{food swap recipe} Slow Cooker Dulce de Leche

Editor’s Note: Gina Martin of Modschooler & Albany Kid Family Travel is back with an easy way to create Dulce de Leche in your crockpot. She brought it to yesterday’s Troy Food Swap and boy, was it a hit. If you want to read more by Gina, she has already written about DIY Veggie Bouillion, Serious Business Chocolate Gelato, Booze- Empire Boardwalk Style, Homemade Grenadine and No-Fuss Slow Cooker Beans. Lastly, we are proud to announce that Gina will be joining our regular roaster of contributors. Welcome Gina! -Christina


In anticipation of apple season, I broke out the slow cooker and sweetened condensed milk to cook up some Dulce de Leche for my family and for Sunday’s FSC’s Troy Food Swap. Around here, we use it as a dip for apple slices, or as an I-really-want-candy-RIGHT-NOW spread on dark bitter chocolate bars. It’s also a nice filling in a chocolate cake, or mixed in ice cream. Or gelato!

The technique is easy and does its magic in the background, and avoids the health and safety controversy of boiling cans on the stovetop.



  • 2 – 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk – NOT evaporated milk!
  • salt – optional


  • 6 – 4 oz canning jars with lids and rings (I like using the tiny jars, less waste or mess when you can open a little at a time. Plus, if I could, I’d devour a 55 gallon drum of the stuff, so it made sense to set things up for success and keep the portions small)
  • Slow cooker – I used a 6 quart oval and had tons of room left over, mileage may vary with different sizes and shapes
  • Silicone Blossom – use as a buffer between the glass jars and bottom of pot. You can substitute a clean CLEAN dish towel if needed.
  • Silicone or rubber spatula – you want to get every drop out of the cans and into the jars


  • Wash jars and lids, and sanitize in dishwasher or boiling water.
  • Take jars, let dry (when hot they dry quickly), and add the condensed milk to about ½ inch from the top rim. If you like, stir in a pinch of salt in each jar – it’s totally optional, just something I decided to try because, hey, salt and sugar = YUM.
  • Wipe jar edges clean, and put lids and screw rings on. Tighten firmly, but not aggressively.
  • Place jars as evenly spaced as possible on top of silicon or towel buffer on bottom of slow cooker. Fill pot with water to cover the tops of the jars.

  • Set heat to low, cook for 7 to 9 hours. I like the dulce to be very stiff, almost like a firm custard, so I go for the longer time. Let cool to room temp, remove rings and wipe down jars. Store in fridge.

STORAGE NOTE: I have checked around and not been able to verify if this is shelf stable when done, even though there’s a ton of sugar, and the lids vacuum seal. Therefore, I err on the side of caution and store the unopened jars in the fridge, and recommend you do as well. Freezing also works, we’ve field tested this now for the past few weeks, and the frozen-then-thawed dulce de leche texture holds up perfectly.


Bio: Gina Martin lives in Coxsackie (Greene County) NY with her husband and their two children, the family’s three Rottweilers and two cranky old cats. Gina has been a homeschooling parent since 2003, and is a proud parent of a Tech Valley High School freshman as of Fall 2012. Her blog, ModSchoolerexplores 21st century learning and fun. Gina also is a contributing writer on Albany Kid Family Travel. This allows her to indulge her tech fancy, gadget-hound tendencies and love of quirky travel and enrichment opportunities and to share info with other lifelong learners. In her not-so-spare time, she supports Rottie Empire Rescue in their efforts to rescue and rehome lost, abandoned and abused Rottweilers and Not-weilers, cats included.


21 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy says:

    See, this is what I love! I will definitely make this recipe now!! The kids LOVED this sauce- took it to school today as a topping on mini brownies and it was the first thing they talked about when they woke up this morning! Thanks for sharing- I can’t believe how simple it is to make!

    1. I’m so glad they liked it! My daughter and I are fanatics, we can eat a whole jar if no one’s looking 😉

  2. Jenna C. says:

    I am going to get some very good ice cream to have ours with tonight. And I’m definitely making them as Christmas gifts. I LOVE the idea of doing it right in the little jars.

