Homemade salted caramel sauce is made with just six ingredients and takes 15 minutes to prepare. Spoon it over ice cream, use it as a dip for apple slices, or drizzle it over your favorite baked goods! 

A mason jar full of homemade salted caramel sauce.

If making homemade caramel sauce sounds intimidating to you, this recipe will change your mind!

Making caramel sauce from scratch is so much better than buying a jar at the store. Store-bought salted caramel sauce often contains thickeners or added sweeteners and is overly sweet. 

Not this recipe! Just six basic ingredients are transformed into a perfectly sweet and salty caramel sauce.

In this post, I’ll walk you through my foolproof method as well as my top tips for success! 

An overhead view of the ingredients needed to make salted caramel sauce from scratch.

Ingredients in This Recipe 

This is a very straightforward recipe for salted caramel sauce that requires just six ingredients. Let’s review what you’ll need: 

  • Water: You need to add a little water to the saucepan so the sugar can fully dissolve. 
  • Granulated sugar: This serves as the base of the recipe. As the sugar cooks, it develops a rich caramel flavor. You need to use granulated sugar, not a sugar substitute. 
  • Heavy whipping cream: Make sure your heavy whipping cream is at least 36% fat. Do not try to use a lower fat alternative, like half and half or whole milk or the sauce will be too thin. 
  • Unsalted butter: I recommend using unsalted butter, since the amount of salt in salted butters can vary between different brands. We don’t want this sauce to be too salty either! 
  • Vanilla extract: Pure vanilla extract is best, but use what you have. 
  • Salt: Regular table salt works just fine for this recipe, but sea salt would also be great. 

How to Make Salted Caramel Sauce 

Making caramel sauce is as easy as letting the mixture simmer and combining everything in a saucepan. Here’s an overview of how this salted caramel sauce is prepared: 

  1. Dissolve the sugar: Add the water and sugar to a saucepan (use one that’s a little larger than you think you’ll need). Heat over medium heat and stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved. 
  2. Bring to a boil: Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. At this point, you do NOT want to stir the sugar mixture anymore. After 4 to 12 minutes, the mixture will turn amber in color. 
  3. Add the cream: When the sugar mixture is a lovely amber color, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Keep in mind that it will bubble up quite vigorously, this is normal! 
  4. Add the remaining ingredients: This includes the butter, vanilla, and salt. 
  5. Let cool: At this stage, I like to transfer the caramel sauce to a storage container (like a glass jar). It’s best to let the sauce cool to room temperature before sealing and storing it in the fridge. 

Salted caramel sauce being spooned into a mason jar.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Salt Is Best for This Recipe? 

I used regular table salt, but you may make sea salt caramel sauce if desired.

If using sea salt, you may need to add more salt than the recipe calls for. Sea salt has coarser grains than table salt, which is quite finely milled. You may need a little more to achieve the same level of saltiness as table salt. 

What Causes Caramel Sauce to Form Clumps? 

If the sauce clumps up when you stir in the heavy cream, it’s probably because the cream was too cold when you added it to the hot sugar mixture. Set the cream on the counter before you begin the recipe, or warm it slightly in the microwave before adding to the sugar mixture. 

If your sauce still forms a few clumps, you can easily strain them out using a fine mesh sieve. 

How Do You Thicken Caramel Sauce?

If your sauce came out too runny for your liking, you probably didn’t simmer it long enough on the stove. The sugar-water needs to come to a rolling boil and cook until it’s a rich amber color. The simmering process could take up to 12 minutes, so be patient! 

Keep in mind that the caramel sauce will also be much thinner while it’s warm and will thicken up more as it cools.

Salted caramel sauce being drizzled over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Baking Tips 

  • The heavy whipping cream will bubble up quite a bit when you add it, make sure to use a saucepan that’s a little bigger than what you think you will need.
  • Be sure to prep your ingredients and have them ready to go before you get started, this will make the process much smoother.
  • To make this a regular caramel sauce, just use a pinch of salt or about 1/8 teaspoon.
  • Note that this is best used as a finishing sauce for desserts. I don’t recommend trying to bake with it as it’s a little too runny for that. 

More Dessert Sauces to Make! 

Recipe Video

An overhead view of salted caramel sauce in a jar. A spoon is being lifted from the jar.

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

4.93 from 66 ratings
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
This Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce is easy to make and perfect for topping on ice cream or almost any dessert!

Ingredients

Servings: 12 servings
  • ¼ cup water (60 ml)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
  • cup heavy whipping cream (160 ml) at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (45 grams) cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the water and sugar over medium heat. Make sure to use a saucepan that's a little bigger than what you think you will need. Stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble just a little.
  • Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, stop stirring completely. Let the mixture continue boiling until it turns an amber color, this could take anywhere from 4 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit, so make sure to do this very carefully. Then, mix in the butter, vanilla, and salt one at a time.
  • Pour the caramel sauce into a dish and allow to cool completely, then cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. The caramel sauce will thicken up more once it's cooled and refrigerated.

Notes

Storage Instructions: Store any leftover salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Reheat in the microwave before using.
For a regular caramel sauce, just use a pinch of salt or about 1/8 teaspoon.
This recipe will yield about 1 and 1/2 cups of caramel sauce.
Cuisine: American
Course: Dessert
Author: Danielle
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