Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

Salted caramel sauce is the coolest kid in class, am I right? It’s the quarterback of the football team… the head cheerleader. When salted caramel is at a party, everyone wants to be there. While food crazes like macarons and cake pops are certainly deserving, I think salted caramel has some serious staying power. There is nothing about the combination of sweet and salty that will ever go out of style. I have completely embraced the salted caramel phenomenon; some of my favorite recipes include: Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie BarsSalted Caramel Popcorn, Pretzel & Peanut BarsSalted Caramel BrowniesSweet and Salty BrowniesSalted Caramel Cashew BarkSea Salt Caramels with Vanilla BeanSalted Caramel Ice Cream.

The salted caramel possibilities are truly endless, especially when you have a no-fail, go-to homemade¬†salted caramel sauce recipe. I’ve found the simplest method to be the best when making caramel sauce. In 15 minutes, and with only four ingredients, you can have smooth, creamy, salty caramel sauce. Below you will find tips for making the best caramel, and a step-by-step recipe with photos.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

Caramel can be intimidating, but the more you make it, the more you will get a feel for the look and the smell, and it will become second-nature. For those just starting out, here are a few tips:

  • Stir the sugar initially to help it to melt evenly, but stop once it has completely melted to keep it from seizing.
  • If you’re new to caramel-making, you may find a thermometer will help to guide you. The caramel should reach 350 degrees F on an instant-read or candy thermometer. If you aren’t able to obtain a thermometer, you can use visual cues for doneness. The caramel should be a deep amber color and should have just started to smoke. The line is very fine here. If you don’t cook it long enough it will be too sweet with little depth of flavor, but cook it too long and it will be burnt and unusable. Once you’ve done it a few times and see the color and can experience the smell when the thermometer hits 350 degrees, you will have a better idea of how to eyeball it when you don’t have a thermometer.
  • Be sure to use a saucepan that is larger than you think you might need. When you add the butter and the cream, the caramel will bubble up violently.

[Note: Many of you have commented that you think 350 degrees F is too hot to make a caramel sauce, however, I’ve tested and re-tested and compared to other recipes and have confirmed that yes, you want to hit 350 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.]

Now that you have a jar of the most amazing salted caramel sauce, what can you do with it? The short answer? Anything and everything!

Drizzle it over ice cream. Swirl it into brownies and cheesecakes. Use it as a dip for apple slices. Stir a spoonful into hot chocolate. Put it in pretty jars and give it as gifts. Whip it into buttercream frosting. Eat it by the spoonful. There is no judging when it comes to salted caramel!

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

One year ago: Top 10 List: Favorite Cupcake Recipes
Two years ago: Polenta French Toast
Three years ago: Coconut Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Yield: 2 cups of sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

This easy salted caramel sauce will change your life! It's perfect to keep in the refrigerator for ice cream sundaes, or package it up and give it as gifts!

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)

Directions:

1. Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan, with a capacity of at least 2 or 3 quarts. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You'll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that's okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.

2. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

(The lighting doesn't depict the color perfectly in the photo above, but if you look to the left side, you will see there is some darker caramel underneath - this was the predominant color at this point.)

3. As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

4. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Insanely easy and perfect to keep on hand for ice cream sundaes or to package for gifts! | browneyedbaker.com

5. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into your favorite glass jar and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. You'll want to warm the sauce up before using.

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462 Responses to “Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce”

Comment Pages 1 2 3 7
  1. Victoria on May 22, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Hello! Your blog is my favorite food blog, keep up the wonderful recipes! I was wandering, is that 12 tbsp butter or a typo?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Victoria, Nope, not a typo!

      Reply

      • Tamela on February 4th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        I noticed the 12 tbsp of butter was a typo. What is the correction?
        thank you

        Reply

        • Michelle on February 4th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

          Hi Tamela, It is not a typo – the recipe indeed calls for 12 tablespoons of butter.

          Reply

          • wendyworldly on December 10th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

            Hi Michelle
            Just wondering why you would measure it as 12 Tbsp when it could be more easily measured as 3/4 cup?

            Reply

            • Tessa on December 16th, 2014 at 11:36 am

              A lot of butter comes with tablespoon measurements on the packaging. She might measure butter by the tablespoon. Some people go by cups and others by the stick (12 tbsp=1 1/2 sticks=3/4 cup). Doesn’t really matter.

  2. Averie @ Averie Cooks on May 22, 2012 at 2:12 am

    I love caramel sauce and have made my share of burnt messes but when it’s right and the boiling sugar gods love me, all is well. Your caramel looks SO GOOD!

