dulce de leche ice cream

Two weeks ago, I had the honor to meet one of the people who has been reading this site in all of its incarnations for so long, she probably knows me better than I do. And yet she still wanted to meet me for lunch! The lovely Marce and I had a weekday lunch on a stunning day at Tabla’s Bread Bar, sitting outside discussing cameras and childcare, the food in Buenos Aires and the freelance life. It was fantastic, and not only because I can never resist an opportunity to have lunch at the Bread Bar but because she brought me…

a gift from marce

A jar of dulce de leche from Argentina! I thought I’d won the lottery. I know that aside from being practically the national dish, it’s no big deal to find a jar a grocery store down there but I didn’t know that there is like a whole supermarket aisle of it! I … I think it’s safe to say that it’s best I never find myself in that aisle. It would get sticky; I’d never be invited back.

Of course, I immediately started scheming what I could make with it, but I wanted to be really cautious about not picking a recipe that would bury the dulce’s charms. Oh, I loved those Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares as much as you all did in January, but said then and maintain now that the dulce flavor was not particularly strong in the delicious end product. When someone lugs a one-pound tub of this caramel of the gods more than 5,000 miles to you, you want to treat it with the utmost respect.

a tub of awesome

I believe we did alright. This ice cream, like so many of my favorite ice cream flavors, couldn’t be simpler. I was tempted to add The Easiest Chocolate Chips, Ever (swirl in four ounces of melted chocolate in the last minute of the ice cream churning) but as my previous ice cream efforts may suggest, I prefer my flavors uninterrupted. Heck, I even skipped the pecans.

The dulce is delightfully pronounced, and because it doesn’t require or need a custard base, it couldn’t be easier. Or faster to make. I mean, I’ve never been in a rush to get out of the kitchen, but I did like the fact that I could get home late and still get a spoonful of this before I went to bed. And in the days that followed? Yeah, I think you knew where that was heading:

i warned you

One year ago: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

The nerve! We’re on vacation this week, so I won’t get to responding to your comments (or fishing out comments snagged by by our hyperactive spam-catcher) until we return. Please don’t be sad. Look, we made you ice cream!

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
Adapted from Gourmet, May 2007

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound dulce de leche (about 1 2/3 cups) (make your own from scratch or the quicker way)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (2 1/2 to 3 ounces), toasted (optional)

Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved. Whisk in vanilla and transfer to a metal bowl. Quick-chill by putting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, 15 to 20 minutes.

Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm, then fold in pecans if using them. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 1 hour.

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88 comments on dulce de leche ice cream

  1. Come on, this is NYC. I am sure you can find Dulce here. I have yet to be stumped by something that you “can only get” in it’s originating country. NY has everything.

  2. jill

    long-time reader, first time delurker. husband and i have been chowing down on my latest batch of dulce de leche ice cream. i use the vanilla recipe from “The Perfect Scoop” (with the egg yolks, of course.) and then loosely swirl in mass amounts of dulce de leche. best. thing. ever.

    love love love your blog. have tried several recipes and they all rock. thank you!

  3. One of my best friends lived in Uruguay for a semester when we were in college and she brought back Dolce de Leche pastries as a treat. Holy mackerel- so good!

    From her stories, it seems there are two things South Americans love: duche de leche and dancing. After staying out all hours of the night (and morning) dancing, she said they had the duche pasties for breakfast…every day.

  4. Dulce de leche is so easy to make — just buy a can of sweetened condensed milk, peel off the label BUT DON’T OPEN THE CAN. Then put it in a pot of water (make sure water is covering it, and simmer for about 3 hours. It turns into dulce de leche in the can, I promise! It could not be easier, and it’s sooo good.

  5. I know people swear by the make-your-own dulce de leche from a can of Borden or whatever, but it’s just not the same as the real thing. At least for me, it always ends up tasty, but weirdly acidic and throat-burny, like Hershey’s chocolate x1000. Laura, am I doing something wrong or what? We should all have friends like yours, Deb, to hook us up with the real deal.

  6. Mmmm. That looks like a bite of frosty heaven. Up here in Canada, you can buy “authentic” dulce de leche at the grocery store, President’s Choice brand, and oh boy, is it good. I recommend it heartily to those not satisfied with the homemade condensed milk version.
    Happy eating!

  7. dan

    Just got back from three years in Buenos Aires.

    I have two jars of the absolute best dulce de leche the country has to offer sitting on my counter and I can’t bring myself to open either of them. Because once they’re opened, they’ll be gone. And once they’re gone, I’ll be sad.

  8. Sheila

    That looks sooooooo good. I just pulled out the ice cream maker this weekend for the first time this ‘season’. I might just have to break it out again before the week is even over. Here in Seattle you can find dulce de leche in the hispanic section of Safeway (among other stores) might be worth a look…

  9. hee hee those look slightly familiar…i made your brownie roll-out cookies this wkd and did ice cream sandwiches with yummy kahlua ice cream!!! they were AMAZING together.

