Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies

Who watched Boardwalk Empire and absolutely loved it? I know that I did! I mean, I knew that I’d love it; how can you not? Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Stephen Graham, and all produced by Martin Scorsese? What’s not to love? The show is gorgeous and the actors are all fantastic. I can’t wait to watch more. Steve Buscemi has been a favorite actor of mine for a long, long time (as I’m sure he has been for many of you), so it’s so great to see him in a leading role in such a highly anticipated show. Kramer and I also saw The Town this weekend. I liked it more than him, but it’s definitely no Gone Baby Gone. I don’t like to compare them, though, because they are such different stories. Gone Baby Gone was a much more original idea than The Town, but The Town was a fantastic heist/gangster movie, and Ben Affleck did a wonderful job shooting some incredible car-chase and shoot-out scenes, which is usually my favorite part of most movies, anyway. Plus, Jon Hamm is in it, so I’m already prone to liking it. I’m sure that I’m not the only one!

Now, on to the classic combination: salty and sweet. It pairs so well that it is nearly irresistible, wouldn’t you agree? I can’t think of a better pairing, and the two are all wrapped up together in this fantastic little cookie. I made the dulce de leche myself, which is much easier than it sounds. All you have to do is simmer an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for a few hours, let it cool, and before you know it, you have some luscious dulce de leche on your hands! There’s nothing more satisfying than opening up a can of this stuff and seeing the golden caramel ooze out, ready to be spread onto something delicious. I was a bit nervous at first, boiling an airtight can and all, but it was quite simple and as long as you are careful, everything should be perfectly fine. Even though you know what you should get when you open the can, it’s always a surprise to see that, yes, indeed, your plan did work! You have dulce de leche without having had to work too hard to get it. Amazing! Dulce de leche is eaten all around the world. You can make it into a hard or chewable candy, or you can use it as a spread for cookies, cakes, and other treats. All it really is is caramelized sugar; once you reduce the sweetened milk enough, this is the result! Dulce de leche literally means “milk candy,” is called confiture de lait in France, cajeta in Mexico, and hamar pålegg in Norway. It really does transcend almost every part of the globe, and how can you be surprised? The sticky, sweet caramel is absolutely finger-licking good. I promise that you won’t be able to get enough of it, especially when sandwiched between two simple shortbread cookie and sprinkled with just a tiny bit of fleur de sel, which is a hand-harvested salt scraped from the top of layer of salt itself. It is light and delicate, and melts in your mouth alongside the dulce de leche. Make these cookies and you’re sure to always have some dulce de leche on hand afterward!

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Your dulce de leche ingredients. I made a double batch, and I still only boiled the cans for 3 hours, together in the same pot.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Peel the labels from the cans.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Be sure that the water is at the appropriate level, remove the can from the water, and bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
When the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat and add the cans. Simmer for 3 hours, replenishing the water as it evaporates.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
When the 3 hours is up, turn off the heat and leave the cans in the water for at least 30-45 minutes, so the temperature can cool. Removing the cans prior to doing this can cause them to explode. When ready, remove the cans and open with a can opener. Set aside to finish cooling (I put mine in the fridge).

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Your cookie ingredients.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Beat the butter until creamy, then add in the sugar and beat for another 3-5 minutes.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Add in the egg yolks, vanilla, and milk, then the flour mixture. Roll the dough into two large balls, wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or as long as 2 hours.

Roll the cookies into balls and flatten with the palm of your hands onto a lined and/or greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to turn golden.

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Sandwich some dulce de leche in between the cookies, sprinkle with some fleur de sel, and enjoy!

Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 30 cookies
  • 1 14 oz. can dulce de leche (recipe follows, or you can buy it in your local grocery store)
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 eggs yolks, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional)
Dulce de Leche
  • WARNING: This is semi-dangerous, as you are placing a sealed, air-tight can over heat. You should be fine, but always be careful when pouring more water into the pot and removing the cans from the water.
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • enough water to cover, plus about ¾ cup every 30 minutes
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smooth, then add in the sugar and mix until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Beat in the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. Add in the flour and mix until just moistened. Shape into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a sealable bag, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Take pieces of dough off of the large balls of dough, roll into balls with the palms of your hands, and press down onto a greased and/or lined baking sheet. The balls should be no bigger than an unshelled walnut.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are just barely golden brown. Allow to cool completely, then spread about a teaspoon of the dulce de leche on one flat side of the cookies and sandwich with another, flat side down. Sprinkle the outsides of the sandwiched cookies with a pinch of fleur de sel, if you have it. Makes about 30 sandwiched cookies.
Dulce de Leche
  1. Peel the label off of the can. Fill a pot with enough water to cover the can, with about an inch between the top of the can and the water. Place the can in the water to check, then remove it and set it aside. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce to simmering over medium to medium-low heat and add in the can.
  2. Add in enough warm water to keep the water at the same level every 30 minutes or so (I did about ¾ cup of water every 30 minutes). Simmer the can for a minimum of 3 hours. After 3 hours, turn off of the heat and place the pot on a different, cool burner. Do NOT remove the can from the water immediately, as the temperature change may cause the can to explode. Allow the can to sit in the water for 30-45 minutes, then carefully, with tongs, remove the can to another surface and allow it to sit for another 20 minutes or so, until it is cool enough to touch.
  3. Use a can opener to open the can. Allow to cool a bit before spreading onto the cookies (or whatever else you would like to use it for).
Adapted From


61 Responses

  1. Mom says:

    Loved your post! This looks delicious and your description was both informative and very interesting. (and not just because you are my first born) I did not know that about the Dulce de leche.

  2. Wei-Wei says:

    Wow, I didn’t know that you could make your OWN Dulce de Leche – that’s absolutely amazing! A little dangerous, though… 😛

  3. Tina from PA says:

    WOW,I have to have me some of those cookies now ! I love sweet & salty, chocolate covered pretzels are my favorite candy ever! I was wondering if I could make the Dulce de Leche in the crockpot? What ya think? Thank You for another great post !

    • Sydney says:

      Tina: It’s definitely do-able! Just peel the labels off of the cans, cover with water, and cook on low for 8 hours. I’m not sure if this is even more dangerous, because if it explodes so will the ceramic crock pot, but it seems alright and I’ve seen other people do it on their websites!

  4. Is it just my imagination, or do you have a liking for Mexican and Latin American ingredients: dulce de leche (cajeta in Mexico), guajillo chiles, corn avocado salsa …. I like it!


  5. genevieve says:

    awesome Sydney! i’m going to make some to send with hub to work sometime this week. the Marines will love them!

    question, though. will any kind of salt do? i’m not sure the commissary sells fleur de sel. would it be better to skip it all together, or can i substitute sea salt?

  6. mrsblocko says:

    Yes, you can make dulce de leche in your crockpot. If you are really worried about the pressure in the can you can always transfer the condensed milk into a short canning jar. Since you boil those things you know they can take it. You also get the benefit of getting the dulce de leche as dark and thick as you like it. (The darker it is the thicker it will be.)

    The only bad part about putting the condensed milk in a canning jar is that you need to store it in the fridge, and the shelf life is only about a week. When you make it in the can, the DDL is good on the shelf for as long as the condensed milk was, provided you don’t open the can.

  7. Auntie Donna says:

    Hey Syd,
    Loved Boardwalk Empire! Steve Buscemi’s the man! These look great, can’t wait to make them. You said you doubled the recipe how many did that make?
    Or should I say how many does the original recipe make? Going to see The Town this weekend, if I can get past the scarey nun’s masks!
    Love you, xoxo

    • Sydney says:

      Auntie Donna: Thank you! I only doubled the dulce de leche (made 2 cans instead of just 1), so the cookie recipe is the same. I think you will love The Town! Love you too!

  8. Jen says:

    Whoa! Anything salty sweet is my thing right now, and perfect for fall. I think I may have to make these for my birthday.

  9. Juliana says:

    You brought me memories of my childhood in Brazil…we used to cook the condensed milk can like you show in this post, and sometimes we even cook longer so we can cut and eat with fresh cheese…I can imagine the taste of this cookies…SO GOOD!

  10. Stella says:

    Love the photos! Thought they were macarons at first, which I am so over. Glad to see they’re not, they look yummy!

