How to Make Dulce de Leche Without Condensed Milk

Hello friends! Today I will show you how to make dulce de leche without condensed milk.

Most methods and recipes for dulce de leche you will find out there are requiring a can of sweetened condensed milk.

There are different ways of making dulce de leche from a can of condensed milk. However, I know and understand some people might not feel it’s the best option to boil a sealed can of condensed milk, even though I think it’s perfectly safe.

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So I have a couple of alternatives for you!

First one is to purchase store-bought dulce de leche. On this Dulce de Leche Guide, I am giving you a lot of options on brands of dulce de leche and where to purchase them.

Second option is to learn how to make dulce de leche without condensed milk, from simply three ingredients: milk, sugar and baking soda.

Also check the video on this page, or on YouTube, showing you how to make dulce de leche without condensed milk. And watch the video where I taste test and compare the different methods of making dulce de leche.

dulce de leche in a bowl. post explaining how to make dulce de leche without sweetened condensed milk.

So first, start by placing the milk and sugar in a large saucepan, over medium heat.

Once the sugar has melted, add the baking soda, and bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer.

Stir frequently, and keep the heat LOW.

boiling sugar and milk in a saucepan.

The mixture will start to get yellow, then orange, and the color will begin to deepen.

boiling sugar and milk in a saucepan.

Continue to cook for 2 to 3 hours. The longer you cook, the darker and richer the dulce de leche will be.

At the final stages, the foam from the top will disappear, and the dulce de leche will begin to thicken up.

boiling sugar and milk in a saucepan.

When the sauce looks very dark in color, reduced, and thickened, remove from the heat.

boiling sugar and milk in a saucepan to make dulce de leche.

Pour the sauce in a heat proof bowl. If you notice lumps in the sauce, pour it through a fine mesh sieve.

And then let the sauce cool down all the way in the fridge.

Why add baking soda to the sauce?

The baking soda will help with the reactions necessary to make the sauce thick and dark, with a rich taste.

As you cook the milk and sugar together, water will evaporate, making the solution more acidic, and proteins will begin to coagulate.

The baking soda is then used as an alkalinizer, to neutralize the acids present in the sauce. It will also help with the deep brown color achieved by the Maillard Reactions occurring in the sauce as the milk and sugar cook down.

Maillard reactions make the flavors and aromas in the food more complex and deep.

5 spoons with dulce de leche made with different methods on a plate.

As you can see on the picture above, those are the different ways you can make dulce de leche. The stove top is the last one.

It’s not a pipeable dulce de leche, it’s more caramel-like than dulce de leche per say.

The taste of the dulce de leche without condensed milk is a mix between caramel and dulce de leche.

Also, I found the texture to be a bit gritty.

spoonful of dulce de leche without condensed milk.

You can find more dulce de leche recipes here.

And check out my Dulce de Leche Guide to find out everything you need to know about dulce de leche.

Thanks for reading!

spoonful of dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche without Condensed Milk

Camila Hurst
How to make Dulce de Leche without condensed milk, with just 3 ingredients: milk, sugar, and baking soda. Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Latin
Servings 1 cup
Calories 50 kcal


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar 300 grams
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


  • Combine the milk and sugar in a large saucepan.
  • Place it over medium heat and stir occasionally, until the sugar has melted.
  • At this point, add the baking soda to the pan.
  • Continue to stir until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, or low heat.
  • The simmer should be extremely gentle.
  • Stir frequently, while the mixture cooks down, for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Always keep an eye on the heat, if the mixture starts boiling, or if you don’t stir frequently, it will burn really fast and stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Once the mixture is very dark in color, thickened, and reduced, remove from the heat and pour it in a heat proof container. If you notice lumps in the sauce, strain it through a fine mesh strainer.
  • Let it cool down all the way before enjoying.
  • Store in the fridge, covered for up to 3 weeks.


Vanilla: Alton Brown’s original recipe calls for a vanilla bean pod and seeds added to the sauce in the beginning of the process. At the 1 hour mark, you’d remove the vanilla bean pod.
Stirring: it’s not an overstatement when I say to really keep an eye on the mixture and stir constantly, if you fail to do so, it will burn.
Thickness: As it cools down the sauce will get thicker, but won’t be as thick as the dulce de leche made from sweetened condensed milk.
Keyword dulce de leche

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  1. Hi! Hreat site! Usually this recipe for ddl without condensed milk is best with raw milk – have you tried it?
    Im trying to find a recipe for ddl with sugar substitutes. Any ideas????

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Camila! Here in Argentina we add some glass marbles to the pot so DDL doesn’t burn… If the fire’s not at minimum but a medium, with the bubles the marbles also mixed the mil a little bit. So… Yo don’t have to be there with a spoon all the time!

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