  10. hello there!
    i just wanted to let you know how wonderful your site is! i love the photos, and every recipe of yours that i’ve followed has been absolutely amazing!
    thank you so much for sharing your work!

  11. Wow this post is SO timely.

    I’m MOVING to Buenos Aires in about 3 months and I’m having doubts. SO hey, God bless you. I really needed to read this today. I’m going back to my blog and adding Dulce de Leche to my list of things to look forward to! Thanks!

    More about Buenos Aires please. I need all the pump-ed up I can get! :-)

  12. Oh Deb, you are absolutely wonderful for making your blog renew itself even when you’re gone. hope you’re having a delightful time. this looks FABULOUS. :)

  13. ooooh! I made this same ice cream recipe a few weeks ago, I was planning to make ice cream alfajores, but it disappeared so quickly, I never even got to snap a photo. Now how did that happen ?!

  14. Clara

    In NYC, if you find yourself Queens..Astoria, Elmhurst etc. You can find dulce de leche, also known as arequipe (in Colombia) in most Latin American markets, bodegas, or bakeries (as well as arequipe, or dulce de leche, pastries…) The bakeries also have delicious pan de yuca and pan de bono (cheese breads).

  15. I have been itching to get my ice cream maker out for the season; after seeing this lusciousness, I do not think I will be able to wait much longer. Gorgeous stuff, especially as the filling for an ice-cream sandwich! How lovely this would be with the first berries of the season … or straight out of the carton.

  16. santadad

    Santamom and I have been toying with a trip to Argentina for a while now. Might have to contact your friend Marce to learn more about where, what, and when.

    DDL looks great, but will it be as important as the Casa Rosado (a?)?

  17. Della

    Have anyone experience homemade ice cream freezing rock hard the next day and it is very hard to scoop? Is it the way I make or ist that normal for homemade ice cream? Can someone collaborate on that?

    Thank you!

  18. homemade ice cream sounds amazing. now i just need to add an ice cream maker to my wishlist.

    but i did just make the strawberry rhubarb crumble that you had posted a while ago. it was so amazing! i absolutely loved it and couldn’t stop eating it.

  19. WordMariner

    First time poster……….been reading for about 8 months……superb site!

    Another way to do this and a bit more “showy” would be to make your vanilla ice cream and then, just before completing the process and after the addition of the pecans….swirl in the dulce de leche carefully and finish. The end result is like fudge ripple ice cream, of course, and adds little pockets of it to come across and delight in while still in its more pure form.
    I go to an Argentinian restaurant downtown, here in Denver, that makes their own gelato in an adjoining store front. Their dulce de leche gelato is to die for. Even more so is their Tres Leches Cake with a side of dulce de leche. Talk about a dessert overkill…I could eat it for dinner AND dessert!

    Love your stuff!

  20. Ann

    I love this ice cream but can never find it. I’ve never tried making it using the methods described above (condensed milk?). But your recipe looks de-lish. And, there are those cookies again! Still want to try those too…

  21. Maureen

    This is the first time I’ve seen this website and those pictures are so gorgeous I feel like eating my computer screen. I can’t even read the words, because all can do is look at the pictures…

  22. Yvo

    I am sad now. I didn’t bring any dulce de leche back with me when we went to Argentina in February because the smallest container was way over the limit for carry on and I didn’t watn to check our bags. Plus. I thought it would be unfair to my waist if I bought any. Sad face.

  23. Leticia

    Hi Deb,

    Thank you for having such a great blog, I love it! I am from Uruguay, where you can find the best dulce de leche in the world! Your ice cream looks great, and I know you said you preferred not to add anything to it, but next time you may want to add chocolate chips (not melted chocolate), but just some coarsely chopped chocolate, I can assure you the combination is great. By the way, this version of the ice cream is called “Helado de Dulce de Leche Granizado”.

    There are so many uses for dulce de leche! Here are a few: A popular combination is to eat bananas with dulce de leche, and to keep on topic with the ice creams, there is also Banana Split Ice Cream, which is banana ice cream with pure dulce de leche added to it, awesome!

    And next time you make a chocolate cake, you may want to try using dulce de leche in between the cake layers, and you can also try adding a few tablespoons of dulce de leche to your favorite chocolate frosting recipe!

    One of my personal favourites: Dulce de leche crepes (Panqueques de dulce de leche). You just make crepes, and fill them with dulce de leche (rolling them in a way that the dulce de leche doesn’t spill out). You can then put all the filled crepes in a baking dish, sprinkle some sugar on them, or pour some cream on top, and heat everything in the oven right before serving. Just great.

