How to make caramel in a crock pot

Did you know you can make caramel in your crock pot?!Since getting a crock pot for Christmas I have been on a mission to find new recipes and techniques I can enjoy. Mainly I've been making soups. Soups are awesome. I saw a number of links of Pinterest (including this one) about making caramel (or dulce de leche) in your crock pot. What?! You know I had to try that.Crockpot caramel recipeThe basic idea is you take a can of sweetened condensed milk, remove the label, submerge it in water in your crock pot (set on low) for eight hours. Sounds easy enough. I read a few sources that mentioned this method could result in a rust ring forming in the bottom of your crock pot. I don't know if that's true or not but I didn't want to take the risk (not my new and still sort of shiny crock pot!). Instead I tried a slightly modified method with a few added ingredients. Here's what I did:How to make caramel in your crockpotIn a mason jar pour in the contents from one can of sweetened condensed milk. Add any extra ingredients you like. I made two jars, and in one I added 1/2 teaspoon coarse grain sea salt (salted caramel anyone?). To the other I added 1 tablespoon bourbon. I love bourbon. 🙂 Place the lid on the jar and seal. Shake the jar to mix up the ingredients. Place in your crock pot and fill with water so that the water covers the jar just past the milk. Cover your crock pot. I found my lid no longer fit over the mason jars, so instead I covered my crock pot with aluminum foil to keep the water from evaporating. Set on low and let that cook for 8 hours (go to bed, wake up to caramel!).
Homemade caramel sauceThis was a fun experiment! The results: thick, richly colored caramel. The caramel is not perfectly smooth in texture, it was somewhat grainy. I loved both flavors (salted and bourbon infused). This would be delicious as a dip for apples, smeared on toast with peanut butter, piped into a cupcake or a small spoonful stirred into coffee. I gotz ideas for my caramel, as you can see.

What about you? Have you ever tried making crockpot caramel? xo. Emma

  • Well, unfortunately it didn’t come out smooth enough to make caramel apples, but it did come out yummy!

  • My can started to rust after eight this normal? should i still eat the caramel?

  • You could spoon over waffles with chopped apples… kind of like a deconstructed apple pie. 🙂

  • So proud ♥ This is an Argentinian old recipe and we eat it all the time. I’ve never cooked dulce de leche but some people add baking soda for a better texture and cinnamon for better taste 😉

  • i love dulce de leche! We call it “yema” here. And the ones still in tin cans can be bought in the market. People here would rather buy in the market than make their own because it takes too long to cook so it’s not economical. We’re still using gas tanks here so one might eventually run out of gas while cooking this. hehe oh, and it’s also dangerous when left unattended for so long. 🙂

    but the one with sea salt is really interesting. I love combining dulce de leche with salty bread/biscuits. So salted yema is probably heaven! i want to try this at home. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! <3

  • How do you store the caramel after it’s made? Does it need to be refridgerated?

  • u can also do this on stove top put your can of sweet milk in a pan and cover with water. keep it boiling for 4 hours. adding boiling water as needed. we then mix with cool whip once its cooled and layer nilla waffers with caramel. so yummy, but very very rich

  • I’ve always used the simmering water method and never thought about putting it in a crockpot. Ingenious! Without adding any additional ingredients, it’s a wonderful smooth topping on a pumpkin cheesecake.

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  • Luckily, since I live in Buenos Aires I just have to open my fridge to find dulce de leche… hahaha I can not live without!!!!!! (seriously!)
    And, yes! one of my favorite combos is with green apple, though cream cheese and vanilla cake is fighting pretty hard!!

  • you know here in Argentina, we say we invented it!!! but people from Uruguay say the same thing! We use it for breakfast with bread and butter, and of course to fill birthday cakes. At the bakerý you can also get croissants with dulce de leche! Mmmmm super delicius! Pau

  • Hi! I’m from Argentina and here we call it “Dulce de Leche” and it’s really common… We use it for everything in bakery and it’s the most popular ice cream flavour.
    The origin of the recipe is Argentina.

    You should try filling a cake with it, the result is delicious!!

    I love your blog and your photos in IG.

