How to Make Cajeta (Easy Mexican Dulce de Leche)

Learn how to make the authentic Mexican cajeta recipe (dulce de leche or milk caramel sauce). This easy slow-cooked recipe is worth every minute.

You’ll love drizzling it over all your favorite desserts!

How To Make Cajeta (Mexican Caramel Sauce) | Traditional Recipe | cajeta casera

What is Cajeta

Cajeta is going to become one of your favorite sweet things in the world!

So what is Cajeta? It’s a sweet thick milk caramel sauce or syrup. In Mexico goat milk is typical used.

The milk is combined with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and a little baking soda.

In Mexico, this sweet confection is known as cajeta and in other Spanish speaking countries, it is called dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche

Dulce de leche means “milk candy”. But it’s not an actual candy, it’s more like a milk caramel sauce.

The term “dulce de leche” is made with regular cow’s milk. It’s also more commonly called this in central and Southern Latin American countries.

I grew up calling it cajeta so that’s the name I prefer, but I do realize that in some other Spanish speaking Latin American countries the word cajeta is considered to be a not so nice word.

Who Invented It

The word cajeta can also mean little wood boxes, and traditionally the cajeta was packaged and stored in wood boxes.

So as you can see it has many different meanings and uses depending on the region or dialect of Spanish. There are several areas in Mexico that claim they invented or that cajeta originated there.

But since the indigenous people did not really consume dairy products, most likely the sweet originated in Spain and brought to Mexico or introduced by the conquistadores.

How To Make Cajeta (Mexican Caramel Sauce) | Traditional Recipe

Different Types of Mexican Cajeta

There are several different types of cajetas. Though if you live outside of an area that produces cajeta, you may only find “regular” cajeta. Sometimes this is also just called cajeta quemada.

Envinada

Some cajeta recipes will had an alcohol added to the recipe. They can be called “cajeta envinada” or occasionally “cajeta borracha”.

The alcohol used can be either rum or brandy.

Cajeta Coronado

A popular brand of cajeta quemada and envinada is Cajeta Coronado.

How To Make Cajeta (Mexican Caramel Sauce) | Traditional Recipe

Ways to Use It

My family uses cajeta as a topping on almost anything we want. My personal favorite is to eat it right off the spoon like peanut butter or Nutella.

One of the most popular ways of eating cajeta, in Mexico, is by spreading it on a piece of bolillo. It’s just like you would spread jelly on a piece of toast. Delicious!

Another of my favorite ways of eating it is on “hot cakes” or pancakes. This is like an American-Mexican fusion treat.

In my family, it was a special treat and the kids went crazy for it. We were lucky too because, after we moved to the States, my mother would buy and bring back plastic tubs from her trips to our hometown.

Recipes to Drizzle it Over

  • cajeta on crepes (or crepas) is another favorite of mine, though I didn’t discover it until I was older, it’s such a great dessert.
  • You can drizzle cajeta over ice cream
  • you can make a cajeta milkshake
  • use it as cajeta cookie or empanada filling
  • use it on cajeta tamales
  • add a tablespoon to your coffee
  • drizzle over waffles and pancakes
  • use it on cajeta frosting for cupcakes
  • stir into rice pudding or even oatmeal
  • dip your favorite fruits into

There are many different uses for cajeta and it’s pretty much something to use as you’d like.

Ingredients for making Mexican Cajeta

How to Make Cajeta

The authentic traditional Mexican recipe for cajeta uses a mix of goat milk and cow milk. And while you may be put off by the goat milk, don’t be.

Really, don’t be.

It’s very similar to cow milk and actually just has a slightly more savory taste to it than “regular” milk.

You won’t be able to differentiate between the two kinds of milk once the cajeta is prepared!

With Cow Milk

If you skip the goat milk and only use cow milk then it becomes dulce de leche. The taste is different than the traditional Mexican cajeta recipe.

So if you wanted to make the cow milk cajeta recipe simply swap out all of the goat milk in my recipe for regular milk. The remaining cajeta recipe and ingredients would stay the same.

