The Best and Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

I love caramel sauce and could literally eat it by the spoonful.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, it’s fast and easy to make.

The Best & Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Ready in 15 minutes & tastes 1000x better than any storebought sauce ever could!

I’ve tried lots of recipes and methods, and I’ve found this is the best, easiest, least fussy, and it’s ready in 15 minutes.

The caramel sauce is creamy, buttery, rich, thick, smooth, and blows away anything you’ll ever buy. You’ll never want storebought again, which is usually thin, runny, and lackluster in flavor.

MY OTHER RECIPES

The Best & Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Ready in 15 minutes & tastes 1000x better than any storebought sauce ever could!

To make it combine sugar and water with a tiny bit of corn syrup (reduces the likely of crystallization) and whisk until smooth. Then just let the mixture boil away until it turns caramel-colored.

Depending on what size pot you use and the conductivity, the boiling time could range from about 5 minutes on the low end to about 10 to 12 minutes on the high end. I have an electric stove and because I always use a pot much larger than I ‘need’ as insurance against bubble-overs, boiling usually takes about 10 minutes.

The final stage where the sauce turns from pale amber to that perfect shade of caramel can go quickly, in less than 30 seconds, so keep a watchful eye and don’t let it burn. Super stinky and you’ll have to start over.

The Best & Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Ready in 15 minutes & tastes 1000x better than any storebought sauce ever could!

Then whisk in cream, vanilla, and salt. I love salted caramel and for salty-and-sweet treats, and always add a pinch of salt to my caramel. Even if you don’t want it ‘salty’, a pinch of salt helps balance the sweetness so the sauce doesn’t taste overly sweet.

There are pleasant vanilla undertones, which are heavenly for a vanilla fiend like myself, but the vanilla can be omitted or swapped with bourbon, rum, Grand Marnier, or a favorite liqueur.

The alcohol burns off quickly, and it’s a mere 1 tablespoon for the whole batch, and what remains is an extra layer of subtle flavor.

The Best & Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Ready in 15 minutes & tastes 1000x better than any storebought sauce ever could!

The Related Recipes below highlight some of my favorite ways to use it including Carmelitas, Salted Caramel Buttermilk Brown Sugar Muffins, or Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies. It’s great on No-Ice-Cream-Maker Salted Caramel, Bourbon, Nutter Butter and Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Or just eat it by the spoonful. No shame.

It makes great gifts and keeps for months, but I doubt it will last long enough to give away.

The Best & Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Ready in 15 minutes & tastes 1000x better than any storebought sauce ever could!

The Best & Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Ready in 15 minutes & tastes 1000x better than any storebought sauce ever could!

The Best and Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

I’ve found this salted caramel sauce to be the best, easiest, least fussy, and it’s ready in 15 minutes. The sauce is creamy, buttery, rich, thick, smooth, and blows away anything you’ll ever buy. Even if you don’t want it ‘salty’, a pinch of salt helps balance the sweetness so the sauce doesn’t taste overly sweet. There are pleasant vanilla undertones, but the vanilla can be omitted or swapped with bourbon, rum, Grand Marnier, or a favorite liqueur. Depending on your pot and stove, the boiling time could range from about 5 minutes on the low end to about 10 to 12 minutes on the high end. The caramel sauce makes great gifts and keeps for months, but I doubt it will last long enough to give away.

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon light-colored corn syrup (can be omitted but helps reduce crystallization)
1/2 cup whipping or heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, optional (or substitute with bourbon, rum, Grand Marnier, or a favorite liqueur)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste (for a true ‘salted caramel’ sauce, I use 1 teaspoon)

Directions:

