An easy caramel sauce recipe is a staple for desserts. Having a jar of your own caramel sauce in the fridge at all times is a lifesaver when it comes to making delicious sweet treats. It can be used in so many ways.
This easy recipe for three-ingredient caramel sauce shows how to make a basic caramel sauce using a dry caramel method and without a candy thermometer. If you prefer a salty caramel recipe, it’s as simple as adding extra salt.
Dry caramel method
This caramel is made using a dry caramel method. This means sugar is melted slowly, without the addition of water until it becomes amber brown and caramelized.
Wet caramel is when sugar is melted alongside a little bit of water.
A dry caramel method is faster than wet caramel. It can also be stirred with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, which you can't do with a wet caramel method.
Stirring a wet caramel causes sugar crystals to form on the side of the pot which can make a gritty caramel sauce. Dry caramel fast BUT it does need close attention because it can burn very quickly.
Did you know that you can turn this caramel into whipped caramel?
There are only 3 simple ingredients in this from-scratch caramel sauce recipe - sugar, salted butter, and heavy cream. If you're using unsalted butter, you'll need a 4rth ingredient of salt to give the correct depth of flavor.
Have all your ingredients set out, and at room temperature before proceeding with the recipe. The amounts are listed in the recipe card below.
- Sugar - Use granulated white sugar. This is cooked very slowly over medium heat until it melts and turns amber brown. It needs to be caramelized enough to give the flavor needed, but not so much that the caramel is burnt and bitter. Usually, by the time all the sugar has dissolved, the caramel should be colored enough.
- Salted butter - Create a smooth and rich caramel with a buttery flavor.
- Heavy cream - Thins out the caramel and gives a creamy caramel sauce with a silky smooth texture.
- Salt - This is an optional extra if you're using salted butter, but a little salt will enhance flavor. You can add in even more to create a salted caramel sauce.
Set out your ingredients
The first step is to set out the ingredients needed. Making this dry caramel sauce is an easy process but getting the timing right is essential. It involves melting and caramelizing sugar, which can very quickly go from perfection to burned.
Measure and set aside the butter cubes and the heavy cream ready to go for when you need them.
Melting the sugar
Melt the sugar In a deep, medium saucepan over low to medium heat. Stir it gently with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula while it melts. It will clump together, then gradually melt into a brown amber liquid.
Don't turn the heat up high or let it cook for too long or the sugar will burn and the caramel will be bitter.
Adding the butter
Once the sugar has melted, grab a whisk and add in the cubes of butter, two or three cubes at a time. Start whisking straightway while you do this and don't stop until all the butter has melted.
It will form a thick caramel but initially, the mixture may look like it has split. Take care doing this because the mixture will bubble up a lot and steam.
Adding the cream
Once the butter has completely melted into the sugar, pour in the cream and keep whisking. Again, take extra care here as the cream will make the caramel bubble and rise.
Whisk it and let it keep cooking until it turns into a runny and deep brown caramel sauce. It will look split initially as the cream hits the hot caramel, but just keep whisking. Afterward, take it off the heat and stir in the sea salt if using it.
Leave the caramel sauce to cool for 5-10 minutes, then pour it into a clean mason jar. It will thicken up as it cools down into a gooey caramel sauce.
Store the caramel sauce in a sealed jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. It will thicken up considerably and have a scoopable firm consistency once cooled.
It can be gently rewarmed when needed to make it liquid again. Warm it in the microwave or place the jar of caramel in a bowl of hot water to warm it.
Caramel sauce can be frozen too, in an airtight container or sealed jar for up to three months.
How to use caramel sauce
There are so many caramel recipes and ways to use homemade caramel sauce.
- Drizzle the warm sweet sauce over ice cream sundaes or swirl it into yogurt
- Add to buttercream or use it as a cake filling.
- A caramel dip for apple slices or other fruit slices. This caramel won't set thick enough for caramel apples but it makes a great dipping sauce.
- Stir it into iced coffee
- Swirl it in caramel apple pie, apple crisp, turnovers, caramel apple cinnamon rolls, or your favorite dessert.
- Give a jar as a gift to your sweet tooth friends
- Pour warm caramel sauce over fruit crumbles or use it in a pear or apple upside-down cake.
- Swirl it into a cheesecake or drizzle it over freshly baked brownies
- Fill chocolate cupcakes with caramel filling.
- 200g (1 cup) granulated white sugar
- 85g (6 Tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
- 120g (½ cup) heavy cream, at room temperature
- Optional - ¼ - 1 teaspoon salt to enhance flavor.
- Measure and set aside the butter cubes and the cream so they are ready to go when you need them.
- In a deep, medium saucepan over low to medium heat, melt the sugar. Stir it gently with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula while it melts. It will first clump together, then gradually melt into an amber brown liquid.
- Don't turn the heat up high or let it cook for too long or the sugar will burn and the caramel will be bitter.
- Once it has all melted, switch to using a whisk and add in the cubes of butter, two cubes at a time. Start whisking straightway while you do this and don't stop until all the butter has melted. It will form a thick caramel.
- Once the butter has completely melted into the sugar, pour in the cream and keep whisking. Take extra care here as the cream will make the caramel bubble and rise. It may also split the caramel as the cream hits the hot sugar.
- Keep on whisking and cooking it until it forms a smooth and runny deep brown caramel sauce.
- Take it off the heat and stir in any extra salt if using it. If making regular caramel sauce, adding in an extra pinch of salt will enhance the flavor. For a salted caramel sauce, add in ½- 1 teaspoon of salt according to taste.
- Leave the sauce to cool for 5 minutes, then pour it into a clean jar. It will thicken up as it cools down.
- Store the caramel sauce in a sealed jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. It will thicken up considerably and have a scoop-able firm consistency once chilled.
- It can be gently rewarmed when needed to make it liquid again. Warm it in the microwave or place the jar of caramel in a bowl of hot water to warm it.
- Caramel sauce can be frozen too, in an airtight container or sealed jar for up to three months.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 181Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 116mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 0g