Homemade Cajeta or Dulce de Leche

Homemade Cajeta or Dulce de Leche

Cajeta Casera
3 cups
Pati Jinich
Course: Dessert, Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Cajeta, Caramel, goat milk, milk, piloncillo, vanilla
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Homemade Cajeta or Dulce de Leche recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 4, Episode 8 “Street Food Favorites”


  • 8 cups or 2 liters goat's milk, you can substitute or combine with cow’s milk
  • 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar or shredded piloncillo
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

To Prepare

  • Place a large pot (I use my new copper one!) over medium heat. Pour milk, vanilla, sugar and baking soda, give it a good stir and let it come to a simmer. Keep it at a steady medium simmer for about one hour and a half, stirring occasionally, every 15 to 20 minutes or so, with a wooden spatula or spoon. The mix will gradually thicken and darken.
  • After about an hour and a half, the liquid will have thickened and reduced and the simmer will become stronger. Reduce the heat to medium low, to keep it at that constant medium simmer. You want active bubbling, but not over the top angry bubbles. Stir a bit more frequently, as you don’t want the bottom to develop a thicker layer.
  • You know the cajeta is ready when: It achieves a caramel brown color; it is thick as liquid caramel or syrup, much like a chocolate syrup consistency; it envelops the back of the spoon; when you gently stir across the pot with your wooden spoon, a slightly delayed trail behind the spoon appears, revealing the bottom of the pot if only for a few seconds; as you slowly lift up the wooden spoon or spatula, cajeta takes it’s time to drop and lastly, the sides of the pot show how the cajeta has cooked down and if you run your spoon across that side, you get a fudgy (and delicious) residue.
  • Turn off the heat and let cool (it will thicken considerably as it cools).
  • Place in a glass jar, cover tightly with a lid. It will keep in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

34 comments on “Homemade Cajeta or Dulce de Leche

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  1. I made this and I’m not sure it it’s right. It reduced a lot. In the refe I’m planning on using it for the pea on pie.

    1. It is supposed to reduce a lot, so as long as it has the right consistency (and remember it still thickens a bit while cooling down), you should be fine. Enjoy!

  2. Used Goat milk and piloncillo; came out so sweet and delicious. Going to be using this to sladder on my toast or croissants in the morning.

  3. Hello, My name is Lupe, first I would like to thank you, for representing us Latinas (woman). seconded for your delicious Mexican Cuisine recipes. OMG. When I saw that you had listed A homemade cajera recipe. I was so happy. I remember my Mother take us to Guadalajara every summer And my only request was. I wanted a bucket of Cajeta (regular & envinada). Thank you, thank you 🙏… definitely going to try recipe.
    Question: can I use coconut milk, almond milk or oak milk?

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Lupe! To be honest with you, I have always made cajeta with either goat’s or cow’s milk. But I guess from your 3 options, probably almond would work best, good luck!

  4. Hola Pati , soy de San Juan de Los Lagos Jalisco , muy bien conocidos por su cajeta . Tienes que probar la cajeta envinada 😋 te la recomiendo

  5. Hi Pati, I haven’t made your co cajeta & churros yet, but I would like to know where you bought your copper pot ? My daughter made us Mexican corn on the cob last summer, amazing!!! I have recorded this episode on Create because it’s amazing street food. Love watching you cook your wonderful recipes. Love your holiday cinnamon rolls & love the story behind it that you make for your family during the holidays. I love cooking too. Today is Cinco De Mayo, what are your favorite recipes that you wil be cooking today? Kindly, Teresa

    1. Hi Teresa, glad to hear you like Mexican style corn on the cob, it is a classic! The copper pot is amazing, isn’t it? I bought it in Celaya, the capital of cajeta, in the State of Guanajuato 😉

    1. Every stove is different…but you want to keep an eye on the bubbles and color of the cajeta to know when it is done.

  6. My mom has spoken of cajeta fondly for my entire life. It’s one of her favorite memories of studying abroad in Mexico when she was in college.

    I had found various brands online that I had bought for her over the years, and we had tried the sweetened condensed milk recipe before, but nothing ever matched her memories.