    Have a nice day!!


  • I do it all the time and I love it !!!! This is a typical french recipe, totally Normandy…

  • what a genius idea! I especially love that it is made inside the jar so there’s no messy scraping and caramel everywhere!

  • Hey! Dulce de leche argentino! Kensie, you can always use soy milk to make this, here in Argentina you can buy this vegan dulce from the stores…

  • Great recipie of the orignial argentinian DULCE DE LECHE!!!! try it inside cakes!!! and with bananas!!! its the best!

  • I’m really glad you mentioned the thing about the rust ring on the bottom of the slow cooker. I have been itching to try that, but I probably won’t risk it now either.

    The mason jar was a nice solution! I love bourbon too, so I’ll be making that version first!

  • This just looks so yummy and I think it would be delicious with strawberries or peaches!
    Anyway I don`t have a crock pot,have to do in some other way!But I definitely need to try this!


  • Here in Brazil we make that with a pressure cooker in only 40 minutes and the result is pretty much the same! 🙂

  • A little science for you. Water itself will never rise above its boiling point, all water hotter than 100C is steam, this is why you cover the jar/can with water, so that the contents never exceed being cooked over 100C. Ergo, the temperature of your crockpot (low, medium,high) is irrelevant. (but it probably helps to be low so that the water boils at a slower rate and the lid doesnt flop to release the steam and lower your water level)
    Emma, if you havent looked up gastronomy books I HIGHLY recomend you do (or even youtube videos of gastronomy). I think everyone that enjoys cooking would get a kick out of it.

    Final note, you changed the pressure volume system that worked for the cooking time. So if you want non grainy cramel you’ll have to experiment with time or probably concede to the rust rings (lemon juice right afterwards will actually tame those).
    Anyway, sweet post!

  • Aww yum and so easy! Crock pots are awesome 🙂

    xo Emily @

  • This looks so good! But I’m confused…the sweetened condensed milk is what makes up the caramel?

  • Agree with previous posters – dulce de leche deliciousness! Such a tasty filling for alfajores. Those cookies are a must try!

  • Hee hee.. in Australia we put the can in a saucepan and boil it for 3 hours. I did 2 cans the other day for what we call caramel tart. Base of shortcrust pastry or biscuit crust, put the caramel in and cover with cream.. banoffee pie is the same but a layer of banana before the caramel gets put in. The difference is that the caramel tart will keep (the banana goes a bit soft if not eaten immediately.

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  • Looks fantastic! I have a crockpot as well and need to try more things with it as well!

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  • What a brilliant idea!! I just tried it last night and the results are delicious!!

    I added two teaspoons of rock salt and a teaspoon of vanilla essence.

    Thank you for sharing!!

  • Hey Emma, all you have to do to not risk the rust ring is line your crockpot with aluminum foil! That way you don’t have to deal with jars or any of that stuff 🙂

  • wow! makes me happy to know you like something so “argentinian” as dulce de leche!

    Greetings from Buenos Aires!


  • That sounds fantastic. After reading some comments on here (and on other similar recipes) I’m wondering if using smaller jars + more water would yield better results? I might try it. =)


  • You don’t need to buy a crockpot to make caramel! You can just submerge the can in a saucepan 🙂

  • In South Africa we can buy cooked condensed milk in cans. It’s sooo good, but I’m looking for a vegan alternative now.

  • This looks AWESOME!! I’m going to make some tonight, I have some Granny Smith apples that look lonely! Thanks for the idea.

  • I did the dulce de leche in a pot with boiling water, and I used that to pimp a cheesecake…it’s the best I ever did!

  • you can just use a saucepan on the stove top – just make sure the water does not run dry:) or BOOM! best le ps takes about three hours on the stove at simmer … in Aust you can buy it already done in the can 🙂

  • I’ve used this method just in a saucepan – takes a lot less time but I got a crockpot too for Christmas and am up for any excuse to get it out!

