Dairy-Free Dulce de Leche
Made with only one ingredient, dairy-free and with virtually no hands-on time needed!
For those who avoid dairy by necessity or choice, the internet can be so ornery, tempting us with tales of using only a can of sweetened condensed milk to make Dulce de Leche, that sweet caramel-like sauce that is perfect stirred into coffee, drizzled on sweets, enjoyed straight off of a spoon.
Only recently did I spot sweetened condensed milk made from coconut milk by Nature’s Charm. It’s perfect for this! Even without dairy, you can make one ingredient dairy-free dulce de leche!
I found this on the top shelf of the baking aisle at my local Sprouts. Other friends have reported finding it at Fresh Thyme, as well as ordering it on Amazon. I paid $3.29 per can at Sprouts.
So how do you turn a small can of sweetened condensed coconut milk into Dulce de Leche? You stick it in the Instant Pot, of course! (Or a Crockpot if you prefer.)
Look at this oooey, gooey, sweet goodness…
I stirred it into coffee. Even though I’m not usually a fan of sweet coffee drinks, this was the perfect afternoon treat. This is way better than any pricey coffee house drink.
For my favorite fella’s birthday, I made chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting and then drizzled the Dulce de Leche on the top. Which made them over the top.
Decadently sweet, a slight hint of caramel perfectly accompanied by chocolate and vanilla bean. A great way to celebrate!
Here are a few others ways you can enjoy this Dairy-Free Dulce de Leche:
- Stir into hot cocoa
- Drizzle on French toast instead of syrup
- Make alfajores, delicate South American cookies
- Drizzle on top of dairy-free cheesecake
- Serve as a dip with fruit
- Use as an ice cream topping
- Give as a gift (one can perfectly fills this cute jar)
How does this work? Well, if I could be technical for a moment, it’s the Maillard reaction.
It’s the same reaction that causes your cookies and other sweet treats to brown in the oven. Same with a toasted marshmallow, as well.
It’s a chemical reaction between the reducing sugars and amino acids that creates wonderful flavors during the browning. There are hundreds of flavor compounds created during the Maillard reaction, which is what changes sweetened condensed milk into a rich, creamy Dulce de Leche with a deeper flavor than what was initially place in the Instant Pot or Crockpot.
Alright, enough of me and my food nerdiness. Let’s move on to the recipe:
Dairy-Free Dulce de Leche, Only One Ingredient!
- Two cans Nature's Charm Coconut Sweetened Condensed Milk
Instant Pot Instructions:
Place the trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot.
Place two cans of Coconut Sweetened Condensed Milk atop the trivet. (Should your cans have a removable label, remove the label prior to placing in the Instant Pot.)
Fill with enough water to completely cover the cans with one inch of water over the top.
Seal the Instant Pot, press the manual button for high pressure and set the time to 17 minutes on high.
Once the 17 minutes are up, unplug the Instant Pot (or at least turn it completely off) and do a Natural Pressure Release (NPR) overnight.
In the morning, open the Instant Pot and remove the cans of milk. If they are not completely cool to the touch, leave them on your counter unopened until they are completely cooled before opening.
Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar.
For the Crockpot:
Place two cans of coconut sweetened condensed milk in the crockpot, removing labels if the cans have a removable label.
Cover with water, enough to leave one inch of water over the top of the cans.
Place the lid on the crockpot.
Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, turn the crockpot off, leaving the cans in the water until it is cool. Overnight is best.
Open cans only after they are cool. Store sauce in glass jars in refrigerator.
cheryl harris says
wow. like, yay, wow!
Megan | Allergy Free Alaska says
This is total genius, my friend!! Woot!!! I love our IP’s. How did we ever live without them?! 😉 Now if I could just get my hands on some of that sweetened condensed coconut milk! I’ll have to see if Vitacost carries it!
Oh, I haven’t checked there! I know Amazon has it, but it looked like a large quantity. Not that that is a bad thing. 😉
Renee - Kudos Kitchen says
WOW! It’s doesn’t get any easier (or tastier) than this! I can’t wait to try thi!
It’s almost too easy…and for sure too tempting! 🙂
Cheryl - Pook's Pantry says
this is great!
Shirley @ gluten free easily (gfe) says
Incredible!! So happy you had your favorite fella’s birthday to celebrate and experimented well with this golden magic! 🙂
So easy and so good, also very tempting. This should be gifted right away because I can’t stay out of it!
Megan @ MegUnprocessed says
This looks SO delicious!!
Lynne Feifer says
Oh, the many things you could use this for!
