This is a super easy, super yummy version of the classic dulce de leche (mexican style caramel sauce). Traditionally it is made by boiling a can of condensed milk for hours. This version, done in the Instant Pot takes far less time and also doesn’t require constant attention. In addition it is a lot less scary, since there’s no can to possibly explode! This has become a regular favorite in our house.
Dulce de leche is different from caramel. For caramel you heat sugar until it melts, allowing it to brown slightly, and then adding butter and other liquids to thin it to the desired consistency. Traditional dulce de leche sauce, on the other hand, is made by cooking sweetened milk down until it gets thick and turns golden brown. The end result of the two is similar, giving you a sticky, syrupy sweet concoction that lends itself well to topping ice cream, cheese cake, or anything you like.
There are lots of recipes online for how to make dulce de leche. I have used the boil-in-can method with lots of success. The downside of that method is that it demands your attention for 4 hours to make sure the water doesn’t boil away. (No one wants a sticky explosion!) Since the can is closed until it cools, you have no way of knowing if it was cooked long enough.
Start with great condensed milk
Since this recipe only has one main ingredient, condensed milk, you want to get the best product to start with. I looked around online and found one brand recommended above all others. Longevity Brand. I have tried a few that are available at my local market, but decided to order this brand through Amazon to give it a try. I’m glad I did. It makes a great caramel. I’ll be sticking with this brand I think.
The recipe I am using here is one from Amy & Jacky. If you want an in-depth discussion on how they arrived at their master plan, they go into great detail on the process. I highly recommend checking out their blog post, it’s fascinating and can also help you decide if you need to tweak the timing of the cook depending on how you like your sauce. I have boiled it down to the way I like to make it in a few, simple to follow steps.
- 14 oz Sweetened condensed milk Longevity Brand preferred
Baking Soda Mixture
- 1/2 tsp Baking soda
- 3 Tbsp Warm water
- Instant Pot
- Small mixing bowl
- Metal mixing bowl 7” or sized to fit inside Instant Pot
- Silicone spatula
- Silicone sling
- Silicone stretch lid
- Immersion blender (optional)
- Jar for storage
- Gather tools and ingredients
- In a small bowl, put 3 tablespoons of warm water. Add the baking soda and stir to mix well.
- In a metal mixing bowl, pour the condensed milk.
- Add the baking soda mixture, and whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Pour a cup of cold water into the inner liner of your Instant Pot.
- Cover the mixing bowl with a silicone cover, and place on silicone sling.
- Use the sling to carefully lower the bowl directly into the water in the inner pot. (Do not use a trivet!)
- Put the lid on and close the vent. Cook on manual, high pressure for 60 minutes. When the time is up, do a full natural pressure release until the pin drops.Carefully open the lid, lift the bowl out using the sling, and remove the cover.
- Using a whisk or immersion blender, beat until sauce is smooth.
- The sauce will get smooth and creamy, and will thicken as it cools.
- Serve on ice cream or other desserts. Enjoy!Store in airtight, microwave safe container in the refrigerator. Sauce can be reheated in the microwave, if desired.