    1. The tiny jars are great – you get 3 out of one can of sweetened condensed milk, with enough headspace to add the salt and to keep it from overflowing. If they are too tiny for you, I’ve also done this using the 8oz jelly jars, so for 6 jars of that, just use four cans of the sweetened condensed milk. Same cooking time should work. If you’re giving them as gifts, just remember as I mentioned above that I don’t know how shelf stable they really would be – don’t treat them like a jam or jelly and store unrefrigerated, even when not opened. It could be fine – there’s so much sugar, it ends up being like a fudge almost – but I don’t like to chance it til I have actual data. And I haven’t been willing to be a guinea pig 😀

  3. Good to know,I never tried to make it this way! I always make mine by cooking the sweet condensed milk in a pressure cooker with water, in medium low heat for 20 min.

  4. Kate H says:

    Wow, it’s so easy and it tasted so good! I’ve got to make some soon. I’ve got a couple of cans of fat free sweetened condensed milk in the pantry, I’ll have to see how that works out.

  5. Kate H says:

    Just made it today and my jars are sitting on the table, I can’t believe how easy it was!

  6. I’m curious to hear how the fat free version works – texture and flavor wise.

  7. Kate H says:

    Gina, it was low fat not fat free but still …… Mine came out a little softer than yours but I only cooked it for about 7 1/2 hours. It doesn’t seem as rich as the one you brought to the swap but it’s still pretty delicious. And congrats on making at the top on Punk Domestics!

    1. Ha! Thank you, it was a nice surprise this AM. I figured the less fat would change the consistency a bit too, along with maybe the flavor. Although, considering that a very nice caramel sauce can be made with just plain sugar and water, I imagine the lf version is pretty tasty too.

  8. Ruby says:

    No way! This is way too easy, I might have to attempt this. Thanks!

  9. Kate H says:

    Gina, my new favorite snack – dulce de leche swirled into greek yogurt with some brandied cherries ~ I could eat it twice a day!

    1. OMG. You are the DEVIL! Now I have to get ahold of some brandied cherries. *scurries off*

  10. Wow…why the heck have I been using the oven to make this stuff, especially in the summer, when I could have been using my slow cooker?!

    Great article, running to the store now to get some sweetened condensed milk and more canning jars!

  11. Simone says:

    Can I re -use old jars and lids from jelly or do they have to be canning jars and lids for the dulce de leche?

  12. Sara says:

    What a great idea! I was searching for edible gifts for the holidays this year and came across this. At the same time I have been trying to find a substitute/recipe for the pumpkin sauce that Dunkin Donuts puts in its pumpkin coffee this time of year. Their sauce is thick and I thought a runny dulche de leche might be just the trick! Well, I think i’m onto something! I made 4 jars of your recipe today (2 regular, 1 salted and 1 with pumpkin pie spice mixed in). WOW! I am so excited to try it mixed in my coffee tomorrow morning! One thing I will say about the timing – my slow cooker’s Low setting must be really low because after 8 hours the color of the milk hadn’t darkened and it wasn’t thick. I wound up putting it on high for 3 hours after being on low for 8 and it is still a soft, though not runny, consistency. Perfect for stirring into a hot cup of coffee or putting over the Olive Oil Gellatto I have in my freezer…Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. Gina M says:

      That sounds great! And yes, slow cookers can vary in their temps. 8 hours in both of mine make it very firm, like a thick pudding. If I put it on high after that, I bet it’d be almost burnt. I’m concerned that your slow cooker might not get up to a safe enough temperature for other foods – if it’s too low for too long, it can be a problem. Here’s how to test your slow cooker’s heat calibration: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:LRAeYTXMAZkJ:www3.ag.purdue.edu/counties/orange/Documents/SlowCookerUseAndTesting.pdf+&cd=6&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

      1. Sara says:

        Gina, I was wondering the same thing! Thank you for that link. I will check it.

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