This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

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.

A jar of caramel sauce with caramel dripping down the side and a spoon sitting next to the jar.

This recipe requires only a handful of ingredients and is a friendly option for the budget-wise. It tastes amazing, it’s better than store-bought, and is simple enough to whip up a batch any time you have a recipe that calls for caramel sauce.


How do you make caramel sauce from scratch?

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!

Homemade caramel sauce being drizzled in a tall mason jar with a light blue napkin behind it.

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.


What are the ingredients in caramel?

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.

Some recipes call for corn syrup but it isn’t needed when using the wet caramel method.

This is my absolute favorite thick caramel sauce recipe. It’s wonderful on top of so many different treats.

Drizzle it over double chocolate brownies. Use it to make salted caramel frosting and caramel sweet potato pie. Serve it over the top of apple cinnamon scones. The possibilities are endless!

After you’ve mastered this recipe, you should try making this easy caramel sauce in the microwave!

Homemade caramel sauce bring drizzled over a scoop of ice cream in a white bowl.

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.

How do you thicken caramel sauce?

Caramel sauce typically thickens as it cools. If your sauce is too thin after cooling, you can simmer it on the stove. Let the sauce cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. The excess liquid will evaporate and the sauce will be thicker.

How long does homemade caramel sauce last?

Caramel sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator. It can be warmed for a few seconds before use.

It can also be frozen. Place in a freezer-safe container once it has cooled and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and warm before serving.

Did you try this recipe? I would love for you to leave me a 5-star rating or comment. This way, I have a better understanding of which recipes you like and can create more of them.

Please take a moment to follow me on InstagramPinterestFacebookYoutube or sign up for my free newsletter to never miss the newest recipes and blog updates.

You can also shop my favorite baking tools. Thank you so much for your support!

Homemade caramel sauce bring drizzled over a scoop of ice cream in a white bowl.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

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.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) water
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt, optional

Instructions

  1. Add the water and sugar to a 5-cup stainless steel saucepan. (Non-stick cookware is not recommended for this recipe.) Heat over medium-high heat until it begins to boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and insert a candy thermometer. (You don't need a thermometer, but it is a great tool for inexperienced caramel cooks.) Do not stir the sugar as it boils.
  3. As soon as the mixture reaches 330 degrees F, watch for it to turn a deep amber color and immediately remove it from the heat. Take care not to let it go too far because it will burn. Carefully and slowly pour the cream into the caramelized sugar while whisking. The caramel will bubble up and is extremely hot. Continue to whisk until all the cream has been added and is mixed in thoroughly.
  4. Whisk in the butter, vanilla, and salt (if using). Set the pot on a wire rack to cool completely before transferring to a glass container for storage.

Notes

Make sure the heavy cream isn't super cold. Let it sit out for a few minutes before you begin making the sauce.

Add a full teaspoon of salt to make salted caramel sauce.

Make ahead tip

  1. Caramel sauce will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container stored in the refrigerator. Caramel can be warmed for a few seconds before use.
  2. Caramel sauce also freezes well. Place in a freezer-safe container once it has cooled and freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and warm before serving.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 20mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the values shown are just an estimate.

Tried this recipe? Share it on Instagram!

Mention @introvertbaker or tag #introvertbaker!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

85 Comments

  1. Can the caramel sauce be canned?

    1. I haven’t tried canning it and I’m not very familiar with proper canning procedures.

  2. This is waaaaay to sweet. I felt like I got cavities just by trying it from my finger ? I think I will do half the sugar next?? the taste was good I didn’t have a stainless steel pan ? my caramel was very light and I had it boiling for a good while but no sugar clumps so it wasn’t a complete fail lol

    1. Caramel sauce is going to be sweet because the main ingredient is sugar that’s cooked until caramelized. If you half the sugar you’ll need to half the rest of the ingredients as well. This won’t reduce the sweetness, it’ll just reduce the amount of sauce you get. A candy thermometer is your best friend when making caramel. If you boil it until it reaches 330°F the color will turn darker. There’s a video in the recipe to show you how to make it.

  3. Barbara J. Zellmer says:

    330 degrees F – is that right? I got it up to about 270 F. It turned a nice brown color – and was a hard lump of sugar.

    Will try again at a lower temperature.

    1. Hi Barbara! 330°F is right. Sugar won’t even begin to melt until reaches 320°F and it doesn’t begin to caramelize until it reaches 330-360°F. If you follow the recipe exactly as it is, it will work. I make this sauce ALL THE TIME.

  4. Can whole milk be substituted for heavy cream

    1. I don’t recommend using regular milk in place of cream for this recipe.

  5. Sallie lopez says:

    Can you use this Carmel for Carmel apples?

    1. This caramel is a sauce. It can be used as a dip for apple slices but it won’t “set” as hard caramel over apples.

  6. This sounds amazing and I was literally just looking for a caramel recipe! Does it freeze well? I can’t allow myself to consume all of this in a 2 week timeframe!

    1. I haven’t frozen it myself but typically caramel sauce will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm before using.

  7. Chuck Finnley says:

    Found this via Pinterest. Just made the caramel sauce today. It’s so good. I had to exercise a lot of self control to not keep taste tes Iting.

  8. Can you tell me why you do not stir while the sugar water mixture is boiling?

    1. Stirring will cause the sugar to stick to the sides of the pot and can crystalize. This could make your caramel gritty.

  9. My sugar clumped when I added the heavy cream why?

    1. The cream will drastically reduce the temperature of the melted sugar if you pour it in too quickly. This can cause it to clump. Pour the cream in slowly while whisking continuously and this should resolve the problem.

    2. Also, you can keep cream in a small pan on low heat while the sugar/water mix is cooking to help it from being too cool when you add it (if you don’t have time to bring it to room temp).