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Is this method safe to make dulce de leche?

I'm extremely conflicted about trying a recipe for dulce de leche. I've read so many times that boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for dulce de leche is perfectly safe, just as long as the can stays covered by the boiling water. I saw another recipe that recommended using a slow cooker for this.

I thought the can would explode if you do this. Would it work if I punctured vents into the top of the can and pour water till it reached the 3/4 way up the can and simmer it for the required 2 to 4 hours to reach the proper consistency.

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    1. No need to puncture the can. I do this all of the time and it works beautifully. Good luck! You'll love it.

      1. I just did my first can by the boiling method and it worked beautifully! Haven't tried the slow-cooker approach, but I think that a vent might be in order just to be on the safe side

        1. The following link has alternative methods for making Dulce de Leche -- stovetop, oven and microwave:


          1. I've done this on several occasions and never had an issue with it. It still makes me nervous, but there have been no explosions.

            1. It's done enough that the manufacturers of the milk have added a warning note on the can - they don't want you to do it.

              If you have doubts, you can buy the version that has already been cooked - imported from Chile. I've bought it at an ordinary Walmart. The cost is a bit more than a regular can of sweetened condensed milk, but not exorbitantly so. You can also find the Mexican version in many stores - that may be made from goats milk, with vanilla or other flavoring.

              1. Why are we all convinced the can with explode?
                (I am too, even tho I've been reading and hearing about it for years)
                It's in the NYTimes today, if that makes you feel any better.

                Does the can bob in the water, or is it content to stay covered and *not* explode as hundreds of thousands of people have done for years? Do you weight it down with a plate or something?

                1 Reply
                1. re: pitu

                  The long cooking time means you have to keep adding boiling water to maintain the boil above the level of the can. Goof up...miss once...and your kitchen will have a new, sticky color scheme...and someone might even get hurt.

                2. You could skip the condensed milk altogether and use Alton Brown's recipe:

                  You could go completely safe and use the multiple can/oven method described here:

                  OR...you could buy Nestle's La Lechera, available in many markets:

                  1. It takes a long time; you have to babysit that pot and continue to add water for several hours. I prefer homemade dulce de leche or cajeta. Although it demands more attention, and lots of stirring, it actually takes less time from start to finish and I think the taste and texture are much better than the "boiled can" product (which is still tasty.)

                    1. I make dulce de leche using a pressure cooker.Remove can label. Place sealed can in pressure cooker and cover completely with water. Seal pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure and set timer for 30-minutes. After 30-minutes at full pressure turn off heat. Let pressure fall naturally. When pressure is gone open pressure cooker. Place pressure cooker in sink and flush interior with cold water. Fill pressure cooker with cold water and let stand for a half hour to allow canned sweetended condensed milk to completely cool. Open can and enjoy.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Antilope

                        Might as well do 3 cans, or what ever your cooker can hold, at a time. They'll keep unopened for quite some time.

                        Less of a boil-dry problem, provided you understand how your PC uses water.

                        1. re: Antilope

                          Antilope, that's worth digging the pressure cooker out to try. Thank you!

                          Of course, my best friend's Argentine mom has been making it on the stovetop for, oh, 50 years without incident. That's just the way it's done in millions of households. But like you, I can't shake the fear either.

                          1. re: dmd_kc

                            30 minutes gives a well done, stiff caramel, for a more free flowing caramel, pressure cook for 20 minutes.

                        2. It works great as is. I've been doing it for 10+ years.
                          Homemade is better, of course, but this is a zero effort technique. I start w/ a lot of water in the pot so i don't have to keep adding. Can also do multi cans this way.

                          1. I was taught to puncture the can, then just fill the pot halfway up the can of milk (and watch to make sure the water doesn't boil away).


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jencounter

                              I've been doing it with the punctures - as I posted on another thread - it is not worth it to take that risk... it comes out BEAUTIFULLY with the two holes in the top... fill the water almost to the top and keep replenishing as it boils down... so yummy.

                              I went into a lot more detail on the other thread: