Dulce de Leche

Total Time:
3 hr 5 min
5 min
3 hr

about 1 cup

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

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    Dear Alton, not all Latin American countries are tropical. Besides, dulce de leche was originally created as some sort of spread around the area of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, not tropical countries at all. Why do most Americans think everything from Latin America is tropical? Only a small portion of the Latin American geography is tropical! For instance, the Argentinean and Chilean Patagonia is similar to Alaska when it comes to landscape and climate! Palm trees and balmy nights are nowhere to be found...
    Delicious!!! I haven't tasted the canned version to compare, but it's hard to imagine it being as good as this. In my husband's words: "It's inspiring...it's really good." I'm not sure how many people are willing to take the 3 hours to make this, but it's perfect for a day that you're already going to be in the kitchen the whole time anyway; it's relatively easy and you just sort of monitor it as you're doing other things. Very lovely rich flavor. Mine made about 1.25 or 1.5 cups.
    i cooked the mixture just below simmer in a stainless lined copper pot. the result was dreadful - light tan in color. thick and gritty. it's not pourable. gosh, i wasted 2-1/2 hours. i had to scrap the entire mixture into the garbage can. 
    perhaps, i should cook it at a higher flame?  
    Please disregard above review. It was my fault. I measured the milk incorrectly.
    this recipe too fiddly and time consuming........ 
    instead........TRY THE BEST DULCE RECIPE ON THE WEB!  
    Throw it all in a Thermomix and set it for 50mins and walk away...amazing...BUT BEWARE......VERY ADDICTIVE ! 
    Dulce de Leche 
    1 litre milk 
    130g sugar 
    120g brown sugar 
    200g cream 
    1/2 teaspoon bicarb 
    Place all in a ThermomiX and program 50 mins, Temp Varoma, Speed 5. Place basket on lid to allow it to evaporate without spitting. 
    When finished, quickly pour into jar and leave it to cool. When it cools it will be nice and thick. Keeps in the fridge for a long time. 
    I think this recipe really works. Follow the directions and it turns out great. I think that using a moderate temp. on the stove top makes all the difference. Take your time is my best advice.
    Alton Brown, I not only love the science and logic behind your recipes, they all work well and taste great! 
    I tried to make this recipe without the baking soda and it took longer to thicken and make that beautiful caramel color. 
    Thank you
    Thank you Gretchin for your review. I making it your way and will let you know how it turns out. I too didn't like the thought of adding baking soda or the vanilla bean. One hour to go!
    After going to Starbucks and ordering a Salted Caramel Mocha and having them charge me $7.23 I decided to try to make my own at home. My foodie son Jovan told me I could not use regular caramel but to make Alton's DuLce de Leche. I fell asleep during the first batch and after I threw out the pan that now weighted about 6 extra pounds of solid black rock candy I made a perfect batch that I poured into a squeeze bottle that I have used all week. Alton Brown....you are the best. My entire family votes you as number one best foodie on earth.
    Hmmmm....well not sure about all the fuss here. Cannot understand why one would use baking soda, though Alton says here that it reduces the "nasty graininess." I've NEVER had a problem with either foam or graininess, until I tried this recipe. I was taught, in MX by a lovely & VERY patient little señora, can't recall her name, to use 2 quarts of whole milk with a total of 2.5 cups (500 gms( of sugar, vanilla extract (she, too, said the vanilla bean can cause "funny taste"(, and about a half tsp. of salt. I respect Alton, but I'm bewildered by the necessity of the baking soda. It foamed into a royal mess, and I still had some graininess. I did try to strain it, but the mixture was too thick. I also thought his was waaaaaay too dark. We used it anyway, though my daughter thought it tasted a lot like "overcooked milk or something."
    This turned out a very tasty product. I bought a can of pre-made dulche de leche at the same time so I could compare side by side. Both were wonderful and amazing. Biggest difference is the can only took 20 seconds to open. While this recipe is great, the canned stuff was better in my opinion. Two hours of my life wasted. Next time it's the can.