    Oh, and for Tropic Girl who is moving to Buenos Aires, add “alfajores” to your list!


  24. Mei

    I love caramel (hubby hates it) and anything that has it – coffee, cake, and especially ice cream. It does things to my weight though… =.=

  25. Marinette

    I am a big Dulce de Leche addict, after a 3-month internship in Chile (they call it Manjar). And you can’t find it in France. Not even in Paris. I was crying, a lot, I mean, a LOT. Until I called my Chilean friend to ask her to send me some. This was her answer: “You idiot, it is the easiest thing to make!!”.
    She told me the secret, and it is really very easy, I mean, REALLY!
    It saved my life and I feel I have to save some more so here is the trick:
    Take a can of sweetened condensed milk. Take a big pan. Fill it up with water and make it boil. Then, put the can into the water and cover the pan. Wait for 3 hours (the can won’t explode, unless you don’t pay attention and let all the water evaporate, ad some more if it’s the case)
    Wait until the can is cold and open. “Tadada!!!”
    You have your “home-made” Dulce de Leche.
    You’ll thank me later, go make some, NOW!

  26. I just made some (using a different recipe) and I’m so happy – it didn’t quite come out like the stuff I used to have in Argentina (that’s where I’m from), but it tamed the homesickness for sure!

  27. I LOVE Dulche de Leche! My great aunt made it in her tiny apartment in Vancouver, and if I were good, she’s bring me over a can or two of home-made amazingness. Mmmm… She was from Chile.

  28. aliplus3

    I make dulce de leche for Banoffee Pie several times a year (my husband is an ex-patriot Brit and my 3 Canadian kids and I have developed a lovee for this sweet treat). We boil the unopened cans of condensed milk for about 2 hours and have never had a problem (though i do worry i will one day cut my tongue licking the last scrap off the lid – bad habit!). I am concerned about what leaches into the dulce de leche from the inside of the can in this process. i know that lead and some chemicals are used in can linings and seals in some palces. Does anybody know anything about this?

  29. Ivon

    Just got a small ice cream machine, and I am so making this tonight! Thanks so much for letting us know that we can make the Dulce de Leche ourselves.

  30. vicki

    This is the best tip I heard from my sister who makes Banoffi pie quite often because it’s so easy. Instead of boiling the cans of condensed milk, which can explode IF you forget about it and let it boil dry…Put cans in a deep pot (that can go into the oven) and cover with water. Bring this to a boil on the stovetop. Remove from heat, then put the whole pot, covered, into a 140c (or 300F) oven for 3.5 hours. Do 5-6 cans at a time to save on time and energy. You can keep the unopened cans indefinitely and you will always have dulce de leche in the pantry. Over time it also develops some sugar crystals that make it even more delicious! I have a pot of 5 cans in my oven right now as I type this. One last hour to go!

  31. Ista

    Thank you, this helps me out so much. My Mom is wanting a dulce de leche ice cream cake.

    What I do for dulce de leche is cover the cans in water in a crockpot and cook it for about eight hours.

  32. piba

    being an argentine I appreciated your simple approach to dulce de leche ice cream. I make a less simple dulce de leche marscopone gelato that I LOVE! In argentina all the flavors of ice cream are based on this simple base which I adore – we cal it 33 flavors of dulce de leche (with almonds, chocolate etc). Actually as a country they just do food right – where the corner bar in a working class neighborhood will whip up fresh handmade provolone and mozzeralla stuffed gnoccis with a 3 color pepper ragout all served with impeccable service for say $3? ahhh so looking forward to our next visit!

    and by the way you can actually even find nestle dulce de leche in of all places walmarts in areas with big latino populations (I know sort of disgusting and sorta of amazing – the only reason I ever step foot into walmart – strange but true). It is also easy to make (though time consuming) alton brown has a recipe. My dad’s best friend had 8 daughters just so they could all stir the dulce de leche a certain amount of time each for best results (There is a commitment to good dld eh?)
    oh and making it with cans of condensed milk, in my opinion, is subpar!

    thanks again you are amazing!!

  33. Liane

    Ohhhhhh helado de dulce de leche granizado – the granizado is chocolate shavings in the ice cream – soooo soooo good! I wish I had some dulce de leche right now!

  34. Stephanie

    How do you think this would pair with Tres Leches Cake- would the cake’s syrupy juices be too much with the ice cream?

  35. Dagny

    Made this last weekend, and had it with warm Nonfat gingersnaps from David’s page. Nirvana, bliss, choirs of angels singing! This has actually become my favorite ice cream of all time :) Thank you!

