Easy Caramel Sauce

This caramel sauce is to die for! It’s a classic homemade caramel recipe that you’ll make over and over again. I know because I’m doing it right now. Caramel sauce on all the things!

Homemade Caramel Sauce! Perfect for fall and holiday desserts!

Homemade Caramel Sauce for the Win!

You guys, it’s officially September. Can you believe it? Get ready for all things fall! I’m so excited for apples, pumpkin, and all the awesome flavors of the holidays! Bring it.

And yet I CANNOT believe it’s already September! Where has the year gone?! I feel like the end of the year is fast approaching and I’m totally not ready. Baking-wise, I say let’s do this. Life-wise, however – slow down!

Whatever. I’ll drown my disbelief in a jar of this caramel sauce. It’s so darn good it eases the pain of time flying by.

Homemade Caramel Sauce! Perfect for fall and holiday desserts!

Why Make Caramel Sauce from Scratch?

Last year I shared this brown sugar caramel with you and this year I’m taking it up a notch with a traditional recipe! This caramel sauce has a lovely rich flavor to it. It takes a little more care in making, but is totally worth it.

Homemade caramel sauce has better flavor and you know exactly what is going into it, so if you are not a fan of preservatives in your food then homemade is the way to go.

Only 3 Ingredients!

What goes into caramel sauce anyways? Here is a quick overview of the main ingredients. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.

  • Sugar – We are going to be using regular granulated sugar in this recipe.
  • Butter – Unsalted butter at room temperature is best. This way you don’t need to worry about an overly salty caramel sauce and can add a pinch of salt if you want later. I also have this salted caramel recipe you may want to check out.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – Make sure it is at room temperature. Don’t replace this with milk or half and half, you need the fat content from the whipping cream to get a smooth, creamy texture on the caramel sauce.
Homemade Caramel Sauce! Perfect for fall and holiday desserts!

How to Make Caramel

Ok let’s make some caramel sauce! Get ready to feel eminently fancy and elegant with practically zero effort.

Melt down the sugar. This may seem intimidating, but it really shouldn’t be. Melt it over medium-high heat and just watch it, whisking it as it goes. It’ll start to clump together first, then you’ll notice it start to melt. That’s when it gets exciting! The whole melting process should take about 10 minutes, give or take.

Let it caramelize. Once the clumps in the sugar are gone and it is completely melted, stop whisking and allow the sugar to cook a little more. Keep a very close eye on it. The color will turn to a deeper amber color and you should notice a nutty aroma. It’ll happen quickly! As soon as it does, you want to remove it from the heat. If you let it go too long, it’ll burn. Pressure, I know. But once you notice it really start to turn darker, just take it off the heat.

Add the butter. Whisk it into the sugar. It’ll bubble up, but keep whisking. The butter seems to resist coming together completely, but it will.

Next, add the heavy cream and again whisk until combined. There’ll be more bubbles, but then you’re done!

Cool for about 15 minutes. As your caramel sauce cools it will thicken up. I usually pour it into the jar I’m going to store it in, then spoon it out onto the dessert I’m serving it with.

Tips for Success

While this caramel sauce recipe is simple, it is also particular in that each step needs to be done correctly in order to avoid issues with the finished product.

  • Don’t use too much heat. It is important not to set your flame too high or your sugar will burn. I recommend no more than medium-high heat. Even medium heat will work if your stovetop tends to produce a very high flame.
  • Don’t walk away. The most common issue readers have with this recipe is with the sugar burning because it was not watched carefully. Since the sugar is melted using a “dry method” with no other ingredients, it can quickly go from melting to burning. So pay close attention to the sugar. For a simpler method, I do have this caramel sauce that uses water along with the sugar.
  • Whisk. While the sugar is melting, make sure you are moving the sugar about with a whisk or wooden spoon. I know most recipes say not to do this, but I find that if I don’t stir the sugar while it is melting then it tends to clump together too much. You will get some small sugar crystals on your whisk while you do this, but that is totally fine.
  • Use room temperature (or warm) butter and cream. It is extremely important not to add cold butter or cream to your melted sugar. If you add cold liquid the sugar will seize and become rock hard. Use room temperature ingredients, or even slightly melted butter and warmed cream. You can warm both the butter and cream briefly in the microwave.
Homemade Caramel Sauce! Perfect for fall and holiday desserts!

How Much Does This Recipe Make?

The recipe below makes about 1 1/2 cups of caramel sauce.

