{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (2024)

Follow this easy recipe to make homemade caramel sauce – salted or not. It only takes 10 minutes and 5 simple ingredients. Then drizzle it on ice cream, cakes, pancakes, cheesecake, stir it into iced coffee, or use as a dessert dip for apples!

{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (1)

Right next to my homemade chocolate sauce, this homemade caramel sauce has got to be the easiest recipe ever. And it is pure Heaven!

Sure, you can buy caramel sauce at the store, but as with most foods, homemade tastes so much better and doesn’t have any added unnecessary ingredients. Plus, in the time it would take you to drive to the market, this caramel sauce would be done!

Ingredients for this Caramel Sauce Recipe

Sugar, butter, and cream are the essence of making caramel, but I also add water, vanilla, and salt, which play important roles.

  • Water helps the sugar dissolve, reduces the risk of burning, and heat more evenly.
  • Salt turns caramel sauce into salted caramel, which is amazing. I do use just a pinch though for regular caramel and add more for salted caramel. Salt is such a great ingredient and gives wonderful balance to sweet foods.
  • Vanilla is purely optional, but it really does elevate the flavor.

{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (2)

How to Make Caramel Sauce

You’ll add sugar and water to a heavy bottomed saucepan, allow it to dissolve and gently bubble for about 9 minutes until it caramelizes and turns a beautiful amber color. Then butter, cream, vanilla, and salt get blended in. The mixture is set aside to cool and then poured into a glass jar to cool completely. It will be thin and loose at first, but will thicken as it cools.

There are a few more specifics (and tips – keep reading!), but that’s the gist of it. So easy!

Do I need a Candy Thermometer?

Sometimes I use a thermometer and sometimes I don’t. You definitely don’t need one. If you have a thermometer and want to be very precise, the target temperature you’re after is between 338 and 350 degrees F. Above 350 degrees, it’ll start to smell burnt (and the finished sauce will taste bitter.) Below 338 degrees F, and you won’t be able to achieve the proper color and caramelization.

If you follow this recipe exactly, without deviation, all you really need is a good nose and set of eyeballs!

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Does homemade caramel sauce need to be refrigerated?

Yep! Because it has dairy (cream and butter), it will need to be refrigerated once it cools. You’ll reheat it, as necessary.

How to Store Caramel Sauce

After the caramel cools down, you’ll pour it into a lidded glass jar or container.

Store in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, up to 3 weeks, or freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, before using.

Caramel solidifies in the refrigerator so it needs to be reheated, either on the stove or in the microwave, until desired consistency is reached. Note: reheating the caramel will make it thinner and runnier.

Can I use this caramel sauce for caramel apples?

Unfortunately, no. This caramel is not thick enough to coat apples for caramel apples. But it sure makes a great dessert dip for apple slices!

{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (4)

Recipe Tips!

  • The utensils you use do matter. It is important to use either a wooden spoon or a heat-resistant silicone spoon to make the sauce.
  • Resist the urge to stir! As the sugar and water are heated, if you stir them, you’ll cause grains to form and it will not be smooth and creamy. Instead, you can gently swirl the pan over the heat if needed, but be sure not to let the caramel go high up the sides of the pot or this will make the caramel sauce crystallize and become grainy, as well.
  • What if my sauce does crystallize? Luckily, you don’t need to start over. Whew. Add a scant 1/4 cup of water and bring the sugar back to a gentle bubble. (Heating it up with the water should dissolve the crystals. Then proceed with the recipe until you get color on the sugar.
  • Use unsalted butter. Even if you want salted caramel sauce, I recommend using unsalted butter. This gives you better control over the saltiness of the finished product. For salted caramel sauce, I like to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but I recommend starting with 1/8 teaspoon and adjust to taste.
  • Stay put and be patient. Do not step about from the stove while the caramel is cooking. This sauce is super easy, but it can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes to thicken and turn that gorgeous amber color. Since you don’t know where your sauce will land in that window, you need to be paying close attention.

{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (5)

This caramel sauce is sweet and buttery and going to rock your world, trust me! You’ll likely never get store-bought again.

Uses for Caramel Sauce

It’s the perfect topping for so many things!

  • Poor it over ice cream.
  • Stir it into a Mocha Frappuccino.
  • Drizzle it over brownies or angel food cake.
  • Layered it in a chocolate trifle.
  • Use it as a dip for fruit.
  • Give it as a gift!

Watch the video for Caramel Sauce

I hope you love this delicious and easy recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full onFacebook,Instagram,Pinterest, andYouTube!

{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (6)

Easy Caramel Sauce

4.98 from 223 Ratings

Follow this easy recipe to make homemade caramel sauce - salted or not. It only takes 10 minutes and 5 simple ingredients. Then drizzle it on everything!

Print Recipe Rate Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 2 minutes minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes minutes

Cool down 10 minutes minutes

Total Time 22 minutes minutes

Servings: 10 (2 tablespoons per serving - 1 1/4 cups total)


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter ,cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt


  • Add the sugar and water to a 3-quart heavy bottomed saucepan; stir a little so it sits in a flat, even layer.

  • Warm pot over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves, turns clear, and starts to bubble. (It will be cloudy at first, but will turn into a clear, bubbling liquid.) This takes about 3-4 minutes.

  • (At this point, do not stir again - simply allow to bubble, swirl the saucepan occasionally and brush down the sides of the pan, as needed, to prevent crystallization.)