  1. Tie up your hair, put your phone down, get small children out of the kitchen. Have all the ingredients in place including hot mitts and a glass jar or heat-safe container nearby. You’re working with boiling sugar and your full attention on the recipe is necessary.
  2. In a medium to large saucepan (use a pan much larger than you think you’ll need because the sauce will bubble very vigorously at the end), add the sugar, water, corn syrup and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Allow the mixture to boil for 5 to 12 minutes, or as necessary, for it to turn caramel-colored, at which point it will likely be smoking slightly. The final stage where the mixture turns from pale amber to that perfect shade of caramel can go quickly, in less than 30 seconds, so keep a watchful eye and don’t let it burn. Super stinky and you’ll have to start over. Throughout the boiling time, you can swirl the pan gently every minute or two if necessary, but the less the sugary mixture gets on the sides of the pan, the better in preventing crystallization in the final sauce.
  4. As soon as the sauce has turned caramel-colored, reduce the heat to low.
  5. Very carefully and slowly, add the cream. Stand back because mixture will bubble up considerably.
  6. Optionally, and very carefully, add the vanilla and salt, to taste. Stand back because mixture will bubble up again.
  7. Whisk until sauce is smooth and combined, and let it boil another 1 minute, which helps thicken it up.
  8. Transfer sauce to glass jar or heat-safe container (easiest to pour into a 2-cup measuring cup and then easily pour into glass jar). Allow sauce to cool uncovered to room temperature; sauce thickens considerably as it cools. Sauce will keep airtight at room temp for at least 1 month, although will likely last much longer; use common sense if giving as gifts with storage considerations.
Only Eats

Related Recipes

Dark Rum Caramel Sauce – Step-by-step photos, rum optional but it sure makes things more fun

No-Ice-Cream-Maker Salted Caramel, Bourbon, Nutter Butter and Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

No-Ice-Cream-Maker Salted Caramel, Bourbon, Nutter Butter and Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream - Pairing dessert with booze. Dangerously easy with rivers of salted caramel woven throughout! No words.

Carmelitas

Carmelitas - For the serious caramel lover, these soft and chewy bars are dripping with caramel and stuffed with chocolate! Easy one-bowl, no-mixer recipe at averiecooks.com

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars (GF)

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars - Easy Recipe at averiecooks.com

Salted Caramel Buttermilk Brown Sugar Muffins

Salted Caramel Buttermilk Brown Sugar Muffins - Soft, fluffy muffins that are dripping with salted caramel! Best breakfast ever!

Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars (almost no-bake)

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

10-Minute Homemade Hot Fudge – Thick, rich & supremely fudgy! So fast and easy you’ll wonder why you haven’t always been making it at home!

10-Minute Homemade Hot Fudge - Thick, rich & supremely fudgy! So fast and easy you'll wonder why you haven't always been making it at home!

Marshmallow Caramel Oreo Cookie S’Mores Bars – No campfire needed to enjoy this version of Smores with caramel, an Oreo crust & lots of gooey marshmallows

Marshmallow Caramel Oreo Cookie S’Mores Bars - No campfire needed to enjoy this version of Smores with caramel, an Oreo crust & lots of gooey marshmallows!

Pistachio, Salted Caramel, and Oreo Dark Chocolate Bark

Pistachio, Salted Caramel & Oreo Dark Chocolate Bark - Salty-and-sweet & so good! Dangerously easy & make in 5 minutes!

Chocolate-Covered 7-Minute Microwave Caramels – The recipe really works and they’re the best caramels ever

Chocolate-Covered 7-Minute Microwave Caramels - Never fear candy-making again with this no-candy-thermometer recipe made in the micro. Rich, buttery, soft & chewy. The best & easiest caramels ever! Perfect for Valentine's Day!

221 comments on “The Best and Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce”

  1. This looks so easy, and I have all the ingredients in my home! I tried to make caramel, but I did something REALLY stupid.. it was taking a while so I just watched TV for a while until I smelled something burnt. So I will try making caramel again with this recipe! :)

    • And that is exactly why I wrote what I did in step 1 of the directions! With caramel, you can NEVER take your eyes off it or get distracted even for a minute or two, because that’s when it will burn and the smell is just horrendous!

