Dulce De Leche vs Caramel | Are They The Same?

Making the decision between using dulce de leche vs caramel is hard to do, especially because they are both so delicious. Although they both provide mouthwatering sweetness in a fudge recipe, cultural differences in your recipe will help you decide which flavor is best for you.

Dulce de leche is like caramel and although they can be used in similar fudge recipes, they will have slightly different flavors. Dulce de leche is heavier in consistency and made by heating up sweetened condensed milk, while the caramel is made by slowly heating both sugar and milk together.

Let’s take a closer look at dulce de leche vs caramel to help you decide which one of these sweet sauces should go in your fudge recipe.

Is dulce de leche the same as caramel?

The short answer to this question is no. However, the confusion about the difference between dulce de leche vs caramel is understandable. They are both sweet and brown and they both offer a satisfying indulgence that is unlike no other in your fudge recipe.

However, the best way to explain their difference is that dulce de leche is created by using a can of condensed milk that is heated until pale gold. To create caramel sauce, you need to combine milk, sugar, and water in a large pot and then slowly cook it until that familiar caramel color of golden brown is formed – usually after about 8 to 10 minutes.

What is caramel?

Yummy caramel has been used since the 1650s as part of rich and popular desserts that can be enjoyed in many different recipes, including fudge, cookies, dressings, barbeque sauces, glazes, brownies, and more. Caramel has some French origins and is created by slowly “burning” sugar and milk.

How to use caramel?

There are many creative ways to use caramel sauce. The dessert that is selected makes the difference in how caramel will be used. For example, salted caramel recipes often call for the caramel to be used as a topper, dipping sauce, or as a drizzle. However, some caramel recipes call for the caramel to be baked right into the recipe, such as in caramel bunt cakes, caramel fudge brownie flan, or salted caramel cookies.

Whether it’s used as a topping for fudge or it is used as a dip for apples or on top of a whipped cream dessert, the use of caramel sauce goes a long way.

Is caramel used in fudge making?

Caramel used in fudge making is simply delightful. Whether used as a dessert for a small party or it is used as a large dessert catering tray, there are many ways to enjoy baking caramel and fudge.

Some bakers enjoy using a bit of caramel sugar syrup to marry their recipe for caramel fudge. But other bakers prefer to see the caramel baked right in, or some marry the flavors together.

Yet, some create a special blend of dulce de leche to set into their fudge. They combine the best of dulce de leche and caramel sauce to create a fudge that is a caramel dulce de leche blend.

What is dulce de leche?

Sweet sauces for any dessert can start with dulce de leche. Its origin is derived from South America and offers special desserts such as dulce de leche fudge candy, dulce de leche cream cake, and dulce de leche flan.

However, this rich dessert or dessert topping is made from heating the rich cream flavor of condensed milk.

How to use dulce de leche ?

Dulce de leche is often used as a cream to add elegance, fun, and texture to various desserts.

Depending on the dulce de leche recipes, it can be made into fun textures including crunchy textures, solid textures, or somewhere in the middle. It can also be used to create a swirl texture in fudge brownies, or it can be used as a drizzle or dip in other desserts.

Is dulce de leche used in fudge making

Dulce de leche in fudge making is often used as a special holiday or event treat, but it can be made at any time. The caramel dulce de leche is often used as a special sweetener that gives the fudge extra richness that is beyond compare.

Of course, many bakers add to their fudge by including the dulce de leche much later in the setting process to make a swirl pattern or they may add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or even pecans or walnuts to their fudge. The possibilities are numerous.

Which is sweeter caramel or dulce de leche?

Dulce de leche is usually just as sweet as caramel. However, the main difference in the recipes depends on how much either of them will be used to add sweetness.

Dulce has more of the cream within the recipe due to the condensed milk. Therefore, the volume of dulce may be much greater than caramel, depending on what the recipe calls for during the baking process.


What can I use instead of dulce de leche?

Dulce de leche and caramel are often interchangeable, and therefore, if you can’t find one in the store, you can usually use the other. However, other substitutes for sweeteners such as dulce de leche, include muscovado sugar, brown sugar, or jaggery.

How long does it take for sugar to caramelize?

The richness of a caramel recipe that does not use condensed milk can achieve caramelization pretty quickly. At around 350 degrees, caramelization will take place in 10 minutes or less.

If dulce de leche is used as a caramel cream, then a lighter caramelization can also be achieved and will often look like gooey marshmallows in the pan.

Why does my caramel not turn brown?

If you are using condensed milk in your recipe to make caramel, you will not achieve the darker brown caramel color you are seeking. Usually, dulce de leche is a lighter brown color. However, you can get the rich color for your caramel or sugar syrup by adding butter and regular milk to the recipe.

What does adding butter to caramel do?

Adding butter to caramel offers richness, color, and flavor. Once you add it after the milk and sugar have been well dissolved, the butter will melt into the heated caramel mixture, and then it will add a mouthwatering flavor to the mixture whilst turning it a lovely buttery brown color.

In summary

Many bakers wrestle with selecting dulce de leche vs caramel. However, the sweetened condensed milk of the dulce de leche on top of whipped cream or the use of a caramel sauce offers up treats that the whole family will enjoy. Either choice can make some sweet sauces for fudge, dips, and drizzles.

Whether it’s to give your fudge some additional richness or you want your recipes to stand out with some fun texture, when it comes to dulce de leche vs caramel, you will just have to flip a coin.

If you enjoyed learning about these ingredients, we think you’ll like reading these posts:


Hi, I'm Sarah and welcome to Call Me Fudge! From a younger age I've always pottered about in the kitchen and even selling my fudge in the high school grounds. Cooking and baking to me is like second nature and I want to share this passion with you.

Recent Posts