This homemade caramel sauce recipe is super easy to make. It is a versatile sauce that can be used for dipping, drizzling over ice cream, or served on top of other decadent desserts.
This recipe requires only a handful of ingredients and is a friendly option for the budget wise. It tastes better than store-bought and is simple enough to whip up a batch any time you have a recipe that calls for caramel sauce.
Wet and dry caramel process
There are two different ways to make caramel – the dry method and the wet method.
Dry caramel is made with just sugar. Dry caramel is more difficult because it tends to burn easily and the sugar clumps together. This can result in a grainy caramel.
Wet caramel is made by dissolving sugar in water then allowing it to caramelize. I use this method because it is so much easier. The sugar caramelizes more evenly and I never end up with a grainy caramel.
And it’s rumored that wet caramel has a better taste because the process takes longer. That’s a plus in my book!
This is an easy no-fail recipe. While a candy thermometer is a great tool when making caramel, it is not required. But if you are inexperienced with making caramel at home, I highly suggest using one.
This homemade caramel sauce is made with white sugar, heavy cream, butter, salt, and vanilla extract. More than likely you already have these on hand.
A small pinch of table salt is added to enhance the flavor. However, it’s not enough salt to call it salted caramel. You can barely detect it. But feel free to add a bit more salt to make it a salted caramel sauce.
This is my absolute favorite thick caramel sauce recipe. It’s wonderful on top of so many different treats.
After you’ve mastered this recipe, you should try making this easy caramel sauce in the microwave!
The printable recipe card with full ingredient amounts and instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.
When making caramel sauce at home, never leave its side. A lovely amber colored caramel can turn to burnt in the blink of an eye.
A candy thermometer is a great tool if you are not sure when to remove the melted sugar from the heat. Once the melted sugar registers above 330° F, pay close attention to the color.
As soon as it turns a deep amber color, remove it from the heat.
Take great care when adding the cream to the hot melted sugar! As you pour in the cream, the mixture will bubble up fiercely and release scorching hot steam.
Go slow and don’t splash yourself. Leave the hot caramel in the pot until it cools to room temperature before transferring it to a container for storage.
Questions about homemade caramel sauce
Can I sub brown sugar for granulated sugar and get same results?
You can use brown sugar if you don’t have white sugar. Keep in mind, brown sugar is made with molasses so this will affect the overall flavor of your caramel sauce.
Can you tell me why you do not stir while the sugar water mixture is boiling?
Sugar crystals like to cling on to anything around them. Even though you can’t see the crystals once the sugar has dissolved, they are still there. Stirring at this point will entice the crystals to hook up with surrounding crystals which will make the sauce grainy.
My sugar clumped when I added the heavy cream why?
This can happen when pouring a cold liquid into hot melty caramel. To prevent this from happening, pour the cream in very slowly and whisk continuously while you do so.