    Reply

  3. Jolene @ Yummy Inspirations on May 22, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Looks amazing… would be amazing drizzled over a little fruit to balance the sweetness!

    Reply

  4. Coleens Recipes on May 22, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Beautifully illustrated, just perfect!!

    Reply

  5. Kathryn on May 22, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Thank you so much for posting this, it looks amazingly rich and delicious!

    Reply

  6. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on May 22, 2012 at 5:02 am

    What a great recipe. I can’t wait to try this. Looks delicious.

    Reply

  7. Natasha on May 22, 2012 at 5:22 am

    I love this, because I have a very very similar post for basic salted caramel sauce sitting in my drafts waiting for me to press “publish”!!
    I love it. Its just the best when it cools and thickens up in the fridge and you can eat it with a spoon.
    Great step-by-step photos, too!

    Reply

  8. Blog is the New Black on May 22, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Can’t wait to try!

    Reply

  9. Sues on May 22, 2012 at 6:25 am

    Oooh yum! It’s absolutely beautiful! I have a feeling I’d have a major problem not drizzling this on EVERYTHING!

    Reply

  10. Tanya Schroeder on May 22, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Slated caramel is best!! I’m thinking this would make a great teacher gift!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Ooh, yes, Tanya, that’s a great idea! Perfect for the holidays, too!

      Reply

  11. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on May 22, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Perfect topping for cake, cheesecake, or ice cream. My mouth is watering already! Can’t wait to try it.

    Reply

  12. Jennifer on May 22, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Currently caramel is my archenemy in the kitchen. I’m not giving up, mind you, but it has beaten me down a few too many times. Seeing this post, I’m thinking that maybe I should give it a try again. I really, really love caramel even if it isn’t my friend.

    Reply

    • KateB on June 8th, 2013 at 9:51 am

      I feel your ‘friendship’ with caramel.. I’ve tried it at least a dozen times.. 2x it actually came out :) going to try this one.

      Reply

    • Nicola on August 30th, 2013 at 5:20 am

      If you add a tablespoon of water it slows the heating process down just slightly so you are less likely to burn it :)

      Reply

    • Robyn on November 14th, 2013 at 1:38 am

      I understand that it is a little hard but in class we learned that if you add water at the start then it’ll take longer because all the water needs to evaporate.
      The best way I can describe how to do it is to have all the sugar in a separate cup and gradually add it all in. when the first layer has melted it’ll be a medium amber (it’ll still be really sweet) but as you keep adding the remaining sugar (be sure to do it in small amounts or you’ll end up with a huge clump of sugar) it’ll gradually get darker. after it reaches desired color add the cream (at room temp) in the same fashion but before you add the last bit remove it from the stove.
      the reason why we do cream first is because butter burns if the temp is too high and can solidify the caramel (I did that my first time, tasted like toffee lol)
      after all the cream is added pour it into a metal bowl and allow to cool to 25-30 degrees Celsius and then add very soft butter (not melted) it tastes delicious and my class has yet to mess it up.

      Reply

      • Angela on December 17th, 2014 at 12:39 am

        I did exactly what you said and the caramel sauce came out perfect. Thank you!

        Reply

  13. Katrina on May 22, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I’d like to have a swim in this stuff!

    Reply

  14. Emily @Sweet Bella Roos on May 22, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Mmmmm this looks delish!! This pregnancy I have been LOVING caramel… just might have to try this!!

    Reply

  15. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables on May 22, 2012 at 9:13 am

    thanks for this michelle! I really struggle with caramel so I think I will buy a thermometer and give this a try!

    Reply

  16. Meghan @ After the Ivy League on May 22, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I’m still a little intimidated by making my own caramel, but your instructions are great, so maybe it’s time I try it. And thanks for reminding me about your salted caramel popcorn, pretzel, and peanut bars! I need to make those sometime soon :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      Oh Meghan, Those bars are to-die-for! Definitely make them soon!

      Reply

  17. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Pepper on May 22, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Oh, I have never made caramel sauce, I’m to afraid to! I’d pour it over everything!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with that :)

      Reply

      • Kerri on December 9th, 2014 at 3:36 pm

        I hope there’s nothing wrong with that. Because I’ve made this recipe and it’s AH-Mazing …and I did eat it with almost everything I ate for a week!!! Oops!

        Reply

  18. Lauren on May 22, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I could drink that stuff down no prob….

    Reply

  19. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I love caramel, I can eat it by spoon, love that this one is salted!