    Then I found this recipe, tracked down some goats milk, and made it for her. She was ecstatic! THIS was the stuff she remembered. And it has converted the entire extended family into cajeta devotees.

    Thank you so much for this recipe. It really is the best recipe ever.

  7. To make homemade cajeta, I boil a can of condensed milk in a saucepan of water an hour on one side and then turn it over and boil it another hour on the other side. Open the can and enjoy homemade cajeta!

    1. Some cooks like to boil the sweetened condensed milk cans in boiling water, but I am not fond of that method. I would rather just directly buy the cajeta.

  8. Hi Pati,

    My family watches all of your cooking shows, we love you and the boys! Last night, we watched you make Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Rolls and I woke up this morning wanting to try the recipe. I also decided to make dulce de leche versus buying it and it is delicious, so MUCH better than bought! I did not have dark brown sugar on hand, so I used light brown sugar with a bit of molasses. The dulce de leche turned out perfectly, thank you!

    During the cooking process, I mixed a few tablespoons of the liquid gold into a hot cup of Cafe Bustello and it was the best cup of coffee I’ve had in years.

    I’ll be using the dulce de leche to make your cinnamon rolls soon along with a few other things very soon, assuming there is any left 🙂

    Thank you for all you do!!!

  9. Hello Pati,
    I have just purchased two of your cookbooks, Mexican Today and Pati’s Mexican Table. I am very excited to start my Mexican food journey, but am disappointed that the Cajeta recipe is not found in either book? I am however glad that I was able to find it here!

    Tonight we will have Homemade Corn Tortillas with Fast-Track Chicken Pibil, Plantain and Refried Bean Quesadillas. Last time we were in Los Cabos I had mole poblano and was hooked! I am hoping your recipe for Tablecloth-Stainer Chicken in Red Mole Sauce will be similar?

    Toronto, Canada

  10. Hi Pati, my pot was too small and the mixture boiled over within the first 20 minutes. I continued cooking it, but it’s been about 3.5 hours now and it’s still not thick, but has reduced. Is there a way to salvage it, or is it messed up because maybe too much sugar boiled over? Thank you.

    1. Oh no… not to worry though. You have made the right product which is a milk based caramel. Whereas thicker ones thinner it will be yummy anyway!

  11. Thank you Pati, you were correct. I tried again with dark brown sugar and it worked beautifully. It is really unbelievable. I wanted to make it to use in recipes (your upside down flan cake, cinnamon rolls…) but I think that I will use it all up drizzling it on my oatmeal or plain yogurt – both of which are amazing. Saw you and JuJu on The Chew yesterday – you are so full of life and fun. Thank you for your help.

  12. Hi Patti – I love your show and I love learning how to cook authentic Mexican. So thank you for teaching us. My family loves everything of yours that I’ve made. As a mom of 4 boys, I love when your boys join you in the kitchen – I can see how much they care for you. I have attempted making cajeta a number of times but it keeps curdling or something that looks like curdling. I am using goats’ milk from Whole Foods that is fresh. I wonder if the problem is the sugar. I live in the Northeast and Mexican ingredients are hard to find, but I do want to cook as authentically as possible. I did find a cane sugar called Panela which I thought was the same as piloncello. After grating, I wasn’t sure if it should be packed when measuring it. Maybe my quantity is wrong. For 8 cups of milk, I use 1 pound of panela. It seems like the baking soda could be reacting with the panela to cause the curdling because during one attempt, I added it later (mixed with a little reserved milk)(trying to figure out the problem) and it seized up at that point. Any thoughts?

    1. Hola Leila!!
      That is interesting. I suggest you make it with the same goat’s milk but use dark brown sugar instead. It shouldn’t curdle. Make sure you cook it at a steady medium-medium low simmer… All my best to you and your 4 boys… I always thought that we would have 4 boys… and then… we stopped at 3!

  13. Homemade Cajeta or Dulce de Leche
    Cajeta Casera

    Patti – I just watched this episode on CreateTV (Sun., Aug. 30) and I thought your nephew(?) said it had salt in the dulce de leche, however, I don’t see any salt measurement in the recipe.

    Please advise.

    Thank you,
    Kearny, NJ