Pressure Cooker Dulce de Lechee - Caramelized Condensed Milk!

Dulce de Leche is sweetened condensed milk which has been caramelized in its own can. Usually simmered for up to three hours, the pressure cooker can do it in just 15 minutes- plus a wholly unsupervised overnight natural release.

Although we usually stay away from cans and packets on this website dulce de leche is the exception to every rule! I  had already detailed my procedure for pressure cooking condensed milk in a foodie forum, about a year ago but figured it was time to share the mysteries and caveats of pressure cooking a can to all.

Now that dulce de leche is so easy to make, you’ll be looking for lots of ways to use it. It can be…

  • Spread it on toast, bread or crackers as you would a fruit jam
  • Mix it into your coffee or tea
  • Drizzle it on ice-cream
  • Spread it on top of a Cheese Cake
  • Dribble it on Muffins
  • Dip Banana Slices into it
  • Make a Banoffie Pie
  • Fill pastries or tarts
  • Flavor flans, carmels and Brulee’s -any custard
  • Coat the pan for making chocoflan
  • Make Ice Cream
  • Substitute caramelized sugar in a flan

How will you use it? Leave your answer at the bottom of the post!

A few safety considerations when pressure cooking a can or other sealed container:

  • Ensure the can is not damaged or nicked in any way
  • Remove the label, unless it’s printed on the can
  • DO NOT remove the can from the pressure cooker while the water in which it is submerged is still warm (the contents of the can are still under pressure)
  • DO NOT jostle or shake the pressure cooker containing a heated can.
  • DO NOT open the can while it is still warm (the contents may still be under pressure) – let it cool overnight before opening.


Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
5 L or larger  steamer basket    15-20 min.    High(2)  Natural
+ overnight

4.9 from 14 reviews
Dulce de Leche - Pressure Cooked Condensed Milk
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Latin American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • one 8-10oz (300-400ml) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • water to cover
  1. Prepare the pressure cooker by adding the trivet and steamer basket. Place the can on the steamer basket, being careful that it does not touch the sides or base of the pressure cooker. Do not skip this step. The can not
  2. be in direct contact with the super-heated base or sides of the pressure cooker.

  3. Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to cover the can. Put the can on its side to make sure it is fully submerged while not exceeding the "maximum capacity" of the pressure cooker
  4. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
  5. Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 15 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Lock the lid and cook for 20 minutes at high pressure.When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own. For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker to initiate the natural release.
  6. When the pressure cooker unlocks, do not remove the lid. Delicately set the pressure cooker aside and let it cool overnight - do not remove the can from the cooker or attempt to open it while it is warm.
  7. The next day, when completely cool, the can can be stored as-is or opened to used in your favorite recipe. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze any un-used portion for up to three months.
  8. If the dulce de leche is too stiff, simply warm the desired amount in a small pan with a spoon or two of milk to soften it to the desired consistency.

  9. Yeilds 1 can

Note: Should the can of condensed milk be larger than the pressure cooker, come in a tube, or be home-made, the contents can be poured into a glass jar suitable for pressure canning. The procedure is almost the same except that the water in the cooker should reach the level of the contents of the jar (you will not be able to submerge it because of the air in the jar). Do not store as-is. Refrigerate or transfer to a plastic container to freeze until ready to use.

Follow the rest of the procedure and precautions as written.

Make Dulce de Lece in the pressure cooker - with a can of condensed milk!

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  1. I have lots of NON instant powdered milk, so I decided to try this in canning jars. I put

    1/2 cup very hot water,
    1 cup of the powdered milk,
    1 cup of sugar and
    1 Tbl. butter

    into the Vitamixer. I blended it to the consistency of smooth sweetened condensed milk. I put it into two, wide mouth, 1/2 pint jars, put the canning lids on and screwed the rings on tightly. I put them into the steamer basket of my large BRK stovetop pressure cooker and PC’d them for 15 min. since the amount in each jar was smaller.

    After an overnight cooling, the lids had sealed, though I would not store them with refrigeration.

    1. Very nice! Thanks for sharing your dulce de leche method and posting a photo, too!



  2. So, I couldn’t wait to try this. As you can see from the picture, it seems somewhat grainy. It is not silky and smooth, like cooking the canned.

    I do believe this could be remedied by putting just of corn syrup in it. The taste is great, though and my grandkids will have no trouble dipping their apples into it.

    1. I assume you made your own in a jar. I’m not sure if this has any bearing on the outcome but the type of milk you use could affect it. I had a similar problem when making mozzarella with UHT milk. Many organic milk companies and the type you by in a carton off the food shelf will pasteurize to a higher temperature. This denatures the proteins, causing a grainy mess if trying to make cheese with it. I learned the hard way even though the directions warned me in advance. Maybe try regular milk.