    Reply

  20. Jenn on May 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I can’t wait to get back on the horse!! (I’ve tried only once) I was a little too gun shy and it turned out way too light in color and sweet… but now that I have your recipe and step by step photos I feel confident! Thank you! Also – I was once told to heat the cream on the stove top (not boiling) next to the caramel and it will reduce the violent-nes (is that a word?) of the bubble up when adding the cream.. Oooh.. I better make some today so I can be prepared for whatever is coming next :0) You had me at buttercream!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Jenn, I never warm my cream, but I do leave it to sit at room temperature, I will be sure to add a note about that above. Thank you for reminding me!

      Reply

  21. Stephanie on May 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

    hehe Eat it by the spoonful. Don’t mind if I do!

    Reply

  22. Beth Cook on May 22, 2012 at 10:09 am

    You just killed my diet and I haven’t even eaten any. :(

    Reply

  23. Jenn on May 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Do you have a hot fudge sauce recipe too? Was thinking of giving coldstone giftcards with a small jar of caramel and a small jar of hot fudge to my sons’ teacher as an end of year gift.

    thank you!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      Hi Jenn, I don’t have one yet, but it is coming!

      Reply

      • Cynthia on December 29th, 2012 at 9:07 am

        I’m a hot fudge fanatic. You might want to take a look at Recchiuti’s hot fudge sauce recipe and Baked’s malt chocolate sauce recipe for inspiration and experimentation. Also, have you ever tried an infrared thermometer? Just shoot the beam of light at the sauce and get an instant reading – no mess, no worries. Also excellent for checking the temp of the oven. For me they have made candy and sauce making and chocolate tempering so much easier and far more precise.

        Reply

  24. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on May 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I could literally eat salted caramel with a spoon; it’s my absolute favourite! Great step by step pics. I have yet to make it with butter, so I will definitely give this version a try!

    Reply

  25. Mercedes (Satisfy My Sweet Tooth) on May 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

    This sounds fabulous and thank you for the very helpful caramel-making tips and photos! I am also a lover of salted caramel anything!

    Reply

  26. Maria on May 22, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I want to drink this!

    Reply

  27. Laura Dembowski on May 22, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Love salted caramel. This looks great. Saw you ask on Twitter if you should post it or not. Glad you decided to!

    Reply

  28. Kristen M. on May 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Ahhhhhh salted caramel…I will never quit it! The color on your sauce is perfect. I am always looking for a winning method so I will definitely try yours out.

    Reply

  29. Tracy on May 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

    This looks amazing and I love how simple it is. I still have never made it at home and this will be the recipe I use!

    Reply

  30. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on May 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I want to eat this with a spoon :) Can’t wait to see what you do with it to make it into buttercream frosting!

    Reply

  31. Villy @ For the love of Feeding on May 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I could definitely eat it by the spoonful!

    Reply

  32. Tracey on May 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve only tried the dry method once and I had really great results. Not sure why I didn’t go back to it… I’m excited to give this recipe a try! Salted caramel is the best :)

    Reply

  33. Rachel @ Bakerita on May 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    This looks amazing. I feel like I always use a different caramel recipe each time I make it, but it’d be nice to have one to always use, and this looks perfect!

    Reply

  34. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious on May 22, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    So glad you did the tutorial! I will have to try this soon!

    Reply

  35. Paula on May 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    This caramel sauce looks wonderful and thank you for telling us how long it will keep in the fridge. Appreciate that.

    Reply

  36. Mimster on May 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Made this today – OMG, the best and easiest caramel I have ever made. Will be my go to recipe from now on! Thanks for a great post!

    Reply

  37. Jenny D on May 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    Do you think I could use Sucanat? Its all I have in the house but I do happen to have some left over heavy cream that I need to use it or lose it!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Jenny, You could try it, but I have no idea how it would turn out. It would be much sweeter, since it looks to be more of a brown sugar than regular white granulated sugar. I would recommend using white sugar, if you can.

      Reply

      • Jenny D on May 25th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

        Update! I tried sucanat and I think it would have worked, had I not burnt it! I burned it in the beginning but followed through anyway. It had a nice flavor until the burnt flavor crept in :P Then I tried white sugar and it burned before it hit 350. So my third attempt I ditched the cast iron dutch oven and used an All-Clad and turned the heat down then off just after 300 and its pretty good! Still a slight burnt tinge but not enough for us to stop eating it by the spoonful. I will definitely keep playing with it to see where I can catch that darn spot where it starts to burn. Maybe I need a new thermometer!

        Reply

        • Michelle on May 26th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

          Hi Jenny, I’m glad it eventually worked out! My guess is that because cast iron retains heat so well, it got much hotter than a typical stainless steel pan.

