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Caramel Sauce

This recipe for Caramel Sauce is easy to make and uses simple ingredients you can find anywhere. This decadent sauce is perfect for topping ice cream, apples, or anything else that needs a bit of extra sweetness!

Every home cook needs a good caramel sauce recipe to keep in their collection. Caramel sauce is very versatile and can be used in so many different ways!

There are several variations of how to make a caramel sauce. Some use brown sugar instead of granulated while others use sweetened condensed milk instead of cream.

This recipe is special because it doesn’t use pre-made caramel squares to create the sauce. Similar to our butterscotch sauce, this caramel is made up of sugar, butter, heavy cream, and salt. This gives it a rich and decadent flavor without any chemicals or preservatives you may find in the store-bought versions.

Try it on your favorite treats like ice cream, caramel apple cinnamon rolls or maybe even bread pudding. Or use it in another dessert-like carmelitas or salted caramel brownies.

Close up of a jar of caramel.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Granulated Sugar – Sugar is used to sweeten the caramel and creates a beautiful amber color.
  • Unsalted Butter – Adds a rich buttery flavor along with creaminess.
  • Heavy Cream – Gives the sauce its classic smooth and luxurious texture.
  • Salt – Though optional, salt adds a touch of salty flavor that pairs well with sweet items.

How To Make Caramel Sauce

  1. Caramelize the sugar: Add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed pan with tall sides. Turn the heat to low-medium and stir until the sugar begins to melt and form hard lumps. The sugar will turn an amber color.
  2. Add butter: Once all of the lumps have dissolved, add the cold butter. As the sugar is brought to a boil, stir for 2-3 minutes until combined.
  3. Add the cream and salt: Pour the heavy cream into the mixture and let it boil once again. Remove it from the heat and continue to stir as the mixture thickens and begins to pull away from the pan. If using, stir in the salt.
  4. Cool and store: Let the caramel sauce cool before pouring it into a glass jar or container with a lid.
Collage showing how to make caramel sauce.

Recipe Tips

  1. When adding the butter and the cream, the mixture will boil rapidly and may cause it to splash. This is why it is important to use a heavy-bottomed pan with tall sides to keep it from touching your skin.
  2. Make sure you stir out any lumps in the sugar as it begins to melt and caramelize. Any remaining lumps may burn and make the sauce taste bitter.
  3. If you like a thicker caramel sauce, cook it for an additional minute or two after adding the cream.
  4. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if needed.

Variations

  • Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg for extra spice.
  • Stir in a pinch of espresso powder for a caramel mocha flavor.
  • Add chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds for a crunchy addition with a nutty flavor.
  • Add a few drops of flavored extract such as vanilla, almond, maple, or coconut for a slightly different flavor profile.
Spoon being dipped into caramel sauce.

Storing, Freezing and Reheating

Storing: Store cooled caramel sauce in a sealed jar or airtight container for up to two weeks if refrigerated. Because of the dairy in the recipe, it will last on the counter outside of the fridge for two days.

Freezing: Pour the cooled caramel sauce into a freezer-safe container or bag. Freeze for up to three months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a few hours. Stir well before using.

Reheating: If the caramel sauce has become too solid, you may need to reheat it by placing it in the microwave for 20 seconds or until pourable.

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Yield: About 1 1/2 Cups

Caramel Sauce

Caramel sauce in a mason jar.

Ooey, gooey, sweet, and buttery. That about covers it when describing this homemade caramel sauce recipe is made with just 3 ingredients.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup cold heavy cream
  • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon sea salt, optional

Instructions

  1. Pour the sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan with tall sides over low-medium heat.
  2. Stir constantly until sugar begins to melt. The sugar will begin to form hard lumps and eventually turn amber in color.
  3. Continue stirring until all lumps dissolve. Then carefully add all of the cold butter. The sugar will immediately begin to boil.
  4. Stir for 2-3 minutes until sugar and butter are combined.
  5. Pour in the heavy cream. The mixture will boil again, so use caution. Remove from heat.
  6. The mixture will thicken and pull away from the pan, but continue to stir until it smooths out. Add the sea salt if using.
  7. Allow caramel sauce to cool before storing in an airtight container or glass jar.
  8. Serve over ice cream, bread pudding, cake, in coffee, or your favorite desserts. See post for storage options.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 ounce of caramel sauce. Actual calories will vary.

*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

*We’ve gotten the best results using a heavy bottomed metal pan.

*This recipe boils and expands quite a bit as it cooks, so make sure the pan you choose has enough space.

*The caramel is extremely hot as it cooks and while it cools. Refrain from touching it or sneaking a taste until it cools to avoid burns.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 ounce

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 149Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 48mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 17gProtein: 0g

*The calories are an estimate and are based on the ingredients and serving size listed. The calories can vary depending on the brand of product purchased.

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Michele

Monday 27th of August 2018

WOW! That looks amazing. I could eat it with a spoon, but I think I will put it on my ice cream. Delish!!

John

Monday 27th of August 2018

Thank you, Michele! I'm pretty sure we've done both lol! Have a lovely day :)

Veronika's Kitchen

Sunday 26th of August 2018

I love caramel sauce and make it quite often. It is perfect for different types of desserts, like cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc. Love your version and definitely will try it!)

John

Monday 27th of August 2018

Thank you, Veronika! It's one of our favorites as well and we hope you enjoy it. Have a lovely day :)

Jessica Pinney

Saturday 25th of August 2018

Yum! It would be dangerous for me to have this around but I think I'm going to have to try it!

John

Sunday 26th of August 2018

Thank you, Jessica! Kim and I hope you enjoy the recipe. Have a lovely Sunday :)

Marisa Franca

Saturday 25th of August 2018

There is nothing better than homemade and your sauce is no exception. It looks delicious and so reach and smooth. What a perfect topping for ice cream, pie or even a pound cake. I can certainly think of so many ways to use it. I'm pinning the recipe.

John

Sunday 26th of August 2018

Thank you, Marisa! We prefer homemade sauces to store bought, as well. Thank you for pinning the recipe. Have a lovely day :)

Elaine

Friday 24th of August 2018

I agree - every home cook needs to have their own homemade sauce recipe. And soup recipe. And salad recipe. And drink recipe... I guess there has to be one signature dish in each category :) BTW, the sauce is amazing!

John

Friday 24th of August 2018

Thank you, Elaine! Agreed, everybody should have his or her signature dishes. Have you ever tried to a vanilla sweet cream sauce? It's so tasty! I haven't published it yet because our sauce recipes are hit or miss in terms of popularity. But, maybe one day. Thanks again for commenting, have a wonderful weekend Elaine!

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