  • Sugar will form clumps, but continue swirling and cooking until the mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color like honey (this can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes), keeping a watchful eye so the mixture doesn’t burn.

  • Carefully add the butter and whisk until completely melted. (The caramel will bubble up rapidly, so be careful and continue to whisk.)

  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking continuously until all of the cream has been incorporated.

  • Whisk in the vanilla and salt.

  • Set aside to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

  • Then pour into a lidded glass jar and allow to cool completely. (It will thicken as it cools.)



  • Read the full article for recipe tips and watch the video!
  • Store in the refrigerator, tightly sealed, up to 3 weeks, or freezer for up to 2 months. (Caramel solidifies in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave until desired consistency is reached.)


Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 9mg | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 385IU | Calcium: 10mg

Nutritional information given is an automatic calculation and can vary based on the exact products you use and any changes you make to the recipe. If these numbers are very important to you, I would recommend calculating them yourself.

Other Notes

Course: Condiment

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Caramel Sauce, Caramel Sauce Recipe

Did you make this recipe?Snap a picture and mention @bellyfullblog!

{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (7)

{Quick and Easy} Caramel Sauce Recipe (2024)


How is caramel sauce made from scratch? ›

Combine brown sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan and bring ingredients to a boil. Remove thickened mixture from heat before adding (optional) vanilla extract. Let the caramel cool slightly before using. The result is an impossibly rich sauce that is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Can I use milk instead of cream for caramel? ›

Sugar, water, salt, and milk are the base ingredients for any caramel. Can I substitute milk for heavy cream in caramel? Absolutely! You can use any milk you have at home, whether whole, non-dairy, or evaporated, to make a deliciously creamy caramel sauce.

What are the two methods for making caramel? ›

Wet caramel is made by combining sugar and a liquid and cooking them together, while dry caramel is made from just sugar, heated in a dry pan until it liquefies and browns.

Why do you put butter in caramel sauce? ›

Once the sugar has all dissolved and turned brown, we add butter. The heat of the caramel will melt the butter and create even more wonderful flavors. Finally, after the butter has melted, we add heavy whipping cream. This will allow the mixture to be loose enough to be used as a sauce.

What is homemade caramel made of? ›

Heat sugar and water in a heavy-bottom, high-walled, light-colored skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is a deep golden amber color (caramel-colored) (this could take around 10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in butter. Whisk in heavy cream, stirring until smooth.

Is caramel just sugar and water? ›

Technically, the only ingredient you actually need to make caramel is sugar (although many recipes for caramel sauce also call for water, butter, cream, and a bit of salt to cut down the sweetness).

Does boiling a can of condensed milk turn into caramel? ›

This is a simple baking hack to create 'Carmel in a Can' (Dulce De Leche). It comes together super easy, all you need to do is take the label off a can of condensed milk, fire it into boiling water for about 3 hours (make sure it's fully under the water) and boom, it's ready to go.

What thickens homemade caramel? ›

For each cup (240 mL) of caramel sauce that you need to thicken, run 1 tbsp (14.7 mL) of cold water into a measuring cup, and slowly stir in 1 tbsp of cornstarch. Pour the cornstarch mixture into your pot caramel sauce, and stir constantly. Keep the sauce on low heat until it begins to thicken.

Why do you put condensed milk in caramel? ›

Because it contains a ton of sugar. An easy caramel/dulce de leche that students have made for many, many years: bring a pot of water to the boil, lower heat to low simmer. Put in an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk. Let it cook for at least a half hour, probably more.

Which method is quickest in caramel making? ›

For the "dry" caramel method, you simply heat the sugar in an empty pan until melted and caramelized. It's quick and direct, but the risk is that some parts of the sugar melt faster than others, and can burn before the rest had made it even to light amber.

What is the formula for caramel? ›

Explanation: The typical formula for caramels is C24H36O18 , so the elements of water have been removed from the sucrose.

Is white or brown sugar better for caramel? ›

The best caramel starts with regular granulated sugar. This refined white sugar is made from sugarcane or sugar beets, and it melts more evenly than unrefined sugars. Some recipes call for brown sugar as a shortcut because its dark color looks like caramel as soon as it melts.

What happens if you don't add butter to caramel? ›

Yes, you can make a caramel sauce without butter, but you have to add either water or... something else. If you use water, you'll get a pure caramel syrup that looks like honey.

What's the difference between caramel sauce and caramel syrup? ›

Caramel sauce is easier to mix and dissolve, and it also has a richer flavor because of the dairy / fat. If you want to use it to decorate your coffee (hot or iced) on top of the whipped cream, I'd recommend syrup because it holds well in lower temperatures and it is better to make drawings.

What is the difference in Carmel and caramel? ›

Generally, “caramel” is defined as a chewy, light-brown candy made from butter, sugar, and milk or cream. For example: I love eating caramels because they are soft and chewy. In contrast, “Carmel,” is used as a proper noun, and it is a popular beach town in California, known as Carmel-by-the-Sea.

How was caramel originally made? ›

Most believe caramel was created more than 1,020 years ago in 1000 AD by Arabs mixing sugar and water to create a crystallized liquid. Funny enough, the original caramel was not believed to be enjoyed as a sweet treat but rather used as a beauty product.

Does homemade caramel get hard? ›

If the temperature gets too hot and the caramel becomes too hard as it cools, you can put it back in the pan with a couple of tablespoons of cold water to try and save it.

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