Salted Caramel Recipe

Delicious, creamy and rich salted caramel. Great for adding to buttercream or using as a filling for cake decorating. Drizzle over the top of your cake for added decadence.
↓ Recipe Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 20 mins
Serves: 28 oz
jar filled with creamy caramel sauce and a spoon covered in caramel

Rich, buttery, and creamy salted caramel sauce is made with a few simple ingredients and only takes 15 minutes to make! Drizzle it on your ice cream, use it as a filling for chocolate caramel candies, use it as a drip for your cakes, or even mix it into easy buttercream frosting for a cake filling! Caramel sauce also stores really well and makes an excellent gift.

jar filled with creamy caramel sauce and a spoon covered in caramel

Super smooth, rich in flavor, and incredibly cream, you won’t ever want to buy store-bought caramel sauce again after you try this recipe!

Making your own caramel sauce is so much easier than you’d think, and you really only need a few ingredients that you most likely may already have in your home. My favorite thing about this recipe? You can store it in the refrigerator for up to one whole month! Truly, this recipe is so versatile and you can get multiple uses out of it.

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

baking ingredients on a marble table

If you’ve never made caramel sauce before, it might be surprising to find out it is nothing more than hot sugar, cream, butter and salt that make the delicious and unique taste of caramel. The real trick to making caramel sauce is letting the sugar get a nice deep golden brown before you add in the butter. Most people under-cook their caramel. 

How to make caramel sauce step-by-step

You don’t need a thermometer to make caramel sauce but if you’re nervous about knowing exactly how long to cook the sugar for and you have a candy thermometer on hand, it’s nice to have. 

  1. Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup into a medium saucepan (larger is better than smaller) and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.water, sugar, and corn syrup into a medium saucepan
  2. Brush the sides of the pot with a clean and oil-free pastry brush dipped in water (preferably one you only use for water or sugar) to make sure all the grains of sugar are dissolved in the water.hand brushing the inside of a medium saucepan
  3. Cover the pot for 5 minutes while the mixture is simmering to further dissolve all the grains of sugar. medium sauce pan simmering with pot cover on
  4. Uncover the sugar mixture and attach your candy thermometer if you are using one. hand lifting the pot up from a medium saucepan that is simmering on stovetop
  5. Continue to let the sugar mixture boil continuously until it starts to deepen in color. This will take about 10 minutes. No need to stir your sugar, just let it do its thing. Once it starts getting golden in color don’t walk away! It goes from golden to burned very quickly towards the end. caramel sauce cooking in medium sauce pan
  6. Once your sugar reaches a deep amber color or 350ºF, remove it from the heat.candy thermometer sitting inside pot of cooking caramel on stove top
  7. Add a little cream (about 2 Tablespoons) to your hot cream while whisking slowly (it will bubble up and that is normal). Then add in the rest of your cream in a slow stream while whisking to combine.pouring and whisking cream into cooked caramel sauce pan
  8. Add in your butter, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk to combine until smooth and shiny. whisking butter into hot caramel sauce pan
  9. Allow your caramel to cool to room temperature before you use it. It will thicken as it cools. spoon dripping caramel sauce into sauce pan
pouring caramel sauce into small glass container

How to get a richer caramel flavor

If you want a caramel sauce that is rich in flavor, the best method to improving your homemade caramel sauce is to let it sit overnight. Letting your sauce sit overnight really allows the flavor to mature, and just one day of letting the ingredients sit together will make all the difference!

If you want to add additional flavors to your caramel sauce, you can infuse your caramel sauce with ingredients like bourbon or vanilla bean. After you have added in all of your required caramel sauce ingredients, you have the option to add 1-2 tablespoons of bourbon to get a whisky flavor, or even 1 vanilla pod’s worth of vanilla seeds to get a vanilla bean flavor.

