Homemade Instant Pot Dulce de Leche

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Did you know you can easily make Dulce de Leche at home using your Instant Pot? Often referred to as caramel, is a beloved confection that has captivated the hearts and palates of people across Latin America and beyond. I have the inside scoop on how to make homemade dulce de leche using an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. There are many different ways, but this method is the easiest way.

This rich and creamy caramel-like treat has a fascinating history, tracing back centuries and leaving an indelible mark on various cultures.

Dulce de Leche’s journey from a regional specialty to a global sensation is a testament to its delightful taste and versatility. For a long time this iconic Latin American confection has captured the hearts (and stomachs!) of people worldwide, adding a touch of sweetness to various culinary creations.

Whether enjoyed spread on a piece of toast, fruit, crepes, cookies or incorporated into ice cream, this rich caramel sauce continues to bring joy to food lovers everywhere. You can enjoy dulce de leche as a cake filling, drizzled on top of apple slices or inside alfajores, which are popular sandwich cookies served in Peru, Chile, Colombia and Argentina. It is a cherished treat, that’s part of South America’s heritage and an essential flavor in the global culinary landscape.

Discover how to make your own dulce de leche so you can enjoy this sweet treat. You can make it in a pressure cooker or use my favorite way: in an Instant Pot. You can also give away any extras in mason jars.

Keep on reading to find step-by-step instructions to make your own dulce de leche. The end result is so worth it!

What is Dulce de Leche?

Dulce de Leche is a luscious, caramel-colored milk-based sweet spread or sauce. The primary ingredients are milk and sugar, which are slowly heated and cooked until the mixture undergoes a Maillard reaction, transforming the sugars and proteins into a delectable caramel flavor and color. The result is a velvety, thick, and indulgent treat with a distinctive taste that combines the richness of caramel and the creaminess of milk. The thickened caramel-like sauce has a beautiful nutty color.

The history of dulce de leche is closely intertwined with the culinary traditions of Latin America. Although its exact origins remain uncertain, its roots can be traced back to the early colonial era. It is believed that the Spaniards brought the concept of cooking sweetened milk to the region, which later evolved into the diverse range of dulce de leche varieties found across Latin American countries. The gooey confection is a staple in so many desserts, from flan to alfajores.

Is it from Argentina?

One of the countries most renowned for its love of dulce de leche is Argentina. The spread is a culinary icon in Argentina, where it is a common accompaniment to breakfast, desserts, and pastries. Some historians suggest that the first instance of dulce de leche appeared in Argentina during the 19th century, although similar milk-based sweets existed in other parts of the region long before then.

Over the years, it has transcended its Latin American roots and earned popularity worldwide. As global trade and cultural exchanges expanded, dulce de leche found its way onto international shelves, becoming a sought-after delicacy. The creamy spread is now incorporated into various desserts, ice creams, chocolates, and confections in gourmet bakeries and restaurants around the globe.

Dulce de Leche Variations

Each Latin American country has its own unique take on dulce de leche, with variations in texture, sweetness, and added flavors. For instance, in Argentina and Uruguay, dulce de leche is often thick and creamy, perfect for spreading on toast or filling pastries.

ramekin dulce de leche

The Mexican caramel version, “cajeta,” is a similar treat made from goat’s milk, while in Brazil, it’s known as “doce de leite.” In Chile, it’s called “manjar” and in Peru, “manjar blanco” while Colombians call it “arequipe.”

How can we make homemade dulce de leche?

Making dulce de leche is surprisingly simple and requires only a few basic ingredients. There are various methods to make it from scratch. I personally prefer to use sweet condensed milk but I found a traditional recipe that uses milk but it takes two hours to make. It can be time-consuming but the results are better than the usual store-bought caramel.

Stovetop Method


  • 4 cups of whole cow’s milk
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the whole milk and granulated sugar over medium heat. Stir well until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue simmering and stirring occasionally for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until the mixture thickens and turns a rich caramel color. Be patient as the process requires slow cooking to achieve the desired consistency and flavor.
  4. If you prefer, you can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract during the last few minutes of cooking for extra flavor.
  5. Once it has reached the desired thickness and color, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  6. Transfer the cooled dulce de leche to a sterilized glass or airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Pressure Cooker Method


  • 1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk


  1. Remove the label from the sweetened condensed milk can and ensure there are no punctures or damage to the can.
  2. Place the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pressure cooker. Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to cover the can completely.
  3. Close the pressure cooker lid and lock it securely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for pressure cooking, and cook the can on medium pressure for about 40 to 45 minutes.
  4. Once the cooking time is complete, turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
  5. Carefully remove the can from the pressure cooker using tongs (the can will be hot).
  6. Allow the can to cool to room temperature before opening it.
  7. When you open the can, you’ll find that the sweetened condensed milk has transformed into a creamy and smooth dulce de leche.
  8. Transfer the dulce de leche to a glass jar or airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

Pro tip: Follow safety guidelines!

It’s essential to use caution and follow safety guidelines when using a pressure cooker. Be sure to consult your pressure cooker’s instruction manual for proper usage and safety precautions.

Enjoy your homemade dulce de leche as a delightful spread on toast, a delicious filling for pastries, or a luscious topping for ice cream and desserts!

Instant Pot Dulce de Leche Recipe

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook time: approximately 45 min

Yield: 1 cup


  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • Water (amount depends on the size of the pressure cooker)


  1. Prepare the electric pressure cooker by placing a trivet into the bottom.
  2. Place the sweetened condensed milk into a heat proof bowl that will fit into the electric pressure cooker. 
  3. Wrap the bowl with aluminum foil over the top of the bowl. Then, place the bowl on another piece of aluminum foil and wrap it up the sides. If desired for extra protection from water, place another piece of aluminum foil over the top.
  4. Place the bowl into the electric pressure cooker, resting it on the trivet. Fill the electric pressure cooker with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the bowl.
  5. Cover the electric pressure cooker and set the valve to sealing. Program on manual or “pressure cook” for 35 to 45 minutes. Once the cooking cycle is complete, release the pressure from the electric pressure cooker.
  6. Remove the foil from the bowl and whisk the caramel. If it is not to your desired color, re-wrap the bowl and place back into the electric pressure cooker, programming for another 10 minutes. 
Discover how to easily make homemade dulce de leche using an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker.

Note: The time varies greatly depending on the size/wattage of the electric pressure cooker as well as the size of the bowl used. I used a 4 cup batter bowl in an 8 quart Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and the caramel took 45 minutes.

Delicious recipes using dulce de leche

Discover how to easily make homemade dulce de leche using an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker.

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