When faced with a surplus of milk from our milk cow, we started making all the fun things we could. Homemade caramel sauce without butter makes a great gift, or hide it away for yourself!
While I have never made this with storebought milk, or even whole milk, I am confident it would work. For us, dulce de leche uses up skimmed milk after we skim for making butter! Your yield will be a little lower with skim vs whole but for those who have a milk cow and are always trying to make enough butter...you understand this struggle!
Drizzle on a cake- either before or after baking for a delicious treat.
Why You Need This Recipe
- Three ingredients you have on hand at all times? Why not!
- Absolutely delicious. I love having a treat on hand that is easy to make and has all simple ingredients.
- It comes together quickly so you can add it on to dessert or come up with a quick gift at a moment's notice.
Milk - Since we keep dairy cows, I use the raw milk that we skimmed cream off for butter. While I haven't tried, there's no reason store milk wouldn't work. Whole milk will have a larger yield, but skim is fine too.
Sugar - Granulated cane sugar or regular white sugar.
Baking soda - You might be scratching your head on this one, but it's science! This keeps it from burning to the bottom of the pot.
Now, I do say this is a 3-ingredient nothing strange caramel sauce, and it is. You can stop with just those 3 ingredients and be perfectly happy. But you can also add a touch of salt and vanilla to just smooth everything out.
How to Make Dulce de Leche
***See recipe card below for precise measurements and instructions.***
Step 1: Add the milk, sugar, and baking soda to a large pot on the stove. Over low heat, whisk to dissolve all of the sugar.
Step 2: Continue to cook until desired thickness, whisking often. Check the video in the recipe card below for what I look for in my caramel sauce.
Step 3: Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and salt, if using. Transfer to jars, let cool, and store in the fridge.
Tips and Tricks
- Use a LARGE pot - not one that juuuuust fits the milk. The milk will bubble and expand as it cooks and you do not want this mess on your stove!
- I've never burned a batch when I keep the heat very low, no matter how thick I go.
- Store in jars in the fridge for easy eating.
- Print up pretty labels and use twine or ribbon so you can pass out mini jars as gifts.
I prefer organic, unbleached cane sugar here, but regular white granulated works just as well. I just think cane sugar tastes best. Now that I think of it, I wonder how coconut sugar would taste?
Literally, "sweet from milk" in Spanish, so sugar + milk into something delicious! So many recipes are only a can of sweetened condensed milk that is cooked until caramelized. I prefer to go homemade here and our ingredients obviously cook down into condensed milk and then caramel.
I haven't tried with this recipe specifically. Dairy alternatives have different sugar and fat content than raw milk, so it likely won't thicken the same. I have heard of people using cans of coconut sweetened condensed milk, so if you give this recipe a try with any milk alternatives, let us know in the comments!
I stash some metal spoons in the freezer when I turn on the stove. When the caramel is looking about ready, I stick a spoon in the pot and pull it straight back up. This will cool off on the spoon and you can get a feel for how thick it will be once cooled. Other people will smear a bit on a cold plate and see how it tracks. Just remember the caramel is suuuuper hot - don't get burned.
More Sweet Treats to Enjoy
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Dulce de Leche
- 1 litre whole milk close to 1 quart
- 1¼ cups sugar preferably cane sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- fat pinch salt optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla optional
- Pour the milk, sugar, and baking soda into a 1.5 gallon/6 qt pot or bigger. This will bubble up some and its much nicer to have extra space.
- Turn onto medium heat, whisk well to dissolve the sugar.
- Keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally.
- Put a freezer safe plate with a few metal spoons in your freezer for testing thickness later.
- When it starts to bubble (this takes 5-10 minutes for me), turn to medium- low.
- You can mostly leave it alone now when its settled into a gentle simmer.
- As you'll see in the video, when the bubbles start to change, get smaller, and all over the surface, you're getting close.
- When its looking real thick, take one of those spoons, take a dip out, and see how it cools down. When its room temp, is it as thick as you want it?
- If on low heat, I've never burnt a batch of dulce de leche; you can get it pretty thick, or leave it thinner as a sauce. Keep in mind after it sits in the fridge it will get a bit thicker.
- When it's to your desired thickness, take it off the heat and add vanilla and salt if desired.
- Pour into containers or jars and keep in the fridge. I've never had it go bad, it keeps forever and ever, amen! (Well, safely a few months...)
- Make sure and use a much larger pot than you think - it will expand as it cooks and you don't want that mess!
- This is so quick to make, it's perfect for last minute holiday gifts.