Cajeta Recipe with Condensed Milk

In this case the cajeta would also become dulce de leche. The reason being that condensed milk is made with cow milk.

There are two methods for cajeta or dulce de leche with condensed milk.

  1. Submerge a can of condensed milk in a pot of water and simmer for hours. This allows the condensed milk to thicken further and turn that brown cajeta caramel sauce color.
  2. Pour the canned condensed milk into a pot and simmer to cook down the milk. This in turn caramelizes the sugars and turns the milk a thick caramel consistency with that golden brown color.

You could also use a slow cooker (or crock pot) with the regular cajeta recipe or with the canned condensed milk.

How To Make Cajeta (Mexican Caramel Sauce)

Cajeta Recipe

You’re going to love my easy cajeta recipe!

Below is my recipe for my small cajeta portion. But if you have a larger family you could try the larger version.

Either way, these are standard recipes that are used by many people.

How To Make Cajeta (Mexican Caramel Sauce) | Traditional Recipe

Cajeta Recipe (Easy, Authentic & Delicious)

Nancy Lopez-McHugh & MexicanMadeMeatless.com
Learn how to make the traditional Mexican cajeta (goats milk caramel sauce) recipe. This slow-cooked recipe is worth every minute. You'll love drizzling it over all your favorite desserts. Similar to dulce de leche with a few differences in the recipe.
4.86 from 41 votes
Save Recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine hispanic, Mexican
Servings 8 servings
Calories

Ingredients
  

Ingredients

  • 2 cups or 16 oz. or 500 ml goat milk*
  • cup or up to ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract or ¼ tsp bourbon vanilla powder
  • one cinnamon stick
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp whole fat cow milk

Equipment Needed

  • 1 large heavy pot
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 8 oz clean jar

Instructions
 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pour the goat milk, sugar, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon (if using) into a large heavy pot and bring to a light boil over medium heat. Stir to make sure all of the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat.
  • In a separate bowl mix the cow milk and baking soda until the baking soda has dissolved. Remove pot from burner, pour baking soda mixture into the goat milk, stirring fast, be careful because the liquid will quickly froth and overflow. Stir until the bubbles have subsided then turn the heat to medium and bring the pot back to the heat.
  • Continue to cook the goat milk mixture, stirring very frequently because the mixture may bubble and pour over the pot. After another 20-30 minutes the mixture should begin to a darken and start thickening into a thick sauce consistency. Continue simmering and stirring frequently until the mixture turns a dark caramel color and coats the wood spoon, this may take another 20-40 minutes depending on liquid left in the pot. The cajeta should the same consistency as maple syrup.
  • Pour into a jar and allow to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. The cajeta will keep fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
  • The cajeta taste best if warmed up a little bit before using as desired.

Video

Notes

*Whole fat cow milk may be substituted for the goat milk. Or a mixture of half goat milk, half cow milk may also be used. But the cajeta will taste different.
** Ingredients To Make a Larger Portion
Large Portion Ingredients:
2 quarts or 1.90-liter goat milk
2 cups white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract or ¾ tsp bourbon vanilla powder
one Mexican cinnamon stick (ceylon cinnamon)
pinch salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp whole fat cow milk
***The process is the same whether making the small or large version. The only difference is that it may take a bit longer for the larger version.
(P.S. I forgot to include the cinnamon stick in the ingredients photo. Oops!)

Nutrition

Serving: 8servingsProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgPotassium: 0mgFiber: 0gSugar: 0gVitamin A: 0IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 0mgIron: 0mg
Keyword cajeta, cajeta recipe, dulce de leche, mexican cajeta
Tried this recipe?Mention @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicamademeatless!
How To Make Cajeta (Mexican Caramel Sauce) | Traditional Recipe

As you can see, though it will give your arms a workout and you must be patient, making cajeta at home really isn’t complicated at all.

It’s so worth the effort and way better than the stuff available at the grocery store.

Now if you live in a place where you can get it locally made, then maybe just make cajeta once so you say you’ve done it, then support the local artisans.