Storing caramel sauce

After the sauce cools down, carefully pour the caramel sauce into a container and cover it tightly (using a lid, an air-tight canister, etc). Keep in mind that the caramel sauce will harden once it reaches a cooler temperature, so be sure that the container you pour your caramel sauce into is microwave-safe if you plan on reheating it. When you reheat it, heat it for no more than a few seconds at a time and repeat this process until it’s warm.

Caramel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 30 days after it is made. If you want to save your caramel sauce for more than 30 days, it can be stored in the freezer for up to 90 days in an airtight container (and you will want to use a microwave-safe container as well).

Tips to avoid crystallization

When you work with sugar, you may experience crystallization. When you boil sugar, the molecules inside move closer together resulting in a change of shape, texture, and color. This is the process used to turn sugar into caramel sauce. The problem you may encounter is when you over boil the sugar and the molecules move too close together, this results in crystallization. The longer you boil your sugar, the more water that evaporates leaving an opportunity for crystallization. This is where a candy thermometer can make your life a lot easier, and will help you ensure you do not over boil your sugar and you can create your desired caramel sauce.

FAQ

What is the difference between caramel sauce and dulce de leche?

While both caramel and dulce de leche are both cooked sugar and milk, the main difference between the two is true caramel sauce is made by cooking sugar until it’s a deep brown and then mixing it with cream and butter.

Dulce de leche is made by boiling sweet milk until the water evaporates and the mixture browns and thickens. Dulce de leche stays in a soft sauce-like state at room temperature but the caramel sauce will get thicker and firmer as it cools down.

Can you use this recipe to make caramel candy?

Although similar, caramel sauce and caramel candy are prepared differently. Caramel candy used inside candy bars or on caramel apples is typically cooked by combining the sugar, cream, corn syrup, butter, and salt all together and once and letting it cook until it’s thick and golden brown.

Should you stir caramel?

Stirring caramel while it cooks is not necessary. In fact, you really should NOT stir caramel while it’s cooking at all.

If you stir and agitate the caramel too much while it’s wet, this will result in clumpy caramel that starts to recrystallize (which will give you those pesky jagged edges and become more solid than liquid).

How do I make my caramel sauce thicker?

The key to thicker caramel sauce is adding more butter.

Extra tips for making caramel sauce

  • Use a super clean pot and utensils. Using items that are not completely clean can contaminate your sauce and cause it to crystallize.
  • Make sure you allow the sugar to get that deep brown color but don’t burn it.
  • Get all your ingredients ready before you start so you can move to the next step right when you need to. The sugar will be too pale one minute and too dark the next so keep your eyes on it! Don’t be tempted to add your ingredients too soon. You want a nice dark color but not burned. A darker color means a richer flavor.
  • I always have a batch of salted caramel in my fridge ready to go. It’s a decadent flavor that is well-loved by pretty much everyone and a little bit goes a long way.

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Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
jar filled with creamy caramel sauce and a spoon covered in caramel

Salted Caramel Recipe

Delicious, creamy and rich salted caramel. Great for adding to buttercream or using as a filling for cake decorating. Drizzle over the top of your cake for added decadence.
4.78 from 9 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Serves: 28 oz
Calories: 126kcal

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 14 ounces (397 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces (113 g) water
  • 4 ounces (113 g) corn syrup
  • 6 ounces (170 g) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces (227 g) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Equipment

  • Medium saucepan with a lid
  • candy thermometer (optional)

Instructions

Instructions

  • Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium to large sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. No need to stir.
  • Brush the sides of the pot down with a clean and oil-free pastry brush (preferably one only used for water or sugar) to make sure all the grains of sugar are dissolved.
  • Cover the pot with the lid for 5 minutes and allow the condensation to continue to dissolve all the grains of sugar on the sides of the pot that might cause your caramel to crystalize.
  • Remove the lid and attach a candy thermometer if you are using one.
  • Continue cooking the sugar until it's a deep golden amber color or the candy thermometer reads 350º (hard crack stage) This can take from 5-10 minutes so keep an eye on it to avoid burning.
  • Remove the sugar from the heat from heat and slowly whisk in a couple Tablespoons of the cream (it will bubble and steam) then continue whisking in the rest of the cream in a slow stream.
  • Add in your butter, salt, and your vanilla. Stir until creamy and smooth.
  • The sauce will thicken as it cools down. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator for up to a month or freeze for 6 months or more.