  36. I`m from Argentina and own a cafe in Buenos Aires. I bake since I am 13 years old (30 years!) and I am so glad the world is finally discovering dulce de leche. Here it`s as common as peanut butter with so many different brands and textures you wouldn`t believe it.
    But there are some uses for ddl nobody should go on withour experimenting: Chocolate or vanilla cake with ddl between layers; dulce de leche ice cream WITH ripples of ddl in it (just add natural ddl to the ice cream); brownies topped with a layer of ddl and another of chantilly cream or italian meringue (or both if you`re feeling OTT); croissants filled with ddl (what we call pastry ddl since it is thicker and so holds it`s shape better); dulce de leche mousse: just mix a pot of dulce de leche with a pot of half whipped cream and pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours.
    Thank you for an incredible website!

  37. Paige Galla

    Thank you for sharing! My love for good ice cream is larger than life, and this one hits the nail on the head!

  38. Hi Deb!! I´m from Montevideo, Uruguay, which is right next to Argentina, and just a short flight/ferry away from Buenos Aires. Usually Argentinians are famous for their dulce de leche, but in Uruguay its also a big (huge!) deal! here people eat it with EVERYTHING! and want to put in on top or inside everything,even fruit such as bananas (I should know as I´m a pastry chef and most of the cakes/desserts I make have it)
    A couple of years ago I made this ice cream, and I can tell you it´s my favorite dulce de leche ice cream recipe EVER! So simple, fast and delicious! The only thing I add are spoonfools of dulce de leche when the ice cream is almost done and I´m about to turn off the ice cream maker. YUMMMMM
    Next time I´m in NY I´ll bring you some of our dulce de leche for you to try and some of our recipes!!

  39. Wow! This ice cream looks delicious!! I can’t wait to try it! Dulce de leche is one of my favorite things ever!! Right now my favorite thing to do with it is make Mexican chocolate cupcakes with a dulce de leche center and a dulce de leche buttercream!! Yummm! This ice cream would accompany them perfectly! Thanks for the recipe!

  40. Danielle

    This would probably have a whole ‘nother dimension if made with cajeta (goats milk dulce de leche). I’m obsessed with that stuff after going to Mexico City…I was eating Las Sevillanas bolitos de leche every day (google that…crispy sugar outside, fudgy dulce de leche inside…*drool*) and getting everything else possible topped in the stuff (crepes, especially). It has such an intriguing flavor, I can imagine it being showcased in this ice cream even better. Now, to find it (or *sigh* have to make my own from scratch) =(

  41. Ana

    I am from Argentina and that dulce de leche is not good at all! next time I travel to the States I can send you some REAL dulce de leche! Will try the recipe with y favorite brand. Let u know :)

  42. I agree with Ana, I’m from Buenos Aires and that’s not a very good brand of dulce de leche… It would be such a pleasure to bring you the real stuff sometime… by the way, those recipes to prepair home made dulce de leche from a can of condensed milk may taste ok, but are not the real thing either.

  43. Cat

    So I tried this recipe, it came out delicious, but it came out to be a soft solid and suuuuper sweet. It tastes wonderful to me, but too sweet to my husband! There’s a bulk retailer here (in Canada) that has dulce de leche available, so we used that. There was an inconsistency with the weight to the amount that would fit in 1 2/3 cup. Hm. I went with the 1 2/3 cup measurement as supposed to the weight.
    I’ll be trying this again next year. I think I’ll go buy it in a can at a store and see if that fixes my problem.

  44. LouLou

    Late to the party but…I’m a huge fan of DL’s ‘The Perfect Scoop” and of custard based ice cream in general but sometimes you just want something a little easier, and fewer pots to wash! Chiming in on canned vs home made dulce de leche…I’ve done both and I actually prefer store bought. If you are going to make your own though..the five can method in the oven is the way to go. Next, on to tempering the sweetness of the recipe..I totally agree with a dash of salt. I don’t like biting into a flake of salt so i just add a bit in the cream mix. This go around I also added a splash of rum and it turned out beautifully.

  45. I actually just made a dulce de tres leches ice cream tonight. using goat milk and making a traditional anglaise, then layering the dulce and carving through it with a small metal spatula like brownies. so good.

  46. I have also boiled the can of condensed milk – I put a cloth on the bottom of the pot to stop the rattles – easy, and the unopened can is ok to keep in the cupboard for when you need it, many uses too!!!

  47. Crissy

    I really enjoy Deb’s recipes and writing style. However, this recipe is verbatim from Gourmet’s May 2007 recipe, not “adapted from” it. Deb does hyperlink the original recipe above, but publication and copyright standards should not be reduced because this is published on a website v. in a hard copy book.

      1. Rose

        Thanks, Deb. One of my darling granddaughters commented to me that she would love to have some Dulce de Leche ice cream when they visit (we have two darlng granddaughters). I thought that we must make it ourselves. We will try this soon. I’m thinking to also stir some of this luscious caramel into the ice cream when we make it.