  11. Shelley says:

    These look delicious- so petite and pretty, like a macaron. I’ve been too scared to make dulce de leche on the stove top as you described but I have used David Lebovitz’s method of pouring into a pyrex baking dish, covering with foil, and popping in the oven for about an hour. Much less stressful method for fraidy cats :-)

  12. […] Salted Dulce de Leche cookies […]

  13. What a great cookie! I love your simple technique at making Dulce de Leche. It seems so simple yet so elegant! That cookie combination is so appealing too… sprinkled with a little sea salt- yum!!

    • Sydney says:

      @Chelsea: Thank you very much! It is really simple, I hope that you try it some time! :)

      @Vanillasugar: I do what I can!

      @JanetM: Thanks for the alternative recipe! :)

      @BlueJeanGourmet: Aw, thank you!

      @Salada: One of my friends who lived in England for a few years always talks about it! I might have to make it some time! Thanks for reminding me!

  14. vanillasugar says:

    you speak my language!!!

  15. JanetM says:

    For those afraid of the danger…You can also make Dulce de Leche in the oven. You remove it from the can and pour it into a shallow glass dish. Set the pan into a pan of water halfway up the sides. Cover with foil and bake at 425 – 1-1/2 hours until browned. Whisk until smooth.

  16. I love these cookies, and your shots are absolutely gorgeous!

  17. salada says:

    There’s a dessert called Banoffee Pie which does the same simmering thing with condensed milk. The name is a (bad!) combination of banana and toffee. Very popular in the UK a few years ago.

  18. My first time to your lovely blog! These are delicate, gorgeous little cookies. The combination of sweet n salty is a winner. Love that image of these little sandwich cookies.

  19. ingrid says:

    HA! I just finished boiling three cans and am waiting for them to cool so I could take some photos of them. Dulce de leche is seriously good stuff. I need to try these out with three cans of dulce de lech I certainly have plenty. Btw, I’m crazy about that salty sweet combo, too.

  20. Michelle says:

    LOL Ingrid and Monica just coerced me to make my own dulce de leche about a week or two ago. I was terrified and the emails back and forth were hilarious. It turned out beautifully delicious though, and no one was harmed in the making of it. These cookies are a great way to use it too. Love that salt sprinkled around the edges!

    • Sydney says:

      Michelle: I’m glad that you escaped unharmed! I was pretty scared, too, and it took me a while to build up the courage to make it, but I’m glad that I did!

  21. […] we replaced those with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and experimented with a small batch of Salted Dulce de Leche Cookies just to see how hard or easy they were to make. (Verdict: making the dulce de leche is a little […]

  22. Lettie says:

    I love your blog it’s so beautiful and inspiring! :) I’m making this and the Ropa Vieja as a surprise for my boyfriend tonight. I hope I don’t blow up the kitchen this will be my first time baking alone, he always helps me. Thank you!

  23. Ari says:

    What a fantastic idea! I adore any sweet-and-salty combination, but didn’t know making dulce de leche was so simple. Definitely adding these to my “must try” list. Yumyumyum.

  24. christina says:

    i just wanted to let you know that your recipe inspired me to make dulce de leche for the first time! i’ve never even tasted it before. and the one can of condensed milk i had expired 2 years ago, so i made it from MILK. 3 hours later, i was finally ready to start making the cookies!

    everyone who has tried them is amazed. they’re so delicious! thanks for my new favorite cookie recipe! ^^

  25. anna silvera says:

    hi Sydney…i came across your page browsing for a cookie recipe on google….and i found this post…they look delish! definitely a must try…they remind me of these sandwich cookies i grew up on from Uruguay…they are called alfajores de maizena and are made from corn starch, with dulce de leche filling and shredded coconut around the boarder…till this day i still enjoy them! :o)
    P.S. love how you put together your page….the pics are amazing and are a wonderful help!

  26. daniela p says:

    Hey I’m making this recipe right now, and it’s turning out great (I think…I haven’t cracked open the dulce de leche yet…fingers crossed!) but I noticed a mistake in the directions: “Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy and smooth, then add in the butter and mix until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).”

