Homemade Arequipe or Dulce de Leche

by Erica Dinho on April 23, 2009

This post is also available in Spanish

Dulce de Leche

I grew up eating Arequipe  and it’s one of my favorite desserts. This delicious and traditional Colombian dessert is called Arequipe in the region of Antioquia, Colombia, manjar blanco in other parts of the country and in the rest of South America it has different names such as dulce de leche, manjar Blanco and cajeta. In Colombia we serve Arequipe with obleas or saltine crackers or just as a base for some typical desserts.Arequipe



  • 96 oz whole milk
  • 1 1/2  of pounds sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick



  1. In a medium pot, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stirring often with a wooden spoon for about 3 hours or until the color changes to caramel and the mixture is thick as a pudding. Let it cool.
  3. Pour into a glass container and cover. Refrigerate up to a week.
  4. arequipe

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jen @ MyKitchenAddiction.com April 23, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Ooh – this looks delicious! I’m sure it’s not a traditional preparation, but I think it would be delicious in a trifle!


2 5 Star Foodie April 23, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Oh, this sounds perfect for me right now! Yum!


3 Soma April 23, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Sheer heaven. I have seen it done differently, but this version seems the easiest!


4 Kim - Easy French Food April 24, 2009 at 2:02 AM

My mom used to make this. I remember absolutely loving it. Seeing it cooking for hours on the stove heightened the anticipation. Gotta try this soon – so many recipes, so little time! Cheers.


5 Danny April 24, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Hey Erica- THe food looks awesome… I can’t wait to take the time to try one of your recipes. Being Colombian, this really brings me back.. Hey your contact button does not work.. please email me beyondburritos@gmail.com
I would like to link our blogs since theya re botha bout Latin food.



6 Alisa@Foodista April 24, 2009 at 1:48 PM

My huz did a double take when he saw this and immediately copied the recipe,seriously, he’s puttering in the kitchen right now, so excited on making this one.Hope you wont mind but I’d love to guide Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here to this post and it’s all set to go, Thanks!


7 Gera @ SweetsFoods April 25, 2009 at 8:48 PM

You know that dulce de leche, arequipe or no matter the name is my weakness, yours is perfectly delicious!



8 we are never full April 26, 2009 at 11:21 AM

thank you for adding me as a foodbuzz friend b/c now i’ve discovered your blog! love the simplicity. we just got back from argentina and were obsessed w/ the dulce de leche. is it different from the colombian kind? yours looks much more creamy and less caramel-brown the the dulce de leche we ate in buenos aires. just curious. i’m goign to check out more of your posts.



9 Erica April 26, 2009 at 1:49 PM

I don’t know if they use the same recipe in Argentina. The ingredients for dulce de leche usually are milk and sugar,but they are different versions in every country.
Sometimes when you buy it in the store is darker than the one homemade. Glad you like my blog!


10 El Paramedico December 31, 2009 at 4:44 AM

I love your site!!! I was born here in the States (NYC), but, my family was born and raised in Colombia. I grew up eating many of the dishes you have posted here. I have since moved to Tenn. and thanks to you I can now start to try and make them and hopefully pass it on to my kids.. This recipe for Arequipe sounds awesome, but, you mentioned “OBLEAS” in the summary… Do you have a reciepe for that?? I believe my mom even has a iron press for it..
FYI- You will soon have 4 other new readers, I passed this on to my brothers and sisters too….


11 Erica December 31, 2009 at 8:42 AM

El Paramedico- I am looking for a good obleas recipe!


12 Valeria March 18, 2010 at 4:53 PM

I love arequipe I grew up eating it as a dessert but I found it very difficult to get the exact taste that I always liked when I do it myself. I live in Miami and luckily found the Arequipe Alpina in my grocery store which is the one I use to eat back in Colombia, and it tastes just like home. I cannot believe they’re in the US and I found their website where you can find any information on their products and point of sales. Enjoy ! http://www.alpinaus.com


13 Erica March 18, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Valeria- Thank you so much! I love arequipe alpina, too :)


14 Arlette April 1, 2010 at 1:58 PM

I’m so glad I found your site, Erica! Do you happen to know a recipe for obleas?
When I was a young girl, my family spent two years in Bogota, and one of my favorite memories was ordering fresh, warm obleas from a lady in a 2nd story apartment. We would ring a bell, she lowered a basket from a window and we sent up a few pesos, and a few minutes later, she would lower the obleas, (with dulce de leche sauce sandwiched in between) which we enjoyed as we walked home.

This looks like the recipe for the filling, but I would love to try to re-create the entire dessert using fresh obleas.

Some of my other favorite foods were cheese arepas, sold by street vendors, fresh jugo de lulo, which friends would serve when we visited, fruit salpicon at the Monte Blanco restaurant (which is the recipe I searched for when I found your site) and soft guava candy.

