The Best and Easiest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
The Best Salted Caramel Sauce — This homemade salted caramel sauce is creamy, buttery, rich, thick, smooth, and blows away anything you’ll ever buy. Best of all, it’s done in 15 minutes!
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.
I’ve tried lots of recipes and methods, and I’ve found this is the best, easiest, least fussy way to make homemade caramel sauce, and it’s ready in 15 minutes. The easy caramel sauce is creamy, buttery, rich, thick, smooth, and blows away anything you’ll ever buy. You’ll never want store-bought again, which is usually thin, runny, and lackluster in flavor.
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 homemade caramel sauce doesn’t taste overly sweet.
Salted caramel sauce makes great gifts and keeps for months, but I doubt it will last long enough to give away.
What’s in Salted Caramel Sauce?
To make this homemade caramel sauce, you’ll need:
- Granulated sugar
- Corn syrup
- Heavy cream
- Vanilla extract
How to Make Caramel Sauce
To make salted caramel sauce, 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.
Then just whisk in the cream, vanilla, and salt, and dig in!
Can I Make Caramel Sauce Dairy-Free?
Having never made dairy-free salted caramel sauce, I can’t say for sure if a non-dairy alternative will work in place of the heavy cream. If you find a method that works for you, please leave me a comment so I can try it for myself!
What Type of Salt Should I Use?
I used regular table salt, but you can also use kosher or sea salt. Just note that salt with larger flakes tastes less salty than table salt, so you may have to play around with the amount you add in.
How to Store Homemade Caramel Sauce
You can keep this salted caramel sauce at room temperature for up to a month. If you’re planning on giving it away as gifts, use your best judgement when figuring out how far in advance to make the sauce.
Tips for Making Salted Caramel Sauce
The tiny bit of corn syrup in this recipe helps prevent the homemade caramel sauce from crystallizing, but you can omit it if desired.
While making this salted caramel sauce, 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.
There are pleasant vanilla undertones in this easy caramel sauce, 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.
Here’s how to make caramel sauce from scratch!
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- As soon as the sauce has turned caramel-colored, reduce the heat to low.
- Very carefully and slowly, add the cream. Stand back because mixture will bubble up considerably.
- Optionally, and very carefully, add the vanilla and salt, to taste. Stand back because mixture will bubble up again.
- Whisk until sauce is smooth and combined, and let it boil another 1 minute, which helps thicken it up.
- 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.
Before starting in on this recipe, tie up your hair, put your phone down, and 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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 62Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 0g
Recipes That Use Caramel Sauce:
Salted Caramel Buttermilk Brown Sugar Muffins — These easy, one-bowl, no-mixer muffins are soft, wonderfully moist, and the crumb has the perfect balance of density and lightness.
Peanut Butter Twix Caramel Bars — In these bars, there’s buttery shortbread, rich and dense peanut butter, sweet and intense caramel, and smooth dark chocolate.
Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies — Salty-and-sweet, soft and crunchy. If you enjoy contrasting flavors and textures, these easy blondies are just for you!
Caramel Apple Sheet Pan Pancakes – Craving pancakes but not the work of standing at the stove flipping them? Make these EASY sheet pan pancakes!
Caramel Macchiato Banana Bread – Banana bread that tastes like a caramel macchiato!! Soft, tender, infused with salted CARAMEL and topped with a brown sugar glaze!
Caramel Apple Crumble Foil Packs – EASY, zero cleanup, made on the grill (or oven) in record time, and tastes amazing!! Juicy apples, chewy crumble topping, and luscious salted caramel…SO irresistible!!
Caramel Cream Poke Cake — Poke cakes are always supremely moist and this one reminds me of a cheater’s version of Tres Leches Cake because it’s sweet and creamy.