    2. Just heat your water and sugar til it dissolves then it won’t be grainy

  3. Fascinating! I had no idea dulce de leche could be made this way. I have a friend that is going to be so jealous.

    1. I’m wondering if you used powdered sugar instead of regular sugar if it would be better?

  4. Made a couple cans of dulce de leche in my instant pot duo. Just wonderful! The only problem I had was there was a ring of adhesive at the water level edge that was a nightmare to remove. Neither soap nor elbow grease seemed to work. I was hesitant to use any chemicals to aid in the removal so I heated the pot in my oven at 250F for about 5 mins and simply wiped out the adhesive. Worked perfectly! Happy cooking!!

    1. Thanks for sharing your adhesive residue removal strategy – melting is totally the way to go! You can also fill the pot with new water and some vinegar and just bring it up to pressure again for 5 minutes. Then, release pressure and wipe.



    2. New to Instant Pot DUO60 and have question. what settings to use for dulce de leche? Thank You

      1. Put the PC in some out of the way spot as you will be leaving it there for a day.
        Put the can in and cover with water as per instructions above.
        Close and lock the lid. Close the vent.
        Press Manual. Select 20 minutes using the +/- keys and walk away.
        come back when time is up in about half an hour and unplug the machine. This time is not critical as long as the cook cycle has finished.
        walk away again and come back tomorrow. Open it and enjoy.

        1. Oops. I forgot:
          When you unplug the machine, DO NOT OPEN IT. Not even the vent.

        2. I am also new to pressure cooking and have been experimenting. The dolce de leche recipe looked easy, but I have trouble with a lot of the recipes because they are not precise, so I kind of guess and luckily haven’t had too much trouble. Unfortunately, I can’t find the answer to a simple question and hope someone here can help. I made the dolce de leche and left it alone overnight, but this morning when I took out the cans, the water was brown. The cans were (I thought) in perfect condition, but obviously leaked. I opened the cans and the contents are delicious and beautifully caramel colored. Since it was only water, can I still eat the stuff? Or did the can semi explosion ruin it? Please let me know! I don’t want to poison my family, but I don’t want to throw it out…it really is beautiful and delicious (yes, I tried it, even if it is bad). Thanks

          1. I know it’s late but in case this helps anyone else – our water was brownish also, but I think that was from the adhesive left on the cans. Took the can out (the next day) and washed the outside and it was clear that the can was intact. Brown washed right off, and scrubbed right off the inside of the pot. Adhesive ring is taking a little more effort, though. :(

        3. Greg, I have an Instant Pot Duo 60 and tried this once with setting on soup before I saw your comment and only seemed to turn the condensed milk to brownish color. Then I tried again with your suggested setting of Manual and produced the same brown milk. Do you have any other suggestions to what I am doing wrong?

          1. Be sure you are using condensed milk (Eagle Brand or La Lechera) and not evaporated milk (such as carnation).

            1. Malu – Condensed Milk and Evaporated Milk are the same thing, although evaporation is a bit more exact in terms of water contents. Perhaps you are referring to SWEETENED Condensed Milk, which has added sugar. In fact, in some countries, Evaporated Milk is known as Unsweetened Condensed Milk.
              For example, in France, it’s simply Lait Concentre Sucre (concentrated milk, sweetened) and Lait Concentre Non-Sucre (concentrated milk, unsweetened).

        4. Do you use high or low pressure?

          1. As per instruction line #6, use high pressure. Low pressure is very rarely used in pressure cooking. It is generally only selected for delicate foods like fruits or some seafood which would break under high pressure.

    3. I am so glad to read this! I had the same thing happen and I found it difficult to remove. Great ideas on the heating again to remove the ring. I make baked goods to sell so this is the best method for me to make 4 cans at once in my IP but I hate that nasty gooey ring.

    4. Alternatively, replace the stainless steel pot with the Teflon-coated version (which Instant Pot sells). I replaced mine when I first got the Instant Pot, and cleanup has been a breeze. Even better, I bought the non-stick version on eBay for $14 and sold the original pot for $20, making a profit!

      PS – for those who are concerned, Teflon is biologically inert so there are no health risks, especially at 230°F. In fact, I used to swallow Teflon chips in front of patients who were paranoid about using Teflon. For more info, see my writings on Amazon or Quora.

  5. Thank you so much.

    1. It is just water in the pot so your dulche de leche should be fine.

  6. Laura, Can I use instant non-fat milk instead of powdered milk in the above recipe?
    Laura, I have enjoyed your cookbook so much as it has so much depth to it. Especially
    like the reference material in the back. Believe me when I say your cook book is opened every day. I am just waiting for my 18 mo old Emeril T-Fal to croak so I can get an
    Instant-Pot! May I make a suggestion? When you do your next cook book could you make your font a little darker. I seems to be a trend today to have a lighter font in many publications not only cook books. Thanks. Keep up the good work! Mary in New Hampshire.

