Homemade Caramel Sauce is quick, easier than you’d think, and comes together in just 10 minutes with 4 ingredients! It’s the perfect topping your favorite desserts or a lovely homemade holiday gift.
This post was originally published in October of 2018, but I just updated it with fresh new photos, including step-by-step photos!
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- 10 Minute Recipe – This Salted Caramel recipe takes just 10 minutes – once you’ve made homemade caramel, and you see how easy it is, you’ll never go back!
- Simple Ingredients – This recipe uses just 4 basic ingredients – butter, sugar, heavy cream, and salt. There’s no candy thermometer involved here, like in some caramel recipes!
- Incredibly Versatile – Add my salted caramel sauce to ice cream sundaes, cakes, cobblers, cookies, and SO many desserts to amp them up!
As always, the full recipe is found at the bottom of this post.
- Granulated sugar – Use granulated sugar for best results. I haven’t tried this with other sugars. And, if you use brown sugar, you’ll end up with butterscotch, not caramel. See my Butterscotch Cake recipe for how to make butterscotch sauce!
- Butter – I always use salted buter for the best flavor, and I’ve made my salted caramel sauce with both unsalted and salted butter, and it’s MUCH better with salted. But, you can use unsalted butter if you prefer.
- Heavy Cream – Use full fat heavy cream for best results.
- Flaky Sea Salt – I love Maldon sea salt flakes, but you can use any similar brand. You can use a pinch of regular table salt if you can’t find flaky sea salt.
- Dairy-free – I haven’t made this recipe dairy-free, but I’ve heard that it works with dairy-free butter sticks, and coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
How to Make this Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Cook the Sugar. Start by adding the granulated sugar to a clean, dry nonstick or heavy bottom pot. Cook this over medium heat on the stovetop, stirring lazily with a wooden spoon as the sugar melts, until it’s completely broken down into a deep amber-colored liquid. As the sugar cooks, it will clump & begin to melt (top right photo below). Continue stirring until it’s completely broken down.
It’s almost ready in the bottom left photo, but there are still some clumps of sugar left that you want to let melt before moving to the next step. When all the sugar dissolves, it will look like the bottom right photo. 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.
Step 2: Add the Butter. Next, lower the burner to medium-low heat, and whisk the butter into the melted sugar. Some of it will may look a bit separated out from the caramel, but that’s fine. Just mix it all in the best you can, and move on to the next step.
Step 3: Add the Heavy Cream. Remove pot from the heat and 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.
Step 4: Finish the Caramel Sauce. Return the pot to the heat and cook over medium heat, 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. This mixture will thicken as the caramel cools.
This is truly the best salted caramel sauce! Use it to top any and all desserts to take them up a notch. It’s one of my favorite recipes to gift – pop it into a little jar with a ribbon for a beautiful homemade holiday gift. It’s better than any store-bought caramel, and it’s not sickly sweet like some caramel can be.
Expert Success Tips:
- Recipe Yield – When it comes to candy making, it’s typically not recommended that you double a recipe. I haven’t ever made a double batch of my salted caramel sauce, so I would err on the side of caution and say to make a few separate batches if you want more than 1 and 1/4 cups yield.
- Read the Recipe First – Salted caramel sauce is simple to make, but it helps to familiarize yourself with what to expect at each step before beginning, especially if this is your first time making it.
- Vanilla extract – Feel free to stir in 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract at the end of the recipe, along with the sea salt.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Allow caramel to cool 10-15 minutes after cooking before storing in a glass jar or similar container in the fridge. Store in the fridge for up to a month. Caramel will become more solid in the fridge, and you’ll need to microwave it for 30 seconds or so before using.
- Whisk – This is my favorite whisk!
- Mason Jars – A small mason jar with a ribbon tied on is the perfect way to gift this caramel.
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Recipes to Use this Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe with:
- Dutch Caramel Apple Pie
- Homemade Apple Cider Donuts
- Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust
- Caramel Apple Turnovers
- Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodles with Rum Caramel
- Salted Caramel Apple Galette
- Best Ever 5-Ingredient Brownies
- Caramel Apple Pull Apart Bread
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
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. They don't need to come to room temperature first, but if they sit out for a few minutes before you start, that's ok too.
- Melt the Sugar: Add the sugar to a medium saucepan (a nonstick works great). Cook the sugar on medium heat, stirring lazily. 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 photos above). Make sure all the little chunks of sugar are gone! If the sugar isn't completely liquified, the caramel sauce won't turn out.
- Add the Butter: 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.
- Add Heavy Cream: Remove pan from the heat and slowly add the heavy cream, whisking as you add it. The caramel will bubble up here. (See note)
- Finish: 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 add a pinch of flaky sea salt, to taste. Let cool 10-15 minutes before using.
- Serve & Store Store: Store cooled caramel in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month. When using it out of the fridge, microwave it for about 30 seconds to soften it back up, so it's pourable.Yield: This recipe yields 1 and 1/4 cups of caramel sauce. The yield 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, as an example.