Top your next dessert with delicious homemade caramel sauce. With only 5 ingredients, it’s incredibly easy to make in only 15 minutes! You’ll love how well it pairs with vanilla ice cream and apple pie.

spoon drizzling caramel sauce into a glass jar.


 

Desserts are always better when paired with a perfect topping. A personal favorite of mine is salted caramel sauce. The rich and sweet flavor is complemented by a creamy texture and, when heated up, it provides a comforting aroma that is hard to resist! After learning how easy it is to make it from scratch, you’ll find all kinds of excuses to add caramel to your baking.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

What to Pair with Caramel Sauce

The options are endless! Here are a few of my favorites.

Ingredient Notes

bowls of ingredients to make homemade caramel sauce.
  • Sugar: Use granulated sugar, which is cooked and caramelized.
  • Butter: You can use unsalted butter or salted. If you’re sensitive to salt, I suggest adding it separately so you have more control over the amount.
  • Cream: Heavy cream provides a rich taste. Make sure it is at room temperature.
  • Vanilla: Use pure vanilla extract, not imitation, for the best flavor!

Refer to the recipe card for ingredient details and measurements.

How to Make Homemade Caramel Sauce

photo collage demonstrating how to make caramel sauce in a saucepan.
  1. Cook sugar and water over medium heat. Do not stir. Wait until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear.
  2. Continue cooking over medium heat occasionally swirling the pan. The mixture will caramelize after about 10 minutes.
  3. Add butter pieces and whisk until melted.
  4. Remove pan from the heat. Add cream in a steady stream whisking constantly. Stir in vanilla.

Expert Tips

Keep an eye on the caramel while it cooks. Every stove is a little different and timing is key. Swirl the pan gently every so often to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.

Do not stir. This can agitate the mixture and cause the sugar to crystallize. It’s best to gently swirl the pan in a circular motion.

Be careful when adding butter and cream. First, make sure they’re room temperature so they don’t cause the caramel to seize. When added, the liquid will quickly bubble up so proceed with caution.

If the mixture clumps up, remove from the heat and whisk until the clumps break up. This can take a few minutes of stirring so be patient.

Adjust to taste. Once the caramel has cooled a bit, taste it and see if it needs salt. Add a pinch at a time until it meets your standards.

Storage Tips

Store caramel sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Make sure the sauce is completely cooled before storing.

Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before using. I find it’s best to reheat in the microwave or on low heat on the stovetop.

Recipe FAQ

Can you replace heavy cream with milk?

Yes, but the sauce won’t be as rich. I also suggest cooking it a little longer to help thicken it up.

Why is my caramel sauce thin?

It’s possible that the temperature was too low, which prevents the sugar from caramelizing correctly. Also, keep in mind that caramel thickens as it cools so it’s okay if it’s thin when it’s still hot.

Can you use brown sugar?

Yes, the molasses in brown sugar adds a nice depth of flavor.

Why did my caramel seize up?

Most likely the sugar was not fully dissolved. It’s also possible cold ingredients were added to the sugar. Make sure the butter and cream are room temperature.

caramel sauce in a glass jar on a plate with a spoon of caramel.

Did you love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below and if you REALLY loved it, consider leaving a comment further down the page.

spoon drizzling caramel sauce into a glass jar.

Get the Recipe: Homemade Caramel Sauce

Top your next dessert with delicious homemade caramel sauce. With only 5 ingredients, it's incredibly easy to make in only 15 minutes!
5 (13 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water
  • 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • cup (180 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt to taste

Instructions 

  • Add sugar to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Give it a gently shake so the sugar is in an even layer. Add water (do not stir).
  • Place pot over medium heat and cook until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear, about 3 minutes. Mixture may bubble a bit, that’s expected.
  • Continue cooking over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, but not stirring with a spoon or spatula. The mixture will caramelize and turn amber-colored in about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the mixture to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the butter pieces (be careful, the mixture will bubble). Whisk until melted.
  • Turn off the heat and slowly add the heavy cream in a steady stream while whisking the mixture. Whisk in the vanilla.
  • Let the caramel cool in the pan until it’s cool enough to taste. Add salt if desired. Transfer mixture to a jar or airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 1 month. Recipe yields approximately 1 1/4 cups.

Notes

Do not stir caramel sauce when it’s cooking. This can agitate the sugar and cause it to crystallize. Instead, gently swirl the pan occasionally to ensure it’s cooking evenly and prevent burning.
Use room temperature cream and butter. If these ingredients are too cold, it will cause the mixture to seize up.
Freeze caramel in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop.
Serving: 2Tablespoons, Calories: 144kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 0.4g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Sodium: 5mg, Potassium: 15mg, Sugar: 17g, Vitamin A: 311IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 0.02mg

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