    1. Mary, I have not made this with powdered milk – only the canned condensed milk. You can try it and let us know how it turned out.

      Thanks for your feedback, I’ve been reading the reviews and I will definitely ask the publisher to have high-contrast black text for the next book!



  7. I have a question, I know there is such a thing as coconut dulce de leche as well, could you create this by putting a can of coconut milk in a pressure cooker as well?

    1. I haven’t tried making this with coconut milk it but it’s possible. You would want the sweetened coconut milk – the one for desserts – and you’d want to shake the can well before getting started – to evenly distribute the coconut fat.



  8. Since someone asked above….This recipe has been around for many, many years, My late mother used to make this desert for me on an old Presto (?) or similarly styled PC back in our native Cuba when I was a kid in the early 60’s, although I’m not sure she used this method described here (I believe it was just laid on the bottom of PC) as I never saw a Steamer Basket ever since Cubans in general are not into boiled vegetables;

    During those years in Cuba ‘Dulce Leche’ was considered a “delicacy” since finding a can of condensed milk was not an easy task and usually available in the Black Market only, but my mother managed and made this desert in our PC many times through the years.

    In the late 60’s and early 70’s ( probably later on too, but my family emigrated by then) Cuban youth of High School age were required to spend the 3 month of summer away from home and family working in agriculture fields asignated by the government (Escuela al Campo), and “Dulce de Leche” was a favorite and coveted item in the camps because it needed no refrigeration, and every weekend during family visits to the camps Cuban mothers of all walks of life will bring “Dulce de Leche” to their children’s, and my mother was no exemption.

    She made ‘Dulce Leche’ here in exile many times too with a new Presto PCs, just not as often given so many other choices of desserts available, besides, now we could find the ingredients to make another Cuban Pressure Cooker staple, “Cuban Flan” (Cuban Styled Custard), but that’s another story and a different recipe…:-)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this very endearing story with us. I had not idea it was so valuable!! ; )



    2. Thank you for telling this wonderful story!

    3. Your story touched my heart. It really made me think about my own childhood and my mom cooking and how something so simple (us reading about cooking a can of milk online) could stir up such wonderful feelings about our own mothers’ and how different backgrounds can meet up like this.

      I simply loved reading what your wrote.

  9. Can I just pour the condensed milk into a mason jar with metal lid and ring so there’s no adhesive to clean up? If so, how much head space do I need in the mason jar?

    1. Yes, but you should not seal the jar. The lid should be closed, and then turned towards open for a 1/4 turn before sealing in the pressure cooker. In this case, you would only put water up to the level of the condensed milk in the jar.



  10. Just did this yesterday in the can and the results were truly AMAZING. everyone was super impressed and zero effort.
    We dipped our fall apples into it for a wonderful dessert. I’m sure we’ll find other uses – this one is kind of dangerous – I’m going to want to put dulce de leche on everything now!


      I adore this on apples!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I know this is probably a stupid question, but all the recipes talk about making one can at a time. I can fit two cans into my instant pot. This leaves about a fourth of an inch between the cans and between the cans and the sides of the pot. Will this work or will the cans be jostled while cooking causing them to come together in the center of the pot? If this occurs will the cans explode?

    1. I have made this with three cans at a time. But then I used my 12 Litre Kuhn Rikon. That is much roomier than the IP.

      I would expect no problems. While you are actively pressure cooking, the pressure is from the outside of the cans pushing in. This will only reverse once you enter the cool down phase. And there won’t be any jostling then. Unless you move the pot of course.

      You could also place a barrier between the cans if you are worried. A bit of scrunched up foil would work.

    2. The number of cans should not matter. I used two. Also I’m not convinced they need to be fully submerged either. The commercial food industry cooks/sterilizes canned, and pouched product in steam pressure vessels ( Retorts). Basically the same, although pressures might be different. The canned sweet and condensed product you purchased would have already been sterilized/pasteurized in can using this method. It is impressive how well this method works, although it is one too more thing that is going to increase my waistline. ;-(

      1. Brian, the cans should be fully submerged and raised on a rack of some-type to ensure that the contents are evenly cooked. We are not commercially sterilizing the cans we are “cooking” the contents with this technique.



        1. I’m way too impatient to wait for so much water to boil so I just had enough water to pressurize. I then elevated the can so that it would only be surrounded by superheated steam. Came out great although I must admit that I have nothing to compare it to. For example, your method of complete submersion may taste better. But I think that as long as the heat is evenly distributed, whether by water or steam, the results should be fine.

  12. Made ice cream out of this. Delicious! Will make again. Getting rid of the adhesive is a pain. Hopefully I will be able to find condensed milk cans that don’t have adhesive on them.

