These dulce de leche cookies are a tender, buttery, melt in your mouth cookies filled with dulce de leche and dusted with powdered sugar. The dulce de leche filling tastes like a rich, creamy, milky caramel. A bit of added cornstarch makes the cookies so tender and crisp! This recipe includes corn-free substitutions. They’re an easy cookie to make that will make a great addition to your holiday cookie collection.
This recipe is inspired by alfajores - a delicious and traditional Argentinian sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche.
Why you will LOVE this recipe:
- Texture: They just melt in your mouth. So buttery, crisp, and tender.
- Dulce de leche: The milky, creamy, caramel spread is the best cookie filling. You can make it yourself or find it in your local grocery or specialty store.
- Impressive: They look so fancy and will impress everyone! All while being an uncomplicated recipe.
What is dulce de leche
Dulce de leche is essentially sweetened condensed milk that has been heated low and slow for a long time until thick, creamy, and golden brown. It makes a super creamy, milky, caramel spread that is perfect for spreading onto anything (try it on toast!) or filling any kind of dessert.
I grew up in an Eastern European household and dulce de leche on a spoon was the best dessert of my childhood! We would spend hours waiting for the sweetened condensed milk to caramelize into dulce de leche. We mostly ate it on a spoon but if some was leftover we would spread it on wafers or add into buttercream for the most delicious cake filling. It’s a very traditional Russain and Ukranian dessert flavour.
Where can I buy dulce de leche?
I used to only be able to find it in specialty stores (like Latin American and Eastern European stores) or higher end grocery stores. Lately, I’ve been able to find it at my local grocery store right by the sweetened condensed milk (baking aisle) or beside the ice cream topping section. They come in cans or glass jars.
Make sure you are buying real dulce de leche. Do NOT buy sweetened condensed milk flavoured as dulce de leche - it isn’t the same! Eagle brand dulce de leche is a brand that I would avoid for this, it’s too thin and doesn’t taste like authentic dulce de leche. Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk is amazing though, if you want to use it to make dulce de leche.
If you do end up buying dulce de leche and it is too thin to fill cookies, simmer it down in a saucepan on medium-low heat (stir constantly to prevent burning) until spreadable consistency.
How to make dulce de leche at home:
You sure can! It’s very easy to make at home, albeit time consuming. You are essentially caramelizing sweetened condensed milk. Here’s a great article on how you can make dulce de leche at home!
Here’s a crockpot dulce de leche recipe that is so convenient! It has all the tips on how long to cook for the desired consistency and flavour.
NOTE: If you’re boiling an unopened can, make sure you don’t use a can with a tab on it for easy opening. It needs to be a regular can (open with a can opener) or it will explode and might hurt you. This is from personal experience.
Full steps and ingredients in recipe card below. But read through these for all the tips you will need for success!
Dulce de leche: Use a thick storebought dulce de leche or make it at home! See above section for all you need to know about what dulce de leche to get or how to make it at home
Egg yolks: The cookies only need the yolks to give them a rich and buttery texture. There's too much water content inside egg whites so you can save them for a different recipe or just add them to your morning scrambled eggs.
All purpose flour: Weigh the flour to get the most accurate results. If you don’t have a scale, measure properly by stirring the bag and spooning gently into a measuring cup. Scrape the excess off the top with the flat edge off a knife without packing it into the cup.
Butter: Use a good quality real butter for the best results and flavour. If you use salted butter then just omit the salt in the cookie dough.
Cornstarch: This is key to creating a tender, crisp, buttery crumb! You can substitute it with the same amount of arrowroot starch or rice flour.
Powdered sugar: I use icing sugar or powdered sugar to help the sugar dissolve into the butter faster, creating a smoother dough and a tender crispy texture when baked.
Step by step
Step 1 - Beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. This will take about 5-10 minutes.
Step 2 - Wet ingredients. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating in between and scraping down the sides to incorporate. Add vanilla and beat again.
