But yay to this crock-pot dulce de leche! This is such a great idea Dorothy – love it! Pinning and can’t wait to try it :)


  20. Alyssa {Cake, Crust, and Sugar Dust} posted on June 18, 2014 at 12:55 pm (#)

    I just want to sit down on the couch and hang out with a jar of dulce de leche! I’m so glad that you transfer the condensed milk to your own jars and warn people about safety! I’ve burned myself making dulce de leche before…it was not pretty! I’ll have to try your way so I don’t have to deal with any stirring next time :)


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      I think the stirring is what made my from scratch version fail. As in, I didn’t. :)


  21. Caitlin @ teaspoon posted on June 18, 2014 at 1:06 pm (#)

    I learned about dulce de leche when i lived in Buenos Aires for a few months. They had so many brands and they were all delicious!! I would mostly just eat it out of the jar, with a spoon. I may or may not have gained 15 lbs while living there between the dulce de leche and empanadas :) I like the sounds of using a crock pot! That makes it much easier.


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      I can see doing that. I’d probably gain 15 lb too!


  22. Averie @ Averie Cooks posted on June 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm (#)

    Give me a spoon (and a pair of elastic waist pants) because I bet I could eat all those jars myself! Love it! Mmmmmm, the best! If sweetened condensed milk could get any better, this is how! :)


  23. Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes posted on June 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm (#)

    This looks so sweet and delicious! Love that you made it in your slow cooker. I don’t mean to laugh because I’m an Apple girl too but I can just imagine the woes! I use x y z like double letter to fill out my name email and website, and whenever I try send someone double hugs/kisses with “xx” instead of looking passionate I look like I’m self-obsessed!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      LOL, I’m so glad it’s not just me!!


  24. Julianne @ Beyond Frosting posted on June 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm (#)

    Yes! I have been wanting to do this forever!


  25. Aimee @ ShugarySweets posted on June 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm (#)

    I love that this is made in the slow cooker in jars (not the cans)!! Keeping this handy for my next dulce de leche craving!!


  26. Maritza posted on June 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm (#)

    I come from Argentina, born and raised. Condensed mil cans, slowly boiled for a couple of hours, making sure the water always covers the cans – let it cool.. voilaa !!! there is Dulce de Leche, but the real one, not even the one patisseries uses is just milk/sugar and 8-9 hours to cook.. So you haven’t discovered the “gun powder”..but enjoy!!!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      I tried to make that one Maritza, and it totally failed. I want to try again though, I bet it’s amazing!


  27. Sheila posted on June 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm (#)

    This is a crazy recipe! Just put one can of condensed milk covered with water in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes after starts to boil. Let it cool completely before opening the can, and it’s done… Dulce de Leche!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 18th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      You can do that too, but I’ve heard horror stories about exploding cans. This made me feel safer!


  28. Lynn @ The Actor’s Diet posted on June 18, 2014 at 6:30 pm (#)

    I recently did this too – wish I had done more than one batch!


  29. Joanne posted on June 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm (#)

    I love dulce de leche, but did not want to cook the sweetened condensed milk in my slow cooker. So, I bought 2 cans of the Nestle brand a while back. Thanks for your instructions.


  30. Jessica @ Sweet Menu posted on June 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm (#)

    Are you serious? That’s it? I just can’t fathom that condensed milk can turn into that liquid gold! Wow!!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 19th, 2014 at 6:22 am

      I know! It’s like magic!


  31. Tracy posted on June 18, 2014 at 8:54 pm (#)

    I usually do this by placing one freshly purchased, un-dented can in simmering water for 4 hrs in a soup pot with 3 in water covering the can. You have to transfer it as soon as it cools because the outside of the can will rust. So happy I can make it in the slow cooker! It is the best stuff in the whole world and people think you have mad skills when you use it in/on stuff.


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 19th, 2014 at 6:21 am

      I know it’s one of those flavors people are intrigued by! And they’ve usually never heard of it so you sound all important and knowledgable! :)


  32. JP posted on June 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm (#)

    I alway’s did the rolling boil method in the can. I never blew one up yet. I am officially assigned as the “family” Dulce de Leche cooker because no one else wants to risk it….or dosen’t want to clean the ceiling….lol. Boiling the cans is the way O’charley’s make their Caramel pies….Not sure if they even make them anymore. I will forward this to my daughters, I’m sure that with this safer Crock pot method, I can step down as the Dulce de Leche man!
    Just a thought while mentioning Leche…Have you made a Tres Leches ( 3 milk ) cake yet? A great Mexican sponge cake recipe that has 3 different milks poured over it once it has baked…then topped with the lightest cream icing EVER! Ol’e


    • Dorothy Kern replied on June 19th, 2014 at 6:18 am

      I haven’t tried that one yet. I’ve never even had it, but always heard about it. I think it’s going on my list – because it sounds unbelievable!


