Instant Pot Caramel (Dulce de Leche)

Caramel. One of those things we all LOVE to eat, but is literally one of the messiest things ever to make on the stove. And good luck rinsing those pots/pans/utensils. At least you’ll get muscles after doing it since it takes some serious scrub work.

All you really need to achieve an amazing caramel is one thing: a can of sweetened condensed milk. And the Instant Pot is going to see to it that you have absolutely ZERO mess or hassles to deal with during the clean up.

And as if making this in the Instant Pot wasn’t the best part, the things you can DO with this know no limitations. Have it Dulce de Leche style with some sea salt sprinkled on top – dip apples, cakes and pretzels in it, make a caramel pie, serve it with ice cream, pour some in your coffee/latte. Whichever you choose, you cannot go wrong because…CARAMEL!

Here’s How I Made It!: 

Begin with a good, ole-fashioned can of sweetened condensed milk.

Remove the lid (this is important. NEVER EVER pressure cook a can of something with its lid still sealed on).

Remove the label (actually, I’d do this before you remove the lid. It’s easier).

Now securely cover the can in foil…

…so it’s nice and tightly attached when done.

Add the trivet to the Instant Pot…

…and rest the can on top of it. Pour enough water in (but not directly on top of the can) so that the can is halfway submerged in it. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.

When done, carefully remove the can from the pot (it will be hot)…

…rest it on the countertop…

…remove the foil…

…and ABRACADABRA! Like a caterpillar into a butterfly, that can of condensed milk transformed into CARAMEL (or Dulce de Leche)!

After allowing it to cool for a bit, add in some vanilla extract…

…and stir it in well for a few minutes so the consistency goes from a curdled/lumpy one (using a dish towel with one hand while stirring with the other will help as the can will still be hot)…

…(keep on stirring)…

…to a nice, smooth, creamy one!

Now you can serve this any way you wish (see the recipe below for many options). But I’m doing this Dulce de Leche style! Transfer it to a ramekin

…sprinkle with some sea salt…

…and let all your troubles melt away (and then hit the gym for the pounds to do the same).ENJOY THIS INCREDIBLY SIMPLE AND VERSATILE TREAT!

Instant Pot Caramel (Dulce de Leche)
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Caramel (Dulce de Leche)

Instant Pot Caramel (Dulce de Leche)

Dulce de Leche is basically liquid caramel. All it takes is a can of sweetened condensed milk and a little vanilla to achieve the most decadent dessert that's perfect for drizzing on cheesecake, cookies or for dipping apples.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 2 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 7 minutes


  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract (optional but strongly suggest as it adds a punch of additional flavor)


  • A sprinkle of sea salt, if serving as Dulce de Leche
  • A pie crust, cooked from scratch or according to instructions (a frozen one from the market is great) and then the caramel poured in it, refrigerated and topped with whipped cream before serving
  • Ice cream, for topping
  • Sliced apples, for dipping
  • Pretzel rods, for dipping
  • Pound cake, for dipping


  1. Remove the label and lid from the can of condensed milk and securely cover the top of the can with foil (you ABSOLUTELY MUST remove the lid from the can which is why we place foil over it once the lid is removed – it is super dangerous to cook a can with its lid still sealed on)
  2. Add the trivet to the Instant Pot, place the foil-wrapped can of condensed milk on top and pour in enough water (NOT directly on top of the can, but on the sides) so that the can is submerged in the water halfway up (about 8-9 cups worth of water in a 6qt). Note: You can totally do more than one can at once and fit in 2 or 3. The cooking time below will remain the same.
  3. Secure the lid, hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 40 minutes. Quick release when done, carefully remove the can from the pot (it will be hot), rest on the countertop, remove the foil and let cool for 20 minutes. You’ll see it will have transformed from ordinary condensed milk into a beautiful caramel/dulce de leche!
  4. After 20 minutes have passed, add in the vanilla extract right in the can and stir well for about 2 minutes until it goes from a lumpy consistency to a creamy one (the can may still be hot so just hold it with a dish towel while stirring with the other hand
  5. And now, the sky’s the limit as to what you can do with it. So enjoy!:
    - Pour some in a small ramekin and sprinkle with some sea salt to make an amazing Dulce de Leche dessert
    - Make a caramel pie by placing in a pie crust (either made from scratch or follow the directions on one bought at the market), refrigerating a few hours and then topping with whipped cream
    - Top it over some ice cream of your choice
    - Dip pound cake in it
    - Dip your favorite fruits in it (apples especially)
    - Dip a pretzel rod in it
    - Pour some in your coffee/latte
    - Transfer to a mason jar, cover with a lid and pop it in the fridge and use when you wish. It won’t harden but will be like a super creamy and perfectly thick caramel consistency!