    Today I made this for a college class. (love that they teach classes called "People Everywhere Eat". The taste was amazing - I recommend fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon. I left out the cloves - I'm not a fan. I started by caramelizing the sugar by heating it until it turned brown and then added the milk. (be careful if you do this That may not have been the best way, but it worked to give the dulce de leche a nice color and a great flavor. I added the soda, but expected that it would foam (and foam and foam. I didn't skim any of the foam - just stirred it down a little so I didn't make a mess all over the stove. I would recommend using a VERY BIG PAN. By the time the mixture was starting to thicken, the foam was gone, the mixture was silky smooth, and the flavor was amazing. I am going to serve this as the center for Alfajores. Easy A!
    3 hours of my life wasted, I have done SO many of Altons other recipes with great results but this was a total disaster! If you have looked up Dulce recipes, just do the one on the can, WHAT A WASTE!
    I worked on this for over 2 hours and it is very gritty and really thick.. could not strain it at all.... i actually opened an account, just so i could put my opinion in!!! Not smooth and not tasty.
    Loved it! I made 2 quarts worth with 1 cup of sugar and about 1 cup of granulated splenda. I figured the splenda would be sweeter when it reduced (which it was, so I didn't do a strict doubling of the sugar. At the end after straining, I tasted the milk solids and noticed they tasted similar to some paneer-based indian sweets. I mixed in some grated coconut and then rolled small balls of it in some more grated coconut (unsweetened of course to make an impromptu coconut ball sweet. Yum! 
    As for the dulce de leche, so far I've used it in place of sweetener for coffee, but I hope to be more creative in the future. I'd say it took me around 2 - 2.5 hours to reduce it down enough. I WILL be making this again, and I'm going to try to play with the splenda ratios to make it more splenda and less sugar. Thanks!
    Hey pink vanilla, did you use whole milk? I just made it and it only took about an hour and fifteen mintues. It's plenty thick. Maybe you needed a higher heat also. This was great and easy. I got a little over confident about walking away because of some of the other reviews and the foam made a nice mess on my stove. Definitely doesn't require too much attention but make sure the heat is not set high enough to make the foam rise before walking away.
    The flavour is gorgeous! 
    I dont know what i did wrong tho!! I folowed the instructions exactly and waited for 2 1/4 hours until the mixture was extremely dark. Now it's just like syrup despite being in the fridge! It's not thick at all. Am i supposed to wait over night for it to thicken?? Some advcie would be lovely x x x
    I saw Alton make this and immediately knew I had to do it. It was not that hard to make at all. Even though it took a solid 2 to 2 1/2 hours, it did not need constant attention and stirring. The flavor is fabulous. The color, beautiful. The only problem with this recipe is that I am instantly addicted and Alton is right, it will keep longer than it will last in the fridge. LOVE IT
    This is a great recipe...I do reccomend not leaving the pan for a long time and keeping any eye on it constantly. Instead of vanilla bean, I used a little vanilla extract and it tasted great. Also be careful with the baking soda it will explode after a minute.
    I'm giving this a 4 only because I expect a little more detailed instruction from Alton.  
    Like another poster I had problem with the whole foam thing. When it foamed very obviously and hugely, after adding the baking soda at this point and you could skim it off with a big spoon. However while it was simmering it also developed a smaller but still lighter colored skimmy foam which was very hard to get up. As it cooked down it also developed a skim around the edge of the pan - is this something to skim? Having it foam suddenly and hugely when the soda was added was sort of expected. It also seems to do the same thing randomly once or twice after that. Mine my have been just a bit runny Other web sources say run your wooden spoon through it and if it doesn't fill back in and you can see the bottom of the pan that's about right. As it was on the counter cooling I splashed in (too much) vanilla extract as I forgot to add it in toward the end while cooking. Tastes a bit too vanilla
    This is really easy(it doesn't require constant stirring, and watching and very tasty. My boyfriend loves it. I have made Alton's trifle with it before, which is also good. We use it in coffee, on greek yogurt, and I'm serving it with sauteed bananas and ice cream tomorrow. 