  • Hi Emma,

    I have been making caramel from condensed milk in a tin for years and years now. All you have to do is put it in an old pan (metal, or whatever old pan you have) fill it with boiling water and then keep it slowly boiling for 2 hours!! Yes, only 2 hours, not 8!! What I do is lay the can flat in the pan, so you wont get any rings or nothing, and after an hour look if it’s still submerged under water, if not fill it a bit more. 2 hours, and done!!

    Recipe for the best banoffi pie:
    make a bottom from digestive biscuits and some melted butter. Let it set a bit in the fridge. Poor over the caramel you made in the tin. (Let it stand for about 15 minutes after 2 hours of boiling, otherwise it spurts out a bit and hot caramel is ouch!) Let it cool down. Poor over freshly whipped cream (maybe use a bit of sugar in your whipped cream). Cut up banana’s and they go over the whipped cream, and then grate some really nice chocolate and sprinkle it over the banana’s. Time to eat!! Yes, it’s not healthy, but the best banoffi pie you will ever eat!!

  • I’ve made caramel with a can of condensed milk in a regular pot. The important thing is to submerge it in water and then let it boil on a low heat for a few hours. It doesn’t matter what pot you use. And, I’ve never had any problems with rust (I put the can on it’s side).

  • If you don’t have a crockpot, you can do it in a pot as well. I was taught by a Brazillian girl, as this is very popular there. She said to put a rag or washcloth on the bottom of the pot. In a pot, it only takes about an hour.

  • Yummmo! This looks so delicious! I think i may make this tomorrow morning 🙂
    Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    Rachel xx

  • This is very common in Brazil, everyone knows how to do it =]

    It actually takes only 50mins if you use a pressure cooker!!

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  • Dulce de Leche is perfect to fill cakes. In my country (Venezuela) we also eat it with obleas… it´s so delicius!
    Besos chicas!!

  • My mom make this all the time , strange the texture of the caramel has never been grainy or anything, it always is very smooth and yummy , however i think that with the time my mom could has understood some tricks and tips about how to make it better 🙂

  • Hi, dulce de leche is original from Uruguay, here we make it with milk, sugar and bicarbonato de sodio (sorry, dont know the name in english) pretty amazing people eat that in U.S. !

  • I’ve done this in a pot on the stove. Cover the can with water in a pot and boil for around 60-90 minutes (depending on how thick you want the caramel). You have to keep an eye on the water level, but it’s glorious. I didn’t get that “grainy” texture you described here.

  • You guys are totally gonna get me fat, haha! I love this. Damn, I need to try this as soon as possible. Love your recipes as always and I can’t wait to let you know the result of me trying it. It looks so yummy! xo

  • AH the best flavors mixed together, caramel, salt and bourbon. Looks delicious.

  • I’m sorry are you supposed to keep the can sealed? Mason jar sealed? And then submerge…sounds very strange!

  • My best friend would die over this haha

    xo Jennifer

  • Oh my gosh this looks so yummy!! Love it.

  • I was always worried about harming my crock pot as well. Thank you for the updated recipe!

    xx Kait


  • great way to change the flavours slightly. I’m sure I remember seeing this on a children’s science program when I was very young and them saying if you cook it for long enough it will be solid, it was some sort of challenge to make solid milk, I might see if I can make that too!

  • The dulce de leche looks a little dark and not as smooth as it should be – that combined with the grainy-ness makes me think it’s most likely overcooked. You old slow-cooker’s heat settings could be off – why not try putting a little silicone pad under your can in your new slow cooker? Any maybe lower the cook time and test it out? It should come out silky smooth, the very slightest bit runny (it should drip off that apple just a wee bit) and lighter in colour.

    Good luck!

  • Barbara Eads- Yes, you should store it in the refrigerator after opening. I am not a food scientist so I don’t really know how long it would keep… personally I plan to use mine up within a week. 🙂

  • Hi actually don’t worry about the little shiny pot !! nothing will harm her ( yes i talk about it like a person, she is a dear friend, got me through a lot ^^ ) .. another tip : set it on high temp , and let it for only one hour 🙂 you will have the best caramel you’ve ever tasted 🙂

  • Oh how this makes me wish I owned a crock pot! Very inventive!

  • A crock pot! That is so awesome and easy. Thanks for sharing!