Thanks for the memories!


15 Danielle June 15, 2010 at 4:01 PM

hey there,
i wanted to ask if this recipe could also be called “merolique”?? ( i hope i spelled it correctly)
I am American and my husband is from Medellin and my mother in law tries to teach me recipes when she visits but she is not a good teacher. I need details and measurements and I am so happy I found this website–but not as happy as my husband is. So could this also be called Merolique?? that is what my mother in law called the dish she made and it was very similar to this. thanks


16 Erica June 15, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Danielle-It is called Arequipe or manjar blanco.


17 Danielle June 15, 2010 at 10:03 PM

thanks Erica,
i think sometimes my mother in law makes up names for things anyway but just figured i would ask. thanks for getting back to me so fast. i really love you site. it is the best and it is so great to get these awesome recipes but in english and so thorough and easy to follow. i am going to have a fat husband very soon
thanks again


18 Nicole July 19, 2010 at 5:12 PM

I just got back from my first visit to Colombia and had to search around for some Colombian recipes. So glad I found your site! I’m in the middle of making this right now to use in the recipe for the bars. Thanks so much! Colombia is so beautiful and all the food we had was excellent!!


19 Chris October 11, 2010 at 2:13 AM

Are Obleas those larger round cracker type? If so I know certain stores you can buy them, if it’s not then I don’t remember them, my brother used to eat them out of the bag, well both of us really LOL It wasn’t like a saltine or anything but had a hint of salt to it.

As a sidenote, love all the food, but I’ll probably pass on this one, never been a big fan of Dulce du Leches, even my aunt would make it, just I don’t know, seems to be missing something, I’ll give this recipe a try though, maybe it not being homemade was a factor in me not liking it.

You are a god send though Erica, thank you soooo much for allowing me to reconnect with my heritage and can now pass that along to my wife and baby girl. My little girl has my tastes I think, when my wife was pregnant she would crave foods she didn’t like but I loved, like oranges, she can’t stand oranges but I swear she must’ve eaten 10 bags worth of oranges throughout the pregnancy LOL, I was born in North Miami Beach, so being a native to Florida, it’s a given that you eat ALOT of oranges. My father’s side of the family moved to Miami from Colombia in the early 70s, and my mom came to Miami from Montreal in the mid-late 70’s she didn’t speak english, only french, still have no idea how my mom and dad would’ve communicated by they did, or else I wouldnt be here LOL, 1980 I came around. My grandmother on my dad’s side is full colombian and my grandfather is swiss/italian, along with my mom makes a very eclectic mix. =) But it is absolutely wonderful to be able to experience and share the true colombia with my own family. =)

Thanks Erica!!!


20 Annee November 29, 2010 at 4:49 PM

In Baranquilla where I lived ’70-’73 I often went to an open cafe (for lack of a better term) they had huge caldrons of piping hot grease going all the time. There was an item I loved there. It was like a raw, very moist, thick (minimum 1/2″) corn tortilla that they dropped into the hot grease. Very quickly it would poof up and float to the top. Then they would scoop it out, cut a slit in the edge of it, crack a fresh egg. They would open the slit in the poof and drop in the raw egg and back into the grease it went for several minutes until it was golden brown. What are these called and do you have a recipe?


21 Erica November 29, 2010 at 7:36 PM
22 Oceanbeat January 18, 2011 at 8:13 PM

wow this one has the real caramel color of arequipe…yummm


23 Gina @ Skinnytaste January 19, 2011 at 10:53 PM

Hi, My mom is Colombian, love arequipe!

Two questions, can you make this with fat free milk? And can you make this in the crock pot?


24 Erica January 20, 2011 at 8:35 AM

Gina- I don’t know if you can use fat free milk or the crock pot, because you have to stir often!You can try it and let me know :)


25 agnes April 21, 2011 at 9:36 AM


I havejust put all the ingredients in a saucepan and cant wait to see the result.
However, I did not have any white sugar left at home so put some dark brown.
Do you think this will do any good???

i am glad to find your website



26 Erica April 21, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Agnes- In Colombia we use white sugar! You can try it, but won’t be the same!


27 Liz May 6, 2011 at 9:54 AM

I found your recepie a while back and had not had a chance to try it until last night. Im not very good in the kitchen, i just make simple stuff that the kids will eat. My son had a project for a cultural food (dessert, or whatever) & I figured, why not try it. We did, but the only thing is that it did not thicken enough. I think maybe I needed more baking soda b/c it wasnt like pudding when we finally turned it off, approximately 5 hrs after cooking. Im not giving up though, it tastes delicious, like the arequipe that I love so much, but the consistency is not there. Like everyone else that’s found this site, Im thrilled to try the familiar dishes. Thanks!


28 Gina C. August 14, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Erica, I’ve seen this made with a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pan on a stove burner. Do you know how to make it using that technique?