          Reply

  38. Jenn and Seth on May 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    oh my god this is amazing. i am definitely making this next time i make vanilla ice cream!

    Reply

  39. Venesa on May 22, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    This makes me want to purchase an ice cream maker even more! Imagine this drizzled over vanilla or coffee ice cream….drool!

    Reply

  40. Lauren@LittleYellowKitchen on May 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Since it’s in a mason jar, does that mean I can drink it!? All I need is a straw :) Looks great and I always love when the simple version is best!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Yes, drinking it is perfectly acceptable :)

      Reply

  41. Lisa {Sweet 2 Eat Baking} on May 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I recently made caramel for the very first time when making my latest creation (on my blog). I used a different recipe using condensed milk and it came out perfectly but I’m so glad I saw this post as I can see where it’s so easy to go wrong.

    This sauce looks so delightful. I can’t wait to try it and then think of ways I can add it to almost everything I eat! :)

    Reply

  42. Tracy {Pale Yellow} on May 22, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Beautiful sauce! What a great staple to have on hand!

    Reply

  43. Emilie on May 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I just made this and it turned out fabulous! I’d been thinking about trying the “dry” method for making caramel, just to see how it compared to the “wet” versions I’d made before. I decided to take the plunge tonight so I could take little jars of it to two friends tomorrow. And I’m happy to say that I’m officially a “dry” convert! I think it was less time consuming, plus for some reason it seemed like it was easier to tell when it was “just right” without edging too close to burning it. So thanks so much!!!

    Reply

  44. Kim Bee on May 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    This is fabulous. When I first saw the photo I thought it was a straw. I was thinking “finally someone who likes caramel as much as me”. Lol. Great recipe.

    Reply

  45. Amber on May 22, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I totally want to stick my apple in that beautiful jar and drench it in your homemade salted caramel sauce….my mouth is watering…. oh yea…. :)

    Reply

  46. RisaG on May 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Salted Caramel is amazing stuff. I adore it. You are making me seriously hungry and I just finished dinner.

    Reply

  47. Victoria on May 23, 2012 at 12:17 am

    I just made this, and even though It’s overdone it’s amazing! Thanks for the great recipe! A warning to fellow readers though: don’t get your stove too hot or else it will get to 350F before you’re done whisking.

    Reply

  48. Christy @ {noelle grace designs} on May 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Looks delicious! I’m thinking a mocha base with this frosting would be divine (kinda like a Salted Caramel Mocha from St@rbucks). I’m partial to vanilla beans so I may try it on a vanilla bean base as well. :)

    Reply

  49. Ann on May 23, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    So I’ve made salted caramel sauce several times, but this was my first attempt at the dry method. Oddly, even though I was trying to wisk the sugar as it melted, all the sudden I had very amber colored melted sugar at the bottom while half of it hadn’t melted! Needless to say, by the time I got it all melted (within like a minute or 2?) it was already the right color, but of course it seized up pretty bad when I added the butter and the cream. I salvaged a decent amount of it and I know it’s still going to taste amazing, but I lost a pretty big quantity of sugar to the bottom and sides of my pan :( Not sure why this happened so quickly. When I’ve used the wet method it’s taken 10-20 minutes to get amber-colored. I’m going to blame my old electric stove. Maybe I should keep the heat much lower next time?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      Hi Ann, The dry method takes a lot less time than the water and sugar method. That being said, I constantly have trouble cooking on electric stoves. They take longer to get to temperature and then maintain, making it very difficult to truly control temperature if you need to bump it down. Next time I would try lower heat and see if that helps.

      Reply

  50. Jessica on May 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Hi! Love your blog!
    This looks and sounds absolutely delicious, and I would love to try it. However, I am very new to baking and I don’t know if I could handle this. What do you think?
    Should I just give it a try or keep working with simpler recipes?

    Also, are there any tips you have for new bakers trying to become experts? Any recipes that are good starters?

    Thanks you so much!!
    Jess

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      Hi Jessica, Absolutely give it a try! If you just keep making simpler recipes, you won’t get experiment with anything else ;-) The worst that will happen is the sugar will burn. If you’re nervous, halve the recipe so if it doesn’t turn out the worst case scenario is you lose 1 cup of sugar. Not so bad! As for tips – just keep trying new recipes. The more time you spend in the kitchen, the more confidence you’ll have, and the more you’ll start to understand how the ingredients are working together. If you’re trying a new or more challenging recipe, do some Googling, see if there are variations, any common problems that people run into, etc. The biggest thing is just trial and error. Happy Baking! :)

      Reply

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