  33. Medeja posted on June 19, 2014 at 1:39 am (#)

    Irresistible.. tempting.. soooo good!


  34. Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking} posted on June 19, 2014 at 7:45 am (#)

    Mac keyboard shortcuts are a big pain in my ass. I’m going to turn mine off since it causes more frustration than help.

    And great minds think alike, I had planned on doing the same homemade dulce de leche, but from scratch. :) I want to dive my spoon in!


  35. Kayle (The Cooking Actress) posted on June 19, 2014 at 7:50 am (#)

    OUT OF CONTROLLLL! So amazing!!!


  36. Kristyn posted on June 19, 2014 at 10:27 am (#)

    All I can say is MMMMMMMMMMMM!


  37. Amy @ Amy's Healthy Baking posted on June 19, 2014 at 2:36 pm (#)

    Ugggh I have a love-hate relationship with technology too. It always outsmarts me — no fair! It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know about the shortcut for filling out forms; I’d probably have a big mess of typos and random email addresses in every blog post! 😉 I totally wanted to try dulce de leche in the slow cooker too, but I only have a teensy tiny two-person one and no mason jar small enough to fit inside… But when we move (and that kitchen better be bigger!), more mason jars and a regular sized slow cooker are two of the first things on my list!


  38. ashley M. | Our Full Table posted on June 21, 2014 at 8:24 am (#)

    So easy! Why dont more people make their own? Add some sea salt! Oh YUM!


  39. Pingback: Thick Homemade Chocolate Sauce - Crazy for Crust

  40. Pingback: Strawberry Dulce De Leche Cake - Life Love and Sugar

  41. Lolys posted on July 20, 2014 at 8:03 pm (#)

    Sorry I don’t have a website but I love your receipts. What I have seen and tried are all so very delicious.
    I have one question about the dulce de leche. Do you boil the rings and lids? Thank you for your help.


    • Dorothy Kern replied on July 23rd, 2014 at 11:38 am

      I didn’t – I just made sure they were clean first. It only lasts a few weeks, so I don’t think you need to worry about that step, but you can if you want!


  42. Pingback: Homemade Dulce de Leche Coffee Creamer - Crazy for Crust

  43. Sandra posted on August 5, 2014 at 2:06 am (#)

    Excellen idea!!, but I must tell you that the creamy, milky, and so, so good dulce de leche is originally from Argentina, not Mexico…


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 5th, 2014 at 6:28 am

      That’s good to know – I thought Mexico for some reason! :)


  44. Pingback: No Bake Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Caramelized Peaches | The Food Charlatan

  45. Mrs. Berry posted on August 12, 2014 at 6:36 am (#)

    You’re a genius! I remember babysitting the can on the stove to get this heavenly stuff whenever I made chocolate turtles. The kids and I would make as many turtles as we had caramel for, which varied depending on how fast I could get the turtles made and how many kids were ‘helping’ with the Dulce de leche!
    I think I should make some of this today – and test drive stirring a spoonful into my coffee!


    • Dorothy Kern replied on August 12th, 2014 at 7:29 am

      Ooooh, making turtles with dulce de leche. What a great idea!! Thanks for reading!


  46. Pingback: Dulce de Leche Toffee Crunch Ice Cream

  47. Pingback: Salted Dulce de Leche Brownies - A Kitchen Addiction

  48. Pingback: A Food Bucket List | I Need to Bake

  49. Linda Cwynar posted on April 13, 2015 at 6:39 pm (#)

    I have made this for years. I just cook the can. Yes, the can. Turn the can on its side cover with water cook on a slow boil for 6 hours. Have hot water waiting nearby because periodically you have to add water. This is important don’t forget its on, keep the water level above the can. Check it every hour to add water. Let it cool after 6 hours then open it for rich gooey richness. Love it. Drop it into pecan pieces then cover with melted chocolate. The best turtles you ever tasted.


    • Dorothy Kern replied on April 14th, 2015 at 7:16 am

      I was going to do that too Linda and was worried it would explode! I’m prone to forgetting about…well…everything. Thanks for the tips! And the turtles. Great idea!


  50. Essie posted on April 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm (#)

    This post was a bit nostalgic for me. I remember my father teaching me to make this treat by boiling the can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water, when I was a little girl. Then we just ate it out of the can with spoons. It didn’t last long enough to need refrigeration.


    • Dorothy Kern replied on April 16th, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      Right? I like eating it that way too! So glad it could bring back memories for you!


  51. meghan posted on April 22, 2015 at 8:26 pm (#)

    I want to make this for a gift basket. But will it be ok not refrigerated for a day or so?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *