The Washington Post


Cajeta 24.000

Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Apr 12, 2021

Cajeta, a caramel sauce traditionally made with goat’s milk, can be drizzled over ice cream or pancakes, spread on thin cookies, and used to make tres leches cake or for dipping fruit. It is, best of all, eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon.

The sauce is incredibly forgiving because of the amino acids in the goat’s milk, which make it more stable, so it doesn’t scorch as quickly as cow’s milk. For best results, simmer; if it starts to boil, simply lower the temperature, stirring every few minutes, and it should be fine. The baking soda neutralizes the milk’s pH levels and makes cajeta smooth. It also assists with the Maillard reaction, the browning of amino acids with sugars to create caramel.

Active time: 1 hour 40 mins; Total time: 1 hour 40 mins (plus cooling time)

Make Ahead: The cajeta needs to be prepared at least 2 hours before you plan to serve it, to allow for sufficient cooling.

Storage Notes: The cajeta can be refrigerated for up to 1 month; after that it starts to crystallize. It is thicker when cold; rewarm at 50 percent power in 30-second bursts to get the desired consistency. You can freeze cajeta for up to 1 year. Make sure you cover the surface with plastic wrap and leave a little clearance at the top of the container for expansion.

Where to Buy: Goat’s milk can be purchased at well-stocked supermarkets and health food stores.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 24 servings; each serving is 1 tablespoon

  • 4 cups (960 milliliters) goat’s milk (see NOTES)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup (140 grams) packed dark brown sugar (see NOTES)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)


Pour the milk into a 4- to 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot and set over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the baking soda over the milk, then whisk to combine. Whisk in the sugar to combine, then switch to a silicone spatula and bring the mixture to a boil — the milk will foam and rise up. Remove the pot from the heat just before the foam reaches the top.

Reduce the heat to low. When the foam subsides, return the pot to the heat and bring to a simmer, gradually raising the heat to medium. Maintain a lively simmer, and cook until the mixture reduces and turns a golden brown, stirring every 2 to 5 minutes to prevent scorching on the sides and bottom, about 1 hour.

Stir in the salt, raise the heat to medium-high and, now stirring constantly, bring the cajeta to a low boil, until you start to catch glimpses of the bottom of the pot, about 15 minutes. You can stop here for a pourable, sauce-like consistency. Or, for a thicker, more pudding-like consistency, continue cooking for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Keep in mind that the cajeta will continue to thicken as it cools.

Remove from the heat and continue to stir until the cajeta stops simmering. Mix in the vanilla, if using, and scrape the cajeta into a 2-cup (480-milliliter) glass jar with a lid. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the cajeta; this prevents a skin from forming. Let cool completely, then cover with a lid. If not using it right away, refrigerate until needed.


You can use white sugar or light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar, depending on your taste. White sugar will result in a slightly sweeter, lighter cajeta.

You can use cow’s milk for this recipe, but it will require constant stirring and a more vigilant eye.

If you want to add liquor, such as rum, or flavoring, do so during the last 10 minutes of cooking. To make a cinnamon-flavored cajeta, for example, start with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.

If the cajeta turns out thicker than you wanted, add warm water, milk or rum, a little at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

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Recipe Source

From food writer Adriana Velez.

Tested by Hattie Ulan and Jim Webster.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per tablespoon: 45

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 2g 3%

Saturated Fat: 1g 5%

Cholesterol: 4mg 1%

Sodium: 58mg 2%

Total Carbohydrates: 8g 3%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 8g

Protein: 1g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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