This Instant Pot Dulce de Leche recipe couldn’t be easier! With just one ingredient, plus water, you get the sweetest, creamiest homemade caramel sauce for baking, dipping, and more.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This is hands-down the easiest and fastest way to make dulce de leche at home, with no watching the pot or worrying about the can.
We’ve been making dulce de leche in the Instant Pot for years. Even though you can buy this thick, sweet caramel-like sauce in a can, this homemade version is by far our favorite!
DULCE DE LECHE INGREDIENTS
You might be surprised, but there is one – yes one – ingredient in this Instant Pot recipe: Sweetened condensed milk. You don’t need to add any sugar or fat to your homemade caramel sauce when you start with this magical ingredient.
You’ll need a 16 ounce canning jar for this Instant Pot dulce de leche. The 16-ounce jar will give the caramel enough room to expand while boiling.
You’ll also need a wire rack (aka low trivet) or steaming basket to hold the jar in the pot. Most brands of pressure cooker come with one.
WHY DON’T YOU PRESSURE COOK DULCE DE LECHE IN THE CAN?
Many popular stovetop dulce de leche recipes have you remove the label from the can of sweetened condensed milk, submerge the can in water, and boil the milk inside the can for several hours. With stovetop cooking, if enough water boils off, there is a risk the can could burst.
When I was creating this Instant Pot recipe, I decided to use a canning jar to completely sidestep this risk. Canning jars are ideal for pressure cooking, and they work great for making dulce de leche! Plus, it cooks in the jar you’ll use to serve and store it after cooking.
How to Make Dulce de Leche in an Instant Pot
It really couldn’t be easier to make this one-ingredient dulce de leche. However, there are a few key steps to keep in mind.
Start with a canning jar. It’s important to use a jar specifically made for canning. Thinner glass jars may not stand up to the pressure of the Instant Pot.
Note: You’re not actually canning or preserving the Dulce de Leche in the canning jar.
Next, pour the sweetened condensed milk into your jar. Be sure to wipe off any drips on the rim or down the sides (even on the inside). This can be done with a damp paper towel. These drips will likely cook faster than the rest of the milk, and may burn.
Place the lid on the jar finger tight—do not tighten all the way.
To set up the Instant Pot, place a wire rack or trivet in the bottom of the pressure cooker pot. This is important so the glass jar does not sit directly on the bottom, which can cause it to crack. If you do not have a rack you can roll and then coil aluminum foil to create one.
Finally, add your water. The water should come at least halfway up the jar of condensed milk. Then pressure cook for 40 minutes. When the cook time ends, you’ll have piping-hot and golden dulce de leche.
Important Tips for Making Dulce de Leche
Here are the most important things to keep in mind when making this recipe:
- Use a sturdy glass jar built for canning.
- Do not place the jar directly on the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- The glass jar will be hot when you remove the lid from the pressure cooker. Use a potholder!
- The caramel needs to cool for 10 minutes when it’s out of the pot. Then, before serving, stir the caramel well until it’s smooth and thick.
- The caramel will thicken up a lot as it cools!
Frequently Asked Questions about Dulce de Leche
Traditional dulce de leche is a mixture of milk and sugar that is slowly heated until it turns a beautiful golden brown. It’s not quite the same as traditional caramel, which is made from heating sugar and water.
It is very popular in Latin American countries and is spread over all kinds of baked goods. I’ve never tried a homemade South American dulce de leche, but I understand that this version made with sweetened condensed milk is sweeter than the more traditional recipes.
If you’ve never tried it, dulce de leche is a silky, smooth, creamy caramel-like sauce. It does have a different taste from caramel—the milk makes it a little richer and creamier. This makes it perfect for dipping, filling cakes, and topping treats. (Or just eaten by the spoonful—we won’t judge!)
Why use a 16-ounce jar when we only have 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk? The reason is that the sweetened condensed milk will start to bubble as it turns into caramel. The 16-ounce jar gives room for the bubbling mixture to cook without popping the lid.
If you like, you can use two 8 ounce canning jars and divide the sweetened condensed milk between them and reduce the cook time to 15 minutes.
Generally, you can use dulce de leche anywhere you’d use caramel! We love to serve it alongside homemade churros for dipping. You can also drizzle it over a cake instead of frosting, or use it as a filling for cookies, cupcakes, and other treats. It’s also SO good drizzled over popcorn!
Once the sauce is fully cooled, you can store it in the jar in the fridge for up to a week.
Recipes that Use Dulce de Leche
If you love caramel, try these other sweet treats next:
- Dulce de Leche Triple Layer Cake is a stunning tiered cake that’s the perfect birthday dessert for a caramel lover.
- These Crumb Topped Caramel Zucchini Muffins have a swirl of Dulce de Leche hiding inside!
- Alfajores are adorable Argentinian sandwich cookies filled with Dulce de Leche and usually served for Christmas.
- Dulce de Leche Lava cakes (page 65), Raisin Pecan Spice Cake (page 79), and Coconut Flan (page 148) of Instantly Sweet, our pressure cooker dessert cookbook.
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- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 16 ounce canning jar with lid and ring
- 8 cups water
- Pour sweetened condensed milk into a 16 ounce canning jar. Place the lid on the jar and screw on the ring.
- Put a rack in the pressure cooking pot and place the jar filled on the rack. Add 8 cups of water; the water should reach half way up the jar.
- Lock the pressure cooker lid in place, select high pressure and 40 minutes cook time. When the timer beeps, turn off the pressure cooker and let the pressure release for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, release any remaining pressure.
- Carefully remove the jar from the pressure cooking pot. Let the jar cool for 10 minutes, then using a hot pad, open the lid and whisk until smooth.
Once cooled, store covered in the refrigerator and use within one week.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 20Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 21mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.
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