Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
This quick and easy homemade salted caramel sauce recipe requires only four ingredients, takes just 15 minutes, and comes out perfect every single time.
It’s absolutely divine on ice cream sundaes, can be used in any recipe calling for caramel sauce (hello, salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bars!), makes a wonderful hostess gift, and, most importantly, is delicious straight from the spoon (feel free to drop an extra spoonful in your coffee!).
The salted caramel possibilities are truly endless, especially when you have a no-fail, go-to recipe. I’ve found the simplest method to be the best when making caramel sauce – a pan, a whisk, and just a few simple ingredients is all you need.
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Caramel Sauce
It’s easy to understand why people fall in love with a homemade salted caramel sauce; it’s not as cloyingly sweet as store-bought versions and has a much greater depth of flavor.
It doesn’t take much time or many ingredients to churn out a batch in your own kitchen and I guarantee you’ll be addicted! Here are the highlights:
- Quick: It only takes 15 minutes to get a smooth, creamy salted caramel sauce.
- Simple: You only need four ingredients and no fancy equipment.
- Lots of help: There are expert tips on making the recipe, as well as a video to guide you.
These four ingredients undergo a magical transformation and result in the most amazing caramel sauce you’ll ever taste.
- Sugar: Regular white, granulated sugar.
- Unsalted Butter: Use the best butter you can, it makes such a difference in flavor! I love Kerrygold and highly recommend it. I use unsalted butter so that we can completely control the salt content in the sauce. If you can only use salted butter, you can do so but add only 2 teaspoons of the flaky sea salt, then taste and add more if desired.
- Heavy Cream: This is best at room temperature so it incorporates into the sauce properly. Heavy cream can be labeled in many different ways depending on the fat content; you can also use whipping cream, heavy whipping cream, light whipping cream, or double cream. Do not substitute milk, it is not thick enough for making this sauce.
- Salt: I highly recommend using flaky sea salt like fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt. If you need to substitute regular table salt, use only 1 teaspoon, or the sauce will be much too salty!
How to Make Salted Caramel
Caramel sauce 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.
Here’s a quick rundown of the process:
- Sugar goes straight into the saucepan (no water!) and is melted over medium heat, while you stir constantly. The sugar may clump at first but it will all eventually melt.
- Continue cooking until the melted sugar is a gorgeous amber color, then add the butter and whisk until it is completely melted.
- Remove the pan from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream, then stir in the salt. Your caramel sauce is done!
No Candy Thermometer Required
It is not necessary to use a thermometer when making this caramel sauce; simply using visual cues will work perfectly!
The sauce may seem thinner than you’d expect when you’re done whisking everything in, but it will thicken as it cools.
Recipe Success Tips
Below are a number of tips to help you make the most amazing caramel sauce!
- Prep Your Ingredients: Have all of the ingredients measured, at room temperature, and ready to go before you begin making the sauce. Things move quickly once the sugar starts to melt and pausing for a measurement or to grab something could cause the sauce to burn.
- Scaling the Recipe: Due to how much the sauce bubbles up when the heavy cream is added, doubling or tripling the recipe is not recommended. If you’d like to make a larger volume, I recommend making separate batches.
How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat Salted Caramel Sauce
Allow the sauce to cool for a bit in the pot, then pour into a glass jar or other airtight container and cool completely, then store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. You can gently warm it up in the microwave or on the stove over low heat before using it again.
You can also freeze salted caramel sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then reheat as desired.
Can This Be Used for Caramel Apples?
While this is a delicious caramel sauce, it will not work for caramel apples; it is not thick enough to cling and set as a coating on the apples. I recommend using my homemade caramel apples recipe instead.
How to Use the Sauce
This salted caramel sauce quite literally goes with everything! Here are some ideas of how to use it, serve it, or gift it:
- Drizzle it over ice cream, brownies, pie, or cheesecake.
- Use it as a dip for apple slices or other fruit.
- Stir a spoonful into hot chocolate or coffee.
- Put it in a pretty mason jar, tie a ribbon around it, and give it as a hostess gift, birthday gift, or holiday gift.
- Whip it into buttercream frosting.
- Eat it by the spoonful.
Recipes That Use Salted Caramel Sauce
Use your batch of homemade caramel sauce in these recipes:
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars
- Easy Ice Cream Sandwich Cake
- Salted Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- Salted Caramel Apple Cake
- Snickers Cupcakes
Watch the Recipe Video:
If you make this salted caramel recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️
Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups (397 g) granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel, or any other flaky sea salt
- Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a medium (3 to 4-quart) saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium 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. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
- 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.
- As soon as the caramel reaches its sweet spot, 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. Remove the pan from heat.
- Slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously.
- Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate.
- 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. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
- Salt – I highly recommend using flaky sea salt like fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt. If you need to substitute table salt, use only 1 to 1½ teaspoons, or the sauce will be much too salty!
- Saucepan – It is important to use a saucepan of at least 4-quart capacity. It will seem too big for the job, but when the butter and cream are added, the sauce bubbles up ferociously, and you need that space so it doesn’t boil over.
- Storage – The caramel sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. This recipe is not suitable for canning or long-term storage.
- Freezing – The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using it.
- Reheating Instructions – To reheat the sauce, remove the lid from the jar and microwave for about 45 seconds, then stir. It should be smooth and pourable, but not piping hot.
[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]