    I think I'd add(REAL vanilla extract towards the end, rather than the bean, though. Both times I've made it, I end up skimming most of the seeds back up with the foam from the baking soda. I know you still get some of the flavor...but it seems like a waste.
    I'd give Alton a 5 but I made some errors. What do you do with the foam? I over cooked it because I didn't realize it thickened (a lot) when you take it off the heat. I ended up with a gritty, but tasty mess. Any viewer suggestions?
    OK. It was a toss-up between Banana Eggrolls with Caramel sauce or Dulce de leche...I've made Caramel before and figured, why not try Alton's recipe. Delicious!!
     I was a bit afraid it wouldn't be that great. the warm milk smell. And it seemed to take a bit longer than i thought but I did a double batch (and used 2% plus Heavy Cream). The end result (I stopped mine when it was like a sauce, not too thick as i have seen some recipes call for) was SUPERB!
     Now I totally understand how it can be had by the spoonful. I think i will take a Dulce de Leche Coffee in the AM.
    it takes really long time because of the amount of milk & stuff but worth it. do not incorporate the foam on top with the caramel, other wise you'll get weird constancy final product. i got rid of the foam every once in a while & when pour it into a bottle, strain good.
    This is an amazing recipe - a bit time consuming, but incredibly simple and one of the tastiest things I've ever tried. I'm looking for more uses for DDL - my favs are right off the spoon, lattes and steamers (a latte w/o the espresso)
    This is so easy for so much good taste. I used it on a flan cake recipe that I like to make (http://www.kraftfoods.com/kf/recipes/chocoflan-112915.aspx). I love dulce del leche sauce but personally the canned carmel stuff tends to taste just a bit metalic for me. If you can find it in a jar it tastes better, I think. But cooked fresh really has a nice texture and creamyness.
     I know others have used the boil in a can condensed milk thing with success. I've never tried it as it doesn't seem much faster than Alton's method. But if someone wants to used condensed milk in a can, David Lebovitz has a great oven method that's twice as fast as the whole boiling the can thing. (and no danger of molten carmel exploding in your kitchen! LOL) I've done this too when I'm in a hurry and it's works great:
     To me this is easier and molten carmel won't explode all over my kitchen. LOL
    This recipie rocks! Alton is the best!
     I also found I can make Dulce de Leche by taking a can of sweetened condensed milk, poking 2 holes in the top, then simmering it on the stove in watar an inch from the top for 2-3 hours. I just popped a cheescake swirled with this tasty stuff in the oven. Can't wait to taste it tomorrow!
    This is amazing stuff. We made it and put in between some butter cookies then dipped them in chocolate to make a very satisfying dessert. Not overly sweet, and very easy to make. Alton, you're my hero.
    This is very easy to make! I can never get the timing on caramel right, and so it always ends up bitter. This was nice because I did not have to worry about timing, and I ended up with a delicious product!
    I had 2 qts of milk in the fridge that only had 1 day of expiration left. I knew my children would not drink it all and it seemed like such a waste to dump it down the drain........
     Ahhhhhhhh....so I got the bright idea to make a batch of this dulce de Leche. It simmered easily for a few hr while I got the rest of supper ready.
     Tasted wonderful afterwards with sauteed bananas and ice cream.
     Thanks Alton
    Too much work. I just have my dad bring me the real stuff from Argentina. Dulce De Leche by Havanna! Yum! I'm having a spoonful as I write! Now if you don't have that kind of connection then there is an easier way to make some. My mom did this all the time when I was kid. Just take a can of sweetened condensed milk (regular, not low-fat). She always used Eagle Brand. Peel off the paper and submerge it in a pot of boiling water turning the can over often and keeping the water boiling. I'm pretty sure she did this for at least an hour or two. You might have to experiment on the time. Then take the can out and let it cool completely. This is important. My mom once tried opening the can before it cooled and quite a bit of it ended up on the kitchen ceiling!! Store it in a container and refrigerate. Not quite as thick as the real stuff but it'll still satisfy. We always spread ours on toast with a little butter on it first. My son loves eating it that way too. Enjoy!
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