How to Store & Reheat Caramel Sauce

Pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Since the caramel with thicken as it cools, it is normal for your sauce to be quite stiff when you take it out of the fridge. The easiest way to warm it up is to place the jar in a small saucepan with hot water. There should be enough water to cover the jar halfway, and no more than 3/4 of the way. (You don’t want any water getting into the caramel sauce.) Let the sauce sit in the hot water for about 15 minutes, then give it a vigorous stir with a spoon and drizzle it on your desserts!

See Step-by-Step

Check out my new video showing you what the process looks like!


Read transcript

Recipes that Use Caramel

Be sure to check out my new Easy Salted Caramel Sauce too!

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Recipe

Homemade Caramel Sauce

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: About 1 1/2 Cups
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This easy caramel sauce recipe is to die for! It’s a classic homemade caramel recipe that you’ll make over and over again.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp salted butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature

Instructions

  1. Pour sugar into an even layer in a large saucier pan.
  2. Heat on medium-high heat, whisking the sugar until melted. The sugar will clump up first, but will eventually completely melt. This will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Once the sugar has melted, stop whisking. You can allow to cook until the sugar has turned to a little darker amber color to get a deeper caramel flavor, if you like. You may notice a nutty aroma. The change in color will happen quickly, so don’t let it go too long or get too dark or it’ll burn. Remove caramel from the heat.
  4. Add butter and whisk until combined. The mixture will bubble up, but keep whisking until all the butter has melted and combined.
  5. Slowly pour the heavy cream into the caramel and whisk until incorporated. I find it can help to add just a bit at a time until the caramel starts to thin out, then you can add the rest.
  6. Cool for about 10-15 minutes before using. Store leftovers in a jar with a lid. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 cup
  • Calories: 298
  • Sugar: 33.9 g
  • Sodium: 97 mg
  • Fat: 18.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 33.9 g
  • Protein: 0.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 52.9 mg

Keywords: homemade caramel, how to make caramel sauce, easy caramel, best caramel sauce

Categories

Enjoy!

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Recipe rating

202 Comments
  1. Sharizard

    Honestly this recipe is great, I used brown sugar though. First try I burned it but still tastes great, went back & tried again. Added a small amount of butter during the melting stage to prevent burning, unfortunately adding the cream temperature wasn’t quite right so it clumped up bad.. all was fine, back on the heat and whisking fast with a fork broke the clumps up well and now I have the most delicious caramel sauce with toffee like chunks.. 10/10 even when you screw it up it still tastes great

  2. Jessica

    I melted the sugar into a light amber color and when I added the butter it clumped up into hard rocks and wouldn’t incorprate. I stirred and stirred and stirred.. What did I do wrong?

    1. Lindsay

      The butter was too cool. That causes the melted sugar to seize. You could try partially melting the butter next time just to ensure that it’s not too cool. Sorry you had trouble!

  3. Elisma

    I cannot for the life of myself believe it took me this long to find such an easy and incredible recipe. I used well known home cooks’ recipes, it failed every time. I use yours first attempt, and it is fabulous! Thank you so much for this incredibly good and easy recipe, I used a cast iron pan with tremendous success and you were right, just keep stirring, caramel sauce have never been easier.

      1. Grandma K

        My 9 year old granddaughter loves caramel. I taught her this recipe, it was perfect. Butter definitely needs to be room temperature as recipe states.

  4. Carole Legault

    So, I started wisking the sugar in a big no-sick frying pan. I clumped up and stuck to the wisk, a wooden spoon and even in some parts of the pan. It also dried on my wisk so I couldn’t take it off the wisk. It was turning amber color so I decided to add the butter hoping it would help the sugar melt. Of course it didn’t. Now I’m at a loss of what to do next. Help!!!

    1. Carole Legault

      I fixed it and finished it. Yay!!! Had to add water, a little at a time until the boulders of sugar all disolved. It took quite a while but I persued. 100% delicious.

      1. Lindsay

        I’m glad you were able to save it! In the future, it will clump up like that while you’re stirring it but it will eventually melt. It’s best in my opinion to stir it to help it melt evenly. Make sure you aren’t heating it too quickly making some parts melt when others don’t before it starts to turn amber colored. Some people will tell you not to stir it while it’s melting, but I find that it’ll burn before everything melts evenly if I don’t stir it. I hope that helps.

  5. Carole Legault

    I’m going to make this recipe after this comment. Not sure if I have a full 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Can I add 2% milk to the cream and use that?
    I will let you know how it turns out.

    1. Lindsay

      If it’s just a little bit of 2% milk it probably won’t affect it too much. But heavy cream has a higher fat content so if you use something other than that, the sauce will be thinner. I hope it turned out well!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29