Notes

Use a super clean pot and utensils. Using items that are not completely clean can contaminate your sauce and cause it to crystallize.
Make sure you allow the sugar to get that deep brown color but don’t burn it.
A few tips for success. Get all your ingredients ready before you start so you can move to the next step right when you need to. The sugar will be too pale one minute and too dark the next so keep your eyes on it! Don’t be tempted to add your ingredients too soon. You want a nice dark color but not burned. A darker color means a richer flavor.
Store in refrigerator covered for up to a month.

Nutrition

Serving: 1oz | Calories: 126kcal (6%) | Carbohydrates: 14g (5%) | Fat: 7g (11%) | Saturated Fat: 4g (20%) | Cholesterol: 24mg (8%) | Sodium: 24mg (1%) | Potassium: 7mg | Sugar: 14g (16%) | Vitamin A: 270IU (5%) | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 7mg (1%)

25 comments on “Caramel Sauce Recipe

      1. Hi. Thankyou for your recipe. I just want to ask how can i store it. In +4 or in deepfreze. And can i refreeze it again when i use it? Thankyou

  1. I’m not sure why anyone had problems with the recipe. This recipe turned out exactly the way yours came out in your video. I also had my heat on medium high heat and never had an issue. I absolutely love this recipe and I’m in love with caramel sauce. Thank you again for all of your amazing recipes, tutorials and all the help you give us all the the time Lizzo. You rock my friend.

  2. 4 stars
    Great recipe! I didn’t watch the video and missed the part about putting the lid on the pan for the first 5 minutes. I don’t know if that will make a difference but so far so good!

    1. The lid just insures that all the grains of sugar are dissolved so that your caramel does not crystalize. I hope yours turned out 🙂

  3. One reason people may have had issues with sugar not desolving is from using utensils or pans that may have oil or grease on them. Make sure that all utensils and pans are oil free to start the carmilization process.

  4. Thanks for the exact recipes and the professional explanation I have tried a number of caramel recipes that are accurate and successful and thanks again

  5. 4 stars
    It taste delicious but my caramel never got thick it was to runny I put on top of a cake with some frosting decoration and they slided down it never got hard enough. I follow the directions to a t I even used a candy thermometer so not sured what happened.

  6. Can I mix this caramel sauce with your easy buttercream to make “caramel buttercream “ ?

      1. Thank you so much For sharing these wonderful recipes ! I’ll try it !

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe ands tutorial. I’ve tried several times to make caramel and always failed. This time, with your help, it came out perfect and delicious!

  8. Could you fill cupcakes with this or would that be too runny?

  9. Can you add more butter later? If you have a batch in the refrigerator and decide you want to fill a cake with it can you reheat it enough to melt more butter into it and allow it to cool again and then use it to fill your cake?

  10. 5 stars
    Was scared to try do to the hot sugar but glad I did as it turned out wonderfully and was pretty quick and easy in my opinion. The video helped as I was doing it. Thanks Liz!

  11. This tastes SO yummy!!!! How much of this would you add to your easy buttercream to be able to still pipe on cupcakes without the buttercream getting to runny?

    Thanks Liz! You’re the best!

  12. 5 stars
    The first batch was a disaster 😢 a awlful lumpy mess, I stirred it my fault I didn’t watch the video! The second batch was totally yummy as this time I watched the video and discovered no stirring!!! Can the sauce be jarred up for future use? If so would I have to heat it right up and put it into sterilised jars hot or cooled? If not can it be frozen?
    Thanks Toni 👍

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