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How To Make Homemade Caramel Sauce

Learn how to make quick and easy homemade caramel sauce recipe from scratch, with simple ingredients. No candy thermometer needed. It’s creamy and thick.

The recipe for this homemade caramel sauce comes from my Mom and almost all my other family members have been making it for years too. It is that good! It is sweet, smooth, creamy, and the best topping for everything from ice cream, to cupcakes, to pies. There are just so many ways to enjoy caramel so make sure to try this Caramel Frosting {3 Ingredients}, these Caramel Brownies (With Brownie Mix), or this Homemade Caramel Corn {Caramel Popcorn}.

How to make easy homemade caramel sauce recipe from scratch?

  1. Heat sugar and water– Until the mixture becomes golden brown.
  2. Add warm heavy cream– Mix thoroughly and simmer. 
  3. Remove from heat– Add the butter, vanilla extract, salt and mix.
  4. Serve warm– Enjoy!

What is the difference between caramel and caramel sauce?

Caramel is a soft chewy treat and can be eaten on its own as a candy, whereas caramel sauce stays thinner allowing it to be drizzled, or poured over other things.

Is caramel sauce and butterscotch the same?

There is a slight difference between the two, and that is the type of sugar used to make them. Caramel uses granulated sugar, whereas butterscotch requires brown sugar in its recipe.

How to thicken sauce? How to make it thinner? 

Thicken the sauce by continuing to cook it on the stovetop until it reaches the desired consistency. Note that as it cools down, it will thicken further. To thin out the sauce, stir in more heavy cream until it reaches the consistency you are looking for.

Why is my sauce grainy?

This means the sugar is crystallizing so it is becoming grainy.

Why did my sauce crystallize and harden?

As the sugar loses its moisture while being heated it can crystalize when it touches the “cold” sides of the saucepan causing it to become hard.

Why did my sauce separate?

This can be caused by the caramel going through a temperature change too quickly and is one of the reasons I suggest using warm heavy cream before adding it to the saucepan. When this quick temperature change occurs, the fat can separate from the sugar.

How to enjoy leftover caramel sauce?

Variations for best caramel drizzle for cakes and cupcakes

Make caramel syrup– Prepare caramel sauce normally and then, thin it out by adding extra heavy cream and mixing it together until you have a runny syrup-like consistency.

Add rum– For more depth of flavor.

Add bourbon– For a boozy version.

Add other extracts– Such as maple, bourbon, or almond extract.

Add other spices– Such as apple or pumpkin pie spice.

Salted caramel sauce– Add a pinch of salt for a salty and sweet version.

Make it spicy– add crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Please note a little goes a long way.

Add coffee– Add 1/2 tsp of instant coffee to make this sauce even more exciting and decadent.

Add chocolate– Melt in some quality chocolate at the end of making the sauce.

Tips and techniques for thick caramel filling

Don’t stir the mixture too much– Because as it splashes to the sides of the saucepan, the water evaporates leading to sugar crystal formation.

Does homemade caramel sauce need to be refrigerated? Yes, it needs to be refrigerated or else it will go bad.

What can I use in place of heavy cream? I have seen various recipes that use milk, evaporated milk, half and half, condensed milk, vegan milk (such as almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk), and buttermilk.

Work fast!– Have your ingredients ready to prevent the sugar mixture from burning.

Use a non-stick saucepan– Because this prevents the caramel sauce from burning and sticking to the pan.

Don’t replace granulated sugar with brown sugar– Because the flavor will be different and brown sugar is typically used to make butterscotch sauce.

Use unsalted butter– Because salted butter can make the caramel very salty.

Salt and vanilla extract are optional– Just note that they do enhance the flavor.

Storage 

Refrigerate– Store it in a sealed container or sealed jar for up to 1 week.

Freeze– You cannot freeze caramel sauce because it will separate when thawed.

More caramel desserts

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Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Learn how to make quick and easy homemade caramel sauce recipe from scratch, with simple ingredients. No candy thermometer needed. It's creamy and thick.
Yield: 1 Cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Heavy cream, Warm
  • 2 tbsp Butter, Unsalted
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract, Optional
  • 1/2 tsp Salt, Optional

Instructions 

  • In a non-stick saucepan, add sugar and water and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and becomes golden brown and sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Add warm heavy cream in the saucepan and mix thoroughly and let the mixture simmer for about 3 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and add the butter, vanilla extract, salt and mix until smooth.
  • Serve warm with pancakes, waffles e.t.c and enjoy!

Notes

  • Read all my tips above.
  • Leftovers can be stored in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

Nutrition

Calories: 933kcal, Carbohydrates: 135g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 44g, Saturated Fat: 28g, Cholesterol: 149mg, Sodium: 1331mg, Potassium: 59mg, Sugar: 133g, Vitamin A: 1640IU, Calcium: 52mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 933
Author: Abeer Rizvi

15 comments on “How To Make Homemade Caramel Sauce”

  1. Looks good enough to make me want to start mess’en in th kitchen at 2 am.5 stars

  2. This sauce is amazing in coffee and so user friendly! Thank you so much! I add a heaping tablespoon to my hot coffee in the morning and stir. Makes the coffee amazing! Thanks for the recipe! 5 stars

  3. What is heavy cream? Is it non dairy cream?5 stars

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