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90 Comments

  1. This looks and sounds absolutely delectable–street food cultures are the best! Unfortunately, every time I go abroad (usually with my family), everyone gets paranoid about our stomachs not being able to handle the street food quality and sanitation, so I seem to miss out on a lot…but it’s nice to know I can make this in the comfort of my kitchen. I’ve linked up on YBR too, thank you for hosting!

    1. Too bad, because experiencing street food is experiencing a bit of the culture you visit. It does pay to be cautious, but I also think that something are exaggerated.

      Great, welcome to the YBR:)

  2. 5 stars
    Welcome back 🙂 dulce de leche is called cajeta in mexico….i like tat….vigorously reading about mexican cuisine since couple of week….its been fascinating me….thanks for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    OH I imagine walking down the road of your town in Mexico and try out different cajetas. hehe. that would be fun. I am not sure if I overlooked it in the post, but can the cajeta be made with cow milk entirely. I dont really enjoy goat milk. Why do you use goat milk in the recipe? something to do with the thickness or fat amount?

    1. Hi Helene,

      Oops, I forgot to include the text about milk substitutions. Thanks for catching that:)

      Yes, you may substitute the goat milk for cow milk. Try to use whole fat cow milk, as it will have the best consistency-not to mention taste better.

      The goat milk does impart a distint taste but I know it will taste just as good with cow milk. Enjoy!

      Nancy

  4. 5 stars
    I love both your darker “moody” photos style as well as this lighter style. You make both look so easy and do it so well. 🙂 I wish I had your eye for styling. Now onto the recipe… I would love to just stick my finger into that dulce de leche and eat it all up. YUM!!! I signed up for your YBR this month…. I don’t won’t to miss that out again. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend my friend! ~ Ramona

  5. 5 stars
    Thanks for posting this recipe. Nearby Celaya in the state of Guanajuato claims to be the home of cajeta in my part of Mexico. I adore it and use it all the time–and I always take some to the states as gifts when I visit there. My favorite brand is Coronado, the Quemada type (we have several “flavored” versions available), but now I may have to make my own! Also, here (and perhaps only here in SMA) we differentiate between Dulce de Leche and Cajeta, with the latter using only goat’s milk. I enjoyed the history as well.

  6. 5 stars
    Looks gorgeous Nancy! I might give the goats’ milk a a try next time I make dulce de leche – I’ll definitely try adding in cinnamon. I notice you have a link to the WFP – love that! Also it seems we both found our way to the same configuration of nRelate’s link widget. Great minds! I’m finding it to be so much better than linkwithin, but have yet to test it on different browsers. My site’s not back up yet, but the pieces are falling into place – I’m just tweaking back posts to fit the new layout and I’ll unveil October 1st (if not sooner…). Looking forward to your ebook! 🙂

  7. Dear Nancy, I will have to show this post to my daughter..she’ll love it! Your dolce de leche looks wonderful. All I need is that and I’m in heaven. Blessings, Catherine xo

  8. 5 stars
    What do I think of the lighter style in these picture? I love everything you shoot! These are beautiful! Thanks for sharing this authentic recipe! I had the privileged of tasting real cajeta once and there is nothing else like it! Yes, the preferred method would be to eat it right off the spoon, but I would also love to pour it over some sweet tamales I make. YUM! Good luck on the final review of your book! Can’t wait for it to come out!

  9. oh my goodness, my mouth is WATERING! it looks so light and creamy, and so rich at the same time. this on pancakes sounds like a dream.

  10. 5 stars
    The photos are lovely as always, but I did notice the different background. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing a bit of the history surrounding Cajeta – I love learning about these types of things. I really want to try to make this sometime soon, the idea of putting it on pancakes sounds so yummy. Or maybe a plain vanilla cake…

  11. 5 stars
    I tried this for a family mexican-themed lunch at the weekend and it did not disappoint! It was also my first ever excuse to buy goats milk (have been a goat cheese fan for a long time and certainly recognised the distinctive taste). The photos were very helpful in determining how long i needed to keep cooking and stirring for – I probably would have gotten nervous and underdone it otherwise. I don’t know about the authenticity of such things but I wanted to serve it with apple enchiladas and wasn’t sure how to best go about it. I ended up spooning a generous amount on top of the apples before I rolled each enchilada up, baking the lot (which resulted in some escaping cajeta) then using what was left served on top with condensed milk ice cream. Mmmmm, just delicious!

