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Dulce De Leche in a Crock Pot

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Dulce de Leche
When I last made dulce de leche, I boiled milk and sugar on the stove top. You, my readers, flooded me with suggestions on alternate ways of making dulce de leche.

Presto 01362 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

Many of you suggested that I use a pressure cooker to make dulce de leche. That’s a great idea, but I don’t own one (it’s one of the few kitchen gadgets that I don’t own).

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Rosie suggested that I use a slow cooker:

Crock-Pot 4.5-Quart Manual Slow Cooker, Damask Pattern

I happen to have a slow cooker.  It’s not this one, but I wish it was!

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So, I decided to give slow cooker dulce de leche a go. But, I didn’t quite use Rosie’s method.

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking

I turned to the expert on all things slow cooker related, Steph at A Year of Slow Cooking.

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Instead of slow cooking the dulce de leche on high for 4-6 hours, she makes dulce de leche on low for 8 hours – allowing you to go to bed and wake up to dulce de leche (arguably better than waking up to coffee).

Instead of opening the can, Steph leaves the can intact. As long as the can remains fully submerged, it shouldn’t explode (I say this with some confidence after reading her post – including all of its comments – and trying it myself).

Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser & Polish 12-Ounces (1-Pack)

The downside, as you can see, is that the cans rust and get rust on the crock pot. You can easily remove the rust from the crock pot with a little Bar Keepers Friend.

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The stovetop milk plus sugar dulce de leche tasted slightly better than the crock pot version, but the ease of the crock pot far outweighs any taste differences. I’ll be using this method from now on.

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Dulce De Leche in a Crock Pot


  • One or two unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk.


  1. Remove the labels from the cans and put them in your crock pot.
  2. Completely submerge the can(s) in water.
  3. Set to low and wait eight hours.
  4. Wait for the cans to come to room temperature and open the cans.



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58 comments on “Dulce De Leche in a Crock Pot”

  1. Rae says:

    To help with keeping the rust off your pot I use aluminum foil, just put your cans on top of a small piece and no rust marks.

  2. Kat says:

    Been planning to try this one out when my friend told me about it. We have a pit outside where we cook (instead of using gas or electricity). I think that’ll allow me to “cook” the condensed milk. Cheers!

  3. Kamaile says:

    dulce de leche with the beef wellington cupcake? or is this a random post…

  4. Stef says:

    Rae – Thanks for the tip!

    Kamaile – You guessed it!

  5. i have always been scared to do this, but as long as it is submerged I guess it’s good.

  6. I am soooo making this! I am making alfajor and this is the filling!

  7. Anonymous says:

    What about the rust, did it affect the inside of the can or just outside? I’m thinking of food safety.

  8. Stef says:

    Anon – It was only on the outside of the can. It did not affect the inside at all.

  9. toi says:

    Hey! I’m from Argentina… so I’m very used to eat dulce de leche and soooo addicted to it.
    DdL is for us what peanut butter is to you and the other way round: over here PB is a rare thing to find and when you have some you either hate it or love it (it is actually heaven to me). But it is kinda industrial, ’cause the real thing is so hard to make that it will never taste like the one you are used to. Try getting the creaminess of PB in your food processor- impossible.
    So if you ever come to latin America try buying some and make the taste-test, haha. Adieu!

  10. Oh My Goodness–I MUST try this!! :)

  11. Now I have a reason to use my crock pot…sweet! :)

  12. Denise says:

    If you want to make it slightly quicker…I put the cans (unopened) in a saucepan on the stove with at least an inch of water covering the can and boil it for three hours. You have to keep the water at a boil and continue to add hot water to make up for what evaporates, but it is faster. Don’t open the can until it cools or you’ll be scraping Dulce de Leche off the ceiling!

  13. Rachel says:

    I was tempted to include a recipe for this in my upcoming slow cooker cookbook but I have seen the cans split and/or rust on the inside with this method so I was hesitant. I’d recommend keeping an eye on it while it cooks and taking it out as soon as you think it is done.

  14. Carly says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Carly says:

    i love this Dulce de Leche! my dad always made this for a treat when i was a kid, and i have stuck to this method, although it’s getting harder to find a can without a “ring pull” to use now a days =)dad did it stove top, submerged in water and simmered all day (8 hours), then let it cool, refrigerate overnight and eat!

