This homemade caramel sauce is straight from heaven! Its ooey-gooey, deliciously sweet flavor will have you over the moon excited, especially when you realize that you can add this to just about anything!
Made from only a few ingredients, this caramel sauce is super easy to make and will impress even the toughest of critics. If you love caramel sauce as much as I do, try drizzling it on cupcakes, ice cream, and brownies and you can thank me later!
Homemade Caramel (and Why It’s the Best!)
The fall is creeping up on us which means we are about to get full-on apples and pumpkins with all the best recipes! Every time I make this homemade caramel recipe, I can’t help but start making a long list of things that I can add this to. It’s so delicious that I literally try and add it into everything! I make this all the time and because it can be used so much! I suggest that you save yourself some time and make a few batches of this recipe! Then, you can have some available to you all season long!
Homemade caramel sauce is so yummy and this recipe takes the cake! It is the perfect texture and consistency and ranks high on my list of favorite sauces. Its taste is sweet and creamy and has a delightfully rich flavor. My kids love getting apples and dipping them in this (and there are the apples popping up that I was talking about! Hello Fall!). Drizzling it on any of your favorite desserts or using it in any recipes that call for caramel in them is why it’s a great idea to have extra of this on hand. I know that you will use it!
Caramel Sauce Ingredients
This recipe only uses a few ingredients and with this caramel, you don’t have to be cooking all day! It’s very easy and can be made from start to finish in just a few minutes! See the recipe card below for a list of full measurements.
- Water: The water will be mixed with the sugar to create a “wet caramel” base so that the sugar doesn’t burn.
- Sugar: Used with the water as a sweet base.
- Light corn syrup: This ingredient is important because it keeps your caramel from getting grainy and crystalizing.
- Salt: Use regular table salt or kosher salt in this recipe. If you are using a larger salt, add more to taste. This recipe should work with any salt.
- Heavy cream: Put your heavy cream in the fridge before using it in this recipe. You can also use light whipping cream but don’t use milk!
- Vanilla extract: Adds in a little sweetness and this really helps bring out the sweet flavor of the other ingredients.
- Butter: Make sure to use unsalted butter.
How to Make the Best Caramel Recipe
Set aside 15-20 minutes and you will have yourself a go-to homemade caramel sauce that you will always want to have on hand. It’s so easy that you will have yourself wondering where this has been all of your life!
- Mix and stir: In a medium sized (3-4 quarts) heavy bottomed sauce pan with tall sides, add the water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Turn the head on to medium high heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Watch and SWIRL: Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring and watch closely until it turns an amber color. It may take about 10 minutes, but the change will happen fairly quickly. If it appears to be turning darker in one area much faster than the rest, gently swirl the whole pot. DON’T STIR IT! Stirring will cause the caramel to crystalize and it will become unusable.
- Stir and pour: Once it is a medium amber color, reduce the heat to medium-low and very carefully and slowly stir in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble and steam significantly. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 230° (soft ball) and then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Pour into a heat proof glass container and let cool completely.
- Reheat: To reheat for serving, heat in 20 second intervals in the microwave.
Tips For Homemade Caramel Sauce
Caramel can be finicky when you are cooking it but once you give it a go, you will understand why a couple of things are so important to do (or not to do) when cooking it. Here are some tips that will help you get it just right on your first try!
- Don’t stir the pot: Caramel is a fickle thing. A single crystal of granulated sugar can ruin a whole batch of caramel. Utensils are magnets for sugar crystals. If you stir your caramel with a utensil before you add the cream, you run the risk of introducing a sugar crystal into it. This means you will have to start all over! Instead carefully swirl the whole pot to stir your caramel around.
- Corn syrup: Adding a couple tablespoons of light corn syrup will help your caramel avoid crystalizing. It can’t protect it 100% from sugar crystals, but it makes the likelihood that your caramel will crystalize a lot lower.
- Amber color: Waiting for the deeper amber color is a game of patience, but it has a big pay off! Adding the cream too soon creates a pale caramel that is lacking the deep caramel color that you want!
- Don’t overcook: Use a candy thermometer to cook the syrup until it just reaches 230 degrees. Cooking it any longer will make the caramel sauce thicker than you want.
- Small batches: I suggest making a few seperate batches rather than doubling or tripling the recipe. The added volume can stop the sugar from melting evenly.
- Salted Caramel: If you would like to make a salted caramel sauce, increase the salt to 1 tsp. If you still want it more salty, you can add more to taste.
- Dip: You can use this to dip pretzels, apples, bananas, (any kind of fruit really) and it adds such a fun taste!
- Drizzle: I love to drizzle this on ice cream or brownies or cake…. Have I convinced you of how amazing it is yet?
Storing Easy Caramel Sauce
Caramel sauce is a wonderful addition to late-night ice cream treats! Keep it in your fridge for in-between snacking. It can last a few weeks… if you can resist and make it last that long!
- Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Reheat in the microwave in 20 second intervals before serving.
- Countertop: I dont suggest storing this on the counter. You can store it on the counter in an airtight container but the shelf life is drastically reduced to 3 days.
- Freezer: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator. Then, warm it right up in the microwave (20 seconds at a time, stirring in between).
Homemade Caramel Sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream chilled
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring and watch closely until it turns an amber color. It may take about 10 minutes, but the change will happen fairly quickly. If it appears to be turning darker in one area much faster than the rest, gently swirl the whole pot. DON’T STIR IT! Stirring will cause the caramel to crystalize and it will become unusable.
Once it is a medium amber color, reduce the heat to medium-low and very carefully and slowly stir in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble and steam significantly. Continue stirring until the mixture reaches 230° (softball) and then remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and butter. Pour into a heat-proof glass container and let cool completely.
To reheat for serving, heat in 20-second intervals in the microwave.