  2. I’ve always been afraid of making my own caramel sauce after hearing horror stories about it crystalizing, burning, or boiling over and making a mess, but your method sounds fool-proof, even for a kitchen stove klutz like me! I was making fudge last Christmas to give away as gifts, and since I hadn’t made any in a year, I accidentally used a smaller pot than I should have… It was pretty tense there for a few minutes as I tried to keep the liquid right at the rim without toppling over! ;)

  3. Okay seriously, this is just too easy to not make. And once I make this, you know I’m slathering this on anything and everything. Hell, I’ll drink it right out of the container!

    • It’s kind of like balsamic reduction. Once you make your own, it really is pretty amazing how easy it is. This is a little more complicated than balsamic reduction, but same concept :)

  4. hey averie
    last night i made caramel ice cream and wanted to swirl in some homemade caramel sauce but what was supposed to be the sauce ended up as an amber block.
    the recipe i used is a lot like this one but it didnt have water; it had butter instead. do you think the butter made it thicker? im kind of reluctant to try this one bc all the caramel recipes i’ve tried either got burnt or turned really thick after 2 to 3 mins.

    • I think you’re overcooking/overheating. In order to keep caramel in the liquid/pourable consistency range, the temperature can’t get as hot as it would as if you were making solid caramel candies. And if yours is turning into a block, you’re way overcooking/overheating it. Ease up on the heat and duration, and I think things will go more smoothly for you!

  5. Hi Averie,

    I want to make the “millionaire bars” or the “twix bars” on your site. (the one with the shortbread crust, caramel and the chocolate.)

    My ? was that do you think I can use this caramel recipe for the caramel part for the bars? Would it be too salty or the flavor be balanced?

    **Thank you so much in advance. :)

  6. I want to make these as gifts for my housewarming party. Will it change anything if I make this in a larger quantity at one time?

    • I’ve never tried it as a bigger batch. I would hate for it not to turn out as a bigger batch so don’t want to blindly say oh go ahead…I think you will be okay, but not speaking from personal experience. Let me know how it goes!

    • I have the same question, did you try a larger quantity? Please let us know.

      • I typically only make the recipe as written and don’t make more than listed so can’t speak to making larger amounts.

      • I make this recipe 5 times in the past few days. I planned to make caramel sauce for my neighbors as Christmas gifts.
        The first batch I made exactly as the recipe stated, and it turned out perfect. The second day I attempted to double the recipe, but it failed miserably. The third attempt was at another double batch, and it also failed miserably.
        Then I went back to the recipe as written, and the next two batches were perfect.

      • Thanks for the feedback on doubling the recipe and that you had two fails but 3 successes when you made the recipe exactly as written. VERY good to know!! I have never attempted a double batch and many people have asked about it, so now we know. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi, This sounds great. Is it think enough that I could use it for caramel apples?

  8. I’m looking for a caramel recipe that can be stirred into iced coffee, but everything homemade so far solidifies and sinks to the bottom. Do you think this recipe might work ?

    • Cold coffee (or cold liquid) will cause most any real caramel sauce to just get hard/cold/sink. The only way around it is to use ‘cheap’ caramel ice cream sundae sauce in a squirt bottle and it will dissolve more easily since it’s not really true ‘caramel’.

    • I use dulche de leche for iced coffee. Works fine!

  9. I use a recipe just like this but I heat the salt, vanilla, and cream to just below boiling as it lessens the bubbling up of the cream when added to the sugar. A great recipe. Stores in the fridge too. If there’s any left!!

  10. Made this tonight for some apple tarts. Turned out amazing! Well the second batch did, make sure you watch it very close five seconds can make the difference. My first batch was not terrible, just a little bit of that burnt sugar flavor. The second batch was perfect! Oh and I definitely suggest the full amount of salt. My family loved it! I was a hero tonight! Thank you!

    • Yes with caramel even 5-10 seconds can do it because it’s SO HOT that all that carryover heat is still cooking it at such a high high temp and so every few secs can really impact things, even after you shut the burner off. Glad it came out great for you on the second time and that you’re a hero. And p.s. slightly burnt caramel is really trendy in food right now. I don’t get it, but hey, it’s trendy :)

  11. I just made this for the first time!! I’m so excited! It was just perfect and so yummy! The only thing is, after cooling, it seemed to have some butter melted around it. Did I not stir hard enough? Never mind, I’ll make it again for sure! Loved it on our chocolate tacos and vanilla Ice cream!