  16. Marybeth says:

    I have heard of this…looks so complicated, but seems so simple! Thanks for the directions! :)Marybeth


  17. Michelle says:

    LOL.. definitely let it cool before you open it. I got impatient, and opened it while still hot. I was greeted with a nice spray of dulce de leche across my hair and shirt. It didn’t burn me, but I’m very sticky :)

  18. Thank you for this! I tried making it today, and while I don’t think I managed to cook it long enough for the first can, the second can is back in the hot water. My fiance wants to top homemade cheesecake with this stuff and I have to concur, it’s heaven!

    (Also, a small amount of salt added into this makes for a salted caramel flavor that’s insanely good.)

  19. kevininspace says:

    I just tried this, and after 8 hours, the condensed milk seems unchanged compared to a “fresh, un-crock-potted” can. Perhaps this should be set to “high”? Any other tips?

  20. Stef says:

    Kevin – Not sure what to suggest. Mine was done at 8 hours. Maybe you just need to leave it in even longer with your crockpot.

  21. kevininspace says:

    I figured it out; the socket in which I plugged in the crock pot is mis-wired. Yup, electrical problems will get you every time. I eventually got it to work by simply using a different plug.

  22. Gary S says:

    I wonder if you can avoid the rust issue by using a Reynolds slow cooker liner? I must try this soon!

  23. Jeanette says:

    Did you all know that you can buy this in a can? Nestle makes it and it’s available in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores, even WalMart. When the can is fresh it is almost pourable. If you’ve had it for a while it thickens considerably but makes a great apple dip.

  24. Anonymous says:

    @Jeannette — It’s called cajeta I believe. It’s a more truer form of dulce de leche as it is made from goat’s milk. I think most people who try DdL like the Americanized (sweetened condensed milk [scm]) version better. Plus cajeta is more expensive than scm.

  25. Jeanette says:

    @ anonymous–It’s really called Dulce De Leche and it is made from sweetened condensed milk by Nestle. I’ve purchased it for as little as 99 cents but it’s usually about $1.39 to $1.69.

  26. Renata says:

    I made some after reading it on Steph’s blog too, except, I put the condensed milk in a jelly canning jar. No rust and storage was already taken care of.

  27. Renata says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention that with the canning jar, you can add other flavors to it. Try adding cocoa to make chocolate dulce de leche

  28. sparkles21 says:

    Can I make this in a casserole??
    if i merge the can in water and put the water on very low heat..where it simmers…
    If i start in the morning say 9 o clock??by afternoon if I keep on refilling it..
    will it give me the same results and is it going to be safe??

  29. Stef says:

    Sparkles21 – You can use this method.

  30. Mollie says:

    We tried this and it was fantastic! I wrapped the can in a dish cloth before submerging it. My husband woke up to this on a Saturday morning and was so grateful. Dulce de leche is one of his favorites. Thanks for the great post :)

  31. Anonymous says:

    Can you put this in the center of a cupcake before baking in order to get a caramel filling?

  32. Stef says:

    Anon – I’d put it in the center of the cupcake after baking. Use a cupcake corer or a paring knife to cut a hole in the cupcake and add the dulce de leche. Then, close the top and frost.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I’m 73 y/o, and my aunt made this on top of the stove in a big pot and simmered for about 8 hours. That was a good 60 years ago, so this definitely is not new!

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m from Argentina, living in TX. La Lechera sells a great Dulce de Leche which I get at Walmart. Sometimes I cannot find it in the store, so thanks for posting this great alternative.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I boil 2 cans on my stovetop for 4 hours constantly adding water to cover cans. When done, cool and I spoon contents of each can into a graham cracker crust, top with cool whip and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Tastes like O’Charley’s caramel pie!

  36. does the milk change color because the can become rusty when it is left long in water..?

  37. EatBetter says:

    Did your second to last paragraph mean to say “The downside, as you can see, is that the cans leech toxic BPA into finished product, disrupting your hormones and increasing your likelihood for cancer.”?


