Easy Caramel Sauce Recipe
A little patience and lots of sugar, that’s what this Easy Caramel Sauce is made of. Sugar is melted down until it becomes a deep amber color then combined with butter, heavy cream and a hint of vanilla to create the ultimate treat topper on the planet.
Originally published August 2015 and updated in October 2019.
Who visited their local farm stand this weekend? (Me…I’m raising my hand.) Did you notice what’s happening there? The transition has begun…that time of year when we straddle summer and fall with all the glorious bounty that nature hurls at us. The time when tomatoes and peaches are sitting in harmony with apples, butternut squash and pears. The time of year when you need a homemade Caramel Sauce to drizzle on absolutely everything.
There’s a harvest festival that happens every fall at a farm not too far from my house. We go every single year, I’ve been going for almost 20 years now and the festival hasn’t changed one bit. Most of the activities are on the weekends and the place gets packed…lines are insanely long but the food is worth the wait.
Cider donuts and apple delights…that’s where you’ll find me. The apple delight is a simple pile of sliced apples drenched in warm caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with nuts….or not. It’s simple and tasty….it is the epitome of fall flavor.
HOMEMADE CARAMEL SAUCE
I make caramel sauce pretty regularly, it’s dreamy on bread pudding or a pile of apples. It’s so simple I never thought to include the recipe here but then…I saw what you all were searching for, yeah, I can see that stuff.
And I realized this fell into the same category as Simple Syrup….it’s a kitchen staple and not everyone has the perfect formula for making this stuff. I do…so I’m sharing it with all of you….so, you, too, can drench everything in the world with a healthy dose of gooey caramel.
Caramel is a medium to dark-orange syrup type product made by heating sugar until it begins to caramelize and develop a nutty flavor. It can be used to flavor ice cream, pudding, coffee drinks or drizzle on a variety of desserts. Caramel can also be used in a savory situation, as well.
HOW TO MAKE CARAMEL SAUCE
Making Homemade Caramel at home is super easy to do and tastes much better than anything you will ever buy in the store.
To make Caramel:
- The process is fairly simple, you’ll melt sugar in a saucepan until it dissolves and then turns a deep amber color.
- Add a little butter, cream and vanilla being very careful not to burn yourself because it will bubble up violently.
- Then stir until smooth…and resist the urge to taste the warm, inviting, seriously molten lava that is your newly created caramel sauce.
- I’m speaking from experience. Now…let it cool a bit, THEN drench ALL.THE.THINGS.
HOW TO MAKE CARAMEL SAUCE THICKER
If your easy caramel sauce is thinner than you’d like, add a pinch of salt and then cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until it begins to thicken up. Not too long, though, or you’ll end up with a solid caramel and not so much a sauce.
Also, remember your caramel sauce with thicken up as it cools.
Here’s what you’ll need for this caramel recipe:
- Granulated Sugar
- Unsalted Butter
- Vanilla Extract
- Heavy Cream
- Kosher Salt
And I bet you have everything you need in your kitchen right now!
- Brush down the sides your pan as the caramel sauce begins to come together. Sugar crystals on the sides of the pan can cause your sauce to crystallize if they fall into the caramel sauce. Incorporating them during cooking will prevent that from happening.
- If your sauce separates, continue stirring constantly until the sauce becomes smooth again. Fixing a broken sauce is simple to do with a few minutes of vigorous stirring.
- FREEZE Caramel Sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
- STORE your Caramel Sauce in the refrigerator. Because it is a cream based sauce you do need to refrigerate it to prevent spoilage. You can store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- REHEAT your caramel sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop. Be aware that your caramel will be thinner when it’s hot…..it will thicken as the sauce sits at room temperature.
RECIPES USING CARAMEL SAUCE
- The Very Best Caramel Popcorn uses a variation of this easy caramel sauce.
- We are totally loving this No Bake Caramel Pear Cheesecake Trifle.
- Easy Caramel Apple Nachos are the healthy snack hero!
- Your favorite coffee drink has become dessert with these mini Cheesecakes.
- Crunchy Caramel Apple Quesadillas are fast and easy.
The Very Best Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 10 cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract I use Nielsen-Massey
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a medium saucepan, add the sugar and cook over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sugar turns a deep amber color being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to avoid burning. This will take approximately 5-10 minutes. Carefully stir in the butter and vanilla. Continue stirring until completely melted. Slowly add the cream and continue cooking until smooth. Stir in the salt and remove from the heat. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature and then transfer to a jar with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks sealed tightly.
- When ready to use, heat slowly in the microwave in 20 second intervals stirring each time until liquid.