    • Sometimes it can separate, like anything homemade that’s not run through commercial machines or with tons of preservatives and chemicals, separation in caramel sauce is totally normal. It doesn’t ALWAYS happen, but sometimes it does and that’s just the way it goes. Glad it was a big hit for you!

  12. This is awesome!!!! Would I be able to add salted butter to this recipe without ruining it?

  13. Tried this recipe today! It was amazing and so easy. You tips about keeping your eye on it and watching for the color change were super helpful! Can’t wait to share the sauce with others. Thank you!

  14. I love caramel but have never been able to make a caramel sauce successfully. I tried this recipe last night and it tastes delicious, much better than I’ve ever made before, but I left it to cool and when I came back it was very, very hard. Like a hardened soft caramel candy. Any ideas as to why, or tips?

    • Any ideas as to why, or tips? = Yes, you are over-cooking it and/or letting the internal temp get too high so you are making caramel hard candy vs. soft caramel sauce. You may want to invest in a candy thermometer since you’re prone to this and google caramel sauce temperature (and there will be things like the soft ball stage, hard ball stage, etc.) and just be sure not to go above what’s recommended.

  15. Do you think I can substitute the granulated sugar with brown sugar? I’m trying to eliminate the first one from our diet. Thank you!

    • Because this is caramel and you’re working with scalding hot sugar, I haven’t tested the recipe to know if brown will be an okay substitute here. It may be, it may not be…I just haven’t tried it to know.

  16. I’m willing to make my own caramel sauce (hate the store bought honestly). Just one thing – I don’t think we have corn syrup here in Italy. How do you think – maple syrup would work fine? Thanks, have a good day!
    xx

  17. It will keep airtight at room temp for one month? Can it be kept in the refrigerator? If I make it as a gift, I’d like to be 100% sure so I can let people know. Thank you.

  18. what size mason jars did you Use?

  19. Averie – this was my first time ever attempting caramel. It turned out perfect!!! But what I really want to thank you for is all of the warning, tips, and descriptions of what to expect. If your recipe had not mentioned to expect the bubbling, expanding, etc I would have assumed I screwed up, or been too nervous and would have abandoned it. Also the tip to watch carefully for the color change was bang on! All of your extra tips were so greatly appreciated.

  20. hello! Just made this and it’s delicious! Just wondering if you recommend storing it in the fridge? Thanks!

    • Glad you’re happy! I store it at room temp. I actually think you do more harm storing it in the fridge because of the condensation and it can crystallize but store as you see fit and what you think is best.

  21. Have you ever used sea salt instead of regular salt? Is this possible?

    • You can use sea salt but because of the coarseness of the grain compared to table salt, you may need to play around with the exact amount to make sure the saltiness level of the caramel comes out like you want.

  22. great recipe. Does this sauce need to be refrigerated once opened from its airtight state? I will be making this for a craft fair and want to label storage instructions. Thanks!!

    • I personally don’t store it in the fridge and prefer room temp but since it’s a homemade product with no preservatives, everyone should use common sense and do what they think is best. Enjoy!

  23. Made this last night! Awesome awesome awesome!

    I doubled the recipe and it worked wonderfully.

  24. What alcohol did you use? Do you have a favorite?

  25. This didn’t work for me. SO DISAPPOINTED! I did everything the instructions told me to do, and not even 5 minutes into the sugar boiling, the consistency suddenly changed and became thick. Then, almost immediately, it all clumped together and solidified as hard white sugar. I was going to give this as Christmas gifts! What did I do wrong???

    • You let the internal temperature of the mixture get too hot, too fast, and you make rock candy :) Not liquid caramel sauce. I would use lower heat, and a heavier bottomed pot if you have one, and definitely take it off the heat BEFORE you think it’s going to that change. All pots and stoves are different so it’s hard for me to say exactly what that moment will be but you’ll know it by experimenting.

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