Jeffrey's Tips

Want to make more than one can at a time? Go for it! Rest two or three cans on the trivet. Nothing else changes!

When done, you can definitely add to a mason jar, cover with a lid and pop it in the fridge and use when you wish. It won’t harden but will be like a super creamy caramel consistency!

Reader Interactions


  1. Stephen

    This worked perfectly, thank you for the very detailed step by step with pictures. I use the little whisk attachment with my hand held mixer to mix that curdled mess up into that velvety smooth consistency that you are looking for.

  2. Jodi Wycoff

    How long should it take for the instant pot to come to pressure to begin cooking? I have made this before with no problems. Today, however, it won’t get out of the pre-heat mode, even after 20+ minutes. I’ve tried 3 times, even changing the inner seal in case that was the problem. The button popped up early on, but the timer never starts. Help, please!

  3. Drew

    If we let it run for longer can we get a darker and thicker caramel? I want to be able to use it as a filling that won’t spread everywhere. Thanks!

  4. Christina

    Can the cook time be increased to result in a darker, thicker caramel? How much time would add, if possible? Thank you!

  5. KS

    I always transfer the sweetened condensed milk into a mason/canning jar and then follow instructions for Instant Pot. Cooking it in the metal can gives the caramel a metallic taste. Maybe it’s just me, but I can tell the difference.

    • Michele

      I was going to ask that…I would not want to cook it in the metal can either. Was hoping a mason jar or even a deep casserole dish would be okay?

    • Christine

      With the Mason jar, how much water do you out in the pot? If I were to put water halfway up the jar (as you do with the can), it would be over the height of the condensed milk in the jar. is that ok?

    • Lynn

      I’ve seen people in Instant Pot FB groups say they kept the lid on. I’d probably get a migraine just from the “explosion fear.” 🤣

    • Caroljean

      Jeffrey’s instruction said to do a quick release, not a 20 minute NR and to remove from the IP and let stand for 20 minutes.

  6. Linda

    Since Eagle Brand now has a canned Dulce de Leche, has anyone tried cooking it in the instant pot for a darker, thicker Caramel.

  7. Barb Klein

    I once made the caramel in the can in a pot of water…takes 2 & 1/2 hrs…..but I fell asleep ….the can shot up …exploded all over the ceiling…& kitchen…I negleted to cover the pot after lowering the flame so the water boiled out… took hours to clean the caramel off the ceiling ….off the stove, microwave, refrig and closets….Had to get a ceiling paint job…never made caramel again so I’m very happy to see this way of making it in my instant pot…I know it’s delicious…..and love your brisket recipe….perfect every holiday….

  8. Kris

    Can it be poured in a different container instead of the can with the same results? I don’t want any metal or chemicals leaching into it from the can.

  9. Amelia D

    I want to try my first IP cheesecake and use this as a topping. Should I let this cool off before adding it to a cooked and chilled cheesecake? Or can I add it to a cold cheesecake while this is hot?

  10. Linda Juliano

    I just made this for the 2nd time, and I have a couple of tips. First, I want to thank Jeffrey for this awesome recipe! Never again will I have to buy that expensive ‘caramel dip’. 😉

    When you cover the can with the foil, make sure that you do it one of 2 ways. Either put the foil on as a cover, and make sure that the foil doesn’t come down too low on the can and touch the water. Or, envelope the whole can in the foil.

    I had a hard time trying to stir in the vanilla in the can, so I dumped the caramel into a glass bowl, and then stirred in the vanilla using a whisk until it was nice and creamy.

    Hope these help!!

  11. Andrea

    Ich mache auch immer gleich mehre Dosen gesüßter Kondensmilch im Instant pot, so habe ich immer Caramel zur Verfügung. Aber ich lasse die Dosen original verschlossen, ich mache sie nicht auf! Nur sollte man die gekochten Dosen über Nacht im Instant pot auskühlen lassen. So verschlossen halten sie genauso lange, wie das Mindesthaltbarkeitsdatum es vorgibt und man braucht keine Alufolie 👍🏻😉

  12. Charles Franks

    Fantastic method. Fast and easy Dulce de Leche. Nice touch with vanilla and Sea Salt. I made Samoa Truffles by
    Went over really big at the Church Potluck. No leftovers.
    5 Stars

  13. Lynn

    I have made this numerous times, but today is the first time for this fall. After the 40 minutes, it is still runny. I’m going to put it back in the instant pot for a while longer. If it is still runny, I’ll pour it over ice cream!

  14. Chris

    When doing more than one can the time needs to be upped. Two cans at 40 mins was not nearly long enough. There were parts that were not cooked at all. Have it back in to hopefully finish cooking.


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