Homemade Caramel Sauce is quick, simpler than you’d think, and requires only three ingredients! Perfect for topping your favorite desserts with or for gifting during the holidays!
This post was originally published in October of 2018, but I just updated it with fresh new photos, including step-by-step photos!
Meet the new love of my life – Simplest Homemade Caramel Sauce. Kidding, kidding. This is, however, a fantastic and easy recipe that I’m super excited to share with you! It’s better than any store-bought caramel, and it’s not sickly sweet like some store bought caramel sauce can be.
What do I need to make Salted Caramel Sauce?
Let’s meet the cast of ingredients:
- Salted butter (I’ve tried it with unsalted butter too, and I have to say it’s not nearly as good without the salted butter.)
- Heavy cream
- Granulated sugar
- Flaky sea salt
That’s it! This super basic ingredient list creates something magical when cooked together. Let’s walk through how to make this.
How to Make Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce:
Start by adding the granulated sugar to a clean, dry nonstick pot. Cook this over medium heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely broken down into a coppery colored liquid.
The sugar will clump up and begin to melt. Just keep stirring until it’s completely broken down.
It’s almost ready here, but there are still some chunks of sugar left that you want to let melt before moving to the next step.
When it’s ready, it will look like this (below). Make sure all the chunks of sugar have completely melted or the caramel will seize up when you add the next ingredients, and it will not turn out.
Next, lower the heat a bit and whisk in the butter. Some of it will look a little separated out from the caramel, like in the photo below, but that’s fine. Just mix it all in the best you can, and then move on to the next step.
Remove the pot from the heat and slowly whisk in the heavy cream. If the caramel sauce feels a bit clumpy on your whisk at this point, that’s fine. It’s just the cold heavy cream solidifying a bit of the caramel sauce – it’ll melt back down in a minute when we return the pan to the heat.
Once the heavy cream has been mixed in, return the pot to the heat and cook, letting the caramel get nice and bubbly, for a minute more. Then, stir in a pinch of flaky sea salt, and you’re done! Let the caramel rest for about 10-15 minutes before using or storing it.
And, voila! You just made salted caramel sauce in just 10 minutes, without any fancy ingredients or extra equipment, like candy thermometers! It’s so versatile, too. Use it to amp up simple desserts, or in a dessert like this
Ways to use Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce:
Pumpkin Snickerdoodles with Rum Caramel – Our magic elixir is amped up a bit here with a splash of vanilla rum. It’s the best topping for these cookies!
Best Ever 5-Ingredient Brownies – Dress up these simple brownies with caramel sauce for an irresistible treat.
Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust – This cheesecake is such a fun alternative to Pumpkin Pie, and it’s delicious topped with caramel sauce.
Dutch Caramel Apple Pie – Make this pie and it will become an instant classic at your Thanksgiving dinner. There’s caramel in the pie AND on top – SO delicious!
Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies – Fudgy and rich, these brownies are studded with pools of melty salted caramel sauce and chunks of pretzels.
Caramel Apple Pull Apart Bread – Made with layers of pillowy soft bread, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, apple slices, and salted caramel sauce.
Salted Caramel Apple Galette – My Salted Caramel Apple Galette is full of spiced, tender apples wrapped up in a buttery, flaky crust and drizzled with homemade salted caramel sauce. If you like pears, try this sauce with my Pear Galette too!
Caramel Apple Turnovers – A tender, caramely, spiced apple filling is wrapped up in a blanket of golden brown, flaky puff pastry and topped with our magic elixir.
Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes – We’ve got a layer of rich, fudgy brownies, a layer of easy homemade hot fudge and crushed samoa cookies, and served with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel.
Homemade Apple Cider Donuts – Amp up this classic fall dessert with a drizzle of, well you know. Haha!
This recipe makes an easy homemade gift!
Homemade Caramel Sauce makes a great gift! Make a few batches and divide them between some cute jars. Pop a bow on top and you’re done.
Gift this to friends, neighbors, teachers, and anyone else you want to spread some cheer to this holiday season. This caramel happens to be gluten-free, which makes it a prime gift candidate for anyone with dietary restrictions.
I hope you love this caramel as much as I do! Happy caramel-making.
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
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Simplest Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp salted butter cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp heavy cream
- pinch of sea salt optional but recommended
- Prep: Set out all your ingredients before you begin - you don't want to stop to grab something while the sugar is cooking and risk burning it.
- Add the sugar to a medium saucepan (a nonstick works great). Cook the sugar on medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning any of it. For the first few minutes, it will seem like nothing is happening but eventually the sugar will begin to break down. After a few minutes, the sugar will melt into a coppery-caramely-colored liquid. (See time lapse video above to get an idea of what this process looks like!). Make sure all the little chunks of sugar are gone! If the sugar isn't completely liquified, the caramel sauce won't turn out. (See photos below for what this looks like.)
- Once the sugar has completely melted, immediately add the butter and reduce the heat slightly. Whisk or stir constantly until the butter is completely melted. If the butter separates a little from the caramel, don't worry. Whisk it in as best you can, and continue to the next step.
- Remove pan from the heat and slowly add the heavy cream, whisking as you add it. The caramel will bubble up here. (See note)
- Set the pot back on the heat for about a minute more, stirring constantly, to let it thicken up a bit. Remove from the heat, and let cool a bit. Add a pinch of salt if desired.
- Store: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 2 weeks. When using it out of the fridge, microwave it for 10-20 seconds to soften it back up.Yield: This recipe yields 1 and 1/4 cups of caramel sauce. The yeild field above won't let me add a fraction, but I estimate you could get about 8 servings if you were to divide it up for people to dip apple slices in, for example.
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