  12. 5 stars
    Just found your site while looking for a recipe for dulce de leche…the long version (i.e. not using a can of sweetened condensed milk…)
    Thank you for posting this one and, I love your photos.
    Here are my questions. What is the shelf life of dulce de leche before it goes bad ?
    Which part of Mexico did you come from? I would love to visit that town if they have a dulce de leche festival as in Papantla, Veracruz at vanilla harvesting time.
    And, third, what kinds of alcohol where people putting in to their dulce de leche? I never thought of doing that but I imagine rum or cognac would be great.

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Glad you found my recipe and I hope you give it a try soon. I never keep mine longer than a couple of weeks — we usually eat it before then. Well, I am not from there but I know Celaya in the state of Guanajuato is the most famous place for cajeta. I’m sure they have many festivities around cajeta. As for the alcohol I’ve seen red wine but I think rum and cognac would work fantastically. Enjoy your cajeta!

      1. 5 stars
        I made this the first time Monday. Had to use all cows milk as its all I had. It was very good. BUT! Today, I used a qt of goat milk and 2 cups of cows whole milk and fantastic! On the weekend I am planning on using 3qts of goat and 6c of whole cows because anyone who stopped by wanted to taste and taste and taste. It cooks down quite a bit. This is so very wonderfully delicious! Thank. You. So. Much.

  13. 5 stars
    Hi! Thanks for the detailed recipe. I think I may’ve cooked it too long though. It’s still cooling and is very stringy. Is there something I can do to bring it back to a more syrupy consistency? I browsed the comments, and didn’t see anyone with this issue, so I apologize if this is a repeat question! Thanks again for the awesome recipe! I’m planning to drizzle it over my husband’s tres leches birthday cake 🙂

  14. 5 stars
    Absolutely amazing, made a large batch just yesterday using this recipe and it filled the house with the most wonderfully spiced aroma. Thank you ever so much for sharing this family gem.

  15. 5 stars
    Just made this recipe with my cousin, The Freckled Foodie….our lives are forever changed. I can honestly say there will never be a time when there isn’t a jar of this amazing stuff in my fridge.

    1. Hi Germaine,

      I’m sorry to hear that your cajeta turn gelatinous. That has never happened to me and I don’t really know how that could have happened.

      Did you add extra ingredients or used different ones than called for in my recipes? Did the gelatinous texture happened after cooking or when did it happen? Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of it so that it doesn’t happen again.:)

      ~Nancy

  16. I love this recipe & have made the large portion version many times now. I’m curious why we put the baking soda in it. Do you know why it is needed? Also, I’ve substituted Fireball bourbon & Captain Morgan Black rum for the vanilla a few times & they are both really fun! Thanks for a great recipe & easy instructions!

    1. Hi Angie,

      I’m thrilled that you enjoy my recipe and that you make the large portions. I love your addition of bourbon and rum, and can only imagine how fantastic it tastes — yum!:) I did a little checking on the baking soda, and this Mexican Chef says it is added to help prevent lumps and to enhance the brown colour.

  17. Thanks for the recipe!

    I just wish TV chefs would stop calling it “dolche de leche” as it if were an Italian thing! (Folks, it’s pronounced “dulsay”!)

  18. 5 stars
    I just finished doing this and is so good! I’m really trying to not eat everything right away!

  19. i just did this tongue and my husband (btw, he’s mexican) liked this a lot and he said that this is the taste of Mexico. It’s my first time to try cajeta. I love it too. I think it’s better than salted caramel. I put more salt on mine because I want it like salted caramel. It’s just a lot of work stirring for an hour and half lol… can I just crock pot condensed milk instead? but how would I blend the cinnamon and salt in condensed milk while it’s on simmer?

