Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce~ This thick, rich, decadent sauce is unbelievably easy to make at home. You’ll never want store bought Caramel Sauce again!
To most people, caramel sauce is an intimidating dish.
Maybe it even intimidates you.
Maybe you clicked on this recipe hoping—just hoping—it would actually be what it advertises: an easy caramel sauce recipe.
Maybe you clicked on this recipe just to confirm that caramel sauce is too hard for you.
Whatever your motivations, I want to tell you that this recipe for homemade caramel sauce should not intimidate you. It’s actually an easy recipe to make if you’re willing to give it the focus it needs.
There are lots of reasons to make homemade caramel sauce.
It’s a sweet and delicious accompaniment to a host of other dishes: ice cream, fruit pastries, brownies, blondies, cinnamon rolls, or just simple cut fruit.
In fact, this caramel sauce goes so well with so many desserts that I keep a little of it around at all times, just in case I want to throw it in whatever I’m currently making.
My favorite use for this fantastic topping is on a homemade banana cream pie. (Seriously, this recipe is so good that people often give me more compliments on the caramel sauce than on the pie!)
You might notice that this is not a recipe for salted caramel sauce. Though I really like salted caramel, I don’t make it as often as I do this recipe. I find that it’s just not as versatile as this easy caramel sauce.
I think this recipe goes better with more desserts—it’s just a little sweeter and doesn’t have a salt flavor to clash with anything in the dessert.
With this recipe for caramel sauce, condensed milk is not your friend.
Instead, I call for ½ cup heavy cream. This is because condensed milk is already sweetened. Adding it to the already very sweet caramel sauce will send the sauce over the edge into that dangerous, sickly land of “too sweet.”
Don’t even bother with recipes that make caramel sauce with milk.) This is generally true of recipes you’ll see for caramel sauce without cream. They are too sweet because condensed milk is used instead of cream.
Though you’re probably scouring the recipe list for brown sugar, caramel sauce actually doesn’t need it.
The caramelized sugar (that just sounds good, doesn’t it? “caramelized sugar”), syrup, and vanilla are perfectly combined in this recipe to create the delicious caramel flavor we all love without needing brown sugar.
Plus, the recipe is a thousand times easier without needing to deal with brown sugar and all its extra worries and considerations.
And actually, using brown sugar in a caramel sauce recipe yields you something more like butterscotch sauce. I love butterscotch as much as the next person, but it’s not what we’re after in this recipe.
Give this awesome, easy recipe a try. Let me know how it went in the comments. And also tell me about any unique uses for the sweet sauce you discover!
Only make this recipe when you can devote 100% of your attention to it. While the overall recipe isn’t difficult to make, it does require some serious focus at points. Answering the phone, getting distracted by a TV show, or trying to balance making another recipe at the same time can ruin the whole sauce. In those few seconds that answering the phone (for example) can take, your caramel sauce can go from the perfect amber color to throw-it-down-the-drain burned.
On the same note, don’t make this recipe with kids around. You don’t want the caramel sauce to burn. Or, worse, you don’t want it to burn you or your kids. Sugar burns are incredibly, outrageously, horrifyingly painful. Having kids around while you make this recipe only increases the risk of ruining the dish or burning someone.
When choosing what sugar to use, look for a refined sugar that is totally free of any impurities. This will help prevent crystallization.
This recipe uses corn syrup as one of the ingredients. The corn syrup is really useful because it helps prevent crystallization when the sauce is stirred. It also helps to lower the caramelization temperature.
Do not stir the finished caramel sauce too much. It has to sit unbothered for a while to get the texture and consistency we want. Plus, stirring the finished sauce too much can cause crystallization.
Do not use a pan with a nonstick coating. The melting point of many nonstick coatings is below the melting point of sugar. This means you might literally melt the nonstick coating off of your pan and into the mixture. Chemically enhanced caramel sauce doesn’t sound good to me—sounds toxic, in fact. YUCK. If you must use a nonstick coating, check to make sure the melting point is above 380 degrees.
Make sure you use a heat resistant rubber spatula. Using an ordinary plastic tool might result in the spatula melting right into your caramel! For less worry, just use a wooden spatula instead.
Heat the cream in a separate saucepan before adding it to the sauce. This is a super helpful suggestion because it reduces the likelihood that super hot—SUPER hot—sugar will splatter all over you. Plus, it helps blend the cream into the sauce smoothly instead of letting it all clump together.
Use only room temperature butter.
(Tip: add the heated cream in slowly to further reduce the chances of getting splattered on by painfully hot sugar.)
If you begin to see sugar crystals “climbing” the sides of the pan, don’t ignore it. Instead, use a damp pastry brush to sweep the climbing crystals off the side.
Once the caramel sauce is boiling, do not stir it at all. (This will be difficult for some. Repeat it with me, “Once the caramel sauce is boiling, I will not stir. I will not stir. I will not stir.”)
I really recommend using a candy thermometer. It will help make sure everything comes out just right. At the very least, use one the first few times you make this recipe. Then, when you get the hang of the timing and color, you can stop using it if you’d like. Using the thermometer will make you aware of things like this: when the sauce reaches 360 degrees, the color begins to change. You’ll know that the end of the cooking time is near when the color darkens suddenly and the temperature begins to increase very quickly. As soon as the mixture reaches 380 degrees, remove it from the stove. Let me say that again: When the mixture reaches 380 degrees immediately remove it from the stove. Don’t wait. This is vital. When this mixture is hot it hardly takes any time at all—the blink of an eye, really—for it to go from perfect to irredeemably burned.
Don’t double (or triple) this recipe. Melting sugar evenly is a tricky thing, and that extra volume (even if it’s proportional) might ruin the whole sauce. Instead, if you need to make a lot, just make it in a few batches. Making this recipe is relatively quick, so that shouldn’t be a huge problem.
This caramel sauce recipe will store in the fridge for up to three months. This is a nice, long amount of time which really works for this recipe. I like having caramel sauce around, so I’ll usually make 2 or 3 batches at a time and store it in the fridge. That way, whenever I’m planning dessert, a party, or just an afternoon snack I know I’ve got delicious homemade caramel sauce waiting for me!
To store, just pour the sauce into an airtight container. (Be careful about pouring the hot mixture into any old plastic container—the sauce might melt the plastic!)
To reheat, put it in the microwave for short intervals (20 seconds to 1 minute), stirring in between, until the whole thing has a nice consistency.
Source: Rose Levy Beranbaum
- Yield: Makes 1 Cup
Easy Homemade Caramel Sauce Recipe
- Granulated Sugar - 1 Cup
- Corn Syrup - 1 Tablespoon
- Water - 1/4 Cup
- Heavy Cream, Warmed - 1/2 Cup
- Butter, At Room Temperature - 2 Tablespoons
- Vanilla - 1 Teaspoon
- Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbly. Stop stirring completely and let boil undisturbed until the mixture turns amber, and a candy thermometer reads 380 degrees. Immediately remove saucepan from heat. Slowly add the warmed cream to the mixture. It should bubble like crazy.
- Use a wooden spoon and stir the mixture, making sure to scrape up the thicker part on the bottom of the saucepan, until it's smooth. (If the sauce becomes lumpy, return it to the stovetop and heat until they dissolve.) Add the butter and stir. It's okay if it's a little streaky. Let the sauce cool for 3 minutes then gently stir in the vanilla