This five-ingredient Caramel Sauce recipe comes together in a matter of minutes. It tastes phenomenal with almost every dessert. Drizzle it over some ice cream, add some to your morning coffee, swirl it into cheesecakes, or dip some apples in it.
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Why Caramel Sauce Works
I’ve often been disappointed when looking for caramel sauce that doesn’t have artificial flavors and colors. To make things more complicated, the bottle labels are full of obscure ingredient names.
That’s why I’ve gone to great lengths to create my homemade version. A recipe with which I can nail the flavor every time using simple ingredients.
Here are a few reasons why you’ll love it,
- It’s liquid gold in a jar. This Caramel Sauce is deliciously sweet, slightly salty, buttery rich, and silky smooth. It’s a lot of things in one small jar.
- Quick and simple. Making caramel sauce at home is much easier than you’d expect, and you’ll never want store bought again once you try it. Even at your slowest, this recipe comes together in 15 minutes.
- It’s universal. Although you may make the sauce for a specific dessert recipe, the leftovers won’t go to waste. You can have it with some apple slices or keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. But I’m sure you’ll find an excuse to use it because it’s just that yummy.
If you love our homemade caramel, be sure to try our homemade chocolate syrup next. Your ice cream sundaes will thank you!
Just 5 simple ingredients needed to make the best caramel sauce ever! Be sure to scroll down all the way for exact measurements.
- Heavy Whipping Cream
- Granulated Sugar – White sugar gives the sauce its beautiful amber color when it caramelizes.
- Light Corn Syrup – It helps you caramelize the sugar more evenly and slowly.
- Butter – Make sure you use unsalted butter because being able to control the salt in the recipe is very important. The balance of sweet and salty is what makes the sauce taste so good.
- Kosher Salt – Don’t skip it. The salt perfectly balances the intense sweetness of the caramelized sugar.
- Caramelize the sugar mixture. Boil the cream and keep it aside. Then in a heavy-bottomed pan, add sugar and corn syrup.
- Boil. Heat it until the mixture starts to turn light brown.
- Add Cream. Mix in the cream and cook for 2 minutes.
- Let it cool. Let the caramel cool for 15 minutes. Then mix in the butter and salt until completely combined.
Tips and Tricks
- Keep an eye on the sauce. This recipe requires constant supervision as the mixture can easily go from a beautiful amber to deep brown to burnt. Also, if the sauce gets overcooked, it will be rock hard like candy, and you’ll have to start over. When you start cooking the sugar mixture, it will have a slight yellow hue, and then it will start to deepen. Don’t get distracted when you’re working on this recipe!
- Use a heavy-bottomed pan. It helps the sugar cook evenly as there is equal distribution of heat. An aluminum pan may heat quickly, but even heat retention is most important for this sauce.
- Heat the whipping cream. Hot cream prevents splashing when it is added to the hot sugar mixture. When cold cream is added, it splashes all over, which can cause burns.
- Resist the urge to stir. If you stir the sugar mixture, it can splash up the sides of the saucepan resulting in the evaporation of the moisture and the sugar crystallizing. This will cause the sauce to be grainy. I would recommend gently swirling the mixture periodically while heating.
- Fix grainy Caramel Sauce. Pour the grainy sauce into a clean saucepan with 2-3 tbsp of water. Stir and bring it to a boil until all the sugar crystals dissolve. Once it’s smooth, remove it from the heat.
- Be very careful. Working with sugar can cause burns if you’re not attentive. So, be calm and cautious while working with sugar.
Butterscotch Vs Caramel Sauce
You may be wondering, what is the difference between caramel vs butterscotch?
There are two major differences between Caramel Sauce and Butterscotch Sauce:
- Cooking: Caramel sauce is made with white (granulated) sugar and gets caramelized, sometimes with liquid if using the wet method, and then other ingredients are added in. In addition, the butter is added during the last step in my recipe. Butterscotch is made with brown sugar, and you combine/cook all the ingredients together.
- Flavor: The butterscotch usually has a deeper flavor than the caramel sauce due to the molasses in the brown sugar. It is usually sweeter than caramel as well.
Yes. You can absolutely make it ahead and store the Caramel Sauce in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Make sure the sauce has completely cooled down before storing it.
Corn syrup prevents the caramelized sugar from turning into hard candy. It keeps the caramel from turning grainy while cooking. It also prevents the caramel from turning hard in the refrigerator.
That’s completely fine. It will be thick after refrigeration. To reheat the caramel sauce, place the desired amount in a microwave-safe dish and reheat while stirring at 10-second intervals in between. The sauce can also be reheated on the stovetop over low heat while constantly stirring.
More Easy Dessert Recipes
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a small saucepan, bring heavy whipping cream to a gentle boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and corn syrup. Heat over low heat, without stirring, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil and turns an amber or light brown color. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Whisk in the warm heavy whipping cream a little at a time, and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Pour into a bowl and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- Cut butter into Tablespoons. Add butter and salt to the caramel mixture, whisking until completely combined.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.
- Storage: This caramel sauce will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. It will be thick after refrigeration. To reheat, place the desired amount in a microwave-safe dish and reheat at 10-second intervals, stirring in between. The sauce can also be reheated on the stovetop over low heat.
- Heating the sugar and corn syrup, do not walk away! This step requires constant supervision as the mixture can go from a beautiful amber color to deep brown when it gets over cooked. If the sauce gets overcooked, it will be rock hard like candy and you will have to start over. It takes about 10 minutes from the time you start heating the sugar mixture until it begins to brown. It will have a slight yellow hue and then deepen. I would recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes and keeping a watchful eye.
- What is the difference between butterscotch sauce and caramel sauce? Cooking: Caramel sauce is made with white (granulated) sugar and gets cooked, sometimes with liquid if using the wet method, and then other ingredients are added in. In addition, in our recipe, the butter is added during the very last step. Butterscotch is made with brown sugar, and you combine/cook all the ingredients together at once. Flavor: Due to the molasses in the brown sugar, the butterscotch usually has a deeper flavor profile than the caramel syrup. It is usually sweeter than caramel as well.
- Why do we heat the cream? Hot cream is used to prevent splashing when it is added to hot sugar mixture. This can happen when cold cream is added instead.
- What is the purpose of the corn syrup? Using corn syrup prevents the chemical reaction that turns the sugar into hard candy. It keeps this caramel soft, even after refrigeration. It also prevents the sauce from being grainy.
- Why shouldn’t I stir the mixture while heating? Stirring the sauce while heating can cause some of the mixture to splash up the sides of the saucepan resulting in the evaporation of the liquid and the sugar crystalizing, which will cause the sauce to be grainy. We suggest gently swirling the mixture periodically while heating.