Homemade Dulce de Leche (slow cooker)

4 from 1 vote
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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!

A spoon scooping the Homemade Crockpot Dulce de Leche out of a small clear cup

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 packaged in tiny Mason Jars with a teal string bow tied around one

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:

2 mini clear Mason jars next two 2 cans of Sweetened Condensed Milk on a wooden board

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.

3 Mason jars filled with DIY Dulce de Leche next to an empty can of sweetened condensed milk on a wooden board

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

3 Jars of DIY Dulce de Leche sitting in a white crock pot full of water

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!

collage of Homemade Crockpot Dulce de Leche

Put down the spoon. Save some for later!

Or just make more. Whatever!

diy Dulce de Leche {slow cooker}

4 from 1 vote
Yield 24 ounces
Serving Size

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Easy Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

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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

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93 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. I do the same thing, but leave then in the cans. I put the cans in the crockpot and cover with water. I cook on low 10-12 hours and then take them out and let them cool. Only open after cool. They are perfect and golden and delicious!

  2. You have to make sure the lids have sealed! Sorry, Left that one out! Use canning jars with lids and disks. 

  3. I just made this and the Dulce de Leche was AMAZING! I cooked on low in the crock pot for the ten hours, it was still too light in color and the lids had not sealed. I turned to high for 1 hour and all was perfect! I live at high altitude and have to cook everything longer, higher temps. I do a lot of canning and I see no reason why this could not be stored on the shelf. I sterilized my jars and lids in boiling water before adding the condensed milk. Very easy, I’m gonna see how these sell at the farmer’s market! 

  4. Thanks Dorothy for your reply. I’ll do a little checking around the net. At least now I know that I can freeze it so that kind of solves my problem.

  5. This maybe a silly question but do the lids on the canning jars seal as they cool (like in regular canning). If they do why can’t they be stored in the cupboard like any other canned food? It would be nice to be able to make several jars ahead to be used when ever rather than having to use it all up within 4 weeks. I can’t wait to try it out.

    1. I don’t have any experience with canning so I don’t think I’m able to give advice on shelf life. I did a little searching on this recipe (it’s not of my creation, if you google, there are hundreds of other people who’ve made it this way) and the top few don’t mention shelf life. However, foodie with family, who just wrote a book on canning, mentioned 2 weeks in the fridge. (http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/slow-cooker-no-stir-dulce-de-leche-in-jars-no-cans/) You can freeze it if you want, just scoop some out of each jar (or fill them a little less full) to allow for expansion.

  6. Dorothy, I tried this over the weekend, but put my 1/2 pint canning jars in a roasting pan (covered them with water) since they wouldn’t fit in my crock pot.  I put it on low (200-250) for 10 hours, the jars sealed but the color is not a brown caramel color and just a little darker than when I started.  Any suggestions?  THANKS!!

    1. Chances are they needed to cook at a higher temp? Or a longer time? I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, since I only have ever done this in a crock pot. I’m pretty sure ovens cook differently than the slow cooker does.

      1. Thanks Dorothy.  I’ll just get some smaller jars so they WILL fit in the crock pot!!  

    1. Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve never used a pressure cooker, so I wouldn’t be able to give advice on that!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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!