Step 3 - Add dry ingredients. Sift flour, cornstarch, and baking powder right into the same bowl. Fold or mix on low just until a dough forms.
Step 4 - Chill. Form the dough into a disc and wrap with plastic or beeswax wrap. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
Step 5 - Roll and cut cookies. Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ⅛” thick. Cut out 2 ½” diameter circles, re-rolling the scraps as needed. Use a cookie cutter or the bottom of a glass. Cut small (¾”) holes in the middles of half the cookies. Place cut cookies in freezer for 5 minutes before baking.
Step 6 - Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are a very pale golden colour. Transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Step 7 - Dust. Arrange the cookies with cut out middles on a tray and dust with powdered sugar. Arrange the rest of the cookies on a separate tray, bottom sides up.
Step 8 - Sandwich. Spread a thick layer of dulce de leche onto the bottoms of the whole cookies. Carefully top them with the cookies covered in powdered sugar, touching the edges only to not disturb the powdered sugar.
Cornstarch makes the most tender cookies that are light and crisp in texture. You only need a little bit to get the full effect! Corn starch doesn’t have gluten so it really lightens up the texture
Use the same amount of arrowroot starch or rice flour in this recipe.
If you want to use all purpose flour, use double the amount of flour as cornstarch in this recipe. It calls for 3 tablespoons of cornstarch so use 6 tablespoons of flour. The texture won’t be as light and crisp but it will still work out!
You can substitute cornstarch in cookies with the same amount of arrowroot starch or rice flour. I don’t recommend using potato starch - the cookies might taste like potatoes. If you don’t have any of these options, substitute the cornstarch with double the amount of all purpose flour. This recipe uses 3 tablespoons of starch so use 6 tablespoons of flour. The texture won’t be as tender and crisp but it will work.
Use a scale to measure the flour properly to get the right cookie dough consistency. I like to freeze my cut out cookies for 5 minutes before baking to prevent any spreading and keep the edges crisp. It helps to resolidify the butter so that it doesn’t melt as quickly in the oven. The ingredient proportions and the starch in this recipe also help prevent spreading.
The filled cookies are best served the same day they are filled. They will keep well stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. They will become a little softer the longer they are stored.
They will keep well unfilled in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Check out these other recipes:
- Marshmallow Chocolate Cookies
- Blueberry Cream Cheese Cookies – Soft & Chewy
- Butterscotch Blondies with Butterscotch Cream Cheese Frosting
Did you make this recipe? I would love for you to rate this recipe and hear what you think in the comments below!
Dulce de Leche Cookies
- 3"-4" round cookie cutter or glass
- small round cookie cutter or metal piping tip
- ¾ cup butter softened
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large egg yolks room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 ⅛ cups all purpose flour (260g)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 can or jar dulce de leche
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- Beat butter, powdered sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.¾ cup butter, 1 ½ cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Add egg yolks one at a time, beating in between and scraping down the sides to incorporate. Add vanilla and beat again.2 large egg yolks, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Sift flour, cornstarch, and baking powder right into the same bowl. Fold or mix on low just until a dough forms.2 ⅛ cups all purpose flour, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Form the dough into a disc and wrap with plastic or beeswax wrap. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ⅛” thick. Cut out 2 ½” diameter circles, rerolling the scraps as needed. Use a cookie cutter or the bottom of a glass.
- Cut small (¾”) holes in the middles of half the cookies. Place cut cookies in freezer for 5 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are a very pale golden colour. Transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Arrange the cookies with cut out middles on a tray and dust with powdered sugar. Arrange the rest of the cookies on a separate tray, bottom sides up.¼ cup powdered sugar
- Spread a thick layer of dulce de leche onto the bottoms of the whole cookies. Carefully top them with the cookies covered in powdered sugar, touching the edges only to not disturb the powdered sugar.1 can or jar dulce de leche