Homemade caramel sauce is much easier to make than you think. Make this recipe for a sweet drizzle on an ice cream sundae or any dessert.
An American tradition for centuries, caramel is in a category all its own. The perfect companion for so many desserts and sweet sides, homemade caramel comes together pretty quickly. As David Lebovitz said, “this is more a technique than a recipe.”
Dip your fruit at your next fondue party or use this sauce in your favorite dessert for some extra sweetness. Or try caramel in some of my favorite desserts like Chocolate Butter Bars, Chocolate Monkey Bread, or White Chocolate Blondies.
There is actually just one ingredient needed to make a caramel candy, and that ingredient is sugar. As sugar slowly heats up to 340°F., the sugar molecules chemically change, break down, and caramelize.
In that form, it becomes soft, chewy candy. When you add butter and heavy cream to the cooked sugar, it becomes caramel sauce.
In addition to the technique mentioned above, there are two other ways to make it. You can make homemade caramel sauce with condensed milk or with corn syrup.
My preference is to make it is with heavy cream and melted butter. It’s rich, velvety smooth and perfect for adding to a salted caramel tart! If you would rather make caramel with condensed milk, the instructions are in the notes of the recipe card.
Making Homemade Caramel Sauce
Whichever recipe you choose, you really can’t go wrong with this divine concoction. Just be sure to watch and stir carefully so it doesn’t burn!
*Note: use a heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet when you make this recipe. It will distribute the heat more evenly, reducing the chance of the sauce scorching.
- White Sugar – This is the secret to this recipe’s color and flavor. You’re going to actually cook it alone until it browns to a deep copper, like a new penny.
- Butter – You can’t achieve the creaminess of this sauce without melting this into the browned sugar. Make sure the butter is at room temperature before you add it so it doesn’t cool the mixture down too much.
- Heavy Cream – This is another one you’ll want to have warmed or at least at room temperature so that when you add it the mixture will maintain the heat it needs to keep cooking and cooking.
- Vanilla Extract and Sea Salt – The final touches for flavor, you’ll add these at the end, after everything else has been mixed and melted together.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE CARAMEL SAUCE WITH CONDENSED MILK
Butter – This adds flavor and smoothness to the mixture. You’ll melt this directly into your pan as a sort of base.
Brown Sugar – Because of the molasses in there, using brown sugar will achieve a slightly different flavor and color compared to the other version.
Sweetened Condensed Milk and Corn Syrup – Using these two ingredients allows you to skip the step of browning the sugar and warming the cream. However, it does achieve a different flavor. If you like to avoid using corn syrup, go with the other version.
VIDEO: How to Make Caramel Sauce
To see the process from start to finish, check out the video included in the recipe card below. I have to warn you though, after seeing this delicious golden sauce take shape, you won’t be able to resist making some for yourself.
For the Dry Sugar Recipe:
- Cook the sugar over medium heat and watch as it goes through several color changes. Eventually, it becomes a perfect copper color. At this point, you’ll remove the pan from the burner.
- Melt the butter and add the cream. Whisk these in carefully, because the heat will cause the mixture to bubble and you do not want to be burned by this stuff.
- Adding the vanilla extract and sea salt is the last step. Make sure you allow everything to cool before transferring it to a storage container.
*In a sealed container, these sauces will keep well in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Homemade Caramel Sauce + Video
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream warm or room temperature
- 4 tbsp butter cubed, room temperature
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- Add the white sugar to a heavy bottom stainless steel skillet. Melt sugar over medium heat. It will go from white, to yellow, amber then light brown and dark, like a copper penny. Once a whisp of smoke starts, turn off the heat, move off burner.
- Carefully add the butter and whisk until thoroughly combined. Next add the heavy cream in batches and whisk thoroughly and vigorously. This will bubble up so be careful.
- Once caramel is smooth and mix thoroughly, add the vanilla and sea salt flakes, whisking again to thoroughly mix in.
- Allow caramel to cool before pouring in clean, sealed containers and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- 8 tbsp butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/8 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- In a heavy bottom saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter and add the brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup. Stir constantly for 5 minutes as sugar dissolves and sauce thickens.
- Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and sea salt flakes. Stir to incorporate. Sauce thickens as it cools.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.