Manjar or dulce de leche

Dulce de leche recipe

Dulce de leche is one of the most popular desserts in Latin America. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Mexico, where it’s known as cajeta and made with goat milk; in Colombia, where it’s called arequipe; or all the way south in Argentina, everyone (I hope) loves dulce de leche. In Ecuador, dulce de leche is also known as manjar de leche or manjar blanco, the word manjar translates as a special treat or delicacy. Manjar is usually made with raw milk and panela or piloncillo; this gives it a strong flavor, which I really didn’t like when I was a kid. During our last visit to France, while spending some time in the mountains – where many dairy products are made, mainly using fresh raw milk – I tried a locally made confiture de lait and found the taste to be very similar to the Ecuadorian manjar.

Dulce de leche or manjar de leche
Dulce de leche can be a dessert by itself, just take a spoonful of it and let it melt slowly in your mouth. It is also great as a topping for ice cream, pancakes, crepes, etc. My kids love to eat it on toast or cookies. Dulce de leche is also a key ingredient for many Latin desserts such as alfajores, empanadas, flan, cakes, and more. These days you can buy good quality dulce de leche at any grocery store. Making it at home from scratch can be time consuming, but the process is actually easy; it just requires a little bit of patience and a lot of stirring. There are several shortcuts to making homemade dulce de leche, but most involve using condensed milk, so the end flavor isn’t as good as when you make from scratch with fresh milk. I add a teaspoon of vanilla to my preparation, but you can also use cinnamon if you prefer.

Dulce de leche Dulce de leche

For those who want an easier method for dulce de leche than making it completely from scratch, you can make it with condensed milk in the oven using a water bath or double broiler method. It still takes a good amount of time to be done, but you don’t have to stir it constantly and it only requires minimal supervision. Keep in mind that the condensed milk is already sweetened and at least for me, I find dulce de leche made with condensed milk a little bit too sweet. When making it from scratch you can adjust how much sugar you include and you can also use panela or piloncillo instead of sugar. I’m including both the traditional from scratch dulce de leche recipe and the oven variation using condensed milk. Dulce de leche can be served warm or cold; it will thicken when it cools down and become more liquid when re-heated.

Dulce de leche recipe

Manjar or dulce de leche - traditional preparation
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1 ratings

Yield: A little over 2 cups of dulce de leche

Manjar or dulce de leche - traditional preparation

Recipe for homemade manjar or dulce de leche, a traditional Latin dessert made by caramelizing milk and sugar.


  • 8 cups of whole milk
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups sugar or panela/piloncillo raspadura, adjust based on the level of sweetness you prefer
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda


  1. Combine all the ingredients in large pot over medium low heat, stir until the sugar or panela is well dissolved. Reduce the heat to low.
  2. Continue cooking until the mixture is significantly reduced and starts to thicken while the color changes from a creamy beige to a caramel tone – it will take between 2 ½ hours to 3 hours for the dulce de leche to be done.
  3. During the first 1 ½ hours you will need to stir occasionally to prevent it from boiling over and sticking. During the last hour it needs to be stirred more frequently and has to be watched very closely to keep it from burning – you can also decrease the heat to low. Cook it until it has a dark amber or caramel tone and has a creamy consistency. Keep in mind that it will thicken more when it cools down.
  4. Can be served warm or cold and must be kept refrigerated.

Combine milk and sugar for homemade dulce de leche The milk will start to reduce after about 2 hours of cooking

Stir frequently to prevent it from burning Cook until the dulce de leche is creamy and has a dark caramel color

Traditional dulce de leche recipe Easy recipe for dulce de leche

Manjar or dulce de leche - Oven double broiler method
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Yield: A little over 2 cups of dulce de leche

Manjar or dulce de leche - Oven double broiler method

Easy oven recipe for homemade dulce de leche using condensed milk.


  • 2 (14 ounce) cans of condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  2. Pour the condensed milk into a square baking pan or pie dish; you can add a teaspoon of vanilla or cinnamon if you like. Cover with foil.
  3. Place the square pan in a larger pan and pour hot water into the large pan, the water level should be between ½ - ¾ of the square pan with the condensed milk.
  4. Bake for about 3 hours to 3 ½ hours. If the water level gets low add more water as needed. During the last hour you can check it every 30 minutes to see if the dulce de leche is ready – it should be a rich amber color. You can also do a taste check to test it.
  5. Once the dulce de leche is ready remove it from the oven and let it cool down. Once it’s safe to handle, use a fork or whisk to mix it well. It can be eaten warm or cold. Keep refrigerated.