  • YUM! I pretty much love caramel on anything, so thanks for this!

    Stephanie May*

  • I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl. Except I just boil it in a regular pan. xD I’ve always been a sugar addict and my mom didn’t find out about her missing sweetened condensed milk until not long ago. Hihi.

  • Oh Emma you’re the best!
    How nice to see this kind of recipe in here.
    I’m from Argentina, we use dulce de leche with bananas,
    pancakes, alfajores, confectionery…

    Just a sugestion: If you want to make it really smooth, not grainy at all, you should look for the original recipe (uses cold milk, sugar, vanilla, a non-stick pan and a wooden spoon. Really yummy!). Hope you give it a try!

    Love you guys!

  • You can do this on the stove by submerging the can into a large pot (you could put a washcloth at the bottom to avoid it scratching the pot) and boiling it for 3 hours. It made wonderful and SMOOTH caramel. Take a graham cracker crust pie, layer sliced bananas on the bottom, put caramel on top and add some cool whip. Put it in the freezer to let it firm up. DELICIOUS banana, caramel pie!

  • You can also make banoffee pie!!! It’s so good!

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  • Mmm this looks amazing, my mom makes all kinds of crockpot dishes. This makes me want to pull out the crock pot for sure!


  • What a simple way to make caramel dip! Love the mix in suggestions.

  • I really love caramel and all what is sweat. So that recipe is like for me. Perfect job. Have a great friday.

  • I had no idea this was possible! I have been wanting to try out my crockpot for desserts, and this definitely works!

  • I am a total crock pot head! Love any chance that I get to use them. Soooo grateful for this post. Thank you emma.


  • We made crock pot caramel for our “friendsgiving feast” (thanks for that idea) and used it to top little gluten free apple pies we made. It was fantastic – so good we forgot to take pictures!

  • OMG ! That looks absolutely delicious !!!
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  • Who needs a crock pot for soup when you can make something so much better?! I love caramel! I’m obsessed with the caramel syrup I get on my overpriced caramel frappucinos. I can only imagine how delicious a mug of hot coffee would taste with a heaping scoop of caramel melted in. yummmm!

  • I’m from Argentina and we eat dulce de leche quite, quite often (but of course we buy it, since they sell it at every single market). I love it! Apple tastes amazing with it, also does banana. When you put this in a cake, you’re lost: it’s THE BEST.

  • Kerry- Oh my gosh! Kerry, I am so sorry this happened to you! Thank you for sharing your experience, it’s always good to use caution and care. I appreciate your comment.

  • Yum! Amazing use! Perfect for the mini crock pots too in which it’ll stay warm as you dip.

  • Hello! I blew up a crockpot and covered my kitchen in caramel and glass doing this recipe(a few years ago now), the pan was on very low with a lid on but over the hours the steam escaped and it still boiled dry as I also left overnight! If I had been in the kitchen I would have been very badly burned and cut as glass, bits of pot and caramel went everywhere! We had to repaint the walls and roof once we had scraped off the caramel, not fun 😛 Please can I warn your lovely readers to use LOADS of water and check it/top up if needed! The caramel is totally amazing though, well worth the effort, great share 😀

  • Dulce de leche! You can also make this by taking a can of sweetened, condensed milk and boiling it in a pot on the stove for about 20 minutes. Same result, less time! It’s so yummy!!!

  • Looks so yummy! Do you know if canned coconut milk has the same properties as condensed milk and would work for this recipe? Or do you have any vegan ideas?

  • this sounds too good to be true! i love caramel and am def going to try this :).

  • If you have a pressure cooker, I use the method of putting your can of sweet condensed milk in, submerge in water, and 30-45mn when it starts to whistle.
    Love it 🙂

  • I wonder if using a crock pot liner would prevent the rust ring from forming, if you want to use just the can of condensed milk?

  • That looks fantastic! If we ate more sweets in my house I would make this asap.

  • I had a couple of cans of condensed milk to use up, and now I know what I’m going to do!!! 🙂

  • Ok. This looks incredibly delicious. Will have to try this asap. Thanks for sharing!!

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