    1. Hi I’m glad to hear it and it’s always nice to get a taste of Mexico when you live away from it. Stirring is tiresome but I think worth the effort — at least once it’s done and I’m not doing it anymore. Lol!

      If you do it with the crockpot and condensed milk it will taste good but it won’t be cajeta anymore. Cajeta needs the mixture of cow and goat milk to achieve that unique taste. The condensed milk would turn into a very similar consistency but then it is called dulce de leche and it is quite common in South American countries like Argentina.

      Either way enjoy both and thank you! 🙂

  20. 4 stars
    It’s so delicious! I accidentally let mine on heat too long and it became more of an actual hard candy caramel though. Any idea if there’s a way to fix it?

    1. Hi Minerva,
      Sorry I’ve never fixed it so I couldn’t say, my guess would be add more milk but I don’t know if that may end up ruining it. Enjoy the candy though:)

  21. 5 stars
    Thank you so much I’ve been looking for an easy recipe. By the way I saw another blogger that copied your recipe.

  22. 5 stars
    Hello, I am new to your site and had to make mine with cows milk but am on hunt for goat. I doubled and now wish a had tripled. Oh my gosh! Phenom just with good old cows milk. Shopping tomorrow andbgoat milk is on the list. Delicious!!! Thank you for this simple and amazing recipe. All the stirring makes me feel righteously domestic

    1. 5 stars
      Hi KimQ!
      Thank you for the feedback, we’re thrilled that you loved our cajeta recipe. Let us know if you get your hands on the goat milk and what you think of the it. Thanks so much!!

      1. 5 stars
        Tried 4 grocery stores and no goat milk. Walmart! Walmart has it….so very very glad they did. Used 1 qt of goat with 2c of whole cows milk. Vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and a lot of love stirring the pot…..Absolute divinity. Will never make just cow again. Delicious!
        Tomorrow, 1 gal goat and 8c cow…..my friends will be SO. HAPPY.
        Thank you!

      2. 5 stars
        It is 6:59a.m. on Saturday morning…9/4/20 and you have created a monster. There are 5 qts of goat milk in my fridge waiting for me. A 10 qt. kettle on my stove. I know this will take a few hours, at the least, to condense down and my home will smell fantastic all day. Happy, happy day.

  23. 5 stars
    Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.

  24. You misspelled a word:
    turns the milk a thick caramel consienty with that golden brown color.

  25. Hi Nancy! Recently we got 3 dairy goats! It has been so much fun making new things with their milk. This is the 3rd time I make your delicious cajeta. Thanks so much for the yummy and easy recipe!

    1. Wow that’s fantastic, thanks so much Lindsay! I’d love it if you could leave a star rating. That would help me out greatly. Thanks!

  26. 5 stars
    Let me start with I had never heard of cajeta. When I it directly off of the spoon, I dismissed it as humor. I now understand!! I just finished making a batch and OMG!!!!! This stuff is AWESOME!! I am making it to go with arroz con leche, but I’m pretty sure my family would just like a bowl of this. thank you for this recipe!!

    1. Hi Andrea! Hehe now you get the love affair with cajeta that us Mexicans have. Enjoy & it does taste amazing on arroz con leche and ice cream and crepes and so many other things.

  27. 5 stars
    It is delicious!!! After almost two hours of stirring and stirring, I have a jar full of delicious cajeta!!! Thank you for all your delicious recipes!

  28. 5 stars
    I was making a chocolate cake, rich with extra egg yolks, and I wanted to add a layer of flan. I also wanted to make a Mexican type caramel for the topping.
    I read through many recipes, this is the one I decided to try.
    No changes, I always give a recipe the opportunity to stand on its own. It did.
    Wowsers, tastes great.
    The richness of the cake was not hidden or muffled by the flan, (my own recipe), or this cajeta. I was a bit worried the cajeta would be too sweet, nope, a perfect accent that helped the dessert shine.

    1. Hi Tony!
      Wow your cakes sound spectacular! I wish I could have a taste. Thanks so much and glad to hear my cajeta recipe worked perfectly with your cake.

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