  38. Patsy says:

    In addition to what EatBetter pointed out, heating the can leaches the solder from the seams into the finished product as well. These are not toxins you want to eat.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Hi…. The nice people at Cooking Light put together a crockpot book… which I highly recommend!! They put the SCM in a pyrex/ glass measuring cup and top it with foil… then add very hot water to the height of the cream and stick it on low for 9 hours… poof… caramel/ dulce de leche…

  40. Candace says:

    I make my dulce de leche in my pressure cooker. I bring it up to pressure and let it cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how firm I want it and then let the pressure drop naturally. Easy peasy.

  41. Mary says:

    You can buy ready made Dulce De Leche in the Hispanic Foods section of the grocery store. I found it at WalMart. It tastes the same and no work!

  42. Anonymous says:

    If you put the SCM in a mason jar & then submerge most of it in the crockpot/slow cooker, it’ll solve the “toxins” from rust getting into your Dulce De Leche.

    If you prefer to use the can method, you could either place the can in a ziplock bag or wrap the can in reynolds foil wrap to prevent the rust from getting on your slow cooker/crock pot.

    LOVE this method btw, works every time!

  43. Alessandra says:

    I am brazilian and since was kid my grandma would cook it in the same crock pot that cooked black beans!! My favorite at all! but i honestly dont remember it taking so many hours… Anyway, depending on the cooking time, you get very different kind of dulce de leche… all great, surely! :-D

  44. Anonymous says:

    set oven to 450 degrees..pour can of condensed milk into a pie plate, cover with foil, put this into a shallow roasting pan with an inch of water and cook for an hour..whisk and serve..

  45. Anonymous says:

    I have used sweetened condensed milk when making dulce de leche for years. I usually boil water in a large stew pot and place as my can(s) in the water. Boil them for 3 hours, take out water and cool in the fridge. Don’t worry I have never had them explode. I have never thought to use them for frosting, but sounds like a great idea! I have always placed the thick milk into a graham cracker pie crust and refridgerate. This is how O’Charly’s makes their caramel pie :)

  46. Steph says:

    What pressure did you put it to for the pressure cooker? Do you put the whole can in with water as well? Thanks!

  47. Hello from a Spanish girl and a super DULCE DE LECHE lover.
    This is a “fast method” but if you want to do REAL dulce de leche is not that difficult and MUCH BETTER.
    you just need 1l of milk, 200g of sugar, 1 spoon of bicarbonate, 2 spoons of vanill essence.
    Put to boil and mix every 5 min. In 1 and 1/2h will be ready!!!
    Regards from Stockholm!!

  48. Anonymous says:

    After reading all the comments, I was still leary of trying to make dulce de leche. But I decided that I would use the crockpot method. I doubled wrapped the can of SCM in foil and filled the crockpot with the warm water. Being still a little scared, I put my crockpot on the back patio, in case of explosion, it’s easier to hose down the back of the house than my kitchen. Guess what?! NO EXLOSION – just perfect dulce de leche. My crockpot and a can of SCM are my new BF. It turned out perfect. Thanks again. I couldn’t be happier.

  49. As an Argentinian, this makes me real proud.

  50. Atalee says:

    How long can you store dulce de leche for?

  51. Anonymous says:

    I buy mine pre-made in the Spanish Foods section of the grocery store. Nestle’s makes it – called dulce le leche, or cajeta. It is delicious!

  52. Crystal says:

    You can also buy dulce de leche already done. You can find it in most groceries in the Mexican food section. It’s a can the same size as the one pictured above. Taste great too!!!

  53. Disha says:

    I was looking for a caramel recipe and I came across this one last month. I have been using condensed milk ever since to make chewy caramel. I add vanilla bean paste and a couple of tablespoons of butter (salted) and microwave it for 6-8 minutes (giving it a good stir every minute). I have also used it to make a buttercream frosting for my chocolate cake. The buttercream tasted just like the mashmellowing goo inside a mars bar.

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  56. Delilah says:

    Hi I have been reading on how everyone is taking hours to make dulce de leche in a crock pot , slow cooker etc …all that is actually not needed. I make it in a pressure cooker in twenty minutes. Place the cans in the cooker, put water to cover the cans and pressure cook for 15-20 minutes. Thats it.

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