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This Dulce de Leche recipe is better and cheaper than store-bought and it’s made in the slow cooker! Even better, it’s some of the best milky smooth caramel you’ll ever eat. You only need one ingredient to make it, and there are about a thousand ways to use it – my favorite is straight from the spoon!

Overhead shot of a spoon inside a jar of dulce de leche


Easy Crockpot Dulce de Leche Recipe

For a long time, I bought dulce de leche at the grocery store – that is, until I decided to make my own homemade dulce de leche and, you know what? It’s pretty easy!

But making dulce de leche from sweetened condensed milk and with a crock pot means it is so easy, and it’s fantastic. I am going to show you how to do it!

I’ve known for years about making your own dulce 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.

Why this recipe works

I’ve tested all kinds of methods, and hands-down, the easiest is in the slow cooker. I love it for a few reasons:

  • Because the heat is easy to control, making this crock pot dulce de leche is practically fool-proof.
  • Unlike the stove or oven method, you don’t need to babysit it. I never leave my house with the oven or stove on, but the slow cooker? No problem. Cooking them in a water bath makes it cook low and slow!
  • You don’t need to worry about exploding cans. Yes, this is a thing that can happen when you cook the milk in the cans. That’s why I like making dulce de leche in a mason jar, and not on the stove top.
One can of sweetened condensed milk

What is Dulce de Leche

It’s Mexican caramel that is creamy, milky, and so, so good. It’s also pretty simple – just sugar and milk boiled down until it’s thick, sweet, and rich.

There are so many ways to use it – use it to make desserts, spread it on graham crackers, dip fruit in it, warm it up and use it as an ice cream topping. I love making dulce de leche cookies or ice cream with it!

Instead of using milk and sugar, there is an easy shortcut: sweetened condensed milk. It already has both ingredients, so all you have to do is cook it. As I mentioned, there are several ways you can do this, but the easiest way is in the crock pot.

In addition to a slow cooker, you’ll need some mason jars with lids. You can use 8-ounce jars or 4-ounce jars. Just make sure they fit in your slow cooker.

ONE Ingredient Dulce de Leche

You just need ONE ingredient: Sweetened Condensed Milk. Grab 2 (14-oz) cans sweetened condensed milk – not low fat.

Four photos showing the steps to making dulce de leche in your slow cooker

How to Make Dulce de Leche in a Crock Pot

  1. Divide the milk evenly among the mason jars. Seal the jars with clean rings and lids and then place them, spaced apart, in the crock pot.
  2. Make sure the water level in the crock pot covers the jars by one to two inches. Place the lid on top. We’re essentially creating a water bath for the milk.
  3. Cook them on low for 10 hours.
  4. Once they are done cooking, remove them with tongs. Be very careful because the water will be hot. Leave the jars at room temperature until they are cooled.
Three small jars of dulce de leche

Storing and Freezing

How to Store Dulce de Leche

Keep the caramel in the mason jar you cooked it in. Once they are at room temperature, store them in the refrigerator, and they will keep for up to four weeks. We are essentially canning the dulce de leche – so make sure that your lids are sealed – the tops should not bubble or pop when pressed.

Can You Freeze Dulce de Leche?

Yes, you can freeze it for up to three months.

One spoon inside jar of dulce de leche with more jars in background

Tip From Dorothy

Expert Tips

  • Use jars with fresh rings and tight-fitting lids. You don’t want any water getting into the milk.
  • You can overcook dulce de leche – even in the slow cooker! So, remember to set the timer for 10 hours and remove the jars once it goes off. The caramel should be thick and a deep golden color when it’s done.
  • Be very careful when you remove the jars – the jars of dulce de leche in the crockpot will be very hot! Use tongs to lift them out.
  • You may notice some rust on the rings when you take the jars out. This is normal and happens when they are in contact with water all day. Use a dishtowel to wipe off the rust, and it’s all good.

FAQs

Is dulce de leche just sweetened condensed milk?

Basically it is – dulce de leche is a soft milky caramel. You can make it from scratch using milk and sugar but it’s so much easier to cook condensed milk.

What is the difference between dulce de leche and caramel?

Traditional caramel is cooked sugar, then you add heavy cream to thin, whereas dulce de leche is milk and sugar cooked for a long time until it caramelizes. The latter is more creamy and thick than traditional carmel.

Can you cook this in a pressure cooker or on a stove or in the oven?

I don’t recommend the other methods. Pressure Cooker dulce de leche does work, but I haven’t tried it – it can be dangerous. Same goes for the stovetop or oven methods – if you’re not careful it can explode.

One spoon inside jar of dulce de leche with more jars in background

Dulce de Leche Recipe

4.80 from 5 votes
Make homemade dulce de leche in the slow cooker! Crockpot dulce de leche is so easy to make with just ONE ingredient – it's a rich caramel that goes in so many recipes.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 5 minutes
Yield 24 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients
 

  • 2 14 ounces cans 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.

Recipe Notes

  • Use jars with fresh rings and tight-fitting lids. You don’t want any water getting into the milk.
  • You can overcook dulce de leche – even in the slow cooker! So, remember to set the timer for 10 hours and remove the jars once it goes off. The caramel should be thick and a deep golden color when it’s done.
  • Be very careful when you remove the jars – the jars of dulce de leche in the crockpot will be very hot! Use tongs to lift them out.
  • You may notice some rust on the rings when you take the jars out. This is normal and happens when they are in contact with water all day. Use a dishtowel to wipe off the rust, and it’s all good.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Make homemade dulce de leche in the slow cooker! Crockpot dulce de leche is so easy to make with just ONE ingredient – it’s a rich caramel that goes in so many recipes.

Favorite Dulce de Leche Recipes

Last Updated on April 12, 2023



Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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85 Comments

  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!