Oven dulce de lech - Combine the condensed milk and vanilla in square oven pan Cover with foil and bake in an oven bath at 425F

Bake for 3 to 3 .5 hours or until it has a caramel color Oven method - Let the dulce de leche cool down and then whisk until smooth

Dulce de leche made in the oven Recipe for homemade dulce de leche

Dulce de leche recipe Dulce de leche


This post was last modified: September 28th, 2014 by Layla Pujol


  1. Thank you!! I made this over the weekend and it was OUTSTANDING!!!!
    I have bought it in the past, and never will again! the taste if out of this world! Totally worth the time to make it. This will be made often in my house! Best way to serve it is with a spoon :)

    I have boiled it in the past, didn’t like that, it made me nervous, and it just didn’t taste rite. I did the oven method, didn’t like that either. I wanted that true caramel taste.

    Thank you so much!!!!

  2. I am going to try making the fresh milk version it in my ceramic bean pot on a low heat in the oven. I think it will take all day but oh well : )

  3. There’s actually an easier way to make it – just boil a can of condensed milk in water for about three hours (at least two, but three if you want it darker). And you have to make sure the can is fully submerged in the water at all times! I had an episode where I fell asleep and was awakened by an exploded can and droplets of brown caramel all over my kitchen. Yikes.. :)

    • Yes, you’re right in that this is the easiest way to make it, but it just doesn’t taste the same. I’ve tried them both ways, and the flavor of the one you make on the stove top is way superior to the one where you just stick the can in the oven.

  4. Heather Mac says:

    I’m actually planning on making this for a Spanish project and was wondering which recipe would be easier to follow for a novice baker?

  5. I just want to thank you for sharing all these amazing recipes with us! Soy ecuatoriana y vivo en Austria y nunca me ha gustado la cocina, pero después de atreverme a hacer algunos platos (pues toca), estoy más que complacida. por ahora sólo he probado los llapingachos, que me quedaron muy buenos! now I’m ready to experiment with everything else, especially because it all looks so easy and yummy!


  6. Hi,

    Thanks for posting this! I have been looking for a good dulce de leche recipe. Do you think it would work if I used almond milk? I have been trying to omit cow’s milk from my diet.

    • Layla Pujol says:

      I haven’t tried with almond milk, so not sure if it would work. You can use goat milk as a replacement for cow milk – the result will be a delicious Mexican style cajeta.

  7. Thank you so much for this post.
    I make my own condensed milk, and yesterday I continued and turned it to delce de leche
    It was easy, thanks to your explanations, and the taste is wonderful!!

  8. Oooooh please upload a alfajores recipe if you haven’t already :D

  9. Norma-Platanos, Mangoes and Me! says:

    I can just taste the sweetness…

  10. AnaEnLaCocina says:

    I love everything you introduce to us. I am Honduran and already make some of the same recipes, though maybe with a different name or version. One of my favorites has been your bean ceviche. My daughter LOVES it. She is vegetarian and I love to spoil her when she is home from college. Again, thank you for sharing your love for culture and cooking.

  11. I have made the version using condensed milk in my crock pot. Very easy. We usually eat it immediately. My question is – if I put the can (unopened) back in my pantry for later use, what can I add to “thin it down” into more like a caramel syrup? I would love to be able to make several cans at once. Thanks.

    • Hi Deborah – I avoid making by using unopened cans (too risky), but if you want to take any dulce de leche and give it a syrup like consistency then you can re-heat it with some heavy cream or half&half and mix well.

    • I mix mine with a little bit of Butterscotch Schnapps. It’s cheap and its flavor goes very well with Dulce de leche.

  12. Becky P. says:

    Now I know it’s probably too good to last long, but do you have any idea how long it will keep in the fridge? A friend raises goats and always gives away milk in the spring and summer, so I’ll probably try this recipe with raw goats’ milk then. I don’t know if the type of milk makes a difference, but you’re the expert, right? :) Thank you for sharing!

  13. Mi abuelita hacía el manjar de leche con leche cortada, y por eso, la versión casera siempre tenía una consistencia grumosa en vez de cremosa. Ella lo hacía básicamente para no desperdiciar la leche que se dañaba. Por muchos años pensé que esa era la única forma de hacer dulce de leche casero, e intencionalmente dejaba que la leche se corte para prepararlo en mi casa.

    • Becky P. says:

      Que ingeniosa la abuela! Siempre hay que ser creativo con los restos. La mía (que se murió cuando era bebé) la usaba para biscuits o pancakes. A mi papá le hace falta el sabor de esa leche, pues hoy es difícil y cara comprar la leche bronca en nuestro estado.

  14. Thank you soooooo much, Laylita—LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all your recipes-! Thanks for sharing them with us all-!!!

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