    1. Just pour the condensed milk into a Mason jar (Bell or Kerr) with metal lid and ring, and cook that way. Mine comes out perfectly. I replace the metal lid with one of the plastic lids for Mason jars (sold on Amazon) and keep one jar in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.

  13. This would be amazing in Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars (shortbread base covered with dulce de leche and melted chocolate). Yum!

    Here’s one recipe I found, but there are tons online.

  14. could you not remove the adhesive with some oil?

    1. Eucalyptus oil works well. But it is smelly.

      1. Lemon essential oil should work.

  15. I do not have a steamer basket, only the trivet that came with the IP. Can I lay the can on its side in the center of the trivet and cover it with water?

    P.S. I love your website!

    1. Yes, you can use a trivet. The idea is to lift it off the heating element so the can does not heat un-evenly.



  16. If I make these in canning jars does it still need to be refrigerated? They have a nice tight seal on them so I’m sure if they are good out on the counter

    1. Lisa, if you’re making this in a pressure canner and following the processing time for milk you can store this on the shelf. Otherwise, no. We are just cooking the milk in the jars, not preserving it so this “recipe” is not designed to ensure that any botulism spores that entered the jars are de-activated.

      However, if you made this in a sealed can that is still sealed after this process you can store that can on the shelf.



  17. I did two 14oz cans of Borden. It came out surprisingly dark with 15 minutes of time at pressure. I’ve seen other recipes that recommend 10-15 minutes, instead of 15-20 minutes. I’ll back it down in 5 minute increments in the future, since I would prefer a slightly lighter product. I suspect that can size might factor into this. Otherwise it’s amazing how well it works, and it was tasty. We had it on pears and crackers since it was all we had at hand. I was also impatient and removed the cans after the pressure pin dropped, then placed them in cool water. No problems.

  18. I just removed my can after cooking it last night and leaving it overnight in the Instant Pot. It is very, very thick. I cooked it on high for 20 minutes. If I cooked it for 15 minutes would that give me a slightly looser product?

    1. You can plop it in a bowl and loosen-up by whisking with a little bit of milk or water.



  19. This works a lot better if you pour it into shallow 8 oz canning jars first. It’s cool in a couple hours and you know the can isn’t going to explode, and no adhesive goo to clean up.

  20. Need to do multiple cans at once in a Matfer 13l pressure cooker. For my bakery.Suggestions.

    1. Earl, make sure that they are all submerged, and have a kitchen towel or some other set-up to keep them from clanking into each other.



  21. I’ve been making this for a while now but I’ve always done it differently. I scoop the sweetened condensed milk into a smallish metal bowl, then cover it with aluminum foil. It goes into the pressure cooker and sits on a trivet. I put 2 cups of water in the pressure cooker and cook it on high for 60 minutes.

    What I like about this method is that when it’s finished I use an electric hand mixer and give it a good mixing. It then goes into a pint canning jar and into the fridge. When you’re doing this mixing you can also mix in some semisweet chocolate that’s been broken into bits; it’s hot enough that it will melt the chocolate; chocolate dulce de leche.

    I was reading about baking white chocolate (which I tried but it ends up being very hard and difficult to use) so I decided to try adding white chocolate to the sweetened condensed milk beforehand. I cooked it in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes then used the electric mixer to mix it well, then returned it to the pressure cooker and cooked it for 60 minutes. It tastes very good but it’s a bit overly sweet.

    I’m currently experimenting with using food grade cocoa butter.

    1. Thanks for sharing your technique and experiments, Rusty! Perhaps the white chocolate remains hard because there is something in there to “harden” the cocoa butter to make it chocolate-like – I’m just guessing but a read of the ingredients would probably confirm or deny this. I like the idea of experimenting with the cocoa butter directly – basically, you’re making “white chocolate” from scratch!

      BTW, what do you use your chocolate dulce de leche on? or in?



  22. Can this be use as a frosting for cake?

    1. Probably, not by itself it would need to be mixed with something. Anyone try it?



  23. This is deliscous as a cake frosting. Every year my husband requests this for his birthday cake. I make a plain white cake. I cut the cake in half and fill with a homemade vanilla custard. I do not make the custard very sweet. Next I take slices of canned peaches and lay them on top of the custard. Cover this with the top of the cake. Spread dolche de Lethe on top, then sprinkle with coconut. It is so delicious. Everyone who tries this loves it!

  24. How long to cook 300mL can

    1. The original recipe had the incorrect can size – it said 14 oz when it should have been 8-10oz. You can use the cooking time shown in the recipe.



  25. I just bought a package of 6 Nestle La Lecherita Low fat Condensed Milk. They are 3.5 ounces (100 grams) each. I am hoping to turn them into Dulce de Leche. How long would I pressure cook them for in my Instant Pot? Thank you.

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