I think I just might use a spoon though and hide it. 😉
That may have happened to the second can here. 😉
Ok so I tried this and it didn’t do much of anything I did one can that was 12.2 oz same brand 🙁 what did I do wrong? Should it have gone longer time? I
A couple of things: it won’t be as thick (almost like pudding) as the dairy-full alternative, but will take on the caramel color shown in my photos when cooked according to the recipe.
If you cook for longer (I tried 43 minutes), the fat in the coconut milk separates and it becomes clumpy. This is the trick between dairy-free and dairy-full, as there is no coagulating protein in the coconut version to prevent this from happening.
I hope that helps a little. Thanks for dropping by!
Judy Corry says
Thanks for replying! It didn’t take on a caramel color at all and tasted nothing like caramel or anything more than straight off the shelf. I was so bummed, but will try again! If it happens agai I could probably cook on the stove or finish in a crockpot/instant pot once opened, right? Sigh… The troubles with figuring out dairy alternatives!!!
Can you use just one can? And how long does it last in the fridge, do you know? Thanks!:-)
I’m sure you can use just one, but you’ll want two. 😉 I have no idea how long it will last in the fridge beyond a week or so. It never takes us longer than that to eat it all.
Hi! Could I heat the sweetened condensed milk in a pot? I already opened the can.
I don’t know if that works, I’ve never tried it. Please do report back if you do and let us know if it worked.
You can put it in a Mason jar with a regular canning lid.
Is the vanilla bean icing you referenced dairy-free as well? If so, do you have a link? We’re all lactose intolerant here, and I have yet to find a good homemade icing recipe that is more than a glaze!
Quite a few dairy-free frostings on my site. To make vanilla bean frosting, I use my meyer lemon frosting, eliminate the lemon zest and lemon juice, use dairy-free milk instead of lemon juice and double the vanilla bean paste. Super easy! (You can find all of these using the search bar on the upper right hand side of the page.)
I found you on Pinterest. My daughter (who is vegan) is leaving to spend a year abroad in Argentina and I wanted to do some cultural foods for her good bye dinner. Used this for dulce de leche drizzled on cupcakes. This turned out so delicious and was so easy too! I’m so amazed. Pinterest, Amazon and the Instapot to the rescue!! Thanks for posting this.
Oh, I love hearing this! Safe travels to your daughter!
How long does a 320 g./ 11.25 oz. can of sweetened condensed coconut milk need to cook in a regular ole’ pot? I bring the can to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for how long? For regular sweetened condensed milk it takes 2.5-3 hrs for a fairly pudding-like consistency. I understand that I can expect a similar golden-brown color, but not a similar thickening. Should I expect clumping, as one of your other writers mentioned having experienced, or is that avoidable?
I don’t have the answer on how long to cook on stovetop, as I’ve not tried that. As far as clumping, I’ve not experienced that myself with the regular dairy version or the dairy-free coconut milk version so I think it’s safe to say it’s avoidable.
If you do cook this on the stovetop, please share with us how long it took. Good luck!
Could this be made with the same process, but not in the can, using PIP?
I’m not sure. If you try it, I’d enjoy hearing how it turns out.
Sue Murray says
This was exactly how the recipe says. Easy, and sooooo good!!! Tastes like genuine caramel sauce! It’s like magic! I was able to buy the exact brand pictured above at Bulk Barn here in Canada. What a great option for dairy free.
This sounds yummy! How long would you say this will keep in the fridge after it’s made?
I can’t say for sure how long it lasts in the fridge, as it doesn’t last long enough here to know! LOL
Has anyone tried making this keto, using unsweetened condensed coconut milk?
I have not. It’s the sugar that caramelizes in this process so don’t know how well it would work. Please do let me know if you try it!
Hi Johnna. I’ll try using the slow method of using the unsweetened version in a pot and add my own sweetener, and just see where it goes… Thanks for responding. 🙂
Cheryl Macdonald says
I made this in the instant pot and there was maybe half an inch of solid white coconut milk on top. Is that supposed to happen? Just mix it in? Or should it be left on the instapot longer?
I’ve never had this happen. I’m not sure what to recommend. When you stirred it in, did it integrate into the rest of the liquid?
How long does it take to come to pressure?
This is dependent on your Instant Pot or Electric Pressure Cooker brand and size. It takes mine about 15 minutes.
Jane G says
It worked beautifully! I only had one can and followed the same instructions, opened this morning and it was perfect! Creamy, dark golden; husband said it was better than the regular stuff :).
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!