    Just thought you might want to know! I figured out it was sugar…but after I messed up the batter. :-

    But now I’m off running again with the cookie batter and I’m so excited to see how they turn out!!! So is the family!

  27. Kimberly O says:

    I’ve been drooling over this recipe for a while now…I think I might make a few batches for my annual cookie swap this week. Just curious, if the cookies sit for more than a day or two, does the dulce de leche lose its gooiness? ..I don’t think they will last more than an day in my house, just curious for my friends that will be bringing them home with MANY others!!!

  28. daniela p says:

    Just a quick question: I made these for Thanksgiving and they were absolutely DIVINE, but the cookies came out really soft and cakey. They were delicious, but I had expected them to be crisp cookies. Did I mess up along the way or are they supposed to come out soft and cakey?

  29. lbb says:

    There’s an easier, faster and safer way to make dulce de leche: in a double boiler. Just dump the sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler top and heat it over simmering water. Check and stir every 15 minutes or so, more often as it gets closer to where you want it to be.

    (in re safety, you said to cover the cans with water but didn’t emphasize that they need to STAY covered if you use this method. A closed can can go splodey when it’s heated improperly, not just if it’s cooled improperly, so if you want to make dulce de leche by boiling cans in water, they have GOT to stay covered, or boom, dulce de leche fragmentation grenade)

    • Sydney says:

      lbb: I did mention that they need to stay covered, as I told people to continue to refill the water to keep them covered every so often. Thanks for reiterating that, though! As far as your method of making the dulce de leche, it’s a great idea, but it won’t be as silky smooth due to the air hitting it while cooking – it’s still a safer way to do it, despite that.

  30. Diane says:

    Syndey, I have been making caramel this way for years and years without incident . . . until about three years ago when I put three cans on to boil, walked off to the computer and promptly forgot about them. This is, until I heard the explosions in the kitchen. I’m sure you can imagine what that much caramel shooting out of pressurized cans can look like all over your cabinets, walls, ceiling, floor and appliances. Took me forever to clean it up. That may be the cleanest the kitchen has ever been. Thank goodness no dogs were harmed! After that incident, I hit upon the idea of cooking them in my crockpot, which is my now preferred method. I wrap the bottom of the unopened can in foil so it won’t make a rust ring on the bottom of the crock, cover the cans with water, and turn on low before I go to bed. Turn it off the next morning and when I’m home that evening the cans are cool and can be used or stored. Enjoying your comments and your recipes. Diane

  31. Norma says:

    I came across your website today. I am going to make these cookies for our Christmas party. I am the youngest of five girls and all of my sisters know how to cook really good Mexican food. I chose your cookie recipe because of the dulce de leche ingredient. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  32. melissa says:

    I had so much trouble with this recipe, help!
    My first silly question: I understood “unshelled walnut” (re: how big to roll the balls of dough) as a walnut in its shell. But my cookies came out HUGE-I only had enough for 17 sandwiches.
    Second-the cookies were super dry, and I only baked them 12 minutes (plus, taking into account how much bigger the cookies were, you’d think I should be fine…)
    anyway, any suggestions you have would be great-this looks like such a yummy recipe!

    (p.s. I love your site)

    • Sydney says:

      I’m sorry that you had problems with these, Melissa – did they spread out and become very flat? The sugar and butter may not have been beaten together long enough, or the dough may have been beaten too much overall, which makes for a dry cookie. I hope that helps! Happy Holidays!

  33. […] Warm up your dulce de leche in the microwave for 30 second intervals until smooth and easy to drizzle. You can buy dulce de leche in most grocery stores, or you can make your own, which I’ve shown you how to do here. […]

  34. […] for these bars. The center is a lovely caramel, made from condensed milk, which you all know makes dulce de leche, so you can be sure that this caramel is absolutely delicious. I love how this caramel turned out; […]

  35. Mika says:

    I’ve been meaning to make these forever– I think I’ll finally tackle ’em this weekend :)

  36. […] I did, a jar of ice cream topping, which there is nothing wrong with at all, or even make your own dulce de leche, which I did in a post from a few years ago here. I brought these into my office today and I hope […]

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