A Rich and Creamy Coconut Dulce De Leche Recipe

by Pamela

dulce de leche, coconut milk recipes, how to make dulce de leche

Yeah, dulce de leche is some pretty good stuff. If you make it yourself, or you buy it ready made…it still tastes great. But how about coconut dulce de leche? Sure, it’s perfect for those people on a gluten free diet (but so is regular dulce de leche) and of course vegans will be all over it (no dairy…duh) but coconut dulce de leche is REALLY for those of us who can’t get enough coconut. So all you Mounds and Almond Joy freaks…this post’s for you.

You’ve probably read seen about as many posts for “how to make dulce de leche in a crock pot” as you have kale chip recipe posts. That’s the way the food blogging world works. One person writes a post about something that’s easy to make, and photographs really nicely, and every other Tom, Dick and Harriet writes virtually the same post. Food bloggers are original like that. But this post isn’t about breaking out the crock pot, not that I don’t adore my crock pot recipes. No, this recipe requires you to be about a half step above lazy to get to the final product (trust me…it really is only about half of a step).

Before you completely lose it and leave the page, because this is a two part recipe, I’ll also tell you that you can get more than one finished product from this recipe. See…who’s got your back more than me?

Coconut milk recipes: how to make dulce de leche

To get to the dulce(sweet) part of the coconut leche, you need to cook the coconut milk down. Since coconut milk doesn’t have any added sugar in it, you need to add sugar (preferably coconut sugar – right?) when you do the first reduction. But if you leave the sugar out and cook the coconut milk down, you’ve just made evaporated coconut milk. You can then use this in any recipe you’ve got that calls for evaporated milk. By adding the sugar, in the first step, you get sweetened condensed coconut milk. Same thing…use it in any recipe that calls for regular sweetened condensed milk.

Now we get to the really good part. To make traditional dulce de leche, you further reduce sweetened condensed milk. The long cooking further reduces the water in the milk and caramelizes the sugars giving you that rich sweet taste.

Not sure what to use all this coconutty goodness for? If you insist on being more culinarily astute, and suave, and are bored with just eating it straight from the jar I suggest you you go all tropical with a tres leches cake recipe. Some may think it’s coconut overload, but you and I both know they have no idea what delicious is.

For the record, my version of “how to make coconut dulce de leche” is from a version of a sweetened condensed milk recipe from The Healthy Home Economist and the methodology from David Lebovitz.

A Rich and Creamy Coconut Dulce De Leche Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Get a little tropical by making this coconut dulce de leche. Your desserts will never taste better.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
  • 2 13.5 Ounce Cans Coconut Milk (not low fat)
  • ⅔ Cup Coconut Sugar (could also use regular sugar)
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Sea Salt
  1. Shake cans well, open and pour them into a medium size sauce pan.
  2. Heat, over medium high heat.
  3. Once the milk begins to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and add the sugar and vanilla.
  4. Whisk thoroughly.
  5. Continue to occasionally whisk the mixture and cook for 1½ - 2 hours. You want the mixture to reduce by half.
  6. (At this point, you have sweetened condensed coconut milk.)
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Farenheit.
  8. Pour the sweetened condensed coconut milk into a shallow baking dish.
  9. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on to the mixture.
  10. Cover tightly with foil.
  11. Place that baking dish into a larger baking dish.
  12. Just before placing this into the oven, fill the larger baking dish with hot water. The water should go half way up the side of the smaller dish.
  13. Cook for 1 - 1½ hours.
  14. Periodically check to make sure that the water level is still halfway up the sides of the smaller dish. Refill with hot water as necessary.
  15. Remove from oven and check the color and consistency. (Remove the foil.)
  16. It should be a nice caramel color and have thickened considerably.
  17. Whisk until smooth and let cool.
  18. Once cooled, whisk again and pour into lidded container.
  19. This will keep for up to 1 week refrigerated.
This recipe makes approximately 1 cup of coconut dulce de leche.


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Bunny December 4, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Thanks Pamela. I wasn’t so much trying to avoid the sugar as wondering if the cream might caramelize more quickly because it is already infused with sugar. But since it is quite sweet to start with, it might very well get overly so when cooked down.
I was trying to create a sauce or topping for a coconut cake recipe I have, that would intensify the coconut flavor. I welcome any ideas!

Pamela December 4, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Not sure how big the cake is Bunny, but you could cut this recipe in half and the cooking time will be less. There’s always the option of buying coconut extract and adding a bit to a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze for the topping. 😉 (that would be the down and dirty way of getting more coconut flavor and topping)

Bunny December 4, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Could you make a version of this using canned coconut cream (the sweetened kind)? It seems like that would not only save adding the sweetener, but the cream is already thick, so it might take less time. Has anyone here ever tried that?

Pamela December 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Hi Bunny, If you’re referring to the sweetened coconut product (cream of coconut) used for making cocktails, that’s not the same thing as coconut milk that’s used in this recipe. If you’re concerned about adding the sugar in this recipe, you could leave it out. Cooking the coconut milk down will bring out some of the sweetness, but it isn’t as sweet as the traditional dulce de leche. If you’d like, you could certainly cook down the cream of coconut (used in drink making) and see how it turns out though.

Wylee August 1, 2013 at 6:59 pm

The Ecstasy of St Teresa comes to mind. http://www.learner.org/courses/globalart/work/98/ You’ve slayed me with a fire tipped spear! I know what I will be cooking this weekend.

Pamela August 2, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Pace yourself on the stuff Wylee…it sneaks up on you fast and from out of nowhere. #sugaroverload

Belinda @zomppa March 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

WOW! What a great idea – gluten free sweetness!!

Pamela March 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Belinda…this stuff goes beyond even that. A bowl of this and some pineapple chunks….instant dessert.

jasi March 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

crazy for coconut. so glad it’s healthy and fashionable now. pinned another fantastic coconut recipe. =D

Pamela March 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Thanks Jasi. 🙂

foodwanderings March 5, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Nice, you temptress! You knew how to entice me, did you know I love anything coconut? 🙂 Great post!

Pamela March 5, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Thanks Shulie,

I’m a total sucker for coconut too. Wait until you see the next coconut treat I’m working on. muahahahahahaha! 😉

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