29 gigi November 14, 2011 at 3:02 PM

hi erica, I love your recipes, I am colombian, from cartagena and i moved to the states about 4 years ago and all I use to cook was “patacones” jejejje, my favorite food, but since i am pregnant i got cravings for everything from colombia, so i have been cooking full time, lol. my husband is so excited that i have found this website, he is american and he is discovering the real deal now.
yesterday i made the hallacas, they came out great i use the plantain leafs and the taste just took me back to cartagena. ohh God!!

i have an easy recipe for dulce de leche, i just did it 2 days ago and is boiling a can of condensed milk “la lechera” for 2 hours in a pot, always adding more boiling water to cover the can. then let it rest till gets cool off and listoooo you can enjoy delicous arequipe…yummy!!!


30 Katherine March 21, 2012 at 4:33 PM

How much does this recipe make?


31 Luz Adriana May 20, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Hi Erica, I’m from Medellin and mi mom also added 1 “cebolla junca” when se made arequipe, she never added cinnamon sticks and her arequipe always was delicious!! You should try it and let me know how was.


32 Erica May 21, 2012 at 6:13 AM

That sounds very interesting!!!!The arequipe taste la cebolla?


33 Luz Adriana May 20, 2012 at 11:35 PM

Only 1 cebolla en rama, solo 1 palito.


34 Nicki bar Ste July 9, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Is that 11 and a half pounds of sugar????


35 Erica July 9, 2012 at 5:09 PM

No- 1 and 1/2 pounds of sugar!


36 Joanna September 20, 2012 at 9:34 PM

My husband and I lived in Colombia for two years, 1964 & part of 1965, as Peace Corps volunteers. I really really really loved Manjar Blanco, Dulce de Leche, Araquipe, etc. I first had it served as a dessert after dinner in a restaurant. It was served in a little wooden box that I think was nailed shut at the top, and you ate it with a tiny spoon. Later I found boxes like that in the tiendas or neighborhood groceries. When I asked a friend how it was made, he said it was mainly milk cooked slowly with sugar, and a little rice! Note: When I came home, I had gained a lot of weight! p.s. Are Obleas and Alfajores the same thing?


37 Stephano November 18, 2012 at 12:55 AM

Wow thank you so much, my girlfiend is Colombian and she loves arequipe so much, now I know how to make it


38 Nancy February 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Hi, my mom’s family was from Colombia, and she used to make this the short-cut way using Eagle Brand. I’m excited about making it your way. Try it with berries, it’s delicious!


39 Paula May 6, 2013 at 2:32 AM

I am very excited to make this,, just a question .. Is it really 1 1/2 pounds of sugar???


40 Erica Dinho May 6, 2013 at 8:54 AM



41 Mar June 6, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Love the recipe!
Is it really 96 oz of milk? (roughly 12 cups?) seems like a lot, for just 1.5 lb of sugar and for the “medium pot” the recipe calls for… can you clarify this please?


42 Erica Dinho June 6, 2013 at 9:06 AM

Yes…12 cups = 96 oz and 1 + 1/2 pounds of sugar.


43 Matilde June 18, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Just to correct you…Arequipe is not from Antioquia, there’s Arequipe everywhere in Colombia and actually the origin is from Argentina and Uruguay. it’s called different but at the very end is quite the same recipe…


44 Marcela Ramirez October 1, 2013 at 9:56 AM

hi ERica, would love to try and do this because I want to make the Paletas de arequipe y coco and also the little cakes with cream cheese and coconut. One more question: is it 96 English oz ? How much would that be in litters (to avoid confusion between English Oz and the other oz ? thanks !!!! Illl let you know if I dare to prepare this! Gracias!


45 ghada November 3, 2013 at 12:54 PM

I keep stirring it for 3 hourse seriousley??


46 Erica Dinho November 3, 2013 at 5:50 PM

You have to stir the mixture often using a wooden spoon, if not the dulce de leche can stick to the pot.


47 Jennifer December 27, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Hi! I am going on hour 5 of cooking down my milk and sugar and it is still not pudding consistency. Am I just not cooking it a high enough temp?




48 Erica Dinho December 28, 2013 at 9:19 AM

Hi Jennifer,

I don’t know!….every stove is different.


49 roisin Kelly April 28, 2014 at 6:23 AM

Hi, i just discovered your website …my columbian recipes…. by accident.This desert looks delicious quite easy and economical to make.This style of cooking suits my ingredients that i always keep in my press. i imagine it suits a sweet tooth. thanks for all the interesting recipes i am going to try.:)


50 Lizzie November 14, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Hi! I would love to make this! I have bought the canned version, but it isn’t available at the store I usually shop at. So I want to learn to make it with milk and sugar because I always have those on hand :) I am also looking forward to trying some of your other recipes! Anyway, I am curious, how much dulce de leche does this recipe make?



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