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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cool and store: Let the caramel sauce cool before pouring it into a glass jar or container with a lid.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you like a thicker caramel sauce, cook it for an additional minute or two after adding the cream.
- This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if needed.
- 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.
Storing: Store cooled caramel sauce in a sealed jar or airtight container for up to two weeks if refrigerated.
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 then reheat as written below.
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.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
- ½ cup heavy cream, cold
- ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, optional
- Pour the sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan with tall sides over low-medium heat.1 cup granulated sugar
- Stir constantly until sugar begins to melt. The sugar will begin to form hard lumps and eventually turn amber in color.
- Continue stirring until all lumps dissolve. Then carefully add all of the cold butter. The sugar will immediately begin to boil.6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Stir for 2-3 minutes until sugar and butter are combined.
- Pour in the heavy cream. The mixture will boil again, so use caution. Remove from heat.½ cup heavy cream
- The mixture will thicken and pull away from the pan, but continue to stir until it smooths out. Add the sea salt if using.⅛ - ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Allow caramel sauce to cool before storing in an airtight container or glass jar.
- Serve over ice cream, bread pudding, cake, in coffee, or your favorite desserts. See post for storage options.