The South American caramel sauce dulce de leche is the kind of food you know you shouldn’t be eating straight out of the jar, but you just can’t stop yourself. Dulce de leche is extremely rich and complex-tasting, and it’s ridiculously easy to make.

Many methods require you to submerge a can of condensed milk in boiling water before popping it open to reveal the golden liquid. Not this one. All you need for Catherine Lamb‘s recipe below is sugar and milk.


Makes 1 cup


1 quart whole milk
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split
¼ teaspoon baking soda


1. Mix the first four ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Take off the heat.

2. Stir in the baking soda, then put the mixture back on the stove over low heat. You want the mixture to bubble along the edges, but not to boil over.


3. Let the mixture cook for 1½–2 hours, stirring occasionally. The color will begin to sneak from white to tan after an hour or so, then will darken rapidly. Keep a close eye on it now, stirring constantly. As the mixture darkens it will become thicker, and also nuttier. After your dulce de leche reaches your desired tone of caramel color, take it off the heat and let it cool slightly


4. If you want your dulce de leche to have a silky smooth texture, push it through a fine mesh strainer. If you don’t want to go through the extra effort, it will be more than fine as is.


5. Dulce de leche keeps, refrigerated, for up to four weeks. Eat it over ice cream, spread on toast, or right out of the jar.


This article and recipe originally appeared on Food52.