This easy recipe for homemade Caramel Sauce is simple and delicious! It’s an easy 4-ingredient recipe that tastes so much better than store-bought.
What’s in this Caramel Sauce Recipe?
Gooey, delicious caramel sauce is perfect on top of pretty much any dessert I can think of. I love always having a jar of caramel sauce to reach for!
- Brown Sugar: Keeps the sauce moist and adds a richer flavor.
- Unsalted Butter: Helps make the sauce rich, creamy, and soft.
- Heavy Whipping Cream: Makes this sauce rich and creamy.
- Vanilla Extract: Enhances the caramel flavor of the sauce.
Pro Tip: If you love salted caramel, add a few pinches of sea salt to this sauce, or use salted butter instead of unsalted.
Variations on Homemade Caramel Sauce
There are so many delicious ways to jazz up this easy caramel sauce. You can infuse it with warm spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom. You could also stir in a splash of bourbon or whiskey to add a rich, smoky flavor.
For a coffee caramel, dissolve 1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules in 1 tablespoon of hot water, then add it to the caramel sauce. Or try adding some chopped nuts, like almonds, pecans, or walnuts, to the sauce for a bit of crunch.
Simply put, caramel is made by cooking down brown sugar, butter, and cream in a pot until it turns gooey and saucy. Follow my recipe for more detailed instructions!
While you don’t technically need a candy thermometer to make this caramel sauce, it is a helpful tool to have around and can help prevent you from overcooking the sauce.
For this particular caramel recipe, we stir the entire time. I know that probably goes against everything you’ve heard about making caramel, but trust me, it works!
Butter helps to make this caramel sauce rich, creamy, and soft. Without it, your sauce could harden too much.
Caramel sometimes becomes gritty when the sugar crystallizes, which can happen when some of the sugar gets stuck to the walls of the pan and dries out. This recipe mostly avoids that pitfall by adding the cream and butter right away and stirring the whole time.
Caramel often turns hard when it is cooked for too long and too much moisture evaporates. We help combat that by using brown sugar, which has more moisture than granulated white sugar. Still, take care not to overcook the caramel, as it will continue to thicken up as it cools.
Yes! This caramel sauce contains dairy, so it needs to be refrigerated!
How to Store and Reheat
In an airtight container in the refrigerator, this delicious caramel sauce will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. You’ll know yours has gone bad if there’s a strange odor or appearance to the sauce.
You can rewarm the sauce gently on the stovetop or in the microwave to soften it up.
How to Freeze
In an airtight container in the freezer, homemade caramel sauce will stay fresh for up to 3 months. To thaw it, just place the jar of frozen caramel sauce in the refrigerator for a few hours, preferably overnight.
Caramel Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup brown sugar 213 grams
- ½ cup unsalted butter 113 grams (1 stick)
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream 57 grams
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 4 grams
- Kitchen Scale (optional)
- Place the brown sugar, butter, and heavy whipping cream in a medium saucepan seet over medium heat.1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup unsalted butter, ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- Stir often until it reaches a boil.
- Boil until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the vanilla, then remove from the heat. Transfer to a heat-proof container. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- If you love salted caramel, add a few pinches of sea salt to this sauce. Or, you could use salted butter instead of unsalted. Either way, you’re sure to get a hint of salt in your caramel sauce.
- When you’re heating up the sauce, be sure to stir often! Stirring often ensures that the ingredients will fully combine and prevents the sauce from burning.
- Use dark brown sugar to get the richest caramel flavor. If you can’t find any, just combine 1 tablespoon of molasses with 1 cup of light brown sugar.