Dulce de Leche Recipe Condensed Milk

Dulce de leche recipe condensed milk – this is barely a recipe! If you can boil water, you can make your own dulce de leche from a can of condensed milk. The more important question is, what delicious things should I make from my homemade dulce de leche? But, we’ll come back to that later.

A Short History of Dulce de Leche

For such a delicious food item, the history of dulce de leche is surprisingly fraught. For one thing, there is an ongoing and aggressive dispute as to which country can claim to have invented it. In 2003, Argentina attempted to short circuit the discussion by having dulce de leche claimed as Argentine cultural heritage by UNESCO. Needless to say, the claim was both disputed (by Uruguay, among others) and rejected. Culinary historians, however, trace dulce de leche’s origins back to the Philippines. From there, it traveled first to Spain, and then on to Latin America. A French variant, known as Confiture de Lait, seems to have emerged independently in Brittany, highlighting what seems to be a truly global passion for caramelly deliciousness.

OK, OK, I Made My Homemade Dulce de Leche — Now What?

Good news, this dulce de leche recipe condensed milk business is really just an elaborate excuse to share one of our favorite ways of showing off this easy dulce de leche recipe — coconut thumbprint cookies with dulce de leche! These sweet treats are a perfect combination of flavors and textures. If you got this far in the recipe and decided that risking exploding hot caramel didn’t sound like a good plan, you can also buy cans of dulce de leche at your local supermarket (we like La Lecheria). Homemade caramel in any form is not for the faint of heart.

Useful Tools for Making This Recipe

Dulce de Leche Recipe Condensed Milk

Dulce de Leche Recipe Condensed Milk With Bonus Thumbprint Cookies

Here's a dulce de leche recipe using condensed milk. Next, let's turn that delicious caramel into some thumbprint cookies!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Chill Time 15 minutes
Course condiment
Cuisine latin american
Servings 14 oz


  • large pot
  • wire rack
  • baking sheet
  • silicone baking mat
  • cookie scoop
  • parchment paper
  • disposable piping bag
  • 1/4 inch piping tip


For the dulce de leche

  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk we like Eagle brand

For the thumbprint cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
  • 2 tbsp flaky sea salt


For the dulce de leche

  • Remove the paper label from the outside of the can and clean off the adhesive.
  • Fully submerge the can on its long side in a large pot of water. The can should be covered by at least two inches of water to ensure that the heat is distributed evenly. This prevents burning, or (rumored) explosions.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 2 hours for a light caramel color, and 3 hours for a dark nutty brown color, checking the water level every 30 minutes to ensure that there is at least 2 inches of hot water above the top of the can. Add more water as needed. Yes, a little bit of patience is required.
  • Use tongs to remove the hot can to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

For the thumbprint cookies

  • Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Cream at high speed for 2 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  • Add confectioner's sugar and cream for another minute.
  • Add the egg yolks, one at a time.
  • Add the vanilla. Stir in the flour and salt on low speed.
  • Pour the coconut in a shallow bowl. Use a cookie scoop to form balls with the cookie dough.
  • Roll the ball between your hands to smooth it out, then roll the ball in the coconut. Put each ball on the baking sheet and use a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to create an indentation at the top of each ball.
  • Place cookie sheet in freezer for 15 minutes so that the butter can harden up and minimize the spread of the cookies. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Place the dulce de leche in a piping bag fitted with a 1/4 inch piping tip. Fill each indentation with caramel sauce.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and let cool. Sprinkle the tops with flaky sea salt.


The unopened can will keep for up to three months at room temperature. Once opened, the dulce de leche keeps for about three weeks in an airtight container.
Since the can is sealed, it creates its own pressure cooker, so there’s no need to use an instant pot. If you hate keeping an eye on a boiling pot, you could use a slow cooker for the same time periods, rather than this stovetop version.
Keyword caramel, milk
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Looking for some other cookie ideas that could use some dulce de leche love? We’ve got you covered!

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